Adults only Hotel in Varadero
My wife and I have stayed at this hotel on three occasions. We have become used to hearing opinions that vary considerably. Answering the common negatives, slow service, this is a tropical country and staff often work 12-14 hour shifts, they are not going to break sweat if they can avoid it. Poor choice and standards of foods, not offering the cosmopolitan varieties found in "wealthy" countries. Cuba struggles to grow enough food to feed it's own people and relies heavily on importing foodstuffs for tourists from countries such as Canada and the EU, Beware of critisising your own countries exports! Positives, the staff at Beaches work very hard to maintain the cleanliness of the hotel, responding sympathetically to customer requests (even though some are completely absurd) and attempting to ensure your stay is enjoyable. If you come to Beaches (technically part of Sandals) and expect the Royal Bahamian, forget it and stay at home, save up your money and go to the Bahamas. Clubbers will be disappointed as there is a nightclub onsite which does not get much custom, however there is a nightclub a short taxi ride away. My wife and I and our traveling companions were offered a free upgrade in March 2005 to Sandals Royal Hicacos. This was because Beaches was over booked and we were offered this as returning guests, within a couple of days of arriving, (I hoped they did not want to get rid of us!.) We thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the staff at Beaches and will return, you have been warned! Royal Hicacos reviewed. Nice established gardens, pool a bit cold. Some days difficult to get sun lounger. Beach is what people go back year after year for. A hotel that does not discriminate regarding individuals sexual orientation, unique for Sandals eh? Food is edible normally, sometimes you may find an element of improvisation when they have run out of what you have ordered, i.e. order fresh fruit salad and get chocolate cake, nice!
We want to go back already!!
My husband and I have just returned from our two week honeymoon in Sandals Royal Hicacos in Cuba. It was absolutely brilliant!The resort itself was beautiful and the staff were just fantastic! Our room was great and we liked the different designs which the cleaner did with the towels! The fridge and bottles of water supplied everyday was great.The restaurants and staff were brilliant. It was lovely how we could take back bottles of champagne to our room whenever we wanted too.Everything made it a special honeymoon for us. We would definitely return and would recommend it for anyone!
A great honeymoon vacation
We just got back from a week stay at Sandals Royal Hicacos(Sept 27 to Oct 4). This was our first time in Cuba, and the caribean. We arrived Sat. night in the middle of a thunderstorm, the next day was great sunny weather, until the night when it rained, the rest of the days had perfect weather, lots of sunshine, no cloud cover, and no rain. We have heard that at this time of the year, the weather in the caribean can be unpredictable, so we were really happy with the great weather.
The staff at SRH were extremely friendly and helpful, they do their best to make sure that everyone has a great time. Based on previous reviews about the food in Cuba, we were worried that this would be be a problem. It was not. SRH has 5 restaurants to choose from. The buffet restaurant had different selections every night. Our favorite was Caribe and Don Pasquales.
The beach at Varadero was as described, sandy beach and warm water,we were very happy,most water sports were included at no extra charge. The only water activity not included was parasailing($30.00US) I did try parasailing and it was fun, you get a great view of the resort from high above.
If you like a little bit of history, the tour of Havana is definately worth the time. Out tour guide Herbert was very knowledgeable, apart from the standard tourist facts, he gave us great insights about life in Cuba. Just wear comfortable shoes, lots of walking, and dress very light, it was very hot in Havana.
The only suggestions we have to make the resort better, is that the pools should be open later, till maybe 9pm or 10pm, presently the pools close at 7pm. Also it would be nice if they had bike rentals(they do have moped rentals)
Overall, we had a great time, this was definately a 5 star resort, and would not hesitate to go again.
Please read carefully
My wife and I just returned from sandals royal hicacos in cuba and it was the best vacation we ever had. We have travelled to many places in this world and found ourselves at peace there. The service was absolutely fantastic and nothing was too much to ask for!!! The food was amazing almost everwhere and the variety was well done. The only thing we didn't care for was the buffet breakfast (maybe just us) because others we talked to seemed to enjoy it just fine. The rooms were great very big and clean and if it is missing something all you have to do is ask and they will provide it for you in a flash. We upgraded to one of the royal suites for a couple nights and let me tell you it was well worth it. We received the royal treatment.
Complimentary spa services, 24 hour room service from any of the many bars and restaurants and one of the nicest suites I have ever seen. We will post pictures on Webshots.com Now here is the thing, it is a dictated country and the people are poor. I know that the adds say tipping is not permitted and many reviews from cheap people say not to tip but that is B.S. These people bend over backwards for you and try their hardest to make you have the best time possible and hope to receive only 1 dollar from you. In cuba the people make only 10-15 dollars per month and doctors 20 dollars per month so you do the math.
If you can make a difference in someones life at very little cost to you please do so. If at all find one person and tip them well and you will see the results instantly. Yes the people can receive tips for their services and let me tell you that they appreciate it. They are not using your tips for drugs or booze or anything like that, they are helping their families and less fortunate people than themselves if you can imagine that. Everyone knows everyone at the resort and believe me if you treat one badly they will all know about it and you will receive it right back(poor service) we saw this first hand and just the opposite. If you treat these people with respect they will do the same.
Don't get me wrong if you don't tip you will still be treated well but imagine just a small tip (5-20 dollars) can change someones life for that month or two. Please remember that we are fortunate enough to go and see these beautiful places and and they cannot even leave this island for a better life or better wages. please ignore the no tipping attitude and make a difference for at least one person and it will pay for itself over and over again in many ways. You will see!!!!!
BEACHES HOTEL, VARADERO
Ultra All Inclusive Beaches hotel is part of the Sandals family of hotels.
Excellent Buffet restaurant including an outdoor BBQ which includes Lobster every Friday night, get there early as there is always a queue!
Schooners is a la carte and has a dress code, long trousers and shirts for guys. Again includes Lobster and Prawn dishes.
The Arizona is a grill restaurant doing steaks etc.
The Italian was a little disappointing I found as the starter platters hadn't been replenished and the staff seemed a little aloof for some reason.
Several bars around the place, all staff very friendly.
The rooms were spacious and included a coffee machine with free packs of percolator coffee every day and 2 litres of bottled water, although the tap water is safe to drink. A good sized free-form swimming pool, loads of sunbeds and floating mats.
Volleyball and water polo organised everyday by the staff who were good fun.
Air rifle target range.
My one gripe was about the water sports team.
I switched to this hotel as it included scuba diving for certified divers.
On the first day I went down to the dive shop and tried to book a dive only to be told that diving was cancelled for the day as it was too rough. I looked behind me at the ocean which was brilliant blue, the 'waves' about 6 inches high and seriously thought he was kidding...wrong!
A Canadian guy told me he'd done 1 day's diving in 2 weeks.!! hmmmmm...
A word in the Thomas Cook's rep's ear and I was booked on a dive trip to the Bay of Pigs the very next day, which was great.
I did manage to get a couple more dives in from the beach but I feel that something should be done about this as they advertise it as a facility and don't seem to provide it very often.
Strangely, whenever they offered to take divers out to a site where they had to pay, the weather seemed to be ok....
The hotel was a Sandals resort but not a super club. Has since been renamed to ???. It is an adult only hotel which is great if noise bothers you. Cost about $2300 per person all inclusive for 2 weeks, including air from Toronto.
Not fit to be called Sandals
Sandals Varadero Sep 08 to 15 2003 The problems started as soon as we arrived in Cuba. There was confusion as to where the mini-bus that was due to take ourselves and two other concierge couples to the resort was parked. We had to go back into the terminal to seek help from the local agent. When we eventually got underway it was quite late and all six of us were tired and wanted to get to Sandals as quickly as possible however the driver insisted on stopping mid-way at a café/bar. We all said to him we would rather just press on but he just shrugged and left us in the mini-bus whilst he had a coffee and chat to the other drivers. (This also happened on the way back, despite similar protestations, at the same café/bar. I wonder if the driver gets a backhander from the owner/operator). This made for a very late arrival at the resort and all we wanted to do was get the formalities over and get to bed.We had requested a room with a sea view on the upper floor (we had subsequently learned that none of the rooms had sea views). The concierge initially showed us a room on the ground floor, we asked if a top floor room was available and said we had requested this in an email, the concierge said they had not seen this email and we were told there were none available but we could move to the first floor. We moved to this room but were still not happy so I went back to reception and asked a different staff member if there were any upper floor rooms available. Having located my hard-copy of the email that I had sent requesting an upper floor room, I took this with me, when I showed it to her she said she remembered seeing it. The computer was interrogated and a vacant upper floor room found almost directly above the room we were in, we moved into that room and stayed there for the rest of our stay.We believed there to be sea view rooms from information gathered on the web. We informed the concierge of this and even left them the print out I had made before leaving the UK so they could get the site changed. This has now been done although the site is still misleading in what it says, I quote:'Dining: Unlike any other all-inclusive, Sandals includes ultra-gourmet dining at a total of 5 restaurants. You'll enjoy memorable moments at intimate, candlelit tables, either indoors or outdoors, with expansive views of the moonlit sea.'There is only one restaurant with a sea view El Viejo y el Mar (The Old Man by the Sea), all the others have no sea views with the exception of the buffet maybe which has distant glimpses over the tree tops.This was not an official Sandals site but was authoritative and one would expect the information to be accurate. However at no time were we advised by Sandals, Virgin Holidays or Thomas Cook staff that the room would have a sea view so we do not take issue with this point. My recommendation to the concierge was that the Sandals brochure and website should state clearly that none of the rooms have sea views, which they do not. At least this would clarify the situation for potential guests and stop them believing spurious information from other reputedly authoritative sources.The next disappointment was the food. In the buffet (Hicacos) dishes frequently ran out and were not refilled often enough, one frequently had to ask staff members if there was any more of this or that. The buffet was very repetitive, with insufficient changes in the choice of foods available. One day they had crab claws (although no proper utensils were provided) these had been previously cracked. I took two, the flesh, instead of coming out in large pieces, simply broke up as if it were minced, whether this was due to it having been frozen or some other influence, I know not.The choices in the speciality restaurants were small, typically a couple of starters, five main courses and a couple of desserts together with a daily main course special. I enquired and was told the main menus only changed every six months or so. We tried all of the restaurants, we were not impressed, if this is supposed to be gourmet dining, the management have obviously never been to a decent restaurant such as Gordon Ramsay; Pétrus; Harvey Nichols 5th Floor; La Tante Claire (now sadly closed); Racine; Quaglinos; Caprice, The Mirabelle, The Ivy, The Waterside; The Fat Duck, I could go on. These are the restaurants that we regularly use and are truly GOURMET, Sandals was café not gourmet a point I made on my questionnaire on leaving.We visited each restaurant for dinner, except the buffet which we did not have dinner in. We spent three of the six nights (the first night we arrived too late for dinner) in El Caribe as this seemed to be the best of the bunch.On the night we visited Don Pasquale we spoke to the manager at some length (for about an hour) at the end of the meal. He had come to our table to ask us if everything was alright, I asked him how long did he have? He was very understanding and listened intently, he concurred with some of what we were saying but obviously was careful not to criticise his employer. Any how he stayed long after he was due to leave, so when he got up to go we said we would just sit for a while and have a coffee and brandy . He suggested we move to the late night area of the restaurant (after normal service, part of the restaurant serves snacks until 3.00 am) so that the staff could clear the tables, this we did. He left and we ordered coffee and I asked the waiter (new waiter as they had change shift) for a cognac. He then informed us that the late night service did not include alcohol, I explained the manager had asked us to move and we were just finishing off our dinner, he went away to see what he could do and never returned! We asked a different waiter and he said all the alcohol had been removed and if we wanted a drink we needed to go to the piano bar, the coffee never arrived and after about fifteen minutes we left.Las Morlas (speciality seafood) we were looking forward enormously to this restaurant, we had thought we might end up there most nights if we could get reservations, both my wife and I really enjoy sea food. This was probably the biggest disappointment, the choice of fish was very poor and the dishes were not particularly inviting. They initially bought me the wrong starter and it took a while to get some attention and have it changed. The restaurant lacked atmosphere and we didn't bother to return.One morning when we were going out my wife decided she would have the room service breakfast which was duly ordered. I went to the buffet. On my return my wife showed me the breakfast, it was disgusting, the only thing that was edible was a banana. The grapes a very small bunch of very small grapes, were bad, they were brown, pitted and split, some had fallen of the bunch; the flesh of the half apple which was wrapped in cling-film, was going brown and there was signs of mould on the core; the bread was stale, the coffee was barely warm. We took the grapes and presented them to the concierge who agreed they should not have been served. On the way back to our room we spotted another breakfast tray seemingly untouched, the grapes were similar to ours.The piano bar was lacking in atmosphere, it was rectangular with windows to two sides and was very smoky. The bar servery was very small and although there was waitress service it was difficult to get a drink at the bar with a wait of five to ten minutes being quite commonplace. I remember a pianist (a man) being particularly good though.The Nightclub was a joke. I have been to many including some in other resorts (The Moon Palace south of Cancun Mexico comes to mind) and how this large rectangular room with windows to two sides and a stage partially along one side with a bar partially along the other side could begin to be described as a night club is beyond me. The room also had pool and table tennis tables in it and the whole was more like the sort of thing you might expect to see at Centre Parcs not that I have been to one. (Perhaps this is why a lot of the younger guests went down the road to La Mamba nightclub most nights.)The entertainment was very colourful with some fifteen or so people involved but was, like the food, very repetitive. On the evenings we stopped for a drink after dinner the whole show was in Spanish, no English language songs were sung despite most clientele being English speaking. It was not what most people we spoke to wanted.Please understand I am not knocking the Cuban heritage, they are a wonderful, proud, generous people and are quite rightly proud of their country and its achievements. It is just that it would have been better to have had a mixture of local culture and commercial western music and entertainment, a balance, we did not want this thrust on us every night.The staff were all wonderful and the Cubans that we met outside of the resort were the same. They were always warm and friendly and although they do not have a lot they are a very generous people. The island and its heritage are fascinating and we enjoyed visiting it, we just did not enjoy the Sandals Varadero experience at all.We were aware that you do not go to Cuba for the food, because of the continuing US embargo and the fact that much food has to be brought from Europe or South America. But we went to Sandals, Ultra Gourmet Dining, a reputation as the standard bearer amongst All-Inclusive resorts, winner of virtually every accolade there is to win, consistently voted the best by the industry and by their guests. Sandals Varadero is not fit to be part of that exclusive family. We were so disappointed that we asked the concierge to arrange a visit to nearby Beaches with a view to moving there for the balance of the holiday, however Beaches was very tired and the concierge rooms were not anywhere near as good as the ones at Sandals. We decided to remain where we were.We will not return to Sandals Varadero and would strongly advise anyone thinking of going there to choose somewhere else.We are still sold on Sandals however and are planning to visit The Royal Bahamian Resort next June, lets hope one bad apple doesn't ruin the whole barrel.
Dress Code @ Sandals Royal Hicacos
Just wondering what would be ok for A la carte dinning. Is jeans and dress shirt ok for men? What about the ladies.
RE: Dress Code @ Sandals Royal Hicacos
Don't worry about that. Cuba is well known by it's freshness and hot clima so usually jeans and t-shirt will be fine. U can go in sandals or tennis, doesn't matter...have fun!
RE: RE: Dress Code @ Sandals Royal Hicacos
Most AI resorts have a dress code for dinner, golf shirt with collor is a much better option than the t shirt. And I would pack a pair of pants other than the jeans, just incase they are having a pissy day, and turn you away. Just about anything goes for the ladies. They may ask the guys to have closed shoes aswell. Enjoy