Oh, where to begin? Spent a week here, and really enjoyed it. Check-in was quick & easy (did the online advance check in). They even honored my request for an upgrade to oceanside room on ground floor (free - one advantage to coming in low season). The room was fantastic - opened right out to a small porch and then down three steps directly to the beach! The beach has soft, white sand. There is a lot of sea grass growing in the ocean, which washes up on shore every day, but two steps and you're past it. No big deal. There is a nice reef developing on the sunken sandbags in front of the hotel - snorkelling, I saw Queen Angels, cowfish, sargent majors, Baracuda, lobsters, sharp-nosed puffers, stingrays, starfish, blue tangs, and more. From 10-4, the boating area is open and you can take out snorkel gear, kayaks, windsurfers, boogie or surfboards, kiddie paddleboats, and big catamarans! The staff will take you out on a catamaran ride, or teach you how to sail them yourself!
Back to the room - Two double beds and a sofa were clean and very comfortable. A/C worked really well. Had a kitchenette with M/W, fridge (not stocked), sink & coffee maker, which we didn't use. The bellboy recommended not drinking the tap water but refilling a water bottles with the filtered water near the lobby. We didn't notice anyone else doing that, so it might not have been necessary, but we did it and no one got sick. The maid came every morning and was so quick she was usually done by the time we got back from breakfast. Left a couple of towel art animals which my kids enjoyed. Everything was very clean, even though we tracked sand in every day! Our room was very quiet, as we had a linen closet on one side of us and the other side room was not occupied the whole time we were there.
Next - the waterpark. A short (2min) walk across the street - the slides were a big hit with my kids (ages 4 & 6). They had a baby pool with little slides, and the big slides for everyone (including me & my husband!). They also have a mini-golf course which my older son wanted to play every day. The "snack bar" here is much more than a snack bar - grill for burgers,fries & dogs, buffet of other things (pasta, fish, beef, chicken, potatoes - different every day). We always ate lunch here because you can eat in your bathing suit.
The entertainment team is excellent - they work so hard and never appear to tire. I took salsa lessons, played water polo, trivia games in the evening, and so much more. Balam, in particular, was very fun and inclusive. The only thing that I didn't like about the evening entertainment is that my kids wanted to participate in the games, (darts, spinning wheels, trivia contests, etc.) but if you lose, a parent has to drink a tequila shot. Well, I don't drink and my husband was sick for most of the week (he came with a sinus infection, nothing to do with Mexico), so I had to tell the kids they couldn't play even though all the other kids were playing. Finally, the last night, Aldo led a family trivia night where the loser has to do the chicken dance. We played with enthusiasm (and did a lot of chicken dancing!) The entertainment team also puts on very nice shows which the kids enjoyed greatly. They won't be mistaken for professionals, but they were a lot of fun to watch. One thing that I didn't like about the daily schedule is that there is no way to find out in advance what is going to happen. We wanted to plan outings/restaurant reservations for nights when there would be no show, or when the kids club was open late, but you can only get the schedule (under your door) the night before. All week my kids were looking forward to the pirate show on our last night. Even that morning the reception desk confirmed that the pirate show was every Monday at 8pm. But, it turns out that just the day before, they'd cancelled the pirate show (likely because of low occupancy). I understand the reasoning, but couldn't they have figured this out more than 24hrs prior to the show so that I didn't get my kids all excited about it?
The food was great in my book - I ate way too much. The buffet had a nice variety and always lots of fresh fruit. I met Fernando, the breakfast & lunch chef, the first day when I asked whether he ever had mango on the fruit trays (they're my favorite). He thought for a moment and said "tomorrow". "Great", I said, "I'll be here early to get some!" "Relax", he replied "just advise me when you get here & I'll cut some for you". Fernando was my BFF after that! As for the restaurants, you can make reservations for the Ostras seafood restaurant (where we had a nice "grownup" meal while the kids club took our kids to dinner) and the Pizza/Pasta restaurant (only open certain nights). The Italian restaurant food was delicious - I had a brick-oven cheese pizza with artichoke hearts to die for! And the waiters (everywhere) were very nice to my kids and didn't seem bothered by their typical kid antics. In fact, the entire resort staff seemed to enjoy entertaining the children.
My kids didn't want to spend much time in the kids club, which baffled me since the gals that work there are amazingly sweet and had a lot of fun activities planned. But the times they did go there they enjoyed (and Rosalba went above & beyond, facepainting my little pirates even after the club was closed for the day - that made their day!
The other guests we met were very friendly. The clientele were about 75% Mexican and 25% everthing else (American and British/Scottish while we were there). We liked being able to meet people from Mexico and practicing our Spanish (although they were equally excited to practice English with us). Yes, the waterpark is crowded on weekends/holidays with local day pass clientele, but it was just as fun when full, and no excessive lines. There are advantages to the hotel/waterpark being more full - more choices on the buffet (when the park was empty, they turned the snack bar into a-la-carte with very limited choices), and more activities (they cancelled the evening show our last night because occupancy was so low).
For outings, we went to El Meco, the Mayan ruins just up the street. It's a 10 min walk North (right as you exit the hotel). The caretaker, Jesus, is super friendly (see my review of El Meco for more info). I also went shopping at Mercado 28, which I highly recommend. It's a HUGE market full of handicrafts from all over the country. I bought some beautiful handmade shirts from Chiapas. Shopkeepers are very aggressive in trying to get your attention, and they always start out quoting you a price that's way too high. The hotel shuttle takes you there every day at 11am, or you can take a taxi for $10. The colectivos (vans) go near there (about 10-15min walk) so you can take those for 6 pesos (50 cents) although it can be confusing finding your way there & back. If you like walking and can ask directions in Spanish, you'll have no trouble at all.
Overall, this is a very nice family resort. The staff all seemed to enjoy having the children around - I never felt like they were unwelcome. The staff try their hardest to meet every request. I look forward to returning again.
We liked the ground floor oceanside room.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC