Melia Las Antillas in Varadero, Cuba is rated 4 stars but that rating probably dates. Personally, 2 solid stars would be an honest evaluation of this all-included resort. The difference between a 4 star resort and a 2 star vacation spot is in the little details: the Melia Las Antillas needs to work on many little details to really be a go-to all-inclusive vacation resort.
The little details are sometimes big ones. Melia Las Antillas in Varadero allows you 3 restaurant outings in a 7 day stay. This means you have to go to the buffet for 4 evening meals, all breakfasts, and all lunches.
The Melia Las Antillas buffet is below cafeteria food quality. The service is pretty good but the food itself is unimaginative, bland, limited in choices, and too often lukewarm at best. The French fries are ice cold and limp even when the cook brings them to the warming lamp. Go to the restaurant near the pool for lunch.
My friend did have many positive things to say about the breakfast. She does not normally eat breakfast but the omelet guy managed to do it right each and every morning. Breakfast for me is coffee and it was strong and hot.
A wise traveler to this Varadero resort will make every effort to work his or her way into the two restaurants for as many evening meals as possible. The Romantico and the Italian restaurant rival the best restaurants in any big city. The food is excellent, the presentation is superb, and the service beats that of many big city fancy restaurants.
A special mention to Inelsis and Juan Carlos at the Romantico for the service. It is obvious to anyone eating there that they really care about the customer and treat you as warmly as if you were guests in their home. This is what a 4 star resort is supposed to be like.
Unfortunately, you have to line up at 9 o'clock for same-day reservations and you are screwed if you do not do that: it is non-negotiable. This is especially weird considering both restaurants were basically empty for the 7 o'clock service.
Another little detail that I could not help noticed is the Melia Las Antillas site really should be cleaner. The rooms are clean. I found only 2 bugs in 7 days. Maid service is uneven so you never know when and if your room will be taken care of. Another reason for the 2 stars
It is the site itself that really needs more attention. The same empty and soggy pack of Lucky Strikes sat in the middle of the garden near my room for 7 consecutive days as well as various other detritus. More effort could also be made to clean the beach before the next morning as there were too many cigarette butts visible.
Bar service at Melia Las Antillas depends a lot on who you get. Ramon and Alexis at the Lobby Bar really care about the customers and bring that little extra touch and flourish that makes it special. The stars of the pool bar are Raoul and Tatiana.
Again, I like to be adventurous and I like to ask the bartenders to "surprise me". Only Raoul, Ramon, and Tatiana went beyond the standard Havana Special or cerveza and prepared something different. If you can, watch them prepare a Come Back Soon.
You cannot expect every single staff at a 4 star resort, all-inclusive or not, to go above and beyond and do it all the time. However, you should never get the feeling you are in the way or disrupting their conversations. This happened too often at the pool bar and this is a reason for my 2 star rating for the Melia Las Antilas in Varadero, Cuba.
I am not the most observant person on the planet so it takes some doing for me to notice someone is working hard at not working much. There is one person in particular at the pool bar who has made not touching a bottle and avoiding eye contact with the customer quite a science.
If the Melia Las Antillas in Varadero Cuba cleans up its act, literally, improves the buffet -which can't be that hard to do considering how atrocious it was--, made the real restaurants more accessible, and had more staff that really cared about the customer it can be a 4 star resort again. It certainly was not when I was there.
By the way, keep your eye on your hotel towel. These are used to reserve beach chairs. If someone steals your towel, Melia Las Antillas charges you 15 dollars. Do not try arguing this charge. The towel is your responsibility and it is not the hotel's fault if you did not hire a security guard to keep an eye on it. I still think 15 dollars for a cheap towel is really abusive and a cheap move.