Neither Stu nor I had every been to an all-inclusive resort before. And I don't think we'll be going back to one either. Now, don't get me wrong, Cuba is a lovely place to go for a holiday and Varadero is an ideal spot (22km of white beaches, crystal blue water and azure skies) for the sun-seeker. It's just the implementation of the resort we stayed at was pretty horrible. A decent hotel (Blau Varadero Hotel), great service (even if the staff were a little more tip-hungry than even we had been lead to believe) and fantastic location were all undermined by blaring music piped to the pool area and even to the farthest reaches of the beach. We suffered endless activities organised by ever cheerful activity organisers who misguidedly felt the constant need to make sure we were all "having fun". Argh! Leave us alone! We came here to have a quiet, restful time after staying in Havana. We just wanted to have some food and drink when available and not feel like we're in a Butlins holiday camp. This was such a shame as the place had so much going for it without the lily being so constantly and thoroughly gilded. We couldn't even read our books in peace; not without R&B at levels high enough to shake the sand upon which we were sitting. And don't get me started on the evening entertainment; pool-side ballet, anyone? Oh yeah, and now I come to think about it the buffet food... the coffee... the wine... the bed... all pretty awful. But we could have put up with all these minor niggles if we'd just not been herded around so much and not been given time to relax. If this is what a typical all-inclusive resort is I guess we're now both older and wiser. For us anyway it was both the first and the last resort. Next time, we'll be avoiding the tourist traps we fell into this holiday; and as Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "l'enfer, c'est les autres" (hell is other people).
Having said all of that we did manage to find some quiet corners during the three days in Varadero and steal a bit of time to ourselves. And when we did it was lovely. Once those ruddy speakers had been packed away we were able to walk along the beach, the sand in between our toes and kick through the beautiful warm water. We'd then find a tree to sit under and laze in the late afternoon sun sipping a cocktail and dreaming of nothing in particular. It was times like those that more than made up for the holiday camp madness.