its true, my review was just posted today in the morning and was gone by this evening. Thank you moineauQC for bringing this to my attention,totally unacceptable. Here is my review again in case it doesn't get re-posted:
Yes the beach is amazing and the resort is very small and quiet, there are more than enough chairs by the pool and very relaxing BUT do you really want to spend your vacation wondering if today you will have a good meal or bad meal? Food was very inconsistent and limited in variety.
2 incidents within 15 minutes of our arrival turned me off immediately.
Firstly a bellboy caught us coming out of our room and waved us down to leave our luggage inside, he asked us to open the door for him because he didn't have a key (total lie). He jokingly asked for 2 pesos and I said we were going to get change. Then he said in Canadian is fine or could give me change. I thought he was going to give me CAD to CUC, he changed my $20 for 4 X $5 and carefully counted out the $5, 10, 15, 20 into my hand as I passed him my $20. Then he took back the stack and counted them out again slowly $5, 10, 15, 20, then again he counted them out for me. The guy was waiting for me to give him a $5 tip for dropping off my luggage after I had to open the door for him. When I handed him the $5 he finally stopped counting my money and left me alone. Its the fact that he expected $5 that irritated me more than anything. I have never had anything like that ever happen to me in the Carribbean. Not gracious at all and definitely not what you would expect from a 5 star resort.
After that horrendous experience we walked down to the beach and back into the resort, we were stopped by a security guard that didn't believe we were hotel guests, he asked to see our Royaton card that was in our room. Said our room key wasn't proof enough. We told him our room number and he begrudgingly let us pass.
Its still a new resort so maybe things will get better, it does look like they are reading these trip advisor reviews and changing things. We saw champagne / mimosas one day only at breakfast on our way out. I would have had some had we been offered it. They added a second garbage can to the rooms and there are overhead sun shades on the pool beds now. They just need to add drapes around the pool beds and bolsters and it would be great.
We did not see a lime or lemon the entire week, hard to make a good drink. The striploin steak was inedible it was so tough (but not overcooked, actually came out med rare) like shoe leather and covered in a sweet sauce, chicken legs at the snack bar were so overcooked, dry and bland, over cooked seafood was par for the course, shrimps were never deveined and everything was drizzled with olive oil as a garnish for some reason. Salad is shredded romaine with tomato slices and olive oil ( no vinegar or lemon or seasoning) Mashed potatoes tasted like from a box. Potatoes aoli were boiled potatoes slathered with mayo. Fries were overly deep fried to a crisp, burgers had no seasoning. There isn't a lot of fruit or vegetables available either. Halfway through the week the pineapple was canned. The breakfast pastries were quite dry and crumbly. Hashbrowns drenched in oil. They put out what I thought was sour cream when they ran out of cream cheese for breakfast one day. The Cubans really have no idea what North American food is like. There were a LOT of deep fried items - good or bad depending what you're into. They need more variety on the menu, breakfast is the same every day, I've never eaten so many eggs. Lunch is the same everyday at the snack bar.
We spoke with tonnes of other people at the resort and believe me, it was a consensus the food was the worst people had had in Cuba, and most people we talked to had been to Cuba several times.
Not all the food was bad though, most of the soups were good (not the cold gazpacho), eggs at breakfast were good, nachos were good, cuban beef was OK, rice pudding was good, flan/panacotta was OK a bit rubbery and lumpy (not silky), filet mignon one night at senses was good, chicken one night at senses was good. Drinks for the most part were good and not too sweet. Certain alcohols are not available like top shelf liquor, amaretto, bombay gin, grey goose. We did see some top shelf scotch/whisky at Memories Lobby bar but it was not included even with your Royalton card and had to pay if you wanted a taste, we even asked management about this. The only thing we wanted from Memories we couldn't have. We were told we were like VIP guests of Memories. When you go over there, its such a zoo no one knows you're from the Royalton and there is no special service.
We did see some Spanish speaking guests get food that wasn't on the menu that looked amazing like lobster tail salad Why wasn't I offered this? On our last day I saw a man at breakfast with a side of home fries. You gotta ask for stuff you don't even know you want and if you are lucky the server might understand you and if you are really nice to him, you might even get it.
A note to the management, there is definitely preferential treatment at this resort for big tippers. Don't get me wrong we tipped all our servers, butlers and maids but apparently not enough as you see the eyes of the waitresses and waiters light up for their big tippers when they walk through the door. More than once our waiter dropped the ball on us when someone with deeper pockets came in at dinner that they had obviously served before. I can live with this as it is human nature when you are from such a poor country and want to make your tips BUT that even isn't the worst of it.
Service is one thing, I can live with waiting to have my order taken but there are actually menu items that are not listed that I believe are reserved for certain guests, the lobster salad at lunch, the bigger lobster tails at dinner. One guest told us you can get lobster tails from the upper pool bartender at lunch. You won't see any of this on a menu. Why would I think to ask a bartender for a lobster tail. I think there were nachos throughout the day at Sunset too but not sure, again not made available to all guests. Also heard there were lobster tail skewers and meat skewers and fruit skewers at the beach bar. Never saw any of that if you were at the pool all day. Would have been nice to see that on the menu at Sunset.
Another example of this preferential treatment and service was at Eggsellense one night at dinner. We ordered the lobster en papillotte after seeing other guests receive massive beautiful tails at 2 other tables around us. Seriously they were huge, almost the diameter of a wine bottle. The waiter knew exactly what was going on too, really working up the main course, asking if we were ready for it, saying its cooked perfectly, done just right. Imagine my disappointment when he brought it out an overcooked (as usual) lobster cut in half and about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the other tails we had seen other guests served. It was the size of a banana. When I asked him why ours looked different he said they are the same and then yelled something in Spanish to another waiter about us and went in the back.
I think we Canadians are doing this to ourselves as another poster had mentioned by tipping excessively and promoting the workers to have dollar signs in their eyes. At our orientation meeting our sunwing rep flat out said tipping is very much appreciated - more like expected. At this resort, I felt that tipping was almost mandatory if you want to get anything. We did tip and also gave some gifts for people but the look on their faces told me it was money they really wanted. One worker flat out told me they can buy whatever they want with CUC's and money is preferred over gifts.
I will never go back to this resort and would definitely not recommend it to anyone. Being served bad food is one thing but being served bad food when people around you are being treated better and being served what looks like amazing food is another. I would be more likely to recommend it if we felt were were served the same food had it been bad or good.
I have never experienced this at any other resort in the Caribbean and is the main reason why I would not send any of my friends or family here. Will not return to the Royalton ever.
If you are OK with packing peanut butter and other condiments on your vacation for a so called 5 star resort (we saw some people who did!!!) go ahead but I'd rather go to Mexico where the food is amazing, the people work hard and everyone is treated the same no matter what you tip them.
Change your money at the airport, better exchange rate. You can always get change from the bartenders. At the resort we got 94 CUC for 100 CAD, its 96 CUC at the airport
Remember to put aside 25 CUC for your departure tax, sunwing will give you a tourist card on the plane be careful filling it out, if you make a mistake, have to pay $20 for a new one.
The resort was mainly mid to late 40's -70's, there were a few younger couples, not a lot of dressing up, very casual, no men's dress code, no high heels to be seen or fancy jewelry. Not like in Mexico with Brits dressing up to the nines. Not much to do at night after the 9:30 show unless you are going to the disco in the Pueblo Estrella. The gym looks ok in the pictures but the treadmill is super narrow and not good. The spa looked nice, small but quaint. The Carnival in the Pueblo is 15 cuc per person one evening, live music and fireworks, starts at 11pm. bus loads of people from neighbouring resorts go.
Other not so good things:
bed is very firm, consider bringing a down pillow top along with your condiments
beans and rice has pork chunks in it (vegetarians beware)
got ham in a vegetarian omelet one day, be careful if you're vegetarian
use deet all day for bites if bugs like you, I got bit, partner didn't even with no deet
shower door leaks water all over floor, made a mess every day, slippery for seniors
ants in room all the time
white wine tasted like water, rose was worse, merlot was good
resort needs bar menus, more accurate food menus
toilet in room smelt like sewage on windy days
toilet by pool smelt like pee even though a maid cleaned it after every person
top shelf liquor at Memories was NOT included and not available at Royalton
menus need to be more accurate in description
chicken breast on menu will be legs when brought to you
salad is always tomatoes and shredded romaine with olive oil (no micro greens/spinach here)
lobster salad on menu is shrimp
limited seating for entertainment, no true stage
sunwing service was terrible, not enough agents, delays both ways, will never fly sunwing again.
amazing beach, can walk for miles, crystal clear water
nice pool, tonnes of seating, immaculately clean, the guy cleaning pool and surrounding areas was a perfectionist, super hard working
large rooms just like in picutres
great coffees/cappuccino/lattes at Sunset bar
smoked salmon at breakfast was good
fresh pineapple and papaya juices
best bartenders and drinks at lobby bar
security guards everywhere
maids in every resort bathroom keeping toilets clean
beautiful live cuban music
entertainment was very good every night with good variety
synchro swim show very unique and entertaining.
butlers very humble, always available but almost like a made up job (just another person to tip), not really necessary all they do is make your dinner reservations. We didn't really need them for anything but you have to tip them anyways since they keep coming over to make sure everything is OK. They can't really fix the leaking shower door or make the food better or bring me a softer mattress.