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“Splendid, just splendid” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa

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Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 63 Hotels in Varadero
Guildford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
90 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“Splendid, just splendid”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 August 2014

Just returned from a fortnight post-retirement at the Royal Hicacos. True they are undergoing renovations and some venues have temporarily switched locations but they have made every effort to reduce the impact on the guests and we were impressed with the speed of completion of some of the projects . Some of the work was just a little intrusive but not to the extent that it would spoil your day. Our room was good-bed comfortable, plenty of hot water and mini bar restocked daily. The bath was huge with cushions and the air conditioning quiet and efficient. The white sand beach and transparent turquoise sea were absolutely wonderful and the beach slopes gently into the sea making for plenty of swimming area-no stones/rocks underfoot either and plenty of beach to walk along in the early morning before it gets too hot. The beach is very popular and we found it a good idea to go down for our pre-breakfast walk early and bag a bed then. If you go down later there will in all probability still be beds but they will be further away from the amenities. Ignore the weather reports at home-it didn't rain during the day and only on one evening when we were safely ensconced in the bar. The bar and restaurant service was excellent throughout our stay. None of the staff at any time gave you the impression of expecting a tip although clearly an occasional gratuity is appreciated for good service; they were friendly and charming people.

Food of a good quality and plenty to choose from in the main buffet restaurant which has different stations for fish, meat, pasta, salads and desserts. it would take a very picky person to moan about the selection especially with pancakes and waffles on the go at breafast and some very artistic crepes at lunchtime. The a la carte restaurants were good but El Caribe was outstanding-you need to book this one early as it is in constant demand.

An interesting cross-section of guest nationalities including lots of Canadians (lovely people) returning for their nth visit-one described it as their second home, returning four times each year-I wish! Plenty of opportunities for trips out-obviously Havana but I would recommend the catamaran trips out to Cayo Blanco as this was a really fun day and the crew went out of their way to make it so. An interesting point is that, from the catamaran, you couldn't see the Royal Hicacos buildings above the trees unlike the other hotel developments-they clearly put a lot of thought into this.

Wi-fi a bit wobbly and chargeable but I'd guess that a few years down the line this will improve and will probably be free. Lovely to have an adults only environment too-made for a pretty peaceful experience. We hardly saw our neighbours and the area where our room was situated was very quiet too. Check-in and check-out were handled in a friendly and efficient manner. The palm thatching of many buildings gave the hotel added charm.

All in all an excellent holiday at a fine hotel which we would strongly recommend to others and to which we would love to return one day-hopefully soon.

Room Tip: I would suggest the concierge rooms at either end of the complex-nice and quiet with their own littl...
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
13 Thank oskar77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (842)
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English first
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 August 2014

Spent last 3 nights of our honeymoon here in mid august staying in the concierge suites. After a week of back packing and staying at casa particulars, this was a more luxurious option. From the minute we set foot at the resort, we were well taken care of. Our room was fantastic with a massive bed and bath and a nice view over the pool. The food at the resort was great despite having heard mixed reviews beforehand. Lots of choice, very fresh and the service was excellent. The beach was clean and the staff at the bar were very friendly and efficient. We cannot wait to go back

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Stephen O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
35 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 August 2014

My husband and I stayed at Royal Hicacos for a week this August. The hotel is undergoing renovations, with the lobby and lobby bar recently completed and the "nightclub" and beach restaurant under construction and closed right now.

Pros:
- The beach is beautiful, and extremely wide. The water is clear and you can go out a fair bit and still be able to touch. Little fish swam at our feet while we waded in.
- The beach activity center offered a free catamaran ride to guests, though pay up if you want something a bit more exciting - it was just a quick ride out and back.
- The resort is mostly quiet, I think due it it being overwhelmingly couples rather than large groups or families.
- The food was good. Of course it got repetitive but it always does at an all inclusive. Nonetheless there was a variety of selection and the best part were the crepes, made in front of you with whatever you wanted inside (and they had nutella!).
- The main pool is nice and obviously a bit louder - music playing, more people. But there were two smaller pools with smaller sitting areas in the resort that we enjoyed immensely - much quieter and it felt more private, most of the time we were the only ones enjoying it!
- The internet is a bit expensive - 4.5 pesos for an hour - but unlike many reviewers here I found it to be quite quick, and the lobby employees were happy to help me figure out how to get it working on my tablet.
- You are provided with a key to the in-room safe free of charge.

Cons:
- Arrival was quick and efficient, though I was not a fan of the men delivering our bags pushing into the room in order to insure they would receive a tip (we were already planning on doing it).
- Sleeps were generally quiet, but on the second night a new check in directly beside us was playing extremely loud music and shouting and yelling well past 10pm (and we tend to go to sleep early to wake early when on trips, and relaxing in your room or on your balcony wasn't possible with the music as loud as it was). We called the lobby to ask if someone could go ask them to turn it down, but noone did. We later went in person to the lobby with the same complaint and were told it would be dealt with, which it never was. Luckily after a while they turned it off themselves to go out. They may have been spoken to the next day as we did not hear music any other night, and obviously one bad start to a night did not ruin the trip, however after hearing how good the service was at this resort I was surprised it wasn't good for us.
- The beach restaurant being closed was certainly a con - if I had known going in that some facilities were closed I would not have went to this resort. The smaller renovations also were a bit annoying - they were replacing the showers at the main pool and the sound of a jackhammer removing old concrete, tiles, and pavement was pretty irritating to many guests.
- While we booked at the A La Carte restaurants, we ended up visiting the buffet most nights anyways, as they were nothing special.

Overall we had a great trip, though not one of my best to Cuba.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank wabajisik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 August 2014

Beautiful resort - clean, bright and friendly staff. Big stage with nightly entertainment.

We stayed a week and decided to take a day trip to Havana. It's about 2 hours away and we wanted someone local to show us around a bit. We were given glowing reviews about a man named Yousel from many others at the resort so we gave him a call. He is a private photographer and takes you on a private photo tour of Havana.

Yousel picked us up at our resort in a 50's classic car with a driver. This meant he spent the entire ride focusing on telling us about our surroundings rather than watching the road. His english is near perfect and he was wonderful! Funny, witty, and with a fierce knowledge of the history and politics of Cuba. We couldn't have asked for a better guide! We got to dictate where and what we wanted to see although he had most of the "must-see" sights handled. He took photos of us the whole day, which meant we could enjoy the trip and not worry about taking touristy pictures ourselves. He took us through Old Havana to see the lives of regular Cubans, Revolution square and the infamous Hotel Nacional de Cuba, among other things. He made sure we were safe and that we saw everything we wanted to see.

He arrived at our resort the next day with a DVD of our photographs and a bottle of rum. The pictures were professional and beautiful. Trust me, you would be amiss to see Havana without Yousel. He helped make our vacation memorable. So call him if you're thinking of going anywhere in Cuba and want some guidance from a local, beautiful photographs of your day or just a new red-headed Cuban friend!

Check him out:

http://ilovecuba.webs.com

(+53) 529 32 057

yoselvazquez@yahoo.com

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Fei K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dudley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 August 2014

Had visited this resort previously, so were looking forward to seeing the 'improvements' - first disappointment. Having been offered a seat in the newly refurbished reception, we sat alongside a lamp with a ripped shade, not a good first impression. Despite having emailed the resort in advance to let them know we were returning guests, and to explain our room preference, we were shown to a room on the opposite side of the resort and with just about the worst view possible. The butler, who showed us to the room, said that there were no other rooms available. The disappointment on our faces must have been clear as after a few minutes we did have a call asking if the room was satisfactory, which it wasn't, and surprisingly a room in our preferred area of the resort was made available. We were given one of the newly refurbished rooms - second disappointment. The room had been painted, but exactly the same colour as before, and the curtains (unchanged) had holes. We were expecting some more obvious changes to show the change of ownership but no. The room was the usual standard of cleanliness, that could not be faulted. We did not have any contact with our Butler unless we saw her around the resort so her role was not clear. The returning guest dinner was disappointing, before there had been a nicely printed menu and management in attendance. The General Manager was not evident at all (a complaint from staff as well), other managers were introduced prior to show time one night then disappeared again. There have been many changes to staff, and the new staff did not in our opinion offer anywhere near the service and friendliness we have experienced previously. The repainted bar area (which as a previous reviewer has said didn't really need refurbishing) was already showing signs of scuffed white paint work. I do not smoke, but why there had to be some non smoking areas in the lobby bar (which is basically an outdoor space) is besides me. My husband cut his toe quite badly on a broken tile in the pool, reception didn't want to know, couldn't provide any plasters and sent us to buy them from the pharmacy! Prices in the shops are hugely inflated compared to out of resort. This may be expected, but staff also seem incapable of giving correct change - again something that we have not encountered before. There was definitely a different feel about the whole resort, and it seemed to be no where near as happy and relaxed a place as we have visited before. The new management needs to take a long hard look at this resort. If it is to be the 5* resort they think it should be then there is a long, long way to go. The whole ambience of the place has changed, may be to fit a different market. Unfortunately we do not visit what should be a top class adults only resort to be told that we can 'win money' to spend in the club shop if we take part in various activities. Having had excellent reports from friends and family about other resorts in Varadero, it is highly unlikely that we will return to this resort as the price does not reflect the quality. Bring back Sandals I say, and get this resort back to the one we all knew and loved!

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
18 Thank BroadwayStar231
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Felix C, Director General at Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 7 September 2014
Dear Guest,

We would like to point out a few details to make sure our future guests receive the right information about our hotel. First of all, buffet menus vary every day.
Also mention and according to our on site doctor, some guests have stomach upsets caused mainly by the change of ambiance, if we would have an issue caused by our food we would have had a lot more guests ill, but we guarantee that our health and security controls are very rigorous and guarantee full hygiene and safety.

Unfortunately we tried to find your happiness during your stay with us and it seems we were not to your expectations even with all of your efforts. Please believe us when we say that we have your best interests at heart and it pains us very much that our efforts were in vain.

We hope that you would like to visit us again after all the reparations are done. All of our managers and staff will still be giving the same customer service and attention you were given during your vacation and possible more, to make sure your next vacation is unforgettable.

We hope to welcome you back again to Royal Hicacos.

The Royal Hicacos Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Burnley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 August 2014

My wife and I stopped at the Royal Hicacos Resort in August 2014, the hotel was chosen as it was an adult only hotel. We received the usual good welcome with champagne and easy relaxed 'check in' sat in comfy chairs ( no queuing at a desk ) after our long journey. Even though we just had a standard Thomas Cook room we were led to our room by our appointed 'butler' ( he looks after several rooms not just yours ). He was always watching out for you to see if he could be of service in anyway and we did use him on four occasions for minor maintenance issues and personal issues and he sorted them all out perfectly within 4 hours......that's good service!! This hotel is all about service, whether it be by your Thomas Cook representative Ana, the hotel management, restaurant management and staff, bar management and staff etc etc. Everyone goes out of their way to ensure you have no problems, complaints or issues of concern. With websites like this they go out of their way to try and ensure all comments are positive. My comments are 'nearly' all positive......the rooms are large, the beds large, the bathroom is large, the bath is large and the rooms are fitted with ceiling fans over the bed and a centrally controlled air conditioning. At times the aircon could have been a little lower in the early evening for comfort whilst you got ready to go out (set at 26C), but it was always cool at night for sleeping.....you needed that sheet to keep warm by 4:00am !! (set at 21C).
The facilities are well set out, I didn't use the gym or spa but I had a look in and they both looked to be of a good standard.
The main restaurant was very good, there was always a good choice of different foods...... if you complain about the food you must be an extremely fussy eater as there was always plain food available as well as more exotic. Cooking stations to have your food cooked in front of your eyes were available for meats, fish, pizza's and pancakes. The main restaurant has both internal air conditioned areas and outside balconies to sit on and the waiter service for drinks both water and wine was first class on most nights ( but an early recognition of their service (1 peso) on night one of their shift always ensured a full glass of wine the next night with a perfect smile).
The theme restaurants I find harder to comment on, I only visited 2 and my experiences were not my best meals. The Carribe had good food but the atmosphere was far too hot and I could not relax for sweating bucket's in the heat, it spoilt my evening. The Italian had a poor menu for my taste and the 'wine' service was the poorest I experienced two small half glasses in over an hour. My main complaint of the restaurants was that the aircon was not always too effective, I preferred to eat after 9:00pm by which time the evening temperature was cooling and I could sit outside on the balcony with the sea breeze blowing in. I feel all the eating areas would benefit from fans to give more air movement I know its a hot country and humid in July/ August but other hotels use ceiling fans very successfully to reduce the humidity. Perhaps the refurbishment will see alterations to this aspect.
This hotel has a great beach area and the sea was gorgeous it was like walking into a warm clear bath, swimming was very safe, no waves most of the time and perfect clear water to watch out for the fish by your feet !!
The pool area was well spread out with separate pool sections and I spent most of my hotel based days sunbathing near the pool, using the shade of the local trees at the hot parts of the day. This area is due to be refurbished in the Autumn of 2014, so I do not know how many changes there will be to this area.
Refurbishment is an on-going issue we had a change of evening bars during our stay as one bar re-opened and another closed for refurbishment.......not a major issue we were aware of changes going on as before we travelled Thomas Cook had emailed me details.
We did 3 organised excursions during our 2 weeks, a half day to Varadero town which was good value and well worth the morning trip and I repeated the trip privately for another longer look around the resort town. We also did the 2 day trip to Havana, a must do trip when in Cuba. It's my 2nd visit to Cuba and Havana with a 7 year gap and Havana is changing and modernising even the 'old' town, but its good to walk around without hassle or safety issues. We also love the night show at the Tropicana another must do when in Cuba, if you enjoy Latin music. The other excursion was labelled as the three city tour which takes you to the south coast and inland areas through the central part of the island. This was an overnight trip staying in a comfortable motel type hotel with good food and entertainment. The visit's to Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus and Santa Clara were all very enjoyable and learning about the history of the island and the roles of the political leaders and their 1950's / 1960's revolutionary history.
Overall a very good holiday, a good hotel and I will be looking at the hotel websites again to check on the refurbishment and checking the prices to check it is still good value for money as it was in 2014.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
16 Thank ROGER S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Belleville, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 August 2014

The Royal Hicacos was really everything we expected and more, we had our room within 15 minutes of arriving we liked the location it was close to everything our Butler Betty was amazing as was all the staff at the hotel, they smile and ask you every day how your stay is going and they remember you after the first day we became known as the Cuban sisters which we will forever call each other. The buffet was very good some of the best breakfasts in Cuba I have ever had lunch for us was on the beach for most days and the burgers were good dinner was also good at the buffet one night hip of beef, (with the best gravy) roast turkey & roast pork on other nights, we did not go to the al a cartes so no comment. We did venture into Havanna it was pretty well a 12 hour day so very long & of course hot but interesting our Guide Irene was super. The new lobby bar opened the second day we were there and Roberto was the best. The beach in one word fantastic! My husband & I plan to go next year. The grounds were beautiful and our room was in front of the gazebo so we saw a couple of weddings. Having traveled to Cuba many times I have to say this was the best hotel I have stayed in Thanks to all the staff and the manager for making our stay great.

Room Tip: We were in 1102 which was close to everything
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Donna D
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 Spa Hotel in Varadero
#1 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
#1 Top resorts 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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