If you’re lucky enough to have time for a longer stay in Cuba, consider Meliá Marina, a five-star hotel and condo complex in Varadero.
Located at Marina Gaviota Punta Hicacos — the largest marina in Cuba — Meliá Marina has 423 hotel rooms available on an all-inclusive basis, as well as 348 apartments. All rooms are gorgeous, but the apartments give you much more space. They’re available in studio to three-bedroom size and have surprisingly well-equipped kitchens and living space. Furnishings are beautiful, many with a nautical theme.
All-inclusive guests have access to five restaurants, several cafes and bars, and the vast pool complex. Guests on the exclusive The Level floors have even more. There are several tourist shops along the marina where apartment guests can buy food to cook in their kitchen, and everyone can enjoy the bowling alley, sports bar, ice cream parlour, coffee house, restaurants, shops and bars spread out along the marina’s promenade.
Meliá Marina’s huge pool area will delight kids of all ages. Apartment guests have a separate pool area overlooking the marina.
An all-inclusive five-star club that feels like a grand old hotel. Meliá Varadero has 490 rooms in a five-storey pyramid surrounding an open-centred column with hanging gardens lit by a large skylight. The best rooms — The Level — are on the fifth floor, where there’s special VIP services too.
I was treated to an almost unbelievable suite during my visit. It had the best view you could imagine from a bathtub, overlooking Meliá Varadero’s long white sand beach. While the bathtub had jacuzzi jets, if I’d had time I could have also enjoyed another jacuzzi on the huge balcony with views of the Caribbean sea in not one but two directions. My balcony would be an ideal place for a cocktail party, or just lounging in the sun in privacy. The multi-roomed suite had a living and dining room, large bedroom, two bathrooms, a walk-in closet and three entrances to the deck.
Meliá Varadero has several restaurants to choose from, so guests staying for a week (or more) have plenty of selection. I chose seafood for my dinner at Fuerteventura Restaurant — it was delicious. Guests also have a buffet restaurant, a steak house, a Japanese restauarnt, another specializing in Creole and seafood, another in paella and Mexican cuisine, as well as snack bars near the pool and beach, and several places for cocktails. The Level guests also have a private lounge which serves a large continental breakfast as well as snacks and drinks in the day and evening. Room service is available for The Level guests at no extra charge.
Meliá Varadero has a beautiful pool, with swim-up bar of course, right next to the main building, which you pass on the way to the beach. The snorkelling right in front of the hotel must be great: there’s easy access from the white beach, and the area next to the small cliff on which the hotel sits is perfect for sea life.
Other facilities include tennis courts, a fitness centre, beach volleyball, video games room, kids club, wedding and conference facilities.
Sitting right on the ocean, Meliá Habana has spectacular views of the bright blue sea. There’s no beach here, but no need — the spectacular pool beckons.
Meliá Habana has the biggest pool of all of Havana’s city hotels — it looks like a river meandering through the palm trees. Part of it flows under the main building, so you’ll have no fear of sunburn while enjoying its cooling waters. Around the hotel’s three pools and lush gardens, there’s plenty of space to work on your tan too.
The hotel’s 397 rooms are well equipped and have large balconies, many with views of the sea. All rooms come with wifi (free for The Level) as well a minibar restocked daily. Junior suites and suites have hydromassage tubs too. As with other Meliá hotels, The Level has even nicer space with special extras, better views and extra services such as a private restaurant and free 24-hour room service.
Meliá Habana has an abundance of places to sit back and relax. A sports bar and cigar bar cater to specific interests, and the lobby bar has light snacks and drinks under its flying red heart airplane decorations. You can choose to dine at several restaurants including the Miramar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, La Scala for Italian, La Bella Cubana for Asian fusion, and Vadado for The Level guests. El Cobo, at the pool, is perfect if you don’t want to change out of your bathing suit. And no matter when you’re hungry, you’ll find à la carte snacks and a grill at the 24-hour Bosque Habana.
If you’re coming to Havana with kids, Meliá Habana is a few metres from the National Aquarium and a short distance to the Trompoloco Circus and La Isla del Coco children’s fun park.
Stays include free shuttles to Old Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site, throughout the day and evening.