We had our wedding at the Blau Varadero on December 23, 2010 - right before Christmas. We were there from Dec 20 to 27th, and then honeymooned in Havana for 5 days and returned for two more beach days at the Blau before we left home.
(The pictures are a mix of pro photos with FB pictures taken by friends and family)
This hotel is one of the best choices you can make in Varadero by far. The rooms were nice and big and clean with modern bathrooms, good water pressure and big balconies. We had an ocean view looking over the pool and the beach and it was awesome to look at the sun setting at night and the water first thing in the morning. The king size beds are huge, though like in many places in Cuba, the pillows are rather small so I'd recommend bringing an extra pillow if you're super particular about that.
We got a few channels on TV including CTV from Calgary and HBO. There was also a movie channel that I can't remember the name of that played pretty good movies. We never spend that much time in our room other than to sleep, but it was fun to catch a few minutes of a movie before going to bed.
The maids clean the rooms really well. We tipped our maid with a peso and a small gift every day and she left us some nice towel art.
The hotel is mostly filled with Europeans and some Canadians. It has a much classier feel than some other Varadero places - this isn't a place where there'll be a lot of rowdy drunk people running around. There's still dancing and music and entertainment at night and people having fun, but it's definitely quieter than some of the other party hotels, which is what we liked and preferred about it, and we were a fairly young group (20's and 30's)
Seriously, there's a reason this hotel is rated #2 on Trip Advisor - our whole group had such an amazing time everyone's planning a trip back next year!
The staff is great and you can tell the hotel management seem to treat their staff with respect, which makes a huge difference in the overall atmosphere in the hotel. The customer service in the hotel is top notch, and the management really cares about what the guests think - they handed out comment cards one night where you were encouraged to write what you thought and what they could change in the future. Compared to some other hotels in Varadero, this was a nice surprise!
The food was excellent, both in the buffet and the a-la-carte restaurants. There were so many choices! We had lobster and shrimp, all kinds of fish, chicken, beef, pork, rabbit, lamb, duck etc. There is a pasta station with pizzas and pastas, as well as lasagna on some nights, lots of side dishes like french fries, rice, etc, a big salad station, a big desert station, a big pastry/bread station.....the food was honestly incredible. The buffet is clean and well appointed, and the servers are really friendly. We seriously loved every meal we had, including breakfast (probably my favorite part!)
The beach was amazing, really clean, plenty of sun beds and shade and the water was out of this world. I want to go back!
Wedding: A +
We had a great wedding at the Blau, so easy and relaxed and fun. We met with our wedding coordinator Sabina the morning after we arrived at the hotel and went over flowers and decorations and music. We just chose everything to be white - I just wanted a clean look and some of the flowers looked super cheesy in my opinions. We also ordered a chocolate cake instead of 'white cake' which she was surprised about but happily agreed to. We gave her our cake toppers - a buck and a doe we picked up a toy store back at home, and she gave it to the bakery in Varadero where the cakes are made. We got our cake back with green frosting on top to look like grass and the buck and the doe on top. It was actually really cute, and the cake was amazing - chocolate and coconut! So happy we chose it!
I wanted white flowers and I was really happy with what Sabina got me. They were gorgeous.
My bridesmaids and I got our hair done at the resort salon - the hair dresser was awesome - my hair looked amazing and held up all day (I just wanted it down and curled with a clip in one side). He was great at his job, all the girls loved their hair.
We chose to have our ceremony in the garden instead of the beach for lots of reasons - more privacy, easier to hear everyone talking, the option of having our music played and the fact that I really wanted to wear my wedding shoes! The resort did a nice job with the set up, and the light was beautiful coming through the palm trees. We got the DJ to play our ipod so we could have our entrance and first dance songs, and it sounded really good in the gardens.
After the ceremony we had our first dance in front of everyone and then had cake, champagne and appetizers with our guest. The DJ played music during this part too and it was really nice and relaxed. After this we went to take photos on the beach. We brought our own photographer with us but we hired the resort videographer to do a video because it was only $150 and we thought it would be fun to have. She was hilarious and very much in your face. She made us do a bunch of cheesy things which are super funny to look at now when we watch the video. Seriously though she did a good job and for $150 I totally recommend buying a video.
Reception: A +
We had our reception dinner at the Palma Real restaurant on the Blau grounds. The food was amazing, the service was incredible and they had a string quartet playing the entire time. We brought some beachy decorations and got our wedding coordinator to spread them among the tables instead of lugging down big centerpieces all the way from Canada. It ended up looking really pretty.
After dinner we did speeches and cocktails in the piano bar at the hotel and then went to the beach bar for dancing. We tipped the guy a few pesos and gave him our iPod to play so we had our own music which was great. There is a dance floor at the beach bar and it's open on three sides with a roof. It was a really awesome place to finish up our night - the beach bar is open all night but we could only stay till 2am since we booked a jeep safari early the next morning. (FYI DON'T book a jeep safari the morning after your wedding day)
Overall we had a great time. We love Cuba, and we were lucky to get nice weather in December so we could have beach days. The whole week went by in a blur, I'm really happy my husband and I stayed for an extra week. We were booked at another hotel to spend our last two nights before our flight, but we showed up to it, realized we just couldn't stay there after the Blau and went back and paid for two more nights at the Blau. It cost way more than it should, but it was totally worth it, we felt like we were back home!
I'm so happy we chose to have a destination wedding, it was so much less stressful than planning a wedding at home, and you're at a hotel for a week with all your friends and family so the entire week is super fun and full of memories. I think most of my friends are convinced to have destination weddings now too.