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All reviews free shuttle entertainment staff cuban staff all inclusive resort minute walk along the beach smaller resort italian resort hotel staff is private patio pool bar huge pool love cuba security guard playa del este old havana junior suite the hotel is clean
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Reviewed 27 April 2018

I travelled to Cuba for the first time with my mother who is 87, and my two teenage daughters from March 30th to April 4th, 2018. We had picked the hotel because we wanted a resort that was close to Havana ( so that it would be easy to go into the city), that was all inclusive, and on the beach. I had read a number of the previous reviews from the last few months, and for the most part they were spot on. The hotel is very clean and well maintained, the rooms are large, washrooms are clean, it is a short 5 minute walk to the beach, and the food is good. I would go back but there are a few things to keep in mind.

As stated in a number of the previous reviews the music at the pool is played way too loud, much louder than is really necessary. The main tour company at the Arenal Hotel is the Bravo Club which is an Italian/European tour company ( which is why it is called the Bravo Club Arenal Hotel) . The management at the hotel should talk to the Bravo staff about turning the volume of the music down. Every review in the last few months of the hotel has mentioned this - hotel management is not listening. That said, if you request a room away from the pool ( which is what we did), it's fine.

The food is what I had expected, good but it can get to be a bit the same day after day. I had talked to a few friends who have been to other resorts in Cuba and they had all said the same thing , you don't come to Cuba for the food. As recommended by other reviewers the omelettes in the morning for breakfast are very good, and the pasta bar offers two freshly prepared options at both lunch and dinner ( I ate a lot of pasta). The pasta bar is off to the left side in the main restaurant. The snack bar by the pool is very average except for the pizza at 4pm every day. Coffee at the pool bar and the lounge bar is very good, but for some reason the brewed coffee in the restaurant is average.

The Arenal hotel is on the Playa del Este beach, which is a short 5 minute walk from the main hotel property along a private boardwalk to the beach. The hotel staff clean the beach early in the morning close to the hotel, and there are lots of beach chairs and umbrellas. It's a nice beach for a morning or afternoon walk.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, one of the reasons we picked Arenal was it's proximity to Havana - about a 30 minute cab ride. The Arenal hotel also has a free shuttle into Havana on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sundays . The shuttle leaves the hotel at 10am and returns at 4:30pm, and you'll need to book a seat the day before. We also booked four tours with private tour companies . We booked two tours with " I Love Cuba" - the first was on Saturday afternoon and we did an overall tour in a pink convertible - the second was an early morning street photography tour on Tuesday morning on the side street of Old Havana. We also booked two tours with " Fertours 2 Havana" - a tour on Monday to Vinals a Unesco world heritage site , and a tour Tuesday afternoon to see Hemingway's House Museum and then the old squares in Old Havana. Both " I Love Cuba" and " Fertours" were great, their guides spoke excellent Englis, and all the tours were in vintage cars from the 50's. You can find both tour companies by Googling - "Top 10 tour companies in Havana" and looking at the TripAdvisor list.

One of the things we really liked about the hotel was that most of the guests were Italian, French, and Spanish. We were the minority being English speaking Canadians. Sitting on the upper patio just outside the lobby bar, we would have a drink after one of our tours, or a cappuccino after dinner. There was definitely a slightly different European vibe as opposed to most resorts that cater to English speaking guests.

So what didn't we like above the Bravo Club Arenal Hotel - other than the loud music at the pool. First, this is a small hotel by Cuban resort standards, so they do not have a bank onsite. They will exchange up to $100 at a time, but if you want more you'll have to either go into Havana or the small town that is a 30 minute walk along the beach. Or exchange money at the airport when you land. Do not try to exchange US$ as they charge a premium, and if you want to use a credit card it can't be connected to a US bank ( no Amex) - Visa works best. You'll need to have your passport with you.

The thing we liked least about the Arenal Hotel was the young male staff in the restaurant. Both of my daughters were hit on by the young male wait staff when my mother and I weren't at the table getting something from the buffet. Both of my daughters had to re-buff the young male staff in the restaurant. This happened a couple of times during our 5 days at the hotel. Management needs to do some cultural training with their young male staff at the resort, and make it clear to them young women at the resort are out of bounds and any flirting or advances will cost them their jobs. I realize there is a different culture in Cuba and there is a male 'machismo" in Cuba, but the guests staying at the hotel are not Cuban girls, they are Canadians or Europeans where this type of behaviour from hotel staff is not appreciated or acceptable.

Overall, I would definitely return to the Arenal, the experience was more of less positive, but I am not sure I could get my teenage daughters to stay there again.

Room tip: If you want a quiet room, ask for a room away from the pool. In the afternoon they play the music at the pool very loud.
Date of stay: April 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank MSL8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VillaggiBravo, Director General at Bravo Arenal, responded to this reviewResponded 30 April 2018
Google Translation

estimados clientes, todas sus sugerencias y opiniones son bien recibidas, cada una de sus preocupaciones serán analizadas con nuestro personal, tendremos en cuenta el volumen de la música, nuestras actividades de animación son muy buenas con mucha música cubana, desprendemos alegría, sabor cubano, y queremos que todos nuestros clientes se lleven este recuerdo de Cuba Bella,
gracias,

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Reviewed 24 April 2018

I stayed @Bravo Arenal from April 19, 2018 through April 23, 2018. This was a family trip and we booked around 6 rooms. We had family and friends coming from Havana and spending the day with us after paying only for that day, this included all the same perks you get when you book your all inclusive day. The hotel was remodeled and bought out, is now under new Italian management. Hotel staff is really on top of security and privacy. Food was good, drinks were good, staff was amazing. Keep up the good work.

Eduardo Morejon
Room 335

Date of stay: April 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Eduardo M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VillaggiBravo, Director General at Bravo Arenal, responded to this reviewResponded 27 April 2018
Google Translation

Estimado cliente es un placer para nuestro destino, haber satisfecho sus expectativas, ojalá y retorne nuevamente será muy bien recibido, brindar servicios con calidad es nuestro objetivo principal, el haberlo cumplido es satisfacción, gracias y le recomendamos nos visite nuevamente, gracias por elegir nuestro destino,
gracias

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Reviewed 11 April 2018

After being there 3 times before I was not impressed any longer. A new female manager took over from last manager. She changed the looks of the hotel and improoved the gardens look. Unfortunatly there is a very big problem facing customer care in this hotel, either they fix it or they will loose their clients. Music in the pool is so loud that you can not relax at all. Food is the worse I have seeing in Cuba apart of the Italian station which provides a great pasta. Workers actitude Sucks! in general. Location is perfect but lacks transportation. Beach is Great.

Date of stay: April 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank richardxlal0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VillaggiBravo, Director General at Bravo Arenal, responded to this reviewResponded 12 April 2018
Google Translation

estimado cliente sus criterios para la mejora de nuestros servicios siempre son bien recibidos, todas sus inquietudes las tendremos en cuenta, no obstante gracias por todo y esperamos nos visite nuevamente, gracias infinitamente por sus opiniones,

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Reviewed 8 March 2018

First the good things. The hotel is clean and the staff friendly. We travelled with my 90 year old mother and the Cuban staff were very attentive towards her. If she came out of her room while the maids were washing the hallways, one of them would immediately take her by the arm and make sure she did not slip. A special thanks to Gretal and also to Jaqueline and Ariel in the restaurant. We needed to see the on site doctor twice and both times had excellent care. The junior suites on the second floors are roomy with large bathrooms. The restaurant food is varied and plentiful. Have the omelettes for breakfast - delicious! The beach goes on for ever. I did the day trip to Vinales which is a long day but worth it. We also went into Havana a number of times and enjoyed meeting with Cubans there. Through AirBNB Experiences we did lunch with Malinalli and it was the highlight of our trip. I cannot recommend it highly enough. My one complaint about the hotel is the noise from the music at the pool. There is a show every day about 4:00 and the music is turned up way too loud about 3:30 and goes on until about 5:00 or 6:00. The hotel did a fabulous celebration for Valentine's Day - three Cuban tenors and a soprano singing, red carpet, candles and wine at the entrance, tables all decorated beautifully. This was followed by a show at the open air stage. The first act was a salsa band who were great followed by the in house entertainment crew who put on a great show but, of course, immediately turned the music up way too loud! This would be a great place if they would just turn down the noise.

Room tip: Stay in the far end of building 3, away from the noise at the pool
Date of stay: February 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank lindaa122
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VillaggiBravo, Director General at Bravo Arenal, responded to this reviewResponded 13 March 2018
Google Translation

estimada y cara Linda, que bonito comentario,así somos los cubanos cariñosos y atentos, en el Hotel Bravo Arenal todos nuestros clientes son distinguidos, daremos las gracias a todos esos trabajadores que con tanto amor y cariño los trataron, sus recomendaciones sobre la música la tendremos en cuenta, nuestro trabajo es hacer que todos los clientes se sientan bien atendidos y como en casa, gracias nuevamente por tan vonitos comentarios,
gracias

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Reviewed 2 March 2018

really impressed with this place, our 5th trip to cuba. no ala-cartes but go into guanabo $10 cuc taxi away and have a nice $13cuc lobster dinner on the beach. other wise guanabo is not a tourist town and nothing to see there. you walk right on the beach and your 20 minutes away. watch the broken glass on the beach, bring some sandals. beach has nice soft sand and is long in both directions, we never got to the end either ways. the food is just fine and is varied. we did the havana tour $55 cuc each and includes lunch and a drink. 6.5 hours long and you visit all 4 squares. the pool is perfect and clean. the junior suite we had was perfect. everything worked as expected. the people working at this place worked hard and smiled a lot. no beach service, just get your own drinks from pool bar or lobby bar. capachino coffee excellent. they had huge crab claws, get there early or your out of luck. we brought down lots of extra toilet paper and nuetella which we gave away to everyone. they liked that. there are no balconys on any of the rooms. internet in the lobby worked well, $1 cuc for an hour. get an extra card for your room and you will always have the air conditioning on and waiting for you. there are no high pressure sales here, the beach venders were the most shy polite people i ever dealt with, prices to low to haggle with. lots of canadians and the rest were french italian and one american. everyone got on great. at first gave us two beds, but right away we got the king we wanted room 235. you really want to be away from the beach in the afternoon as it gets windier then, and the pool entertainer was way too loud for hours in the afternoon, no reason to scream like that into a microphone, so we always had to escape. there is a disco, some enjoyed going there. the evening show we saw was all italian and french, but we still enjoyed it. there is no hurricane damage and this place is in marvelous shape, very little maintenance required. oh, we needed medical, for both of us, there is a nurse on 24/7 and a doctor everyday but sunday, but is always within phone call away. with my diagnosis and the two medicines, and my wifes treatment and her two medications and with the delivery by cab from guanabo, the total cost for all this.....$70. thank you peter and anna and the other nurses.

Room tip: ask for a quiet one
Date of stay: February 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank kamikazee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VillaggiBravo, Director General at Bravo Arenal, responded to this reviewResponded 2 March 2018
Google Translation

estimados Peter y Anna, es bueno recibir sus comentarios al respecto de nuestros servicios, agradecerles infinitamente por elegirnos como destino turítico, y sobre todas las cosas, visitar nuestro maravilloso país, que tanta amabilidad,cariño y nobleza esparce entre su gente, es nuestra idiosincracia,ser buenos anfitriones, cuba es hermosa, nuestra insatalación es muestra de ese agradecimiento a uds que hacen que nuestra isla brille más, esperamos retornen y nos veremos!!
gracias

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