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“Fantastic resort and wedding renewal”

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Iberostar Ensenachos
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Cayo Ensenachos
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 16, 2010

I will try to write a detailed review, but if anyone has any specific questions, please feel free to send me a message. Everyone already knows its a long drive from the airport to the resort and that the beach is fantastic, but there isnt too much information about the wedding packages available there. Ours was the only ceremony performed there during the week we were there and my wife loved the attention she received from the other guest and staff while we were there.

My wife and I spent one week at the RHE and while there, we renewed our wedding vows. Our wedding co-ordinator Lisardo did a fantastic job with our renewal, the photographer took great photos that my wife is very happy with, our concierge in building #43 Ypsis and our made Yusimi all went above and beyond to make us happy.

Our wedding package (Luxury Ceremony it was called) included a room upgrade to a 2 level duplex suite, late checkout and turndown service. The wedding ceremony included a JP, marriage certificate, champagne, cake of choice, flowers, bouquet and boutonniere and a decorated venue (pavallion on the water). Lisardo did everything we asked and I would recommend to anyone that getting married or renewing their wows at RHE will certainly be a great experience. I actually enjoyed it more then our wedding at the Beaches in Varadero. The pavaliion where the ceremony was performed was right on the water, beside the seafood restaurant. It was decorated very nicely and in the colours of our choice. The DJ even played our own music through his equipment that was on my iPod. We also purchased a photo package for $40 CUC that included 24 developed photos and an additional 94 photos on a CD for us to keep.

Ypsis, our concierge was excellent. She always had a smile on here face and did everything we asked for (extra water and beer for example) and getting us dinner reservations for after our wedding at the Gourmet Restaurant on the Royal Suites side of the resort. That dinner and our server Marley, was easily the best meal and service we received at the RHE. Building 43 in the Hideaway section was a great location and about equal distance to the beach and main building. The duplex suite was 2 levels, with a living/dining room area, 2 piece bathroom and patio on the ground level and a large king bed, walk-in closet, 4 piece bathroom and another patio on the second level. It was alot of extra space that we really didnt use, but it was still very nice. We even received a few bottles of rum and champagne in our room while we were there.

The maid Yusimi was great. Our room was perfectly cleaned and restocked with fresh towels and beverages every day without any issues. Lots of towels were always supplied and she even drew a bubble bath and left flower pedals and lit candles all over the room after our wedding ceremony. We left her gifts on a daily basis (small makeup kits, panty hose, a small first aid kit) and my wife even left a dress that Yusimi said she really liked.

I will also add that this was our second trip to the RHE, the first being in 2007 and we liked it so much, that we choose to return to renew our vows. The grounds and the beach are still beautiful, the buildings well taken care of (nothing was falling apart, they were clean and didnt smell) and the staff was great. The food was excellent in our opinion and only lacking in variety some days at the buffet. My favourites were the small pizzas from the beach grill and the calamari from the pool snack bars. My wife loved the lobster at the seafood and gourmet restaurants and the fresh fruit at the buffet. Room service could be hit and miss. Sometimes they were very slow and the order wasnt always what we asked for, but we only used room service a few times anyway.

Overall an excellent resort and vacation.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank MikeD71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 16, 2010

My trip was during Feb 6 to the 13th

I have read the reviews on Trip Advisory for the Royal Hideaway in Santa Clara Cuba and for the most part agree with what has been written.

With this said I have to point out a few differences and make a few key suggestions in making your stay better.

We arrived late at night and were rushed to the dining room before it closes (more on this buffet / international room later) went back to the unfriendly front desk and got our key cards, maps etc.) Got to our room in block 21 with a balcony -First of all – buildings 20 and 21 are ideal for closeness to the lobby – These are part of the Spa Rooms just because they are the closest to the Spa – btw – based on what I have heard from guests the Spa is over priced and not worth the vist.

I stayed in building 21 and had a great cocrcierge by the name of Omar – he is now in building 27 and his replacement is not as nice. Omar will accommodate all your requests.

FOOD: The food is terrible – 2 star hotel if this place was based on ust food –
Here is what we had:

Mostly international –
Allowed 3 al carted – we tried seafood which was very good but not the best
Asian – yuk – terrible
Italian – grilled vegetables included a pickle – yuk – but the penne with spicy tomato sauce was very good.

We paid 35 dollars to go to the Royal suites restaurant – was it worth the money – no but the service and meal was better – steak was under done but the lobster was good but not served with lime or lemon – orange sherbet was the best! Lobster bisque salad was perfect – would go back to the this restaurant but would not pay the big bucks for royal suites – beach is not good as the magano beach

Speaking of the beach – white sand – hobby crafts every morning / early afternoon – free but tips suggested – let the beach guys set up your chair – a few pesos would help each day to bring for hobby crafts – bar purchases – and pool guys – I agree 10 pesos a day for tipping might sound excessive but these people put up with a lot of crap –

Bring a thermos for drinks – the cups they have at the pool are not washed very well do to the lack of soap.

Yalima (currently pregnant) at the magano pool is a sweetheart – tip her well please.

Nightly entertainment was ok – very talented staff but the guy that kept on saying clamp clamp clamp got on my nerves

The cigar bar is ok – the lady bartender during my week was always welcoming but never looked very happy – premium scotch and cognac can be found here.

Cigar store runs out very fast – cheaper prices can be found in santa clara – for example a box of 10 short Churchill’s cost me 62 in santa clara and are sold at the hotel for close o 70 –

A lot of returning customers to this resort – I can not say I will b one of them – to far from everything – 1 and ½ hours from airport and food is terrible – I would rate this a 4 star hotel only because of the pools / beach and grounds.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank asta_lasagna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2010

We have just returned from a week at the RHE and are already looking forward to a return visit. We have travelled to the DR the last two years and thought we would try Cuba as my husband loved the beaches in Cuba and wanted me to experience them. First right decision... second right decision was to chose the Santa Clara area instead of the busier Varedero or Holguin. This piece of Cuba is part of the World's Biosphere Reserve and it truly feels like a private secluded paradise.

The details:

Flight: SkyService as you may or may not know is very short on space and my husband is 6'2" and found it very uncomfortable and even the "extra" space seats that you can pay an additional $35.00 for are not all that spacious, but as it is the only way there, I guess you have to deal with it.

One word of caution, we were originally supposed to fly out of Toronto in the afternoon and found out at the very last minute (when we picked up our travel vouchers a few days before departure) that our flight had been changed to a morning departure. Had we not checked our flight times we might have been in a pickle. Our agent said that normally they are advised when flights changed and we had to tell her!

Arrival at the Santa Clara airport was quick and efficient. The Travel agents are there to ensure that you get on the right shuttle and in an timely manner. The shuttles are comfortable and that is a big plus considering you have just got off of a 4 hour flight with no leg room and it is an hour and a half to the hotel so comfort is key. The shuttle tour guide provides some history and cultural background; the drive is very picturesque and provides a snapshot into the Cuban lifestyle. The causeway is pretty cool and the mangroves are stunning.

Arrival: They really emphasized upon arrival that you are staying at the most exclusive resort in Cuba and you immediately felt special. We thought it was pretty unique that you are ushered into conference room to meet managment, given a warm towel and glass of sparkling and your room package (map of resort and your room keys) You can then proceed to your room and wait for your luggage and then enjoy a lunch. Much better than he usual check in at a desk and fuss with paperwork.

We were in the Spa section; rooms 2425 and 2421 (our friends were across from us in the same bungalow) The Bungalows are broken into two sections; the Royal Hideway section and the Royal Spa section. Essentially the same set up except the spa section is close to the spa services building and seemed a bit quieter than the other side.

A few minutes after we arrived; our concierge came and introduced himself. Chacon was going to be our concierge during our stay and would be available between 9-5 daily and he had an "office" on the bottom floor of our bungalow. He asked when we wanted to eat dinner each night (early or late seating) and he would take care of our 4 a la carte reservations. He would ensure that we had every need met whether it was clean towels or more beverages. He had our luggage brought into our rooms very quickly and we were able to start our day without hesitation.

Facililties:

The facilities including rooms, buildings, pools, bars and maintenance were above average. Our room was spacious and included a huge walk in closet with plenty of hangers and drawer space, bathrobes, an ironing board and even an umbrella. The safe is located in the closet and is digital so you input your own code and you don't have to worry about keys or others accessing it.
The bathroom was huge. The shower closet was wonderful. It had a great shower head, great pressure and water was never a shortage. There were always clean towels and faceclothes. The hairdryer will allow for you to charge your Ipod but if you have a curling/flat iron you must use the outlet in the walk in closet or use an adaptor. The toilet is in it's own room which is great when trying to get ready in a hurry after a full day of activities.
The balcony is so private and large and we were able to play cards and have a night cap with our friends quite comfortably. At night we could hear the waves crashing on the shore and the rooms are far enough apart that you are not able to hear what is going on next door.
The beds were comfortable enough., We used one of the duvets (in the closet) as a pillow top and the other as our comforter. We had requested a king but had two doubles but we didn't mind as the extra bed gave us a place to lay out clothes and gifts. We never watched the Tv except for CNN in the morning and there is no clock (which was fine with us) but if you are inclined to have an alarm bring one from home.

Housekeeping was incredible. There were 2 day maids and 2 night maids and they always left notes of appreciation or just telling you to have a nice day. The towel art is always a treat. The rooms are spotless. I am very picky and I could not find one piece of dust or dirt. They take great pride in their work. We had a lightbulb out in our room one morning and before we knew it the electrician was on his way to our room to repair it!

The landscapers all take great pride in their "area" Our landcsaper Jose was so flattered and gracious when we commented on his gardens. One of the landscapers in the front gardens was so happy with my enthusiasm; he went and cut a beautiful flower for my hair! At night you can smell frangipani in the air and during the day the day lilies perfume the lobby. It is so picturesque and if you are gardener you will really appreciate the grounds.

The main building is broken into two floors; on the first floor there is a conference area, a gift shop, high end shop(jewelry, perfume), the business centre with 3 or 4 computers and internet access, cigar store, lobby bar, cigar lounge, theatre( auditorium, old style and formal), buffet restaurant and reception area and 4 seating areas. It has stairs going to the lower floor where you will find the banco ($$ exchange) marketplace (local art), tour operator desks, library, disco, Italian and Japanese Restaurants

The bars are all terrific but by far the lobby bar and the Spa pool bar stand out. The Lobby bar is open 24 hours a day and their cappucinos are amazing as is their spanish coffee. They have every kind of alcohol under the sun and the cigar lounge has a wide selection of scotch. There is a drink of the day and a huge list of specialty drinks. There is sparkling wine all the time and the house wines are Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. (Concha y Toro) Nice surprise, as we were expecting to have to order off the wine list! The beach bar is always hopping and the bartenders have great senses of humour. Lots of people brought their huge mugs but if you don't mind waiting for the beach service or going up to the bar it isn't necessary.

The pools in the Spa and Hideaway sections are exactly the same. We found the spa area much quieter and relaxing. Jean Coutu the head bartender was terrific and always smiling as were the rest of the pool staff. The pool itself is huge and not deep and there is a hot tub off to the side. The swim up bar always had a few seats available. The pools also had a small sit down restaurant and the food was very good.

The spa section also has a lap pool in the spa area, as well as ping pong and giant checkers. Was very quiet and intimate.

The pool staff will get your chair and cushion and tuck your towel in and they don't get upset if you leave your stuff at your chair and grab lunch. We never worried about our belongings, ever!

Beaches:
The beaches are unlike anything I have experienced. The sand is like talcum powder and stretched for kilometres. Megano is the busier of the two yet there was always chairs and palapas for cover. Again, staff are available to set up and clean off your chair and tuck in your towels and grab your drink order. The water was so warm and did not get deep for at least a hundred yards. I am not the strongest or bravest of swimmers, yet I was in the water constantly. At one end of Megano there is a sunken barge which you can walk out to via sand bar or swim out to to snorkel and it was very cool. There was all sorts of colourful fish and plant life and coral. Star fish are everywhere and there is a resident ray that you might catch a peak of if you are lucky.

Don't forget your snorkel gear as you have to use the water sports centre gear and it is at the other end of Megano and you have to leave the beach to access it. The water sports centre also has kayaks, hobey cats and paddle boats and the staff bring the hobey cats over to the main beach to take you out.

if you want a very secluded and truly paradise like beach take the walk over to Ensenachos Beach. It is a 10 minute walk or you can get a shuttle (we walked everywhere except to the Seafood restaurant for dinner) but it only has a few dozen people at most and the sand is even whiter (if that is even possible) and the water was even warmer and shallow for hundreds of yards. There is a beach bar and one bartender so service is a bit slower but the peacefulness is all you need.

Beaches, in a word...heaven!

Entertainment:

The one thing that we really liked was that there wasn't an annoying animation crew running around all day trying to get you to participate in games and activities. The entertainment was perfect. The grand piano at the lobby bar was beautifully played by one the most beautiful young ladies and her voice matched her playing. One night there was a 35 piece orchestra in the lobby and every other night the theatre had a one hour themed performance; Cuban Music, Caberet ec. They were a talented group and pretty typical resort performances.

Food:
It is always rumoured that you don't go to Cuba for the food and I was not expecting too much and was pleasantly surprised by the variety and the quality.

The Buffet was open for breakfast; lunch and supper. The breakfast was always great. the omelettes were made to order and made to perfection, There was always fresh fruit, cereals, breads, cheese and a variety of breakfast foods (sausage, hash browns, crepes, lentils, hard boiled eggs and fish) My daily highlight was the fresh orange juice! The coffee was very good as well. And the staff were always happy no matter how early. We had one chef we named "smiley" as his smile was infectious.

Lunch was pretty standard; salads, soups, fish and a couple of warm dishes. we usually ate lunch at the pool a la carte or at the beach BBQ (loved the hot dogs and burgers)

Dinner:
We had 4 a la cartes: Italian (cream of zucchini soup was actually cream of pumpkin) and was not very "italian" but decor and service was lovely. The Seafood Restaurant was an "experience" as the power went out on the island en route and we ate by candlelight (very romantic) but not sure how they got the food out in such an efficient manner. The power came on at the end of dessert. Was an adventure but the lobster was worth it!

The Japanese restaurant was fantastic. We had our own room and Irving; our server was very professional. He told us that he had to go to school for 2 years before he was hired by RHE. His service and language skills were impeccable.

The Cuban restaurant (which just opened) was very good. The surf and turf was perfect and my filet was tender and rich. And as always the ice cream was yummy.

The buffet dinners were nice, great assortment of fish and meats and side dishes. One night there was a caesar salad maker and it was fantastic.

The only thing we had from room service was sparkling but they were efficient and speedy.

Excursions:

We had decided to take the catamaran trip as we wanted to snorkel and had heard that it was very good snorkling. we were picked up at 9:00 am and within 10 minutes were on the catamaran. The marina had at least 6 catamarans going out the day that we went but you would never have known it. We went by a huge ship wreck that has a pretty neat story behind it. Then we went to a dolphin training area as the keys are opening a dolphinarium next year and this is a way for them to get used to humans. Then off to a snorkeling stop and the snorkleing was indeed an amazing experience. Lunch on the catamaran was lobster , rice and fresh fruit. a second stop at an island before heading home at 4:00 made for the perfect day.

Other notes:

do not bring US $$. (they will charge you an additional 10% fee on top of the exchange rate) Bring CDN and have it exchanged for CUC pesos or better yet just get $$ exchanged on your credit card.

We tipped generously but it was because we felt the staff earned it and not because we felt that they expected it. They are the most kind and generous of people. They have a kindness that shows in their eyes and their smiles and are hardworking and proud.

Our Cuban experience at RHE surpassed our expecations and like so many people that we met, we will be regulars!

ps. a tip we learned on this site from others is to purchase the $20 CUC passes to the VIP Lounge at the Santa Clara airport. DO NOT MISS this little luxury! instead of sitting on the hard plastic seats in the cramped departure lounge, we stretched out on comfortable couches and lazyboys, had an open bar and some snacks served to us. Anticipating the 3-4 hour flight ahead of us in cramped quarters, we welcomed the comfort. An added bonus was there is a separate checkin which expedited us past the lineups, and even gave us first boarding on the plane. We felt this to be a perfect way to end our week in paradise...

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
10  Thank K100Marks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2010

Most things covered by other reviews, but a few I think are worth mentioning.
Change your money at the hotel, less line up ( none in PM) and a better rate : 1.2 at airport, 1.11 at hotel. The entertainment is loud, I recommend earplugs. There is no clock in the room so be sure you have a watch to make it on time to the restaurants.
Avoid the seafood restaurant.
Someone described the front desk girls as "grumpy", an understatement.
Talking to others, the concierge service ranges from bad to great depending on who is servicing your bungalow. ( ours was good)
The 20 cuc VIP service when leaving is worth it, snacks, bar and head of line to board.
Don't forget your 25 cuc departure fee.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank mozillafirefox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2010

We just returned form a week’s stay between February 5th and 12th at the RHE.

My wife and I stayed in Villa 7102 in the Royal Suites Section. We had a lovely time.
As many people have asked, I’m going to try and describe what I saw and felt in order to answer the question I was frequently asked… whether the extra coin was worth it to stay on the Suites side? To us it was most definitely, but that is just us. We certainly got good value for our money. I think that give the level of service, a similar room in Punta Cana, Mexico or Barbados would be considerably more than we paid.

As there are relatively few reviews of the suites, I’m going to make this longer than I otherwise would. I know it was a daily ritual to visit this site in the month before our trip to read the latest.

Arrival

Quick and efficient. Nice clean and organized terminal. No masses of porters swarming people as they leave the terminal. As soon as you exit the building, there is a money exchange window to your right. There is a snack bar selling snacks, beer, etc. in the parking lot. Don’t have too many $1.50 cuc beers because it is a long drive to the resort (and no bathroom on the bus). More than a few people went running for the bathroom on arrive al the RHE.

We arrived in the afternoon and had a lovely scenic drive. Arriving at the resort, you are warmly greeted and ushered into the reception area through some glass doors. Champagne and a warm cloth are provided. They hand out your room cards and off you go to your room by golf cart.

Our porter drove us around on a mini tour pulling into the hideaway pool area, boat house area, the east end of Ensenachos beach and other places for a view of what we could expect for the week. That was nice.

Having read about this “Butler” thing, I was curious as to what this was all about. Sure enough, we drive up the drive to the Villas and there is G. in his butler uniform standing on the porch of our Villa waiting for us along with a spread of cold meat, cheese and fruit plates… and of course.. another bucket of Spanish bubbly! Perfect. He tells us he Y. are going to alternating as our butlers during our stay. We had very few requests, mine consisted of making sure I had a cooler of ice every other day and presto… They will do anything you want doing which might include a dinner in your suite or on the beach, setting up a special surprise, etc. We made few requests, but when we met the J’s from Etobicoke and staying in the Hideway section and asked him to get us four spots a the chef’s table two nights later… done.

They write VIP on the little restaurant chits they gave us when we ate outside the villas. I can’t tell you whether the service we got was any different than the other guests because I felt I got VIP service everywhere we went.

Royal Suites Section

It is a 3km cart ride from lobby to lobby. Most of it is a long straight stretch that that the porters call the highway. At night, they drive the stretch with the golf cart lights out to conserve battery power. More than a few times it was touch and go whether the cart was going to make it. The porters would joked that in Cuba, “the women push”.

The suites section has a central building, which houses a reception desk, lobby and restaurant. There is a little bar there that had a bucket of Cava on ice 24/7 but I only ever had a drink there one. There was top shelf booze in the cabinet. The restaurant opens up to a terrace and pool. At one end of the pool was a swim up bar and at the other a covered area housing tables, chairs, a spa tub and some shaded lounges. There is an outdoor shower and bathrooms. You can dine inside or outside or have them bring it to your lounger and side table. There is pergola with eight or so tables in the shade where guests can eat breakfast or lunch. They have big stainless steel bbq at one end and beginning about noon they have lobster, steak, pork and chicken there for you to select and it gets cooked up. They go to great lengths to set all this up even if there are only a handful of guests.

Villas

I had emailed and requested either or villas 71 or 70, as they were the closed to the main building and the entrance to the Ensenachos beach. It turns out they have a great views from both the main living area and the bedrooms. Our porter and butler told us that those two had the best views of any of the Villas. One couple moved into the Villas next door for the remainder of their stay after the previous couple left (for the view). We did a walk around and I would appear that some of the other villas were situated on hills that may well have nice views also, I don’t think you’d hear the ocean.

The gardens around the Villas are really something. We had a large lizard/iguana that greeted us most mornings when we left our front door.

I would estimate that our one bedroom suite was about a thousand square. There is a large powder room and kitchen (with butler’s entrance) to your right and left as you enter the foyer. This opens up into a living and dining room. Table with six chairs and a side board in the dining room. Couch, two wingbacks coffee table and TV cabinet in the living room. There are French doors out to covered patio off the dining room and shuttered windows a foot off the floor off living room. We left the doors open most of the time because you could hear the waves crashing on the rocks fifty feet away. Not that bugs were an issue, but mid-week we discovered a roller screen that came down from the top and screened off the double French door. On the patio there is a bistro set, two loungers and a jet tub (unheated). We also had two of those foam mattress floats on our patio. The butler brought them to the pool for me one day.

The bedroom has a large king, walk in closed with small dresser and safe. There is a mini bar in the TV Armoir as well as a dvd/cd player. The DVD automatically goes to any Spanish tracks on your DVD’s so you’ll have to reset the settings each time you use it.

The bathroom is huge with a water closet and separate shower and tub. After years and years of reading about people going to the sunny south and never seeing face clothes, there were no fewer than a half dozen in our Villa! They also had a wide selection of potions and lotions and salts. They had shaving kits and combs and all matter of toiletries neatly packaged on the vanity. There was the usual sign advising about trying to reuse towels, etc to help the environment that you find everywhere, but I thought it was odd that there were no “low flow” shower or facet heads. Water pressure was no issue but you sure used a lot of water having a shower.

I don’t think there were more than a dozen to twenty guests in the villas the whole time we were there. One afternoon my wife went to the beach while I sat by the pool and I had the whole place to my self with eight staff for three ours!!

Every day the maids left towel art and little notes for us thanking us for gitts and wishing us well. The butlers did the turn down service and a couple of nights we came back with candles, music, a trail of rose pettels and… more iced bubbly in a nice bucket.

VERY VERY spoiled.

Beaches

Both Megano and Ensenachos beaches are wonderful. In my opinion, Ensenachos is one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been to. We spent most of our time on Ensenachos during the day. It was a 2-3 minute walk from our Villa. There are about 23 Palapas at the Suites end with a makeshift Bar/table that they set up between ten and five or so, while we were there. Some days, we had the entire beach to ourselves. At the end closest to the seafood restaurant, there was a par and washrooms. There was a sign that said it was for some type of upgraded Air Transat guest (name escapes me) but rest assured, they were not going to turn any guest away any more than our bar tender on the beach at the other end. Remember… no bracelets.

We had only one day of rain while we were there and one other day of rough surf. The rest of the time, Ensenachos was clear and calm. Wonderful. There were nude sunbathers in the dunes in the middle of Ensenachos.

I brought an inner tube lounger from Canadian Tire with a drink holder and with the assistance of an ten foot piece of nylon clothes line rope and medium sized rock as an anchor, I bobbed around in the calm blue waters for an hour with nothing but the sun and pelicans diving in from above for fish (ten feet away). Lovel… that is until I decided to hop out in water a little deeper than I thought, only to have my twelve dollar tube sail away en route to Varadaro! As I return to my wife laughing her head off I comment (to myself and out loud), “what a loser!” I bet if I call Niki into the room right now and repeat the story, I could get her to laugh. But that’s not the end of the story, the beach bar tender comes running over and despite my protests not waste his time, he goes and calls the boat house to go after it (if you can imagine). In any event… that’s the level of service they go to. I do recommend the anchor trick if you bring a floaty thing though (just secure it to the device ☺).

The Megano beach was a very busy and crowed spot while we were there, but have nothing to fear, chairs and shade were aplenty. There is a beach bar and snack bar (and yes, the hot dogs are as wonderful as people say, served on a soft fresh bun). That beach bar had a couple of slush machines, which were a very nice treat.

We never did any water sports, but there are staff there to take you out in Hobbie Cats if you are a novice. We saw people in kayaks and paddle boats.

Food

We ate at all of the restaurants during our stay.

We had dinner at them all but the buffet and the Grill. We had dinner at the Cuban our last night, which we were told had just opened for dinner with the coming of the high season. I would say the Italian or the gourmet were the best. Although the Cuban was very good also. I would skip the fried bananas though, as they were rather dry. Also, there was a white wine that I only saw at the Italian that was very nice. Chile. Dark Green bottle.

The Friday we arrived, they spread tables out around the pool on the Suites side and had a five course meal with some musicians playing. That was very good. We ate at the seafood restaurant with Mark and Mano (sp?) from Cornwall during our one power outage. The food there was ok, but the service outstanding. There is so much seafood on the menus at all the other restaurants, you are not going to miss much. It is a real shame that you can’t enjoy the view from the seafood restaurant. It is built on a point by the sea and has a wrap around deck, but unless there is a full moon, you can’t see much. Opening it for lunch one or two days a week would be “draw” in my opinion.

On the Suites side, they had an expanded room service menu, but to be frank, the butlers would bring you whatever you wanted at anytime. You were free to order off the menu and we never saw a breakfast menu for several days after we arrived. They just asked you want you want and they cooked it. You could have as much grilled lobster and steak as you wanted. The gourmet restaurant had more china, glassware and napkins than I’ve seen at North 44, Canoe or Bimark in Toronto. The OJ in the am was fresh squeezed and they had a small buffet of fruit, meat, breads, cereals, etc.. We usually ate breakfast by the pool outside the gourmet daily. Each night there were guests of the Hideaway and Spa at the restaurant. Many of them were “comp’d” as repeat guests or celebrating a special occasion. As to whether I would pay $35 CUC pp to have dinner there… I would say if you can go on a Friday night… or celebrating a special event… Yes. As similar dinner with all the flash at home would be three or four times the price.

We did go to the buffet one morning for breakfast. Let me tell you, the view of the ocean at the buffet is really fantastic. I might never get up early to play towel wars, but I would to get a window side table at the buffet. I don’t think the OJ was fresh squeezed at the buffet, but the service was fine and there were still “lots of china and glassware” making even breakfast “an event” for everyone who’s saved up for this special week or two down south.

The food was fine. There were a few dishes that were outstand, and a few “stinkers”, but by and large things were just fine. I did however keep any negative comments to myself. I just could bring myself to tell my waiter that the dish was not very good. What was he/she going to do about it but feel bad. I left those comments to survey at the end. The staff take such pride in their work and making your vacation the best. Many times, I just asked the server to surprise me and they seemed to really get into this. To many, it appeared that this was the first time they’d been asked this.

The dishes that I found memorable included the Cuban Stew (menu said “Old Clothes”) at the spa and hideaway snack bars at lunch; the spaghetti with cream sauce and bacon at the Italian, the seafood skewers at the Italian; the slow cooked chicken at dinner at Megano (Cuban) at dinner; the tempura veggies at the Asian; and the Cuban soup whenever I saw it.

The items I did not care for included the Lobster bisque at the seafood and the fish with green sauce at the seafood; the cream soup at the Gourmet. Many of the dishes would have been so much enhanced if they were only hot. “Hot” food appears to take a back seat to presentation, but rest assured you will have some very good dishes and will not go hungry. The service was pretty uniform and quite good.

We ate with a lovely couple from Etobicoke at the chef’s table at the Asian restaurant one night. Be prepared to get a plate load of food if you go there. The rice is yummy and they grill shrimp, tuna, lobster, beef, port and chicken. We had six people at our table and as one of the few lobster fans, I had my fill. I’m pretty sure lobster is on every menu at the resort. I teased Mano (sp?) from Cornwall as I think her and her hubby Mark had at least two lobsters a day every day they were there!

I can see what some people say about the menu description having no apparent relation to what was served. I really like soups and stews, so when I ordered, the tradition Cuban Stew called “Old Clothes” I was expecting to use a spoon. When the dish arrived it was actually slow cooked beef that at first I mistook for pulled pork. WONDERFUL. Order this. Once night I ordered “seafood enchiladas”. I got a plate of wonderfully cooked lobster on a bead of grilled Veggies. Best lobster I had while I was there, but not a rolled corn or flower tortilla in sight.

The Cappachinos are truly wonderful and available in all the restaurants and lobby bar.

The only thing they ran out of while I was there was Bacon (on the last day).

Entertainment

The piano player is on duty in the main bar, usually by seven or so each night.

I only say one “show” and that was the Orchastra on Saturday night. The disco is one of the nicer resort discos I’ve been in. I cannot comment on any late night happenings as I was sawing logs most nights by ten.

There is a great lending library of books and I saw people coming from reception with borrowed DVD’s in hand.

THIS PLACE IS ABOUT TOTALLY GETTING AWAY. The Guests are friendly and we met lots of people, including Rob and Mindy from the US via Cancun. Plunk your butt on a sofa in the lobby and you’ll find yourself meeting people from all over the place inside a minute.

Drinks

I found the level of bar tending at the lobby bar to be the best I have experienced. They made some wonderful drinks. Please try the whisky sour, mint sour and triple b and tell me what you don’t’ agree. Best whisky sour I ever had (trick is the shaved ice I think)! Most evenings I took a cart to that bar from the Villas for that one cocktail before going back for dinner. They were that good.

Lots of name brand liquor. What they had depended on shipments but I saw most brands at least once while I was there. I preferred Bucanero by the can to the draft version, but I preferred Cristal on tap vs. by the can. Bucanero is a little heavier 5.4%.

Service & Tips

We probably tipped twenty to twenty five dollars a day plus something for the butlers at the end of the stay and the maids. We also brought down a bag full of small gifts to give away. The money exchanges had an unlimited (it seemed) supply of one dollar convertible pesos so it was easy to have a bill at hand for a porter, bar tender or beach assistant.

I don’t think my tipping had any bearing on the service I received. I would say, tip within your budget if you can and don’t worry. Any poor service will likely have more to do with too few staff at a given point in time vs. staff seeking out people who tip more than others.

We brought down stuff off the lists that repeat guests have posted on this and other sites. School supplied and anything for kids or babies are a huge hit. Our local dollar store had kids “croc” type shoes and I brought down a few pair. They were such a hit I wish I had bought more.

On our last day, the beach bar tender actually sought out my wife to give her some little seashell art pieces his friend made for us wrapped neatly in white tissue paper. Can you imagine!

The staff’s command of English was better there than in the DR or Mexico in my experience. In fact, staff told us that when they were interviewed for the job, they were hired on the spot because of their English ability.

Aside from the hotel manager (Agnes, a Canadian I’m told??) and a few obviously well dressed guys and gals with walkie talkies, I saw very few what I would call “managers” down there. I know they were there, but I never saw them like I had in the DR, Mexico and elsewhere. I never saw a group eating together in a reserved section like I had at other resorts, but then again they may have done this in the buffet and I was never there. One of the few times I saw Agnes, she was doing the rounds checking on things. At one point she appeared to believed that 9am was too late an hour to not to have pads on the pool loungers… a few words and within five minutes… presto… problem (if it was one) solved (fyi… that was the day I was the only person at the pool for most of the day).

Spa and Hideaway Sections

I cannot really comment other than to say that the pools, pool bars and restaurants were very nice. The pool and pool bar were surrounded by lots of tables and chairs, shade and loungers. Lots of low lying palms swaying about. Very lush and inviting. I would say they had among the nicest pools/pool bar areas I’ve seen. The spa and hideaway pool bars are pretty much mirror images of each other.

Spa - Never partook.

Excursions

Planned to fly to Havana but the Tuesday and Saturday schedule didn’t workout for us. Didn’t do anything else.

Main Building - The front desk folks and the guy who runs the cigar store were a little on the grumpy side, but maybe it was a bad day. I can say that the cigar store didn’t seem to have any set hours. It was only open on two of six occasions I came by to buy.

The lobby is very nice and there is waiter service for drinks from what I saw from 5pm on. Having a cocktail in the lobby or on the terrace at the end of day before sundown enjoying the view and sea breezes was an event I looked forward to daily.

Complaints

We really don’t have any. I do have the following short story which helped form my opinion that the staff do care about providing good service.

There was one day when we had to wait too long for a ride to the other side, and for sure we were annoyed (our body language said as much) at the time for being told it would be fifteen minutes when 45 was going to be the reality. Our displeasure was more because there was nobody around at all in the suites lobby for 30 minutes to explain. In any event, after a wonderful lunch, all was forgotten by us, but apparently, not by the staff. I felt a little bad because it seemed like word had gotten around among the staff and the porters and this was “not acceptable” in their eyes (we never actually complained to anyone other than our butler). G. must have apologized three or four times when he heard about it. I told our butler that all was fine, but my it was clear that they regretted the incident. I was like “seriously G! It is a non issue”… his response was it “was for them.” I recite this here because it truly makes me wonder what would have happened if I had actually “complained”.

Summary

If you are looking for a place to veg-out and relax. This fits the bill in my opinion regardless if you go to the Villas or other two sections. I would most certainly recommend upgrading for three nights if your budget permits; 4 nights on one side and 3 nights at the other would be a perfect mix. You’ll never have to worry about availability to upgrade. They told me that the Villas have never been at capacity.

Would I recommend this place. Yes. Would I go back. Yes. Would I still spring for the Villas if I went back again. Yes.

Mark

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
19  Thank Bulldogsoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 13, 2010

We just returned from our 2nd visit to the Royal Hideaway. We will definately return every year! This is a wonderful, magical, amazing place. So relaxing, peaceful, beautiful etc. etc.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank momwith4girls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2010

First of all forget the negative bs about this place...Very good bang for your buck. Staff very friendly. Food was OK, nothing special and nothing terrible. Tip the staff when you can and don't forget the beach cleaner, gardener, painters ect... they don't get the chance to mingle with the people as much but work just as hard.

They could use a more regular maintenance schedule to maintain the "5 star" rating, otherwise I suggest you go relax, enjoy, recharge or whatever you need to do, you'll have a hard time to beat the surroundings and ammenities for the same price at other resorts in Cuba.

p.s. Buy your cigars at the airport... they are much cheaper then at the resort. Feel free to contact me re: questions if you like!!

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank ACEtravelCornwall_ON
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Iberostar Ensenachos

Address: | Villa Clara, 52700, Cuba (Formerly Royal Hideaway Ensenachos)
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Cayo Ensenachos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Cayo Ensenachos
Hotel Class:5 star — Iberostar Ensenachos 5*
Number of rooms: 506
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Cayo Ensenachos, which brings all the Cuban flavor to some of the most exclusive Caribbean beaches. The hotel has a main building and 506 comfortable rooms divided into 3 perfectly defined areas: (Park Suites Area: 260 Rooms Suite Park and 10 Duplex Suites. SPA Suites Area: (area for adults 18 years old and plus): 180 Spa Suite and 10 Duplex Suites. Grand Village Area (area for adults 14 years old plus): 32 Suite, 14 Family Grand Village. All of 506 rooms have balcony or terrace and bathtub/shower/WC, hairdryer, telephone, TV, air conditioning, ceiling bar, minibar, DVD and CD player, coffee maker, safety deposit box, ironing board and iron. All day and night: Varied entertainment program every evening with our entertainers, live shows in our entertainment room. Beach volleyball, tennis court. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Iberostar Ensenachos Hotel Cayo Ensenachos
Occidental Royal Hideaway Ensenachos Cayo
Royal Hideaway Ensenachos
Occidental Royal Hideaway Ensenachos Hotel

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