We stayed at Sandals Royal Hicacos from April 16th to April 23nd, 2009. We did our Renewal of Vows there, which is just like a wedding, and it will be covered in the review. Our review is broken into sections, so you can pick what you want to read. The sections are as follows: -Executive Summary -Travel Agent (Canadian residents) -Skyparx -Sunwing -Sandals Royal Hicacos Review (includes restaurants, pools, and more) -Wedding/Renewal of Vows -Personal Notes
In short, this is a fantastic resort. This was our first trip to Varadero. It didn’t disappoint us at all. To get a drink at any bar was only a matter of a minute, or two. The food at the restaurants was great, and we never had a problem with getting our choice of seating time. The service was white glove, and if you wanted your food spicy, all you had to do was ask. The beach is fantastic, and you can walk out about 60 meters from shore. The road from the airport to the hotel has no potholes at all, just a pleasant trip.
Travel Agent (Canadian residents)
Our hats are off to Penny at Breakaway Travel, on Taunton Road, in Oshawa. It was our first venture to Cuba, after being at many other resorts in the Caribbean. Penny knew how to pick the perfect resort for us. Penny also told us that the amount shown online (for all Canadian travel websites) must comply with all other websites. Therefore, if you book online the price is the same, no matter where you go. However, if you phone, you will get a cheaper price. This is great news for all travelers. Tickets have changed, and now it’s a piece of paper, and not the old traditional tickets we are used to.
For parking at Toronto Airport, it’s Skyparx for us. Skyparx has the cheaper price for valet parking for 1 week, but it’s a couple of extra minutes away from the airport. The total cost for the week was under $80 CDN for the valet service. All you have to do, when you return, is call them and they pick you up. It was nice, since the car was right there for us. Skyparx is also changing it’s name to theparkingspot
We have traveled on Air Transat, Air Canada, and Skyservice before. This was our first vacation and travel with Sunwing. We had prebooked our seats, so we were in row 5 near the front of the plane. The food was better than most of the food we have had on other flights. It’s also nice to get a small glass of champagne, and wine with dinner (for free). We did find the seats a bit cramped for us. Paul is over six feet tall and at 220 pounds was squished. Jo is 5 feet 9 inches and only 125 pounds and found no leg room. The seats are great for those of you who are about 5 feet 5 inches and a maximum weight of 150 pounds.
Sandals Royal Hicacos Review Because there is so much to tell about this resort, it is also broken down into sections for ease of use. Just pick the title of what you want to read and enjoy!
* Reception (check-in)
The bus only had fourteen of us going from the airport to the hotel (40 minute drive). We thought we would have a long wait to check-in, but you don’t worry about your luggage at all, since it’s marked with your room number at the airport. It was only a matter of minutes to check-in. You get your room number, keycard, and map of the resort. They give you a green plastic bag with your bathroom amenities with your safe key in there as well. Don’t lose the safe key, as it is expensive to replace. Your luggage will be taken to your room for you.
We were in room 1113. This meant Building 11. It was on the third floor, facing west for great sunsets. Our room had a king-sized bed, a 6 drawer dresser, television, cabinet with fridge that included soft drinks and water. There was also a sofa and coffee table. We had a clock/radio beside the bed. There is a large closet that contains many hangers, the ironing board and iron, an umbrella, and the safe. The bathroom has a sink and a huge double bathtub. The water pressure was great and there was plenty of hot water too. The balcony had a view of the reception, lobby bar and ocean (you just had to turn your head to the right for the ocean view). The balcony had two chairs and a table, where we sat at night with our cigars, champagne, and cognac. The room itself is about the size of a one bedroom apartment, in Toronto.
The grounds are beautifully well kept. People are working on them constantly. There are fountains everywhere, as well as “canals” winding their way around the premises.
There are two major pools at Sandals Royal Hicacos. It appears as one pool, but they are walled off under some of the bridges. There is a swim up bar, which is filled with Canadians, as they seem to be about 90% of the guests at the resort. Some women do go topless at the pools, as well as the beach. There are other pools for the upgrade and hot tubs for your use too.
The beach is very wide (from the hotel to the ocean itself). In fact, there are plenty of lounge chairs (yellow). We never had a problem getting a chair at the beach any time of the day. There was always a person at the beach that was ready to get you a lounge chair for you.
We can’t say enough about the ocean. The colour of it is perfect. The ocean is great. You can walk out at least 60 metres from shore, and not go over your head. The paddle boats were great, and the hobie cats were available. We found if you tipped an extra 5 CUC you could get a longer ride on the hobie cats. You will also see pelicans flying from time to time. They will amaze you at night with their fishing episodes.
* Beach Vendors
They are on the beach at various location from day to day. Jo purchased a shell ring for 3 CUC and Paul purchased a cigar box for 15 CUC.
* Mini Market (on-site)
You can find everything in here that you want – T-shirts, postcards, souvenirs, dresses, bathing suits, etc.
* Cigar Shop (on-site)
We did purchase cigars. Paul had a field day in here. He ended up with 3 boxes of cigars by the end, and smoked most of one box during our week stay.