We had the pleasure of staying at Royal Hicacos from July 8th to 15th, 2014. Upon our arrival, even though I was aware of renovations ongoing, we were driven past the main lobby, and welcomed at a side entrance. For a moment I thought I might see Mike Holmes directing the reno crew, but no such luck. I must admit it was a little disappointing not to enter the resort through the once impressive lobby. Perhaps next time.
This stay marked our third return to Hicacos, so I was curious to see how the resort had changed from its Sandals’ days. The following review will consist of my before-and-after snapshot of what we experienced while at the resort. Curious?…..then read on….
Rooms. We purchased “Concierge” service, so, as a result we were in the Concierge area of the complex. Much has been said, in many previous Tripadvisor posts, about the rooms however please be informed that they are all furnished the same, whether you have concierge service or not. The Royal and Presidential suites are furnished differently, as you would expect, however we have not stayed in either. As well, non of the rooms have an “ocean view” due to a large green belt between the buildings and ocean.
Our room was 2715, and had a newer “pillow top” mattress, which was softer than previous Hicacos’ rooms we’ve stayed in. The bathroom had a new hairdryer, so gone is the “fire breathing” wall mounted dragon that used to be present. You folks who get all uptight about tarnished fixtures, and other microscopic trivia, can breathe a sigh of relief as all fixtures sparkled. No doubt, you’ll find something else to complain about. Patio furniture was also new, and very comfortable. Lastly, our room had a digital, yes digital, A/C control which worked flawlessly. Otherwise, the rooms were painted and in good repair.
Grounds. Well, in a word, immaculate! The gardeners were out everyday working very hard, in extreme heat, planting new shrubs, cutting grass, cleaning up, etc. Everything looked great, so a huge improvement from our previous visits.
Buildings. Everywhere we looked work was underway. Yes, I know this is the slow season, however painting crews were “at it” the whole time we were there. Regarding the Lobby Bar and Main reception, I peeked in both often and they look promising, but still not complete. Hopefully soon? Either way, when management says, “We are polishing our diamond….”, they’re not kidding! Work is underway in a big way! As our week stay ran out, a temporary structure was being built on the beach in front of the existing beach bar. We asked, “What is it?”, of many servers and they said it was going to be the “temporary bar” while the main beach bar was gutted and redone. Hmmm…..the temporary structure was kind of small…so…don’t really know where everyone is going to sit? Stay tuned!
Beach. Well, it’s still the best beach along the strip! Don’t believe it, then go for a walk in either direction. Wide, beautiful, better groomed than last year, and we saw a gentleman walk along with a rake and bucket picking up debris off the beach everyday. New beach loungers everywhere, as the ugly, old worn out blue and yellow ones are gone! Beach bar service is excellent, as a server walked up and down the beach many times, all day long, asking you if you wanted a drink. We were very impressed!
Security. As before they are everywhere keeping an eye on things. We had no issues with “pesky beach sellers” of any sort. We had no concerns with leaving our personal items on the loungers and going for a swim. Excellent security! Thank you!
Restaurants. As with previous visits, themed restaurants were open on alternate nights. Since we had Concierge service, we had NO problem getting same day seating. I heard many people complaining about not being able to get seating, so, perhaps Concierge is worth the slighter higher cost? I’ll let you think on it.
Overall we found the service in all themed restaurants, and buffet, to be much sharper and attentive. It was as if the servers were reading your mind, as more water, wine, coffee, etc. was quickly, efficiently and politely served as needed. Well done! Regarding the actual food, well, we enjoyed it thoroughly no matter what restaurant, and I believe management has heard the universal cry of, “no more frozen vegetables, please!” Could not find any this year, so well done!
Entertainment. Wow, what a difference from last year! Programmed, on time, varied, and overall excellent! In our room we found a laminated schedule that had a grid of activities from Monday to Sunday, along with the times and places. Whether morning, afternoon, or evening you would be hard pressed not to find something to do, if you chose to. Resort staff worked tirelessly to amuse, exercise, or otherwise entertain guests. Evening shows, in particular, were much more polished and snappy then previous years. The “warm-up” man, named El Chaca, was brilliant as he not only spoke French, Spanish and English fluently, but was also extremely clever and entertaining! I only hope he is compensated fairly for his talents, along with the rest of the evening entertainers, as they were outstanding. So, in short, if you found nothing to amuse you, besides the beach and incredible ocean, then perhaps you didn’t really need a holiday.
Concierge. Worth a mention because they were so incredibly helpful, and ready with answers. Alex, you’re the man!, made a big difference in our stay as he helped out with some minor annoyances. Yes, I know, many of you have said, “it’s not worth the extra cost…”. Well, up to you, however I didn’t have to stand in line to make dinner reservations,….did you? As well lots of discounts for massages, shops, and or course, private airport transfers. More than worth the extra cost.
Staff. Getting bored yet? Well I’m almost done, but to not mention the amazing staff would just be wrong.
Breakfast Buffet: Osvany, you are the “Eggman”. Wow! Serving sometimes six people at once, you always got the eggs right! Osnay and Hermes, thanks for “reading our minds” and always having the coffee ready! Coco, the waffle guy. Thank you for my morning tic-tac-toe!
Lunch Buffet: Osiris, Miladys, Marleny. Wow, as soon as the plate was empty you whisked it away! Thanks so much!
Beach Bar: If you haven’t met Kirenia or Ernesto, then you haven’t been to Hicacos! Truly the life of the Beach Bar! Funny, spicy, efficient, everything you could want in people working at a resort. You made our beach experience priceless. Gracias!
Los Morlas: Yuri, you are the picture of efficiency, and professionalism! Your service at dinner was unforgettable
Piano Bar: Rodney, you are the “Mix master”. Your Royalton was a thing of beauty. Just wanted to look at it, and not drink it.
Maid: Dayana, you kept our room spotless, and we loved seeing your daily “towel art”. Many thanks.
Tipping. Yes, many of you Sandals’ advocates just love to sing the song, “You don’t tip at Sandals” Well, it’s no longer a Sandals! Did we tip? Oh yes! Did the service get better? Don’t really know, as I was too busy having a great time on my holiday to notice. Do I tip for great service in my own home town? Of course, don’t you?
Final thoughts. Oh thank God, he’s finally done! Well, almost…..I wanted to say a few things about management. Clearly we saw you watching us, as we were also watching you do your jobs. I must say that there has been a huge increase in the number of managers watching the resort workers. Yes, all aspects of Hicacos have improved, I only hope that the workers can benefit from the improvements as well, and not just work even harder than before for the same or less pay. We have always believed that the strength of any organization is its workers. You have a great team of workers at Hicacos. We hope you care for them as much as they cared for us, and helped make our time memorable. We will return, in the future, to see the new Royal Hicacos. Viva la Renovation!
- 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