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“Excellent resort, could do with less smokers.”

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Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
Ranked #1 of 63 Hotels in Varadero
Oshawa, Ontario
Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“Excellent resort, could do with less smokers.”
Reviewed 14 August 2014

We have been to many resorts over the past 17 years and this one is right up there with the best and one that we would go back to.

Just to let you know, we are not complainers, we enjoy most of our trips no matter what the issue.

So lets look at the Pros and Cons:

Pros:

Staff are super friendly and helpful. From Franciso the security guard on the beach to our excellent housekeeper to our concierge. Even the general manager greeted us and saw us off! Food is very good, good variety and always something to eat. Great pizza! Beach is immaculate and attendant to find you shade. Entertainment was also very good with bands playing by the pool, excellent pianist in the piano bar and nightly shows. Room air conditioner was very quiet and kept our room comfy. Room was nicely appointed with a view of a courtyard and pool. Ask and they will do their best to comply, we asked for champagne and we had a bottle sitting in our room.

Cons:
Not much. They allow smoking all around the outside of the lobby bar and there is a tunnel effect in the whole area so when it is busy you cannot get away from the smokers. Luckily the piano bar is non-smoking. Steaks, like other areas we have been in Cuba, are not tender like here, tasty, but a little chewy. Also their bacon is more like fatty ham, not that there is a problem with that! Wifi is very slow and you purchase it with an hourly card, then have to key in an id and password everytime you want to use it. They need to come up to the 21st century on this and include wifi or at least sell you the week. I know, we go to get away from this stuff but when you run a business, it's necessary to stay in touch.

Trip - to Havana:

Nice to see but very sad to see the number of beggars including parents who send in their small children. Guide told us not to give them money but it was difficult. Long day on the bus. Architecture and historical sites are interesting but don't think I would go back. Take toilet paper!

All in all excellent trip except for the 4 hour wait at Varadero airport. Thanks SunWing and Royal Hicacos!

Room Tip: We were in 504, a fair walk from the restaurants but had a nice little private pool with cabanas.
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
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11 Thank FunLovingCanadian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Toronto
Level Contributor
35 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2014

Cannot give this resort the same sort of gushing review others have. Mainly, it is the quality of the food. I wouldn't be willing to go there again because of it, but if you are willing to give it a try, here is my advice and impressions:

Very disappointing and inconsistent for a 5 star, and yes, I have had better in Cuba, mainly the Paradisus hotels. The food was anything from dried out and inedible to fair to good. You have to choose very carefully in the buffet, arriving early is no guarantee of quality. Everything in the samovors seems to be mushy, soupy, or dried out. Best bet is to be prepared to line up for freshly cooked fish, meat, omelettes, etc. A la carte quality ranged wildly as well, service and food. Seafood and Caribbean best. Grill not worth the effort (now located in temporary beach bar as regular beach restaurant under renovations for next few months. If you don't want to eat hot dogs and hamburgers every day for lunch (only beach bar options), be prepared to leave the beach every lunch hour to go back to the buffet for lunch.

Important to ask before you go: hotel is undergoing upgrades to rooms, common areas, etc. Was told will be ongoing for next year or so. Be sure to ask about construction before you book so you aren't surprised! When I was there, they were completing lobby, lobby bar, repairing whirlpools, closed down beach bar, draining water feature in central resort!

Good and bad points:

Beach stupendous, deep, long, white sand. Very shallow tide with sand bar. This time of year, water positively hot. Loved it. Lots of crazy little sardines nibbling on your toes in the water (harmless).

Swimming pool isn't very big, with different sections separated by landscaping and rockery, etc. Not really for swimming, so if you want to get exercise in the pool, this isn't the place for you. It is meant for relaxing and cooling off.

Most staff great, butlers a great idea. Even though I didn't really need them for anything, it was just nice to be asked every day how I was enjoying my stay and if I needed anything. It was nice to know I had someone available to assist me. Lot's of managers around (don't know if this was due to the change of ownership), available to assist and ask for help.

Rooms bit tired, but big and bright and well maintained. Bathroom spacious and bright with enormous tub and good strong shower. Bed comfortable, pillows not comfortable. After several tries and some miscommunication, did get somewhat better pillows. Staff is very solicitous and tries hard to make you happy.

Lobby bar nice gathering point, and bar staff really make great cocktails. Try the frozen mojitos! Roberto in particular is really talented. He is amazing to watch, he is so fast and is pumping out drinks like mad and still can look at you and smile.

Most staff great, but not all. Buffet staff ignored me every day until I mentioned it to one of the managers, then service improved the next morning. Again, if you talk to a manger, they do listen and take action. However, "Animation" team totally ignored me. I think only 2 of them asked me to join an activity all week. They would literally chat with couples on either side of me and walk by my chair without saying anything to me. I don't know if this had something to do with me being there on my own? But I certainly would not recommend this resort to singles. I was made to feel less important than the other guests, even though I actually had to pay more for going solo.

Even though "off season" resort was 80% full. People had reserved beach umbrellas with their towels by 7 a.m. Late comers wouldn't get a place in the shade. Also, most umbrellas are very low, if you are tall, this is a real inconvenience as you cannot stand up underneath them. One very smart couple brought their own umbrella so had a prime spot every day at the waters edge.

Buffet and one of the a la carte restaurants located on second floor, large staircase to climb, not great if you have any mobility issues. There is a small elevator available, but it is quite slow.

I met nice people, both staff and tourists, and overall enjoyed my holiday. But as I said, have good food is part of the fun, and I cannot recommend it for this reason.

Room Tip: Ask for a top floor if you are a light sleeper. Sound travels.
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
14 Thank RachCG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Felix G, General Manager at Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 16 August 2014
Dear guest,

We wish to thank you for the comments regarding our resort. We do appreciate them as the information you have provided will have an impact on any improvements which may be necessary to maintain the level of quality that is well known at our Blue Diamond Resorts.

It will be a pleasure for us to keep on our improvements and host you once again when we are completely finished. We are sure you are going to love it.

Best regards,

Management office
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
24 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2014

this was our second visit to this property, the first 10 years ago; unfortunately we waited for our 10yr anniversary and were reminded how great a property it is.

the property itself is typical Caribbean and although now somewhat dated, it is undergoing an extensive multi-million dollar renovation/update under the new management. this should however not deter anyone as the renovation are being conducted in phases over several years, and are not at all obtrusive and despite the design not being current, the property is exceptionally well maintained, landscaped, and clean throughout. highly recommended.

the food is likewise typical Caribbean, which is to say not consistently as well executed as you may be accustomed in North America, but very good nevertheless and by Caribbean standards, both a la carte and buffet very good indeed.

the pool(s) are beautiful and the beach exceptional; having travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific I share with great confidence that the beach and ocean are second only to the South Pacific in their pristine beauty; owed in large part to the unfortunate embargo, the sole benefit of which is limited development and properties significantly quieter than elsewhere in the Caribbean.

the real highlight however, are the staff. so friendly and genuine in their interest to help ensure your stay is exceptional. they take pride in their culture and how they present it to their guests. noteworthy again are the exceptional concierge staff team including department head Alex, our now friends Le Duan and Iliana whose consideration exceeded every expectation. special thanks also to our dear friend Edanny who on both this and our first visit 10yrs ago helped ensure every detail of our stay was well taken care of. thank you to all. We look forward to seeing all of you again much sooner than 10 years.

Room Tip: concierge rooms are closer to the beach, have in room beverages, and offer the wonderful service and...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
5 Thank privateuser1909
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Medicine Hat, Canada
Level Contributor
198 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2014

My husband and I stayed here for 1 week and was very pleased overall with the resort and their friendly staff (aside from one lady at the front desk that was rude at times). The resort was going through renovations and did impact us somewhat with our a la carte reservations. We were able to reserve the caribe and the seafood one but when we arrived at our designated time found that the caribe was closed for painting and wasn't notified. Then the next night went to the seafood restaurant and was told there was a private function going on and again we were not notified of this until we arrived for dinner........buffet was very nice and we enjoyed the grill also. The food was delicious and the drinks were very good. Loved the entertainment each night especially the water show and the michael jackson show. The room was nice but a little dated, the main thing was that the room was clean and the bed was comfortable. I loved walking around the resort it is beautiful. Pools were great although we didn't spend much time there. The Beach was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen hands down!!!! I can't wait to return to Varadero again.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank We_Love_2_Travel2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
montreal
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2014

Recently stayed at the Royal Hicacos for 2 weeks. Got back 1 week ago & i could not decide on whether to give this a hotel a four star or 3 star rating.
Having been to Cuba numerous time & 5th time in just Varadero alone so i knew more or less what to expect for cuba.
If i could have given this place a 3 and 1/2 star i probably would have, but based on the fact that the staff were very friendly & accomodating i decided to give this resort a 4 star.
Please note that i paid & stayed in the concierge area of this resort.

Let me start with the good;

-Excellent service (probably one of the best i`ve ever had)
-Rooms were very quiet (no noise from neighbors on either side)
-Digital Air Conditioning (nice option to have & control as to your liking)
-Bedsheets were changed every single day
-Bathrooms were nice (granite counter & bright white tiles around huge baththub)
-Felt very safe leaving things in room & had no problem leaving some valuables lying around
-Food for the most part was tasty (despite some exceptions as with anywhere else)
-Entertainment was actually quite decent
-Servers coming up & down the beach to take our drink orders was a nice touch & very much
appreciated

Things i did not like too much;

- Rooms & resord looked very dated, so much so that i wanted to leave after the very first night.
(Asked for a room change after the 1st night, due to having tiny microscopic ants all over the place & that included all furniture, drawers, bathrooms & most important all over the boxspring & mattress)

-Pools really need to be updated & hazardous & should not be found in a so called five star hotel, just b/c it was once long ago considered a five star....

-Public bathrooms are not the best i`ve seen (esp. the grill bar-keep away from that one)

-The bathroom by the pool has a huge type of permanent vomit stain on the mirror
(very ugly to look at & not something you see in 5 star hotels)

-I`ve seen other family member`s rooms & some of their mirrors had this type of ugly green vomit type of stain that is a permanent fixture of the bathroom. Not very nice to look at everyday

-The complete opposite side of the resort from the concierge ( the rooms near the Iberostar Varadero) have loungers with shade around them & a functional newly done rain showers to wash away the sand b/f heading on to the pool or going back to the room, while the concierge side (which people spend extra money to stay in ) had no fonctionning showers at all & no shade built around the sun loungers unlike the non-concierge side.

-No showers to wash sand away as soon as you walk off the boardwalk section off the beach
(threw them down to rebuild new ones) & the only ones were to the left of the resort which was quite a walk if your room was to the right (concierge area)

-Breakfast was the worst meal of the day. How can you get breakfast wrong?
Very watery orange juice that everyone in my group complained about, weird tasting pancakes & waffles & best of all dry, crunchy french toast on most days. In the 2 weeks i was there, the french toast was acceptable on maybe 4 days out of the 2 weeks. Most of the foods mentioned above were cold too.

-Air conditioning was at a bare minimum everywhere......buffets, restaurants.

-The huts on the beach are so far back that it takes away the beauty of being on the beach by the water. The huts are so far back that could only see the outline of the water hundreds of feet away & took away from the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore. Also the more far back the less breeze is felt & harder to enjoy.
Tried to put my chair closer to ocean but it was so hot, i could not stay for vey long w/o some shade.
I know the royal hicacos has probably the widest stretch of sand, so i think it would be beautiful to build some more huts somewhere along the same line as the Lifeguard hut.

-If you want at least a bit of air, you have to get up pretty early (7am)to reserve front row huts, b/c if you get stuck with the 2nd row of huts, it can be pretty brutal without the lack of air.

-Only 1 working toaster while another stands beside it but never seen it working. I actually burnt my hand once trying to put my bread in a small space between other guest`s bread. Never used it again after that.

-As previously stated in another review, the lobby and reception don`t look new. Even the washrooms in this area are nothing special at all. Don`t understand where these renovations took place..

-Many people in our group had mild to strong stomach cramps through out the whole stay as well as many trips to the washroom due to this. We are not heavy drinkers & did not drink the tap water at all. In all my times in Cuba this has never happened. It kind of put a little damper on things.

-Watch out for the money exchange bureau, they try to short change you if you don`t look at the receipt carefully

-The bistro is located in a hole in the back of the little stores where there is no air & the smell can be quite unpleasant at times. I hated passing by there due to that & obviously never took advantage of this 24 hour food service available.


Suggestions:

-Put some ceiling fans in reception for the employees. No air at all & i felt bad for front desk
clerks

-Living Rooms in the rooms should have a t.v. so that that area is better uitilized.
(what is the use of having a living room area & not using it?)

-Put more than just one person at the Pasta & Pizza Grill in the buffet
I waited more than 5 minutes while the poor guy had 6 plates of pizza that people left for him to prepare & put in oven, while there was no one to take care of the pastas. I just left after that.

-Renovations for the rooms will begin in January 2015. Maybe clean the shutters right outside the bathroom windows. They have done their time & are now quite dirty. This can only enhance the nice touch of having a huge bright window next to shower/bathtub.


In conclusion:

All in all, been to numerous other places which i won`t mention b/c you cannot really compare cuba with other countries. I can say thoug, that so far this is not the best place that i`ve stayed in, but definitely not the worse in Cuba. So in the end, you must try to make the best of any situation. It was okay but not more than that.
Happy Travels everyone!

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank rosiebmontreal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newport, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2014

Fro our arrival tour departure was excellent
Could not fault the quality or quantity of food and drink on offer
the rooms were spotless cleaned everyday and the towels arrange in flowers or animals
We had our 40th wedding anniversary there and our bed was dressed with hearts and rose
petals

Room Tip: All the rooms are the same with pools around the resort and not far to walk to the beach
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Janlyn0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Felix G, Public Relations Manager at Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 16 August 2014
Thanks for your comments, hope that your holidays will be repeated in Royal Hicacos

Staff Royal Hicacos
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dundas, ON
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 August 2014

Just returned from our 17 th visit to Royal Hicacos, 13 of the visits were under Sandals management. We have been 4 times since Sandals have left and for the most part things have stayed the same or improved! This time we took our two adult children, they had a great time and now know why we return so often. The staff at this resort go out of their way to make you feel welcome and make sure your vacation is something that you will never forget. We have never met such hard working people from the gardeners, waiters, cleaners, maids, front office staff, chefs and concierge/butlers- who are always happy, have a smile on their face and provide excellent service. However... I can not say that for the new management team, except for Julie, who we had the pleasure of meeting in May. Julie was unfortunately away when we were there this time but we found her very friendly and was interested in great customer experience. The managers now, in my opinion, unfortunately do not seem very friendly and lack initiating any conversation with the guests. I passed one manager many mornings in the Buffett and tried to make eye contact with him ….after a few days of trying…. I stepped up and said "good morning"…… it really was hard for him to look up and return the greeting! Other managers just walk around, do not from what I could see speak to the guests or look like they are happy to be there! Managers…. when it was Sandals were visible, personable and treated the staff with respect they deserve. We actually observed a manager showing a (very seasoned, excellent waiter) how to fold a napkin……he should have been more worried about the lack of working toasters or heating trays in the buffet. We were also surprised that when we were there in May the Lobby and Lobby Bar were closed…..when we returned the end of July.. they still were not finished. The Lobby opened when we were there but with the old furniture and it still appears unfinished. We heard the Lobby Bar opened a couple days after we left (again with the old furniture)... I will wait to see the finished product but from what we could see I am not sure what has taken 3 months to do. The Lobby Bar was one of the newest renovations done by Sandals approx 5 years ago so in my opinion it could have been one of the last things to be renovated.
I will say there is continued improvements going on and they do their best to make sure that these renovations do not interfere with your holiday. The Lobby Bar staff had a longer walk to get you a drink but that did not stop them from giving you great service. The drinks were excellent at the Lobby Bar, best selection yet... thanks Leonis!! The ice coffee and milk shakes are a hit. JB, Elania, Juan Carlos, Ricardo and Laura are some of the many great servers in the Lobby Bar.
There has been a structure built down at the beach to use once they close the Beach Grill, which I expect could be closed now. We had a excellent dinner at the Beach Grill- steaks and fish and watched the sunset, with Ernesto looking after us. It really does not get much better!
The Beach Grill staff during the day would walk up and down the beach taking drink orders and delivering drinks to all the guests. I had to give them a lot of credit it was hard for us to walk from the beach back to the pool in the heat.
We ate every morning and some lunches and dinners in the Buffet. We were served by Hermes and Barbara through the day and Osnay and Andres in the evenings. The service was excellent they got to know what you liked to drink and there was never a dirty plate or empty glass at the table. No one is ever standing around, they all work as a great team and help each other out. Osvay still makes the best eggs in Cuba!!
The Pool Bar also has excellent service and drinks. Angie, Rey, Frank and Tania worked hard to keep everyone drinks filled, again they made endless trips around the pool taking orders and making sure everyone stayed hydrated.
The entertainment we found to be very good. The Michael Jackson show was really good, the dancing was excellent and the guy that was "Michael" sure looked like him and had his moves. The water ballet is worth seeing along with the bands and trios that play throughout the resort. There is a lot of talented people in Cuba!
The Piano Lounge is nice for a drink in the evening, thanks to Alfonzo for the beautiful piano music and Rodney for the endless cervasas!!
From the moment we arrive at Varadero airport and are greeted by Joel we know our vacation has started. George and Tony were waiting when we arrived at the resort and got our bags to our rooms very quickly. Marcelo at the front desk and many people in Concierge (thanks Alex for your help with our rooms)and Iliana for helping us with reservations …. the endless team work makes our vacation something we will remember. We are happy to see improvements being made- new showers around the resort look nice…. they do need to update public washrooms and add some washrooms at the beach.
All the staff at this resort work as a team and help make this resort to be #1 on Trip Advisor……I hope that the new management learn to work with the staff and treat them well as it is a great resort and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
We look forward to our 18th trip back hopefully in Oct.
Beach is gorgeous!!

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank 993Janet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa

Property: Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
Address: Carretera Las Morlas km 15 | Punta Hicacos, Varadero 42200, Cuba (Formerly Royal Hicacos)
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
#1 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
#1 Spa Hotel in Varadero
#7 Romantic Hotel in Varadero
#13 Family Hotel in Varadero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:5 star — Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 404
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled within lush tropical gardens and just steps from the azure blue waters and powder white sand of Cuba's finest beach lies the award-winning Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa, an Adults Only Luxury All Inclusive Resort. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Royal Hicacos Varadero
Sandals Cuba
Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort Spa
Royal Hicacos

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