We were at the Sabor resort for 7 nights, march 27th - April 3rd, 2012. We had only been to Cozumel on 2 seperate day trips while cruising, but had never stayed on the island. The last 4 years we had gone to the same resort (Gran Bahia Principe) in Riviera Maya (mainland). I have to say right off the bat, that the Sabor does not compare to the GBP in terms of 'curb appeal' and glitz. That being said, I found that theme to be true of all of Cozumel as compared to the mainland, and I do not hold that against the island or the resort. Cozumel and the properties here are more laid back and simplier that the 4+ star resorts on the mainland. That is the only comparision I will do between the two, as it is a different Mexico in Cozumel.
This will be a very detailed review and I will try to hit on things that have not been reviewed over and over.
Our arrival to Cozumel was uneventful. We arrived at 11:55 am and were the only plane there, so we got thru customs, got our luggage and went thru immigration rather quickly. I had been prepared about where to go to get the shared van, and was glad I was. The time share people were out in full force and I felt like I had to swim upstream to get past them to get to the ticket counter. (note, avoid them at all costs..go to the far right when you exit into the hallway. The shared van ticket booth is the last one on to the right). It cost us 45.00 US dollars for 4 of us to go from the airport to the Sabor. After purchasing our ONE way tickets (dont buy round trip), we went outside and were immediatly put on a van. It made only one other stop before arriving at the Sabor. There was no one in line for check in when we arrived and were checked in within about 5 mins. Our rooms were not ready yet, but we didnt expect them to be. I had inquired about any room upgrades since we had booked the basic rooms and was told that they were completly booked. I was able to put in a request for a building with a nice view and requested buildings around the quiet pool (11-18). We left our luggage with the bellboy and changed into our bathing suits and went to eat. The buffet had just opened so we were able to eat there. The food was hot and a fair variety. Everything we tried was good. We were able to get into our rooms at 3 pm (didnt even check before that). We had reserved 2 rooms and both were in building 11, right where I had requested. The building location was perfect. One room (mine) location was absolutly AMAZING and the other room (boys room) location was a bit disappointing. Our room (1133) was on the 3rd floor. The balcony directly over looked the ocean with a perfect view. The building sits between building 10 and the Aura property next door, so we had an unobstructed view of the beach and ocean and the sun set directly in front of our balcony, so we had perfect sunset views. The second room (room 1132) was on the back side of our room. Their balcony overlooked the balcony of room 1233, so had NO view what so ever. Just be aware that if you are given THAT room, you will have no view, not even a 'garden view'. We were fine, becuase my family would just come to our balcony for the view if they wanted. The layout of both of the rooms were identical. There are 2 double beds with a nightstand between, a large amoir that the TV sits on with 3 large drawers beneath and a shelf above the tv, and a small round table with 2 dining type chairs in the corner. The balcony had 2 plastic lawn chairs and a small plastic table. There was double width closet with sliding doors and about a dozen hangers, an ironing board and iron and a safe with a digital combination lock. The bathroom had a large counter with one sink and a mirror the full length of the counter, a hair dryer, a 'tea pot', an ice bucket and 2 (approx. 8 oz) thermal mugs with lids. There is a seperate room with the bathtub/shower and toilet, which is nice when 2 people are trying to get ready at the same time. The shower had good water pressure and never had an issue with hot water. There is a window in the bathroom (high up) that has vents that are always open to help with the steam. One thing that I thought was strange was there were no screens on the window or balcony door in the bedroom area, so you couldnt leave your window or door open at night. Also, I thought that the window not having a screen on it was kind of a safety issue. Both rooms air conditioners worked without a problem and there is a ceiling fan on the high vaulted ceiling as well. The room keys are key cards, but they do not slide into a slot, you just touch them to the key pad on the door and they open. We thought we had lost one key and tried to get another one and was told it wasnt a problem, but would be a 5.00 charge. We declined and later found the second key.
Dinner our first night was the beach party/fire show (tuesday nights). This was really nice. All of the tables are moved to the beach area in front of the quiet pool and all the food is set up on tables at the beach as well. The food was very good and a nice variety included a meat carving station and porkchops, chicken and steak grilled on the grills they had set up. There were plenty of waiters that came around taking drink orders and the had 2 self server margarita machines set up as well. Tip, the dinner starts at 630.. go a little early to get a table near the center opening so you will have a front row table for the fire show. The fire show was very entertaining and well done. After that was done, the entertainment crew hosted a limbo contest that was very fun to watch. We were tired and went to bed when that was done, but they had announced that they were continueing the party in the 'nightclub'. There were several people at the quiet pool complaining the next morning that their was a group of loud, obnoxious people in the pool at 130 am, but I never heard them and our building was next to the pool. (My husband and son, in room 1132 did hear them however).
I get up early and usually go for a walk and then get coffee. I am usually up by 6 am. There were already people out raking the beach at that time and coffee was available at the enterance to the buffet resteraunt by at least 630 am, and at the snack bar by 7. The buffet opened for breakfast at 7 am and we ate everyday at that time. The food was hot and a good variety. They have made to order omelets each morning, along with scrambled eggs, sausage, refried beans, french toast, pancakes, potatoes, oatmeal, dry cereals, assorted breads, assorted fruits, cold meats and cheeses and pastries. They also offered make your own bloody marys, and had various coffee liquors available at the coffee stands.
we spent the first day at the quiet pool ( with the swim up bar). We had no problem getting chairs, but we were out by 745. It didnt appear to be a shortage of chairs, however they were all full most the day. This is a topless optional pool, and there were some topless sunbathers which was fine. It did get a little bit wild late in the afternoon and there ended up being LOTS of topless people all over (in the pool and out). We really didnt care for that , but to each their own and it is advertised that its allowed. We ended up staying at the other pool for the rest of our stay though. I will point out that at this pool, there was a couple of areas along the edge of the pool that the concrete had wore off or broken off and there was a section where the iron rods were exposed. The pool is in need of updating. One of the lights was also dislodged from the socket and was attached to the side with a rope to keep it from falling. This didnt keep us, or others from enjoying the water, which was warm enough to enter easily, yet still be refreshing. Another note, the entire pool is only waist deep everywhere.
The activity pool (which is the pool directly off the lobby and sits between the snack bar and the buffet was in better shape than the other pool. There are more chairs around this pool, including little alcoves. This pool has a gradual entrance. it goes from fairly shallow, and gradually gets deeper, until it is almost arm pit depth (probably 4 feet). There is a volley ball net that extends across this pool and that was used frequently. This pool seems cleaner than the other pool (maybe cuz there is no swim up bar...)
We ate lunch everytime at the snack bar instead of the buffet, so I cant comment on the buffets lunch selection. We really liked the snack bar, but it was slow. There are only 2 people working the grill and almost everything is made to order. The selections included: fish, hamburger, hot dog, chicken-beef or cheese quesidillas, chicken wings, nachos with chicken or beef or combo, chocolate brownie, seafood cocktail and frenchfries. We tried everything except the seafood cocktail and loved everything except, oddly enough, the chocolate brownie. That just had a weird consistancy. They also had homemade chips and guacamole that was delicious. There was a covered patio with several tables at the snack bar and then a wide open patio with tables and chairs at the swing bar and at an area between the snack bar and the buffet. It was very nice to sit there overlooking the ocean.
The swing bar (I was told..could never stay awake to experience it) was open until about 130 am and often the entertainment crew would move the party to the deck there after the shows were done at night. The bar off the lobby was also open open until then and looked lively, but I never went in there.
We only ate in the buffet a couple of nights as we had rented a car and went to dinner in town 3 different nights, and 2 other nights was the beach party and the mexican party, where the food was set up outside and was special.
On the mexican party night, all the tables were set up outside around the activity pool's deck off the main lobby. The food was all set up on the patio between the buffet and the snack bar. Again, this was a very nice selection of food, including food cooked on an open grill. All of it was very tasty with nice decorations all around. The show that night started with an audience participation bit which was quite entertaining and then concluded with mexican dancers on stage in traditional mexican wear doing dances. They had everyone fill out a satisfaction survey about your staff so far that I thought was a little bit of a long drawn out process before the show, but they put everyones completed survey in a box and had a drawing and we ended up winning a snorkel trip (for 1, but it was a 40.00 dollar trip) so it was worth it :).
We ended up doing the snorkel trip, which is suppose to be booked 24 hours in advance, but they let us sign up the morning of the trip on the day we wanted to go. We booked it right thru Dive Palancar, which is the dive operation right at the resort. It was 39.00 a person and included snorkeling by boat to 3 different reefs, all the snorkel equipment, drinks (any kind you wanted--alcoholic and non alcoholic and water), but fresh fruit and chips. It was DEFINETLY worth the money. The trip was about 4 hours long and they pick you up by boat right at the dock on the resort. The 2 guys that were our guides were wonderful. They were very personable, knowledgeable and very generous, gracious hosts. They made margaritas with fresh limes and had plates of fresh fruit cut up and waiting for us when we got out of the water after each reef (they would take turns guiding us, one going in the water with us and the other preparing the snacks). It was an overcast day, but it was perfect for snorkeling. We went to Columbia reef, Palancar reef and Hollywood (also called El Ciedra) which is a very shallow sandbar that is covered with starfish (hense the name hollywood...stars...get it?) We were given plenty of time at each reef and never felt rushed. We saw tons of fish, stingrays, starfish, a couple turtles, a moray eel, barracuda and grouper. The water temperature and color were both amazing. I would definetly recommend this tour!
The pier at the resort is a good place to enter the water for snorkeling along the "shore". There is a ladder to get into the water, or the water at the end of the pier is deep enough for jumping in if you are more daring. One note of caution, there is a lot of boat traffic that uses the pier so just be cautious snorkeling around it. There is a roped area that if you use the ladder, you are within and therefor not in the boat traffic, but if you jump off the end of the pier you are outside of the roped off area. The snorkeling along the resort was fair. There were plenty of fish to see and some starfish, but no reefs or real corral areas. It still occupied several hours of our time each day and we enjoyed it.
There is no area in the water at the resort that is sandy. You do need water shoes. My impression from reading reviews was that the enterance was rocky, but then I figured it would get sandy. Not so. There are patches of rocky areas all over. Definetly all rocks when entering the water, and then patches of sea grass or rocks all along. The area at the end of the pier is a sandy bottom, but it is probably 7-8 feet deep there. (you do touch bottom when you jump off the pier, but do not touch bottom once you surface). The beach area itself though is a long, wide sandy (coarse sand though) beach with plenty of lounge chairs situated all along the length of the resort.
There is one catamaran available free of charge to use. If you want to take it out on your own, you need to attend a free lesson which is held everyday at 11 am. We never seemed to be able to time this right and never took the lesson, but the guy at the watersports hut will take you out on it if you ask. We did this and it was wonderful. He even let us jump off and swim around out in the ocean. They also have several one and two person kayaks that are available to use free of charge. We did a 2 man one and had a blast. you can go whereever you want, but they limit its use to 2 hours each time (our arms were so sore after about 1/2 hour that I cant imagine going over the time limit) (if you do, they charge you 5.00, so its still a good deal!)
We rented a car from ISIS while we were there and although it was a great time, the car itself was quite an experience. It was VW bug convertable. It had NO gauges, no radio, no vents, no switches of any kind and no wind shield washer fluid. It was a manual, and even though we are experienced with stick shifts, 3/4 of the time we could not get the car into 3rd gear. We would try to shift into third and it would just grind. It was quite embarassing in town! The other issue was that the fronts seats were not bolted down good. If you went around a corner, both of the front seats would literally shift and a move with the turn. The drivers seat would not lock, so if you put on the brake, the seat would go all the way forward. If you pushed in the clutch, the seat would go all the way back (creating a near stall for my shorter legs!) Again, its Mexico and I didnt expect a cadillac and it just added to the fun of the car (although it was a little scary at times!)
We went the following places and I will do seperate reviews on all of them, but we enjoyed each one and would highly recommend them:
1. punta sur (lgihthouse and park)
2. "wild side" island drive (with our rental car) with stops at Rasta's, the 'naked beach' bar (can't remember the name of it right now, but it is the last bar before the road back across the island), coconuts and the beach at playa bonita.
3. Money Bar for dinner
4. Wet Wendy's for lunch and margarita's
5. Casa Denis for dinner
6. La Cabana del Pescador (lobster house) for dinner
7. Cozumel square on Sunday night with the locals.
Overall impression. Food was great, never experienced any cold food, but we are early eaters. Did have to wait about 10 mins. for food at the snack bar if there was any kind of line, but you are always assured of hot food there. Drinks were not watered down and although we are not big drinkers, there were lots of different kinds to try and all were good. They do use hard plastic cups that we didnt find were a problem. There were various sizes and there didnt seem to be any rhym nor reason to which glass size you would get. Beach was beatiful, water was gorgeous and views were phenominal. Water was rocky and grassy, but great for snorkeling. Pools were clean and warm, although the quiet pool was in need of repair around the edges. Some of the lounge chairs were quite worn but the majority were in good condition. Rooms were just the right size and kept clean daily, although there were some days that the maid didnt come until close to 5 pm. (we were getting ready for dinner one day and just had them leave towels and not clean cuz we were there). beach towels were thick and plush each time we got them (and we would exchange ours daily) and bath towels were nice as well. While we were there, they were removing the water coolers that sat outside each building in the sun and heat, and began providing water bottles in the room each day. The Resorts grounds are nice and well kept, but it is an older resort that could use some slight updating. The wooden stairs leading between the swing bar and the beach (the backside, near the vendor hut) are really bad. They are broken and could be a fall hazard. Wi-fi worked in lobby and sometimes near the activity pool. TV's in rooms had limited channels (2 american) and the TV picture was not great (who needs tv on vacay??) No problems with mosquitos, but there were a lot of bees around, husband even got stung by one in the pool. If I returned to Cozumel, I would most likely stay at this resort again, although we did walk over to the Aura and that was nice if we could get it during a sale. We booked the basic room and were perfectly fine with that. In fact, when I walked up to the exclusive part, i dont think that I would have like that. We were steps away from the ocean and pool and used the extra money to do fun things. Thanks Sabor for the memorible vacation!