Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
32 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Loved Loving It
"We looked at the various comments on tripadvisor before we went, and yes, there are quite a degree of variations, perhaps I can help shed a little light following our recent holiday (August 2003)?
1. Mossies - The scurge of the caribbean! Well actually, we have a solution that helps us a lot. A fortnight before going on holiday we start taking Vitamin B tablets daily. We continue to take them every day of our holiday. Apparantly this causes the skin to exude a smell that humans cannot detect but that deters mossies. We can tell you that this really works and we no longer get plaggued with the Carribean Royal Airforce! (If one reviewer thinks cuban mossies are big, he ought to see the ones in Margarita!) To be doubly sure, you can spray exposed bits of skin with Mosiguard or Jungle formula (etc). Personnaly we thought that Sandals Varadero had the lowest incident of flying pests of any carribbean island we've been to. Possibly because of:
2.Huge pools of Stagnant Water - This is a very unfortunate desription of the water feature. The resort has large 'still' water features.
However they are far from stagnant. Every morning and every evening they are chlorinated (we witnessed this), and the staff also work their way round and clean every inch of the water features - this takes more than a day to do, but is constant and ongoing. I don't know, but as the water is chlorinated, I assumed that this helped with keeping down the number of mossies. All I know is, we had no problem.
3.Bitten on the beach - as at any hot holiday resort, if you lie on the sand, you can get bitten by sand bugs - we wonder if this contributed to the bites of people? We also know that general advice is don't spray with perfume if you don't want to get bit?
4. Restaurants. - Let me tell you, you do not get much fussier people than us. We carefully pick where we go for the quality and variety of food. We usually contact a resort before we book and look at menus. In truth the Las Morales A La Carte we felt did not quite live up to it's reputation, but then in hind site, perhaps that was because the other restaurants were also so very good? The El Viejo y El Mar A La Carte by the beach does lobster, steak, pork chops etc. Service is good, the sunsets can be unbelievable, and a soloist plays Sax on the beach.
Exceedingly romantic. And we had no Mossie problems at all.
The main buffet restaurant had a very good range of food available for each meal time. It did not matter what you wanted, you could get a good variety. As usual the bacon was more streaky than 'back' - again typical of anywhere outside the UK, and the sausages where a little strange by ' English porkfarms' standards, but a fried egg is a fied egg! There was a great selection of fruits, cakes, breads, yoghurts, cooked stuff etc. Chef does pancakes, omelettes etc to order, and at lunch times you can make your own toasted sandwiches. It was also nice to be able to have Champagne and Orange juice with breakfast if you wanted. Service was always quick, drinks refilled quickly, plates removed almost as soon as you finished. I am a bit of an amateur chef, I like flavour and variety, I like my food properly prepared and cooked. My wife cannot tolerate spices - between us we can be a nightmare to prepare food for. Not a nightmare at Sandals Royal Hicacos - we had a great time eating at every meal.
We did use every restaurant and enjoyed all the food and service. By the way, do dress up for dinner - it is required in most restaurants and people do get turned away for inappropriate dress.
5.Rooms - When we booked, we decided that we did not want to spend extra on upgrading to a premium as we felt it wasn't worth Â£11 per night each just to get robes and in room mini bar. When we arrived, we found that we had been upgraded to a premium room probably as we had booked to renew our wedding vows. The room is the same, just a couple of bottles of spirits and dressing gowns added to the room. Bed big and firm, separate sitting area, double bath, table and recliners on the balcony. No problem, and we had a sea view too (block 15 sunrise side top floor). Maid service was every day - clean towels and sheets - we had no problem with the spirits provided in the room - Havanah Club rum was fine by us, as was the London Gin, Russian Vodka and Chilean wine.
We did however treat ourselves. We discovered that the Royal Suite was available for the last three nights of our holiday. And so we upgraded.
Wow. What was good, became great. Separate sitting room, double jacuzzi bath, walk in shower, private patio, private entrance, twice daily maid service, two hand wash basins, breakfast in bed, priority A La Carte Service, Free Spa Treatments........ Yes it was a [expensive] treat, but really, we would have still had a great holiday if we had not done it.
6. On our overnight trip to Havanah, we stayed in a 5* Occidental resort hotel. That hotel and it's service felt very very ordinary compared to what we had become used to at Sandals. We were glad we only had one night and two meals there.
7. We renewed our wedding vows - all arranged by Arlin the wedding coordinator at Sandals. What a wonderful day we had. Sandals arranged a bouquet for my Wife and a button hole for me, Wedding cake and flowers were all supplied as was a translator for the Public Notary who undertook the service. We were given a special meal in the evening with a personalised printed menu, breakfast in bed, and whilst we did our vows, the maid nipped into our room and put satin sheets on the bed, filled the bath with hot water franced with oils and flowers etc. I can tell you that as we walked around the resort, so many people shouted messages of congratulation, that we felt so special for a long time.
Tears come to my eyes even now as I relive the day in my memory.
Breakfast in bed the next day was a treat too!
7. What can I say, it was like a honeymoon. We did not experience the out of room entertainment on offer in the late evenings! Can't comment on it. Don't ask us to!!! The day time entertainment was there, pool aerobics, shuffle board etc, but to be honest we enjoyed each others company lying around the pools, as did most other couples.
We found all the staff to be very friendly and helpful - it would really be unfair if I were to single out any for special mention. The resort, being mixed sex couples only, had an aura of romanticism that was very catching - we found ourselves wandering around hand in hand, the music whilst we dined was personal and well received. All in all, a great holiday, better than we could have hoped, and it certainly lived up to and even surpassed expectations.
we are happy to share our experiences in greater detail if anyone wants to email us."
- Travel date: Tue 9th of September 2003
"We've justa got back from Cuba, where i've stayed in SRH. We loved everything, specially the small details (and this Hotel is full of them), The staff is there to make sure you have a wonderful time.I'm leaving my e-mail adress, so if you have any questions don't hesitate. Marta and Pedro"
- Travel date: Tue 9th of September 2003
Not quite right yet!
"Just returned from 2 weeks in Cuba spending the first 4 nights in Havana before moving onto Sandals. Generally the place is very good but there a few things that still need improving. On arrival you are meant to get champagne - we didn't! The food in the buffet is good - the food in the a la carte restaurants is very good but not exceptional. The room was very comfortable with a great 6x6 bed and superb air conditioning. It was nice to have a fridge in the room but would have been even nicer to have some soft drinks in it! The daily towel art was a nice touch. Our room was at the back of the resort and was just 50m from a road used by construction traffic which wasn't very pleasant.
The canal-type water feature which surrounds the resort wasn't complete in our section of the resort so we just overlooked a concrete pipe!
There is nightly entertainment which ranges from poor (the blonde aggressive singer) to superb (the dancers). After that we used to enjoy the piano bar. The night club is incredibly quiet. In fact we could never quite work out where the 800 guests went in the evening cos the placce was pretty much deserted! The staff were wonderful - friendly, good english. To be fair, we pretty much got anything we asked for (with the exception of a change of room) - bathrobes (although i thought these should be standard), soft drinks, whole bottles of alcohol. But it seemed you did have to ask. The beach is stunning as is the pool complex. However the water feature did become stagnant and did seem to attract killer mosquitoes resulting in some horrendous blistered bites. I wouldn't say don't go there I would just say don't expect the same standard as other sandals resorts (and it is a good deal cheaper than other sandals resorts!). It's still undoubtedly the best resort in Cuba!"
- Travel date: Fri 5th of September 2003
Love is all you need
"I Have just returned from a 2 week holiday at Sandals Royal Hicacos, Varadero, and all I can say, is that their motto of ' Love is all you need ', is very true. The hotel has been open since last October, and is absolutely wonderful. As only mixed sex couples over 18 are accepted there, it makes for a very relaxing and intimate holiday. While there we re-took our wedding vows, and the whole day was magical, from start to finish, including the way the maid had decorated our room ( satin sheets included )! The staff, right through from the Manager to the maintenance staff, always acknowledged us, and nothing was too much trouble. The food quality and choice was second to none, and champagne and branded spirits flowed freely.We enjoyed a 2 day trip to Havana and Pinar Del Rio, to experience the real Cuba, and were hugely impressed. We have travelled extensively in the Caribbean, and have always maintained that we wouldn't visit the same place twice, but this is where we would make an exception, and can't wait to make a return visit. Cuba, the Cuban people and Sandals are all fantastic.Yvonne Reeley"
- Travel date: Wed 3rd of September 2003
Do Not waste Your Money
"If you have been to Sandals before i would recommend not going here. It is a poor excuse of a Sandals compared to the others it is like Butlins.
The food is terrible, there is a bad smell around the resort and the mosi's will eat you alive.
I know you get mosi's in the caribbean but with all the stagnent water around the resort you get them tenfold. Most people were walking around like the elephant man with swollen body parts from bad bites.
Entertainment is non existent
We had sickness and diorreah for most of the holiday as did most people who were in the resort.
The best meal we had while we were there was of-site at the Xanadu Mansion
Do not waste your money here, sandals have just offered me compensation for this holiday of 3 nights back there i have told them what to do with there offer i would never go there again"
- Travel date: Tue 2nd of September 2003
"We went to the Sandals from Aug 24-31, 2003. I had read many different
reviews and had a good ideal in what to expect. The resort is as
beautiful and clean as everyone says. We paid for Concierge hoping to
get upgraded to one of the royal suites because we where on our
honeymoon but where told they where full (we should have paid for just
the garden suite and saved a $700 and got bumped up to the premium
suite instead). However we got a private pickup and dropoff by a taxi
which was nice as we didn't have to ride the bus! (The bus didn't stop
at any other hotels we found out. However we still enjoyed the taxi.)
The departure flight was delayed by 3 hours and we where able to stay
in our room until we due to depart a 7pm. The regular garden and
premium suites had to check out by noon. So it was nice having our room
to relax in for a late afternoon snooze in the air condationed room.
The staff where very friendly and tried to make your stay very relaxed
and enjoyable. The food was very plentiful in the buffet but was very
bland for my taste. (Not many spices seemed to be used and they dont
like to use salt when cooking.) They had a large selection of
fruits/juices and the normal selection of bacon, scrambled eggs,
omletts, french toasts and cheeses etc. I found the fruits to be
dispointing in taste particular the papya which should have been more
flavourful. The a la carte restaurants where much better then the
buffet. I would rate the restaurants (a la carte) in the following
1. El Carib (great jerk chicken)
2. Don Pasquale (good steak, over cooked pasta)
3. El Viejo y El Mar (beautiful sunsets loads of mosiqutos)
4. Las Morlas (nice white glove service)
The one thing that I never tired of in the buffet restaurant was the
ice cream and chocolate sauce. We would go there every night after
eating our meals for ice cream.
The suites themselves are very clean and roomy. I loved having the
large window beside the bath tub as this allowed lots of light into the
bathroom. After sleeping in the king size bed our queen bed at home
looked like a single (sigh). We left a tip for the maid every day as
the services was outstanding. The bar fridge was well stocked with lots
of water, juice, beer and wine. If you talked to the man who was
keeping the fridge stocked you could request certian bottles and he
would provide them to you for a small tip. We requested a bottle of
Johnny Walker Black Label(1 L) and it only costed us $5 US. We talked
to a few other people who had gotten different bottles and it all
ranged in different prices.
The night shows where a waste of time. However we didn't goto the
sandals for the shows instead we went to relax and have some romantic
time together which is exactly what we got.
We wouldn't have a problem recommending the resort but keep in mind the food is somewhat bland(breakfest and lunch leaves a lot to be desired). The dinners are good in the a la cartes. We would likely go somewhere else next time but only because we would like to see what else is out there. (We would go somewhere else outside of Cuba.) There are alot of new resorts being built at the east end of the peninsula. We also enjoyed taking the bus into Veradera which only cost $2 US per person and was good for unlimited trips all day and the bus (double decker with a open top, good for sight seeing from) was new and very clean. So I would suggest watching for a deal and going last minute to the Sandals in Cuba and enjoy yourself."
- Travel date: Mon 1st of September 2003
Great place to get married
"Our trip to Sandals was fantastic! The resort is very clean and well maintained. It is a great place to go and relax with other adults - NO KIDS! The food was good, and for those who like seafood you won't be disappointed! Drinks at this resort were the best. They have everything you could ever want. We stayed in a concierge room and it was worth the extra money. The little extras you get are nice. You also get private pick up at the airport to and from the resort. We were married at Sandals Royal Hicacos and it was beautiful. Arlin Apin, the wedding coordinator takes care of everything for you. All of the little extras you receive at the Sandals is what makes it better than the rest!!!
Make sure you ask the bartenders for a Jan!!"
- Travel date: Tue 19th of August 2003
Will Definately Return!
"We were at Sandals in Cuba between Aug. 2-9th/2003 and absolutely loved it. Here is a brief summary:Rooms Very tastefully decorated. Were all the same. King size bed, sitting area, large 2 person soaking tub with shower, his and her bathrobes, large terrace and fully stocked mini-bar.Resort Very beautiful surrounded by moats and gardens and the sound of waterfall. This was reminiscent of a tropical island.Food & Beverages There was one buffet restaurant and 4 a-la-carte to choose from. The food varied from good to excellent. Breakfast at the buffet had fresh juices and the usual eggs, bacon etc. Try the carmelized bananas (they are to die for). For dinner the buffet had plenty of seafood which consisted of octopus, crab legs, shrimp, halibut, red snapper, mahi-mahi, salmon etc. Their desserts were also very good. Don Pasquale was open for continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lunch was by far the best. They had great pizza and pasta and an cold antipasto salad bar that was amazing. Dinner was not very good and required reservations. Las Morlas was excellent for fine dining at dinner and also required a reservation. The Beach Grill was great at lunch if you wanted a burger, fries or sandwich. Dinner required reservations. El Caribe was also great for dinner (small portions but good food). Reservations for the various restaurants should be made within the first few days of arrival otherwise you might be out of luck. The bar drinks could have been a little better. They still need to perfect the mixed cocktails but the pina coladas were excellent and so were the banana daquiris. The lobby bar, El Mirador was a great place to hang out especially after 7PM when they had a band that played very relaxing music. Piano Bar was good but too smoky.Beach The best part of this resort is the incredible beach. Very wide and long and crystal clear water. You could walk 200 feet into the ocean and still not be in deep waters and the ocean bottom was very soft and clean. The beach sand was like stepping into flour. Lots of umbrellas at the beach and you always could find one without getting up at the crack of dawn. We took a long walk and passed the beach at the neighbouring resorts and Sandals by far has the best beach. There were jelly fish and one woman got stung but we didn't have any problems and we spent hours in the ocean.Pool The pool area was very large and had lots of lounge chairs and floats and also a swim up bar.Staff Very friendly people indeed and very appreciative of anything you gave them. We brought a lot of toiletries and gave them to staff.The only downside was the moats around the resort didn't have a filtration system and the water smelled at times. The staff work very hard every day to clean the moats but cannot keep up. Management is aware of the problem and are thinking of ways to rectify. The lobby bar tended to get very hot and uncomfortable but we were told the fans had been removed to be serviced.Overall a great place to stay and we will not hesitate to return."
- Travel date: Wed 13th of August 2003
"Stayed at the Royal Hicacos from July 26 - August 2. The resort is very new and everything is very clean. I found the beach to be great and the pool to be equally as good. Rooms were very well kept and the towel art left by the maid was quite cool. The staff were all very friendly and the service was great. I found the food to be quite good. The buffet was average, but I don't like buffets to begin with. The a la carte restaurants were all very good, and I especially liked Las Morlas. To sum it up, this resort is rated 5-star, and it definitely lives up to that.
Minor gripes (very minor stuff): - jacuzzi wasn't that great. - night life is kinda quiet, but this resort is geared towards a more romantic getaway. - scrambled eggs during breakfast are quite runny.
A few tips for those who are going: - Get to the beach early if you want a spot under one of the tiki huts. Likewise for the pool if you want a lounge chair. - Make reservations for the a la carte restaurants as much as you can if you don't like buffets. Try to book El Viejo y El Mar (beach grill) around 7:30 so you can watch the sunset. - If you like a hot breakfast (eggs/sausage/bacon/etc), make sure you get up early. Between 10:30am and noon, you will only be able to get cereal/bread from Don Pasquale to eat. - Midnight pizza from Don Pasquale + beer. - Don't drink beer and then play beach volleyball ;)"
- Travel date: Tue 5th of August 2003
"On the best swimming beach in the Caribbean, Hicacos is a relaxed, very friendly resort.
Its small enough to get around very easily -ask for a room close to the beach and restaurants (the sunset side is best for this)
While fruit choice, unlike other resorts, is very limited in Cuba the breakfast buffet pancakes, waffles and omelets are outstanding!! the coffee tastes different but is actually more delicious than Nirth American coffee once you get used to it - that takes a couple of days.
Some rooms are tired, some updated with the rest scheduled for this year.
We were in one of the updated rooms. The bathroom was the best-designed we've ever had! The bed was firm but soft but very high off the floor. Not sure how short people get up on it!
No fancy dressing here, just nice summer outfits, no purses. Short-sleeved shirts for men worn outside of light-colored pants and sandals (not flip-flops) or light-weight shoes.
Women dress in sleeveless dresses, short-sleeved tops, cotton blouses with skirts and pants. White, linen is very practical for both men and women, its the coolest.
Limited menu at beach lunch restaurant . Loved the fish once used to pulling the fillet off the bone skeleton! Hamburgers taste different at first but are the most popular item.
Pool is too shallow to swim, will be re-done soon apparently. But with the best beach its not urgent.
Some are tipping too much and could make the resort less popular as 1$ for every drink and 3-4$ for suppers adds up. Its an all-inclusive and some don't even allow it. Keep that in mind. Some, but by far, not all, waiters save their best treatment for the big tippers. Its getting out of hand in our opinion. See .TripAdvisor for excellent Cuban tipping advice.
Many great diversions at this resort, highly recommend it!"
- Travel date: Sat 28th of March 2015
"Went to Royal Hicacos expecting a dream holiday having just payed Â£1000 extra for a royal suite was very disappointed ,the place was a poor 3star all the staff wanted was tips you had to tip 20 times a day food was poor senior management looked down their nose at you. Don't go to them with any problems because there not interested entertainment was terrible same crap most nights,wish I had spent my Â£4,000 to change my car wouldn't take a free holiday back"
- Travel date: Sun 15th of March 2015
If you want your luggage stolen stay here
"In few words, do not stay here. My luggage was stolen from the hotel secure luggage storage room. On reflection I suspect it's an insider job, that's why the hotel is refusing to show me the cctv footage despite my requests!
This hotel ruined my holiday completely as they "stole" (ok they claim "lost") my luggage with contents valued at over Â£3000 from their deceivingly named secure storage area, which I had to store my luggage in after checking out at 11:30 am and prior to be picked up by the bus to the airport at 2:00 pm. I consider the hotel to be fully responsible as I placed the luggage in their secure room, but when I went to take it back after 2.5 hrs it was gone, and it was stored under their guaranteed secure room with CCTV! All that I got from the hotel is "hollow" apologies and false promises of investigation and that they will check the CCTV camera footage (assuming it works as they claimed) to determine what happened to my luggage, but to date nothing happened and my luggage had disappeared for good.
Virgin holidays confirmed they got part of the cctv showing me placing my luggage & going back looking worried I can't find it. The important bit in between is not referred to. I leave the judgement to all intelligent readers.
When the incident happened I was left in complete limbo with no jacket or shoes to go back to England in the middle of winter.
The luggage secure storage facility is a complete joke. The hotel staff refuse to tag the bags as I requested, and even though they have a security personnel on the door, it appears that anyone can have free access to the storage area to pick any luggage without interruption. I suggest they change the name of the area to "help yourself to any luggage" as this is more appropriate name. To my fellow guests, please do not use this facility as your is luggage is seemingly left for anyone to pick up & walk away with it.
I talked to the hotel few times & was promised a written email to use as part of my insurance claim, but after 2 weeks this still has not come through. I have confirmations that they read my emails, but no reply.
In addition I was promised that they will replace my two souvenirs I bought from the hotel shop. But nothing has been arranged.
Based on this incident I will never return to the Royal Hicasos or to Cuba at all. My lasting memory from a doomed holiday is my STOLEN luggage from the better-to-be-called "Insecure Storage Room".
I have written evidence from Virgin holiday & a signed statement from the hotel staff at the day that this incident happened (I'll send to whoever is interested). I'm still awaiting the hotel to compensate me as they are responsible for the value of the stolen luggage. Oh and the Virgin holiday bus abandoned me at the hotel & left to the airport without me."
- Travel date: Fri 2nd of January 2015