Royal Hicacos Resort
Travel Blogs from Varadero
Before I get to Havana, I want to show you how different publicity is in Cuba. There are no outdoor billboards advertising Coca Cola or Havana Club rum along the highways. In their place are signs advertising the glories of the revolution. It is as if the only signs you see on U.S. highways are praise for Barack Obama.
You will smile at some of the examples of the advertising arts that I have discovered along the way with my ...
... room was kept very clean and twice when we needed things they were taken care of right away; one time our safe wouldn't open. It was corrected within ten minutes. On another occasion the power went out. We called the front desk and they said it may take 20 minutes or so. That was all it took and then we got a call from Customer service to ensure our power was back on and to make sure we were content. I can't say ...
... us where the nearest emergency exits were. Safely we landed and made our way through the pounding rain, only to wait two hours for our luggage. This was our first introduction to "Cuba time", which apparently is aptly represented by a watch with no hands, as time is irrelevant to most of the Cubans we met. Fully prepared for a grilling by a militant looking customs officer, I cautiously walked into a private booth for my interview. However, she ...
... outside was minimum 30 degrees of Celsius and inside a bit less. But the water was freezing to be honest.
After a cool swim, we had to come back to hotel. The jeep driver was inviting us to his house and meet his family, but we refused ti him, because we felt a little bit tired and wanted to rest after this tour. So he took us to hotel safely and left us, we got to our room and prepared for tomorrow trip to Havana.
... dance. And not only girls knew the moves, the guys danced even better than girls. Amazing.
Then we turned in some night club, where you can see other tourists, not only local people. The music was various, from Spanish ones to popular hits. We had couple cocktails, made in plastic cups, dances on the floor. And been watching how couples were dancing, like in dancing contest.
The first impressions of Varadero town are awesome.
How has this resort rated in the past?
- Shuttle bus service
- Continental Breakfast
- Swimming pool
Historical Traveler Reviews Royal Hicacos Resort Varadero
We went to Sandals in November 2002. It was a pretty relaxing vacation.
At this time the resort was really new so all the grounds work was not completed. But everything was operational.
Rooms were very very nice. No ocean view available here though. The resort is set back from the beach behind trees. But the walk to the beach is 30 seconds distance. Our rooms had beach towels already ready for us and bath robes. Also our mini bar/fridge was always fully stocked.
Food and service at this resort was absolutely excellent. And in general I hear that food in most resorts in Cuba is not good at all.
Beach is really nice, but not fine white sand. Its brown sand. Could have been maintained better, but maybe because they were still working on the resort and the beach at the time - maybe it's changed by now. If you like fine white sand, go to Mayan Riviera.
There is no room service. That is a bummer. You have to ask for a specific Concierge service room and pay extra.
This place has a "SPA" -but the spa is awful and would not recommend you wasting money there. If you decide to try it and really don't like it - tell them and they will waive the charge. But we went for a massage and the person had no clue what they were doing - really bad.
Estethically it is very very nice but the massage is terrible. Get one before you go and spend money on something else if you have to. SPA in the title of the resort really should not be there.
Service, staff and grounds were excellent, but we would not go to Cuba again, this is the best resort in VAradero so you would have to come back to the same place again.
Married at Sandals
We where married on the resort in April. It was a dream come true. The staff, especially Arlin are very knowledgable. The resort ,the rooms, the foord and the staff are 100%.Having travelled before I would say this has been the best yet. Numerous restaurants to chose from with every type of food you could ever want. The shopping is very inexpensive and alot of fun. Wish we could again today. We highly recommend this resort to anyone.
Just returned from 2 fabulous weeks (July 2003). Excellent resort overall, very clean, fabulous food, friendly staff and lots of variety as described in other TripAdvisor reviews so I will not repeat all written in those. We flew to Havana (not a good idea). Terrible baggage reclaim and then a non too pleasant 2 hour drive to the hotel - so fly to Varadero if you get the choice. Likewise - a day tour to Havana although excellent was the same 2 hours each way and a little tiring.
Recommend the Jungle tour ($39) for 2 hours fun on the AquaRay and only 5 minutes from the hotel. Back to the hotel, great bars and food and an ideal place to relax around the pool(s) and lovely beach which is seaweed free. If you like regular shows and evening entertainment then this will not be the ideal place for you as it was very low key and somewhat disappointing - that really was the only downside to this hotel. If you stay in a garden view room your mini bar will only be stocked with water. A tip to the maid early in your vacation and you may be lucky to be left soft drinks, beer, champagne etc. as we were.
You can still however get these from the bar to take direct to the room. A couple of dollars tip (discreetly) now and again to the bar waitresses will also guarantee excellent bar service at your table.
Overall this is a great place to stay and is highly recommended (but remember the poor evening entertainment).
An incredible all inclusive resort vacation
Sandals Royal Hicacos was the all time best. Service was first rate and the resort was immaculate. The bars were the best and the beach was amazing. we liked it so much, we are thinking about going back again next year.
We stayed at Sandals for a week in Feburary 2003. The hotel had only recently been opened so there is still landscaping activity underway but it did not present any problems or inconvenience. The rooms are very nice and, contrary to what you may read elsewhere, there are comfortable beds in Cuba. The food and service were just exceptional.
Staff were very friendly and helpful. There are 2 large pools and a very nice swim up bar. Lobby bar has live entertainment every evening.
The shows put on by the staff in the evening are nothing special but we didn't go on a vacation for that anyway. You are greeted upon check-in with champagne and once you have completed registration a small shuttle takes you to your room. The rooms are very nice and have large double baths. There isa small fridge that is stocked daily with bottled water.
The hotel is set back from the ocean so none of the rooms have an ocean view. There are lots of lounge chairs at both the beach and the pools.
There are outdooor jacuzzis. If you are looing for a place to just relax with great service and great food then consider Sandals. The quality and selection of food in the buffet was just amazing. Whatever kind of drink you want can probably be found at Sandals, including most liquers. The Cuban people are wonderful and we would highly recommed Sandals.
Hot Hot Cuba!!!
My husband & I have recently come back from Sandals Royal Hicacos, Cuba, a place that I would definately recommend. Having read a few reviews in this hotel before travelling I must admit I was very apprehensive - there was absolutely no need. Everything was first class and more. Accommodation, large suites overlooking pool & garden where every morning flowers were left on my balcony by the gardener. White sandy beach, cool blue sea, hot weather and sun, sun & more sun. Foo was excellent, always fresh and service second to none. All the staff made you feel so welcome and special. Would I go back - YOU BET!!!
Great holiday in Cuba
Had a fantastic fortnight at Sandals, Cuba.Lovely room, v comfortable bed, massive double bath (although took about an hour to fill due to the water pressure!!).Lots of bars and plenty of entertainment.Great food and loads of choice. Would go back if there weren't so many other places to see but would definitely try another Sandals.V impressed!
A wonderful resort!
My wife and I just spent a week (Apr. 28 to May 5, 2003) at the fairly new Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort & Spa in Varadero, Cuba. The 5-star rating given by most tour operators including the most discerning ones such as Air Canada Vacations and Signature Vacations is, according to us, well deserved. It is a resort that we would highly recommend, especially given the value you get for your money. Indeed, given the level of service and the overall quality of the resort, we expect the rates to go up considerably in the years to come.Arrival and check-inAfter a direct flight from Moncton, New Brunswick, on Skyservice Airlines, we arrived at Varadero Airport around 9:30 pm. After clearing customs and stepping outside the airport, we found the Conquest Vacations representative along with a Sandals representative. We were whisked away on a bus to the Sandals Resort along with four other couples (Sandals has its own transportation, which means you don't have to pit-stop at every other resort). Check-in was fast and efficient, and champagne was served as we filled out our registration cards. We were then escorted to our rooms, and our luggage arrived shortly after. We immediately left the room to visit this beautiful resort.The resortFirst and foremost, the resort is beautiful and just the perfect size: not too big, not too small. Once completed, it will have a total of 407 rooms. During our stay there, about 40 rooms had yet to be completed, and only 250 were occupied.Divided into several 3-story buildings, the rooms are located to the east and west of the main reception area. Within that central area, you'll find the reception area (which is quite small but very nice), the huge lobby bar (called 'El Mirador'), the main building (which houses the buffet 'Hicacos', the Italian restaurant 'Don Pasquale', the seafood restaurant 'Las Morlas', the piano bar 'Las Nubes', the nightclub 'Varadero's' as well as several shops and services), the pool (as well as the pool bar, connected to 'El Mirair amphitheatre and the Caribbean restaurant 'El Caribe' (in a separate building). The other restaurant, the beach grill 'El Viejo y el Mar', is located directly on the beach.There is also a huge pool along with a smaller pool where the pool bar is located. We never had any problem finding chairs around the pool.The roomsThe Garden View Rooms are spacious and nicely appointed. All have a separate living area with sofa and chair, a fridge, a nice king-sized bed, a huge bathroom with double bath and separate toilet. The balconies are fairly large. As for the housekeeping service, we found it to be very efficient: our room was cleaned by 10:00 every morning and our bed decorated with all kinds of magnificent 'towel art'. All in all, the room includes all the basics: air conditioning, hair dryer, am/fm clock radio, coffee maker, telephone, ceiling fan, satellite TV, in-room safes, iron and ironing board, and amenity kits (shampoo, conditioner, etc.).The restaurants and barsRestaurantsOne of the highlights of the resort is the food. For those of you who found that Cuban resorts offer bland and tasteless food, you've obviously not stayed at Sandals. First, there is the buffet, called 'Hicacos', which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, there is a wide and varied selection of food: eggs, omelettes, breads, sausage, bacon, potatoes, cold meats, smoked salmon, fish, cheeses, yoghurt, pastries, fruit, fresh juices, coffee, etc. We had breakfast there everyday and never got tired of the food. We only ate there once for dinner (on our last night as we were pressed for time), but we were pleasantly surprised with the selection and, above all, the quality of the food: lobster, shrimp, snapper, mussels, scallops, salmon, beef, turkey, lamb, rice, potatoes, breads, pasta, etc. The desserts were also very good. All in all, it's by far the best buffet we've seen at an all-inclusive resort in terms of quality and choice. And the service is impeccable.The Italian restaurant 'Don Pasquale' was our least favourite,commend the pasta (and the beef, from what we've heard) over the chicken, which is rather bland. Their pizzas, however, are fabulous! The restaurant is also open for lunch, dinner and late at night for snacks (pizza, etc.). Except for dinner, no reservations are required.The Caribbean restaurant 'El Caribe' is wonderful all-around. Located in a separate building, the restaurant is very nicely decorated and quite romantic. We ate there twice, and were extremely pleased with the service, the ambiance (especially the private serenades) and, of course, the food. We recommend the braised pork, the spicy Jerk chicken, as well as the tasty appetizers. Reservations are required.The seafood restaurant 'Las Morlas' was also one our favourites. Small with a nice, romantic ambiance (again with live music), the restaurant has a varied menu and impeccable service. We recommend the salmon with curry (as an appetizer), as well as the snapper and seafood symphony (for entrées). We ate there twice and would have returned had we stayed two weeks. Reservations are required.As for the beach grill 'El Viejo y el Mar' (which translates into 'The Old Man and the Sea'), we found the food and service to be, once again, outstanding. Apart from the breathtaking setting (outside, directly on the beach, under a huge palapa), the ambiance is very pleasant and a bit more rustic and relaxed. We suggest going at sunset as the views are spectacular. We would recommend the surf and turf, the grilled lobster being the highlight of the meal. Reservations are required.BarsThe 'El Viejo y el Mar' and 'El Caribe' restaurants both have bars that serve a wide selection of drinks. Apart from that, you'll find the 'Las Nubes' piano bar in the main building (which we enjoyed as it was small and air-conditioned) as well as the huge lobby bar called 'El Mirador' located in a very nice, open-air, thatched-roof building in the centre of the resort. We found this to be the most relaxing bar. The setting and the decor are very nice, and the oversized plush chairs Phuket! The bar itself, located at the west side of the building, also serves as a pool bar, the only area we avoided given that it seemed to attract a crowd of 'regulars' and somewhat more intoxicated people, although, in general, this is certainly not a resort for loud and abrasive party animals. As for the night club 'Varadero's', it is opened until 3:00 am. We did not attend. Finally, as for the selection of drinks, the choice is endless. As opposed to most other resorts, Sandals offers all top and premium brands.The beachThe beach is without a doubt another one of the highlights of this resort. The sand is fine and white, the sea a turquoise blue and the waves small and gentle. The beach is lined with palm trees and dotted with numerous palapas, which means that you won't have to wake up at 6:00 am to reserve a palapa as is the case in numerous resorts. To the east of the beach is the Paradisus Varadero (another stunning 5-star resort worth visiting), beyond which the coast becomes rocky for several kilometres. To the west, you can easily walk to the next resorts (Beaches, Iberostar, etc.). Even the Meliá complex of hotels and shopping centre can be seen from the beach.Activities and entertainmentThere is an endless array of water sports and land sports for those interested: parasailing, water-skiing, sailboats, banana boats, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle-boats, snorkelling, scuba diving, aerobics, volleyball, dancing lessons, Spanish lessons, tennis, lawn chess, pool tables, squash courts, shuffle board, ping-pong, internet service, etc.). Night-time activities include shows at the amphitheatre (which were mediocre, as is the case in all resorts), singing at the lobby bar (very enjoyable and relaxing), the piano bar 'Las Nubes', and the nightclub, which is open until 3:00 am. We found the lobby bar 'El Mirador' to be enjoyable at night. It is also worth talking at stroll for a drink at the beach grill 'El Viejo y el Mar'. As they are both open air, there is always a refreshing breeze.The weatherWe had nicest three days, mostly cloudy with rain on the fourth day (although the sun did come out at 3:00 pm), and sunny with no clouds in sight for the last three days. On some days, the temperature reached 33 oC with a humidex of 42 oC. We also got a powerful thunderstorm one night and one afternoon.The staffWe were extremely impressed with the level of service at the resort. From the waiters and bartenders to the chambermaids and front desk staff, everyone seemed to go out their way to be of help to us. We were especially impressed with the restaurant staff, most of whom had obviously received very thorough service training. The same applies for the bar staff in general, with the exception of the lobby bar 'El Mirador', which seemed to be slightly understaffed at times. It is, however, easy to understand why some staff members could get exasperated with the unreasonable demands of some unreasonable guests. Also, all hotel staff members speak English (to varying degrees, of course), but we found that knowing Spanish was a great help to us.Check-out and departureCheck-out was seamless. As our flight left late at night (10:30 pm), a courtesy room was made available to us as of noon (check-out time). We left our luggage there all day and returned before dinner to shower and get ready. For a fee of $50 US, it is possible to keep your room until departure provided rooms are available. Our shuttle to the airport left on time, and 30 minutes later we were at the Juan Gomez International Airport checking-in for our return flight home. Much to our surprise, our flight left one full hour early, which means that we arrived in Moncton one hour early although it was 2:30 am! Kudos to Skyservice for excellent service and on-time performance.Overall impressionAll in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort & Spa. We would not hesitate to return or recommend the resort to others. All of the guests we talked to seemed to be very impressed with the resort, and some were even planning a return triphe other few 5-star hotels in the Varadero area (such as the neighbouring Paradisus Varadero and the Meliá Las Américas) were of the opinion that the SRH was a superior property overall. In our opinion, the resort truly lives up to its 5-star reputation and is without a doubt one of the top properties in Cuba. Sandals really does it better than all the rest A+
Enjoyed my stay at SRH
After extensive research (that included Tripadvisor reviews) we eliminated our short list down to two choices. From the moment we arrived at Sandals Royal Hicacos we knew we would be rewarded for our efforts. An immediate indication that Sandals is indeed a 5 star resort came from the warm greeting at reception. With check in line ups unheard of, we were encouraged to relax in the elegant lobby while completing our registration forms. After the standard welcome champagne was served and bell boys took our luggage, we were on our own to explore.Floating buildings and walkways appear to be the predominant theme of the resort. A collection of open-air palm roofed structures and formal buildings are joined by garden paths and elevated walkways. With the entire resort so thoughtfully decorated we found points of architectural interest and design appeal in every area. The furnishings in the bars and restaurants are well chosen pieces, made of exotic woods, cast iron or other metals. I especially admired the iron lamps in the lobby that were sculpted to appear as made of tree branches. Ordinary plastic patio furniture is almost nonexistent (check your balcony).The elevated walkways and bridges that surround the low rise guest quarters offer surprises of flowering arbors or bamboo grottos while gardens of exotic flowers and trees with helpful little nameplates on them (in Spanish) follow your path. Birds sing everyday and even come to visit while you lounge by the pool. There are many canals and pools (described as the water mirror by the resort) that surround the main lobby and its adjoining lobby bar. Rocks, small garden islands and waterfalls add some interest to the main pools near the entrance, while canals wind their way around the guest quarters. Its unfortunate that the architect who designed these failed to incorporate elevation changes or movement into the waterways. The stagnant sitting water creates endless cleaning tasks for the resort staff and not to mention mosquitoes. As this is a fairly nroblem will be in a few years. Nonetheless the only distraction this caused was the constant presence of cleaning staff wading in the water.Dining in any of the 5 restaurants was never disappointing. The food is diverse and well prepared with many choices for the pickiest of eaters. If youre looking for 5 star service, dont expect much from the bars and restaurants during the day. Dinners (which require reservations) are served by the most premium of staff, who exhibit a thorough understanding of elegant full dinner service. My favourite restaurant was by far the beach bar. Aptly named The Old Man and The Sea (in Spanish: El Viejo El Y El Mar) this open-air palm roof cabana sits right on the beach offering a cozy table to gaze at the ocean from. I especially recommend a dinner reservation at sunset.As Sandals hosts a Spa I booked us both for pedicures. My boyfriend was so sweet and didnt complain at all when we were told there is only one manicurist and we would have to go in one at a time. On top of this disappointment the manicurist was not pleased with the receptionist who did not book enough time for 2 pedicures and decided to involve us in her complaints. After a rather rude welcome the spa service we received was nowhere near what we expected and was way over priced.Over all we found the staff to be generally pleasant, with many of them exhibiting pride in their work and a genuine effort to make our stay enjoyable. The only aspect of Cuban culture holding them back is their inability to work without constantly shouting to each other. A bartender can serve you a drink while completely ignoring you, wait staff in the buffet restaurant will shout across the dining room to each other and the maids start wandering towards the guest rooms around 8:30 am and immediately start shouting to each other from the verandas, making it very difficult to sleep in (its a hotel!!). Theres also a little air of resentment from some that is to be expected when staying in a less fortunate nation. As most people can overlook theseont matter. I would still recommend this resort to anyone looking for a romantic getaway.
Best Vacation Ever
We Just returned from this resort in Cuba. It was Fantastic. The food was second to none and the beach was stunning. This is a new resort with 5+ star rating. This could possibly be the nicest resort in Cuba. I highly recommend it. Kevin - Kitchener, Ontario.