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“So much potential in this beautiful resort but had a lot of negatives” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa

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Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
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5.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Carretera Las Morlas KM 15 | Punta Hicacos, Varadero 40400, Cuba (Formerly Royal Hicacos)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 59 Hotels in Varadero
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
“So much potential in this beautiful resort but had a lot of negatives”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

The entire resort is absolutely beautiful and when we first arrived and were handed a glass of champagne each, we were so thrilled we had decided to stay here. But after a few days we found ourselves with a whole heap of complaints. I’m not one to usually moan and pick at little things at all, in fact I’m usually very easily pleased, but there were just too many things about this resort that we couldn’t ignore.

I had asked for a sunset room which we got – they are at the far back of the resort so are a bit more of a walk (only a few minutes) from all the main goings-on but this meant it was nice and quiet. We couldn't really see the sunset from our balcony though! The room was huge with a separate sitting area with sofas and a coffee table and then the huge bed which was so high little me almost had to jump to get in it! We had a huge square bath which was big enough to fit 3 people in but most of the towels were quite hard and rough.

The majority of the staff were lovely and friendly and helpful, especially one of our butlers, and all the staff in the nightclub who were always run of their feet but still managed to chat and have a few laughs with guests. Some of the staff were just plain rude though – whether it was just someone being miserable taking a food order or the manager in the Italian restaurant who was incredibly rude to us and another couple and seemed to do everything he could to do the opposite to what we asked for. A few of my curlers also went missing after our room had been cleaned which I was pretty annoyed with.

The buffet restaurant is pretty big and only a couple of times did we have to wait a few minutes for a table. There are different sections that you can just help yourself from – pasta and pizza, seafood, meat, salad, desserts so there was always a lot to choose from. The food was very repetitive though so after 2 nights of eating here we were glad we had booked into the a la carte restaurants for a few nights. There were a couple of birds flying around inside the buffet restaurant which, understandably, it must be hard to get them out but we noticed that a lot of the chairs had bird poo on the seat backs which is really quite disgusting and unhygienic in an eating place.

The Italian a la carte restaurant was nothing special but was probably made worse by the rude staff member. There was no pizza on the menu which we found strange for an Italian restaurant! The Tex-Mex in the beach hut was nice enough but it was a really windy rainy day which meant we were extremely cold and wind-blown through the whole meal and the main course of fajitas was literally just one fajita which didn’t fill us up at all. The Caribbean was by far the best restaurant with a much more romantic setting, friendly waiter service, more choice of wine, and 3 courses of delicious filling food.

We had butler service but the only time we used it was to change a reservation at one of the a la carte restaurants and it turned out it was quicker for us to do this ourselves.
The day time entertainment wasn’t brilliant as my husband and another guy had to ask for a ball and round up people themselves for beach volleyball. The evening entertainment went from one extreme to the next – we had some brilliant evening shows of Michael Jackson and water aerobics (don’t miss either!), but another night there was just a catwalk which was very strange! The nightclub is fun to spend the evening in with a group of people but the air con is turned up high even on cold days so bring a cardigan! After a few of their delicious strong cocktails the cold didn't seem to matter much anyway!

This resort has so much potential as it really is beautiful with a fabulous beach and so many facilities, but unfortunately it managed to fall flat in a lot of places. Many people we spoke to said the same thing so it wasn’t just us being picky. I’m really hoping they try to sort out these things as the Royal Hicacos could be an amazing resort.

Stayed February 2015, traveled as a couple
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (362)
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English first
Manchester, United Kingdom
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

the hotel its self was absolutely amazing,(no kids allowed yipee) the food was superb from the buffet to the al a carte, the staff were very friendly and couldn't do enough for you ( especially ary and lisset the 2 pool barmaids) and our butlers Larry (lazy) and Betty. beautiful clean beaches , rooms very clean , constant changing of towels and the bed turned down every night and 2 choccies left every night. day animation team busy all the time , and the nightly entertainment was very good. i would recommend this hotel to anyone who want to visit cuba

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halifax, Canada
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

This is a very nice resort, it does not deserve to be called the #1 resort in Veradero. We were on our 6th trip together to Cuba. This was by far the best beach and swimming. We do not do pools. The beach is wide and clean and stunning. The water was crystal clear - no snorkelling by the way. It is all sand bottom. We paid a bit extra for the Diamond Club. It gets you a super baha bed palapa (availability was never an issue) with a dedicated waiter (Leoni was fantastic). The snacks they advertise are minimal and never changed the entire time we were there. This is a tired resort. Our air conditioning never worked well, our room door only opened part way, the bed was old, it needs some work. However, all in all, the room was okay, it was just not of a quality I expected for the #1 resort. This was probably the poorest food we have had in Cuba. At the buffet, what they had was nice, it just never changed the entire week. We had pirate (no idea what that was supposed to be) night and Mexico night with the same food (yup, Mexican flag but no Mexican food). We normally don't do a la cartes because we have never found them to be particularly special. We ate at one, the beach front, and it was lovely. Air conditioning - big issue! It was hot when we were there, I am sure in excess of 35 Celsius. We are Nordic and need our cooling. As I have mentioned, the room air conditioning was not great. At the buffet it was minimal or non-existent (this was confusing as they could close it off). It is difficult to enjoy your meal with sweat streaming down your face. Everywhere else was unenclosed and could not be air conditioned. As a result we never really enjoyed the bar area in the evening. Small issues: First, coffee is not good. There is a cappuccino bar where they make anemic cappuccinos. Although I saw an espresso machine in the buffet, they would not make one for us there. In general, this was the poorest coffee that I have had in Cuba and, possibly, my greatest disappointment. Second, they had a large bar in the buffet with a full time bartender but wouldn't mix us drinks. That wasn't the only availability issue. They regularly ran out of fruit at breakfast and sometimes had limited juice flavours. Bacon was an issue. They ran out of croissants! No one seemed particularly concerned. Third, they have a butler system where you contact your butler for anything that you need. One of ours was nice but kept telling us what we wanted, he was a bit pushy but obviously well intentioned. This is all sounding very negative now. This is a very nice resort and we had a lovely trip. It's just not quite up to the standard that I expected from Varadero's #1 resort. I have rated it as above average but, depending on your priorities, this may or may not be the place for you. We will probably look around for our next trip.

Room Tip: Near the beach and on the ground floor.
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Just spent two weeks here and would thoroughly recommend it.
It does have a few minor niggle like Wi-fi availability/coverage is very poor and really should be included at the price. It's only available in the main bar via paid for cards from reception.
We had an intermittent faulty TV which they did look at but it worked OK at the time, 5mins later I rang them up to ask the guy to come back as it was now not working, but never saw him again.
Sun lounger availability can be a bit limited and we struggled to get one on the beach. (which won't be a problem for long as after a storm half the beach seemed to have been washed away)
Food is very good and available 24hours via the snack bar. The ice cream at the ice cream parlour is very good. Move over Mr Whippy. This is the first holiday in a while that I've not spent half of it on the toilet due to the food.
Whilst not a beach front property it's only a 2min walk from your room, so is as good as.
In fact the beach was probably closer to our room than the restaurants.
There are umbrellas in the room which come in handy when it rains as all rooms are an outside walk away from the main buildings.

Room Tip: Just leave the aircon on all the time, except when you sleep as you wake up cold.
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

From arrival to departure staff were friendly,welcoming and efficient. On arrival we were greeted with champagne but did not have time to drink it before being whisked away to our room. The junior suite #2401 was in the quietest part of the complex well away from the bars and entertainment. The room was spacious and spotless with a comfortable bed. As I am only 5ft tall it was rather high- A step like the one in the bathroom would have been useful! The chambermaid was nifty with her towel sculptures and the chocolates were yummy!
The bath was huge, easily large enough for 2 people side by side. The water had good pressure and was hot.
If you want to eat at the a la carte restaurants book on arrival. We ate at the Caribbean and fish restaurants which offered good food but personally we preferred the buffet. The seafood buffet was outstanding with every seafood imaginable. The shrimps were the size of langoustines!
Breakfasts offered something for everyone with both hot and cold options. Freshly made fruit smoothies were delicious as were the waffles and pancakes.
The piano bar provided a quieter option for preprandial drinks than the lobby bar. Cocktails were low in alcohol so there was no evidence of over indulgence!
The quietest place for relaxing on sun beds was behind our block. This area also provided the most shelter. In comparison the areas around the pools and along the beach were very busy as was the beach bar.
We had a very relaxing stay preferring to chill rather than take part in the many water sports or spa activities.
Once at the resort we could have been anywhere in the world as there was no real Cuban influence. It was on a par with Miami!
We enjoyed the child free hotel.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Totally loved this place, we have never gone all inclusive before I had big worries about the food as I am the most fussy eater you could meet , well I needent of worried the food was fantastic every need was caterd for . Don't know how the did it but it was first class. Loved the 2 Al carte we tried but it was nice to sit and be served but the buffet food was just as good. The accommodation was first class so roomy and spotlessly clean . The pool is bueautiful plenty going on all day , snack bar servers burgers hot dogs and salad , if you wanted something different there is another's 24hr sack bar just off the pool that has a much larger range. Ice cream and drinks available allday , waiter service at pool. Had my birthday here and our butler did all he could to make my day and me feel very special . My only complant is there R not enough umbrella T the pool also could do with mor beds , having said this the place was full , we went in April 2015. Can change money at reception or go to the town ,but be warned the banks have a tendency to run out of money. All in all we really loved it here , yes I would stay here again staff were very helpful and friendly not always the case in Cuba

Room Tip: Only paid for wifi in bar
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paulina C, Manager at Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 4 days ago
Dear Jude
Thank you for having chosen us for your stay in Varadero and for sharing your experience
It is a pleasure to read your comments on our resort; it is nice to know that you liked it and that you will be returning, we appreciate your opinions about your holidays in our hotel.
All comments are always taken into account and we are pleased to receive them all.
It will be an honor to receive you the next time you come to Cuba, our doors are opened.

We hope to see you soon over this paradise

Best Regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
nova scotia
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

We just returned from a one-week trip to Hicacos (April 22-29) via Sunwing.

1. Flights to and from. We flew out of Halifax with a short stopover in Moncton. It adds almost two hours to your flight down (including landing, taking off, etc), so beware. If you can afford it, you should upgrade to Elite Plus. Well worth it in the extra leg room alone. Amenities on the flight aren't great. No pillows. Seats were like iron maidens (not the lovable heavy metal band from the '80s). Food seems to have slipped a bit from last year. Service pretty good overall, though.

2. Resort. Overall, pretty good. Very clean. It needs some maintenance. Some of the bathroom fixtures (toilet, tub) are showing their age. The bed wasn't as uncomfortable as I was expecting, but still not great. Our light wooden door was warped slightly and didn't open all the way, but 3/4 of the way, which was still wide enough for us to enter and exit.

It was wonderfully hot when we were there and air conditioning in our room seemed to struggle to cope. It was usually around 24 C in the room. (Also, air conditioning in the buffet restaurant was pretty ineffective.) Our room itself was very quiet when the patio doors were closed, which they usually were because of the heat (not complaining!). Grounds were gorgeous. *** A warning about this resort if you have mobility issues. *** There are steps and stairs everywhere. From a few steps to enter the little shopping area and courtyard, to three flights up to the buffet restaurant and to your room (if you're on an upper floor), just beware you could be doing a lot of climbing during your stay. On the other hand, it's great exercise.

3. Food. This was our sixth time in Cuba, and we usually love the food at the buffet. We've always been lucky to be at resorts with quite a lot of fresh fruit, fish, meat and other dishes. While the food here is good, there just wasn't much variety. The selection at breakfast was very similar day after day (though I loved that they had a person cutting up fresh fruit all morning long). For dinner, they have fresh fish and meat at the respective stations each day, but their other dishes were very much the same day after day. It was all tasty, but not much variety. This was really obvious the night we went to the beach a la carte, which was simply delicious. I would highly recommend it. Despite my complaints about the buffet restaurant, we never left hungry, that's for sure. :)

4. Drink. No major complaints. Always lots of beer, wine or liquor at most places on the resort. The weird thing was that you couldn't get a mixed drink in the buffet restaurant at dinner time, even though they appear to have a fully stocked bar in the restaurant. Also, you couldn't get a cappuccino at dinner even though they had an espresso machine.

5. Staff. Overall, very friendly and helpful when they could be. The check-in was one of the best I've experienced in Cuba. Very professional and easy. Our check-in concierge Alex was very smooth and welcoming. The staff don't seem overwhelmed or surly as we witnessed last year at Ensenachos in Santa Clara. Front desk staff were always very friendly any time we exchanged money or had questions. Our second day there, we went to exchange some money and were sweating quite a bit. Without a word, the staff member got up and returned with refreshing, cold, damp face towels. Very nice touch.

The wait staff at the restaurants were usually very good and friendly. We ran into a couple of grumpies, but we just ignored them.

The best server by far was Leoni, our bartender on the beach in the Diamond Club section. He was great. He's the kind of bartender you always wish for, not pushy, but very attentive and just a really nice guy.

6. Beach. Awesome. Wide, sandy beach, beautiful clear water. The best part of this resort. And it's well worth the upgrade to the Diamond Club. Never any issue getting a spot. Plus, you have your own bar and drink service in the D.C. section, and usually with afternoon snacks. (We're not pool people, so I have no idea what they were like, though people seemed to be enjoying them.)

7. Other things. The butler/concierge service was kind of meh. One of ours was a little bossy (though he was nice about it), booking us into four a la cartes at times he decided before we could even tell him which ones we wanted or when we wanted to go.

Compared to other 5-star resorts we've visited in Cuba, this one wasn't the best (I still think Ensenachos is tops, especially if they can address their eroding beach problem), though it was still a good vacation. I would rank it No. 4 out of the five (twice at Ensenachos) we've visited. The beach was amazing, the staff generally friendly, the food good if a little boring in its sameness, and the resort could do with some infrastructure improvements.

Room Tip: If you have mobility issues, make sure to request a room on a lower floor. This resort has lots of s...
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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

Address: Carretera Las Morlas KM 15 | Punta Hicacos, Varadero 40400, Cuba (Formerly Royal Hicacos)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Matanzas Province > Varadero
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Varadero
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Varadero
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Varadero
#1 Luxury Hotel in Varadero
#7 Romantic Hotel in Varadero
#13 Family Hotel in Varadero
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 
Also Known As:
Sandals Royal Hicacos Varadero
Sandals Cuba
Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort Spa
Royal Hicacos

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