Well, I guess you could say we’re in a rut, because we keep going back to the same place again and again. But on the other hand, we continue to enjoy Sandals Royal Hicacos more and more each time we stay. This was our 15th trip to Cuba since 2001, and our 12th stay at Sandals Royal Hicacos. We were there from February 5th to 19th, 2009 on our latest trip. We have been to other Sandals as well as other islands, and Sandals in Cuba is in fact very comparable to other Sandals. The Sandals Royal Hicacos resort is set about 3/4 of the way up the peninsula from the Town of Varadero and has buildings that are one, two, or three stories high. We had been there in different levels and this time opted for a ground floor suite. The waterways that make this property unique were all clean and clear, as usual. The newer gym is operating and all the equipment is working.
One of the highlights at Sandals is the buffet. The entire operation was functioning smoothly. There are three cooking stations, all equipped with cooking appliances as well as warming/cooling trays for food already cooked or ready to eat. One of these is for pasta and pizzas, one is for seafood, and the other is for meats. There are also two salad/cold meat counters, a bread counter, and a huge circular counter in the center, which is for deserts and ice cream as well as the station for making fresh desert crepes at lunch and dinner and waffles and pancakes in the morning. There is also a bar in one corner, which the staff uses for getting the customers drinks and cappuccino and espresso. Little hideaways for the wait staff supplies are placed around the huge room for their convenience.
The food at Sandals Royal Hicacos is outstanding; there is no other way to put it. While there we enjoyed chateaubriand, lobster, oysters, surf and turf, leg of lamb, lamb chops, roast pork, sausages, roast turkey, duck, dover sole, whitefish, red snapper, shrimp and hot ham, as well as some Iâ€™ve forgotten. In the cold dishes there was proscuitto, smoked salmon, roast beef, cold meats of all kinds, as well as an ample selection of salad fixings along with wonderful cheeses (four or five different cheeses!) and hot and cold vegetables. Breakfast had fresh made eggs or omelets or waffles or pancakes and a huge selection of sweet buns, yogurt, 5 different juices, a selection of cereals, some hot dishes, bacon, and of course champagne and orange juice for those celebrating something (anything?). The food at Sandals is certainly ‘gourmet’ class for Cuba, and I have had meals all over the world that did not approach the standards set here. As other reviewers have noted, the suites are a good size and the baths are huge. The maids look after your room on a timely basis. No suites have an ocean view because of the trees between the resort and the ocean, so there are not really any ‘better’ suites than others. There are suites on the third floor where you can actually â€˜seeâ€™ the ocean, but Sandals does not try and sell them as ocean view since the ocean is so far in the distance. All the rooms in the resort are the same layout, with the exception of the Royal and Presidential suites. The al a carte restaurants continue to impress – I had sweet and sour shrimp in El Caribe one evening, dover sole in the seafood restaurant, duck breast in an orange sauce in the Italian restaurant, and surf and turf in the grill out by the ocean. They serve Chilean wines as house wines and at the al a cartes you can also order other wines at extra cost. There is also a wine room in El Caribe that seats about 12 that you can reserve for a special occasion. The piano bar is a nice place to relax after your evening meal, and the patio outside the piano bar is also a great place to catch the evening show and entertainment at 9.45 p.m. James plays here starting at 11 p.m. and is worth catching, as is Yanet that plays in the early evening.
The new lobby bar is busy all day and evening; it is a big improvement over the old bar that was removed. The waiters and waitresses, along with the bar staff, will go out of their way to make any kind of drink you wish, and they have a huge selection of premium brands for you to enjoy