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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Travel Review: Grand Memories Varadero


My family and I had the fortunate opportunity of traveling to Varadero, Cuba in April 2016.  I won a trip courtesy of FamilyTravelCA and Sunwing Vacations.  Although we received our trip free, the opinions in this post are all mine, and some my family wanted to share as well.

We flew with Sunwing direct from Fredericton, New Brunswick, to Varadero, Cuba.  The ability to take a direct flight from a local airport was so convenient.  No airport transfers to deal with, and no long distance to drive to board our flight.

When we boarded our flight, my daughter received a Sunwing bag with some crayons, colouring page and an inflatable beach ball.  Each child on the flight received one.  My daughter was so excited to get hers, she put her stuffed animal right inside.


Our Sunwing flight featured sparkling wine, a new movie (Creed was the selection on our trip down), a meal, and beverages.  A great way to start our vacation!

Upon landing in Cuba, once we got through security, we exited the airport to find a Sunwing Representative to directed us to our bus to make our way to the resort. 

After a bus ride of less than an hour, we arrived at the Grand Memories Varadero.  We were greeted by a beautiful lobby and helpful staff.





The check-in process was quick, and we were on a trolley on our way to our room very shortly after.  Once we arrived in our room, we were very quickly asleep, but in the morning, woke to this view:


Not a bad way to start the day, right?

Next, it was off to the buffet.


So many choices every day - from pancakes, French Toast, omelettes, bacon, fruit, yogurt and more.

After breakfast, we made our way around the resort to see what there was to offer.  First, we found the "quiet pool", a beautiful and serene setting with a zero entry pool and a waterfall.  A great place to relax!


There was another pool at the resort that was a little more active.  This pool had several sections including a smaller kid's pool (not very deep), a shallow section for loungers to be put in the water for a cool rest, and a swim-up bar.  








This pool is very active with activities happening at most hours of the day.  There are plenty of "full sun" areas, but equally as many shaded areas.  The schedule can be found just outside the buffet - it includes the activities for both the pool and beach:



Next to the pool is a fantastic snack bar where you can get snacks 24 hours a day.  The pizza was my daughter's favourite.  I really liked the French Fries.


For lunch and supper, the buffet featured a wide range of foods such as pasta, hamburgers, french fries, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp and even lobster on some nights.  My daughter is a very picky eater and she never had trouble finding something to eat.  Rest assured that none of us lost any weight on this trip.

The evening featured shows in the very large theater, close to the buffet.  There is a bar at the rear of the theater for your refreshments, and the shows were lively and fun.  This was one of my daughter's favourite things to do at the property.  As an added bonus, for kids involved in the Kids Club, they often put on a show just prior to the main show for the evening.  This Kids Club Show was a highlight to the vacation for my daughter.  She couldn't wait to perform each day.

The fabulous dancers!

And then there's the beach.  Anyone who has ever been to Varadero knows how beautiful the beaches are, and the Beach at Grand Memories is no exception.  Gorgeous clear water, and even warmer than the pool!  Always busy and lots of activities happening.


When I told my daughter I was writing this post she wanted me to make sure I mentioned the Kids Club.  There is a building next to the "activity pool" that has a playground and a very shallow "baby pool".  This is the Kids Club.  Each day there are activities planned for kids to participate in.  Some inside the building, and some outside.  The activities range from arts and crafts, to sand castle building at the beach, swimming, games and shows, and even visits from Toopy and Binoo and the Berenstain Bears!


The schedule posted outside the Kids Club


And, as mentioned above, the kids have the opportunity to participate in a little evening show, which they practise for each afternoon.  

The staff at the kids club were so friendly and welcoming.  They would often walk around the pool to recruit kids for their programs.  My daughter has said that she can't wait to head back to Grand Memories to play at the Kids Club again.

Don't forget to take some time to head off resort as well to take in the sights and sounds of Cuba.  We actually were able to pre-purchase a trip in to Havana while on our plane ride down to Cuba.  This day-trip was a long one with lots of walking, so be prepared for that, but we had lots to see and the tour guide was very informative.






The weather was gorgeous, people were very helpful and hospitable, and the accommodations were great!

Our trip home was comfortable and included a movie, beverages and food.  The Sunwing crew was happy to answer any questions, and prepared us well for arriving back in Canada by providing the proper customs forms and answering any questions we had.

Overall this was a fantastic experience.  We look forward to heading to Grand Memories again, and we will definitely be travelling with Sunwing in the future!



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