I arrived at the Paradisus Rio de Oro with no expectations. It was a last minute booking for me and I was going with a friend who had been to the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal service seven times in less than four years. So all I knew was that this had to be a pretty awesome resort in the beautiful and historic island of Cuba. I was not disappointed.
The Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service is a five star eco-resort in the Bahia de Naranjo Natural Park, in Playa Esmeralda, on the northern coast of Holguin. Just 40 minutes from Holguin airport, a truly exclusive and private royal service experience awaits. In keeping with the environment of the natural park surrounding the hotel, the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal service’s architecture is a reflection of the indigenous villages of Cuba.
With high-ceilinged palm thatch roof, cool stone flooring, luscious greenery and the sound of gurgling water fountains gives you the feel of being outdoors. Even when sitting under the canopy of that fantastic thatch, you can still see the sea wherever you sit. If you haven’t seen my video tour at the top of the post, you can take a look here: Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service video tour
I’ll never forget the first morning after we had breakfast and had settled down on a cabana. I got up to get a drink from the bar and the barman rushed over and said ‘no no – I come to you’! I asked, ‘what if I’m in the pool?’ – but that didn’t seem to be a problem! Oh and canapes and fruit skewers are also served wherever you happen to be by/in the pool too.
You may be wondering, what does the Royal Service bit mean? Well it’s a separate part of the Paradisus Rio de Oro resort which offers a tailored service to each of it’s guests. Quite simply, you’ll want for nothing during your stay. The Royal Service part of the resort is very near the spa and has it’s own beaches which are smaller but much more beautiful and private. The quality of food in the Royal Service restaurant is higher, but the service was consistent throughout. We were sent on a mission to see how long it took to get served in the main resort’s bar… 4 seconds!
The luxurious comfort, style and charm of this Melia hotel carried on through to our Royal Service Suite which had the most awesome bathroom with an outdoor wet room. Spa bath salts as well as other toiletries were available in the bathroom and replenished throughout our stay.
Whatever we needed or wanted was swiftly arranged by our efficient butler. Because of the time difference, we woke very early each day and were brought fresh coffee and tea each morning at 6am. Each afternoon our butler brought us a jug of delicious lemon daiquiri or a bottle of champagne and fresh fruit, cheese and hams to our room. The gardeners are wonderful too and left us fresh flowers almost daily as well as coconuts if we wanted some. I got a little cheeky one day and took a coconut to the barman who added some Malibu and pineapple liquor and it was delicious!!
The Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service beaches are simply breathtaking. Surrounded by coral reefs, you can walk two miles along the white sands and wooded coastline past the main hotel. It’s a good way to work of that breakfast mimosa for sure! And if you don’t fancy the walk back, then you can hail a golf buggy to take you back ; )
A palm-roofed beach bar serves drinks and snacks all day, although when I took the shots below it was about 8am and some grounds keepers were still raking the pristine white sands. The beaches do get direct sunlight as the sun gets higher in the sky – but I’d recommend taking your walk in the morning and it gets very hot!
Aren’t these beaches simply stunning? My favourite beach is the spa beach which is in between the Royal Service beaches and the main hotel’s beach. The spa is stunning and worth a visit even if you’re not having any treatments. A natural water pool is surrounded by wooden walkways overlooking the coral reef below. Dream-worthy cabanas and jacuzzis bubbling away is enough to make you want to totally chill out!
One thing is safe to say about the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service, you will not go hungry! Delicious and freshly-cooked food. European and North American cuisine with a touch of Cuban passion such as eggs Benedict on smoked salmon with a smattering of cayenne pepper. There’s plenty on the menu for the sea-food lovers as well as pork and beef. BBQd seasonal fruits with a warm, rich chocolate dipping sauce to rival Hotel Chocolat… and it’s all inclusive too!
Cuban chocolate is hands down, the most amazing chocolate. Perhaps its because Cuba grows cacao and it’s less processed than the stuff you can buy in the UK. But I loved it because it wasn’t too sweet or creamy – they also make hot chocolate from it which my friend adored and had every evening before bed! The coffee in the resort was off the scale too. One evening I fancied a drink before bed too and ordered a Cuban coffee. It’s not for the faint hearted… strong (gorgeous) coffee with four different types of rum. Yes FOUR!! I couldn’t drink it all…
As with all my posts on Stylish Places and Product Reviews, I don’t write about anything that I wouldn’t fully endorse. But I cannot recommend the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service in Cuba enough – I was so impressed that I asked to take a look at the Royal Service Garden Villa too as an option for my honeymoon next year. There are two Garden Villas available and they’re both within their own gated area of the resort. They are separate from each other too for ultimate privacy – you really do have a self-contained villa with all the luxuries and service enjoyed by Royal Service guests.
Although I’m scared of heights, I managed to climb up to the top of the viewing tower to take a look at the incredible views. The Garden Villas each have their own swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi and the bedroom suite is separated from the living suite which is ideal if you are getting ready for dinner and your butler is preparing your meal no? But why dine indoors when you have your own private outdoor dining area as well as cabana with panoramic sea views!
You can also get married in the main resort – the Paradisus Rio de Oro has a stunning wedding gazebo overlooking the sea and they have some great packages available for both weddings and renewal of vows.
Overall, I had a wonderful time at the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service in Cuba. The resort is stunning, the food and drink simply fabulous but what makes this Melia hotel so special is the staff. They have the perfect balance between professionalism and friendly charm and couldn’t do enough for you. The team at the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service are discreet, helpful and simply fantastic. For the many guests who go annually or even twice a year, the staff are a family away from home. Many of the regular visitors would chat to the staff and get updates about their children, Wedding plans and so on. The staff are the heart of the Paradisus Rio de Oro Royal Service and I’d like to thank them all for taking such good care of us!