ALRN13, Chicago, Illinois
Mar 9, 2014
We decided to take this trip last minute. For being last minute, we were very satisfied for the most part. I have never been on an all inclusive trip before. My first experience was amazing!!
Very clean, beautiful and huge. Since the resort is Eco friendly, there are waste containers all over the resort for organic and inorganic waste. All of the cups they give you for your drinks, they re-use. They want you to re-use the towels in your room, but I felt that after they gave you new ones, they were stingy. We stayed in a deluxe room with a king size bed and Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi was located outside on the deck. The walk-in shower was nice and clean. The room is air conditioned. There is a couch that can turn into a bed and a safe in the closet. The bed was comfy and we had housekeeping come in daily to clean our room. There is a mini fridge stocked with beer & soda that they re-stock everyday for you. Our room was on the 3rd level with 1 other room next door, so it was pretty quiet. We did not stay in an Adults Only exclusive area. With that said, this is a family friendly resort with a lot of children. If you want an adults only experience, this is probably not the place for you. The select sections they have for 'adults only' were small and to us, not worth the extra penny. We signed up for what we thought was a tour of the hotel- it was really to sell us a timeshare for the Royal Elite club. *Side note-* they tell you that the meeting/tour is 90 minutes, but you are really there for about 2-2.5 hours. They do have a specific tour of the resort, but it wasn't offered until 2 days before we left to go home.
As far as other activities go on the resort, we always had things to do:
**30 minute romantic boat ride with chocolate covered strawberries & champagne-** this is free. Jesus was awesome and so nice! He took our picture a few times and made the ride so peaceful. You can tell he loves his job and is personable with the guests.
**Eco Tour-** Noemi was a great tour guide. This tour was 45 minutes. She took you around the resort and explained how the resort is set up- mancave vs. jungle and all of the different wild life you see. She explains Mayan culture and takes you to see the 'sweat hut' and cenotes. She is very knowledgeable & keeps you engaged in what you are learning.
**Bike Tour-** There are bikes available to take on the designated trail around the resort. We did not participate in this tour because we had walked the trails already. However, there are bikes if you want to use them.
**Snorkeling-** this is free. We went snorkeling in the main cenote near the lobby of the resort. This was fun, and they provide you with all of the equipment. The water is clear and there are lots of fish. You can also go snorkeling in the ocean as well.
**Kayaking-** they allow up to an hour of free kayaking in the ocean. This was our first experience and we enjoyed it. The best time is in the morning if you are a beginner. The ocean was very flat with no big waves! Perfect for us. Plus no wait time to rent the kayaks.
**Mayan ruins-** the resort is built around ancient Mayan ruins. There are walking paths you can follow to see them. It was difficult at times to get to them because they are literally in the jungle. Bring gym shoes with for this one! The sun square was cool to see as well as the sacred Kapok tree. During the Eco Tour, Noemi explains more about it. She also does a tour just on the Mayan ruins too.
**Animals-** There are donkey's, parrots, raccoons, cats, deer, birds, monkeys, swans etc. at the resort. I loved the variety; except the raccoons. People feed them so they are around at all hours of the day. They are pretty mellow and hang around the cats.
**Pools-** 1 big main pool that has a volleyball net and swim up bar. This one is closest to the beach. There is a smaller pool called La Tortuga- we spent a lot of time at this pool. It was closest to our room and our favorite bartender Bernardo was there. You can tell Bernardo loves what he does!! Everyone loved him!! He always had a smile on his face and made excellent drinks. He remembered your name and worked hard. There is an aquatic waterpark for the kids. It has many water slides in it. Lots of kids there all of the time. Royal Elite had their own pool. The Adults Only section had their own pool as well. The spa & gym had an adults only pool and Jacuzzi. We used that a few times. It was never crowded and was quiet. They also have a sauna located here.
They give you key cards for towels upon arrival with your room keys. These cards are used to rent towels for the pool & beach. Make sure you return them or you have to pay for them!
**Massages-** If you plan on getting a massage, it is very pricey for the amount of time you get. We did not get any during our stay.
There is booklet of all of these activities in your room! Some things weren't listed and we had no idea about them until other people told us. Some of these you need to make reservations for. The concierge desk was helpful; Olga was not helpful at all. Most people will go out of their way to help you, she was just plain lazy & not that friendly. We had a dinner reservation at 9:30pm. The nice gentleman at the desk called the restaurant instead of looking at the outdated piece of paper with names on it. There were of course cancellations and he moved us up 2 hours earlier. Great customer service!
3 Buffets: International, Italian, and Mexican. International & Mexican are open for 3 meals a day. Italian was just breakfast & lunch; al a carte at night. The food was very good. All had about the same selection, but lots of variety. Tequila at the door when you walk in. Mimosa's at the door for breakfast.
Al a Carte: We were only allowed to make 2 reservations during our 6 day stay at any of the al a carte restaurants. Before you leave, call them if there is a restaurant that interests you or reserve as soon as you arrive!! We got stuck with an 8:30pm dinner and a 9:30pm dinner (we were able to move this one up due to cancellations). We ate at El Templo which is Japanese. Delicious food!! Highly recommend!! The other place was the Brazilian steakhouse which I also highly recommend. These 2 were the top restaurants that filled up quickly with reservations.
24 Hour Snack Bar: We came here for cheese fries, gauc & chips, nachos. They also have beer on tap. Perfect if you're up and want a 2am snack.
Bars: They have bars all over the resort. They have a menu of special drinks they can make you as well as coffee and Frappuccino's. No complaints. The staff here are so nice!
Chill out Bar: This bar is located behind the Mexican restaurant. There was a man playing the Harp and chairs and tables to sit at. Very peaceful.
We booked this trip through Expedia.com. The travel agency working with Expedia is BD Travel (Best Day Travel). We ordered a shuttle to take us to and from the airport. When we arrived, it was a little chaotic, but they had my name and gave us a booklet about activities to do and then took us to the resort with 2 other couples. Gabriella, Alan, and Sandra were our 3 representatives for BD Travel. They were at the resort daily to help you plan activities. We worked with Gabriella who is very knowledgeable and will not steer you wrong. She helped us plan out our week. We booked an excursion to Tulum Jungle Maya through her. For the price we paid, we got a lot out of it. SO much fun and would highly recommend it!! A shuttle will pick you up from the resort and take you to Tulum. We had 8 people in our group. Tulum is beautiful. I suggest going in the morning- less people!! Captain Snake was amazing! He is super smart and I learned so much about Tulum from him. From there we went on the rest of our excursion with Captain Snake & Danique. Danique took us repelling, zip-lining, and snorkeling. Lunch was included. It was a very packed day, but so worth it. Bring gym shoes and flip flops with. Also a bathing suit that you will be comfortable taking lots of pictures in. They take pictures of you repelling and zip-lining that you can purchase later. Since we purchased an excursion, we were able to go to 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen with free transportation. They make you go to a jewelry shop first (where you get a charm bracelet & medallion for free), then take you to 5th Avenue where you have the option to try coffee and watch how guacamole is made for free. We had a large bus of people. All of us wanted to shop. They give you about 3 hours to shop and then take you back to your resorts. Loved Playa!! Got some good souvenirs for people. Also got a bottle of tequila with our picture on it at one of the restaurants.
Overall, I had a great experience. In the future, I would maybe try other Sandos locations. However, we like to travel to different places, so not sure if we would go back to this location. The people, food, and atmosphere were great. We met a lot of nice people here! This is a trip we won't forget!