My wife and I just concluded our fifth trip to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. I decided to write a running review ranking each resort. We have stayed at the Grand Sunset Princess (May 2009), Sandos Caracol (May 2010), the Ocean Coral & Turquesa (August 2011 & May 2013, with kids), and Secrets Aura. We had a nice time at all and would stay at the OCT, GSP, SA again.
1. Ocean Coral and Turquesa (OCT). Overall the best combination of what we like for a resort. It was also an incredible value, going after August 16 helped this. They also regularly run a kids stay free special which we used in May 2013. My overall rating ****1/2.
2. Secrets Aura Cozumel (SA)****1/2 This property was acquired from Wyndham in the past couple years and they have made many renovations, but is still a work in progress.
3. Grand Sunset Princess (GSP). The most beautiful resort of the three. A very large resort. ****
4. Sandos Caracol (SC). An eco-resort theme. Friendly helpful staff, an upgrade to select club is a must. *** ½.
1. SA. We chose to stay in the Preferred Section in a garden view room. We had a second floor room and actually had a very nice ocean view to our left. Probably the most beautiful spacious room I have stayed in. It has a great soaking tub, walk in shower with rainfall shower head, and a very comfortable bed. Lots of toiletry upgrades including sun screen. It is a relatively small upgrade to the tropical view rooms, I highly recommend it. We requested a dehumidifier, but did not need it because the AC did such a good job.
2. GSP. This is an all-suite resort with spacious beautiful rooms. We stayed in a Platinum Suite with a great ocean view. Extensive marble and contemporary style. It had a good sized flat screen TV with plenty of English speaking channels, which was nice to have at the end of the day after being outdoors all day. No musty smells and the AC worked well. Having a key card or other card in a slot controls the power, bring an extra card to keep things running.
3. OCT. Very nice and also decorated in a contemporary style. Was mostly tile rather than marble. Lacked a few of the extras like the double sink that the GSP had. A bit of a sulfur smell in the bathroom; got used to it quickly. The AC was very good. The TV was a flat screen that was a little smaller. A motion detector in the room controlled some of the electrical items in the room. Many rooms have a good view of the ocean; we requested an upper floor and didn’t mention an ocean view. That was our fault for not asking.
4. SC. We stayed in the select club rooms at the back of the resort. We had a huge whirlpool in the room. The décor and furnishing were a little dated and tired. They still used tube TV and the reception was poor. The humidity was a little more prevalent here than the other two resorts.
1. SA. Nice linens. Very comfortable bed, better than I have back home.
2. GSP. Best overall, nice linens. Comfortable bed, in Mexico beds are generally much firmer.
3. OCT. Perfectly comfortable, the bedding was not quite as nice as the GSP.
4. SC. Acceptable comfort and linens.
1. GSP. It was cold and the selection was good. It was restocked daily and the Platinum upgrade got us several bottles of liquor. Some of which were recognizable brands.
2. SA. Decent temperature. Sodas were in glass bottles. They forgot our snacks and bottle of tequila. We requested both, but only got the snacks. They had a bottle of wine for us when we arrived, so maybe that was in place of the tequila. However, we don’t drink wine and would have preferred the tequila.
3. OCT. The temperature was passable. Had some trouble getting diet coke stocked, it was hit or miss.
4. SC. It was not cold, made one request to have it fixed it never was. Selection was good, the Select Club upgrade got use several bottles of liquor, did not recognize any of the brands.
1. GSP. Most beautiful of the three. Compared very well to a true five star resort I stayed at in Costa Rica. Everything is so well cleaned and manicured. Enjoyed the fact it was a large resort and could take a walk in such a nice setting. Occasionally smells around the Laguna Suites, like the smell of standing water.
2. OCT. Very nice setting, a little more noticeable chipping paint than the GSP, but you really had to look at it close to notice it. Extremely clean and well maintained. The buildings were laid out in four horseshoes so you continually had a view of the ocean from almost anywhere. Our room was near the kids club and there was much more of a sulfur like smell on that side of the resort. It appears, as there were some mechanical building, that perhaps that is what the smell was.
3. SA. Some of the preferred sections were really beautiful as were the restaurants. It was missing some of the finer points in the landscaping and grass. There is an area in the back with construction debris. They have added some of the sister resort to this resort so it is a little chopped up and more difficult to navigate than some other resorts.
3. SC. Most noticeable signs of wear and age. Everything was extremely clean and the staff was continually cleaning, painting, and trimming things. When the wind was right there was occasionally a pungent standing water type smell. There were many animals on the resort.
1. SC. We are certainly not beach people, but spent a lot of time here at the SC. They have the erosion control sand bags. Though they are not particularly scenic, they make a wonderful area to soak in the ocean. The beach was clean, the water was very clear, and the sand was soft and white. With the select club upgrade, we had access to an excellent beach club area and had nicer loungers in the roped off area.
2. SA. The sand was more coarse here. You don’t want to walk long distances on it without shoes. I rated this ahead of GSP, due to the pier and great snorkeling it provided.
3. GSP. We went to the beach one day here. When we went, there were none of the vendors in the way or the chairs you have to pay to sit in. These items are mentioned in many of the recent reviews, but were not present in 2009.
4. OCT. There certainly is sea grass and the water is not as clear as the other two. It is located right across for a reef. If you are a beach person this one will disappoint you. It didn’t bother us, as we are generally indifferent on the beach.
1. GSP. The pools stretched the whole resort and too numerous to count. They were always clean and we spent most of our time at the pool with the swim up bar. There was a pool for whatever you were looking for from quiet to activities.
2. OCT. There were four pools to choose from; kids, activity, party, and quiet. You could sit at the pool and see the ocean from your seat. We spent most of our time at the party pool with the swim up bar. This pool had “chairs” for two built into the pool, which were nice to sit up. Very happy with the pools here too.
3. SC. Just like the other resorts, the pools for whatever you like to do. We liked the party pool and select club pool and split time between the too. The water was almost as warm as bath water, which I enjoyed. All pools were very clean. Very happy with the pools here; there was little difference between the resorts.
4. SA. Again a similar theme here, the preferred pool was outstanding. The Manatee Pool needed to be cleaned better. Floating leaves were the main issue, just no fun having that stuff stuck to you when swimming. We did not use the other two pools.
1. GSP. A very large and cold theater, the cranked the AC in here. The theater was very large and had a bar in the back.
2. OCT. A modest sized theater, the AC was on but was a little on the warmer side. They did not turn the AC for the movie at 6:00. It was very hot for those; they need to turn on the AC for the movie. That is my #1 suggestion for this resort. They also could use a bar during the shows.
3. SC. Very nice outdoor facility, but it is too hot to enjoy. We ended up either sitting near the back or watching the movie in the sports bar.
4. SA. NA in this category. It was a smaller resort so it did not have a large theater for shows. Most of the entertainment was at Sky Bar, on the beach, or in the lobby. They did have a small club where they had a whip cracking show. It was kind of an odd space.
1. SA. Enjoyed most all of the food hear. Compared to other resorts their desserts were much better, great chocolate cake. We celebrated a birthday and anniversary when we were there and for both occasions they left a cake in our room. No reservation necessary here and we did not wait once to get into a restaurant. We enjoyed the pool side service. The nachos and speciality burger were wonderful. We tried room service twice. Once for breakfast and once for dinner it was prompt and delicious each time. Try the portabella burger it is wonderful. Secrets guests can use the sister resort as well. We ate at the Mexican place for dinner and it was good. We also ate at the Pizzeria for lunch. The was to closest I have had to what I would call true pizza in Mexico. Last but not least we really liked the Market Café for breakfast. They knew our names and knew we drink diet coke instead of coffee almost right away. It is a smaller buffet, but makes omelets, eggs, waffles, and French toast to order. You have to get the French toast it is wonderful. The odd thing is you must ask for bacon at the omelet station. They have it ready, not sure why they don’t put it out??
2. OCT. The food here was good in the buffets and ala carts. No reservations unless you are privilege status. I actually preferred the walk up system as you could eat an ala cart every night even the first night you were there. We did line up at 5:30 for the hibachi show, but we really did not need to do so for the 6:00 slot. In the seven nights we only had to wait once for 30 minutes for the Mexican place. They clearly were full and were running efficiently, so it was no big deal. We just got a drink from Mike’s Café and before we knew it, our table was ready. We tried all of the ala carts and enjoyed every one of them. Don’t miss the Crepe ala cart, the dessert crepes are excellent. My other favorites were the rib eye at Villa Marina, cheese tastings and the Mexican ala cart, and the tuna appetizer at the Japanese place. Overall lots of good things to eat!!
3. SC. Due to only staying four nights we were allowed just one ala cart. We chose the Brazilian ala cart and really, really enjoyed it. The salad bar at this ala cart also had sushi so that was nice bonus. The buffet choices were international and Italian. Both were good, but my favorite food was the international. The international was outside so there were some mosquito issues and it was warm. The Italian buffet had AC.
4. GSP. We ate an ala cart every night except our first. Plan on some extra time when eating an ala cart here. On the whole, there were not many memorable dishes here. There is a cold soup at the gourmet ala cart that was excellent as was the sushi. My favorite dish was the steak I got for room service. The pizza was not good at all.
1. GSP. The drinks were blended well and the right strength. The variety was very good and they could make most anything. When we were there they did not have mint for mojitos. The coconut daiquiri, Miami Vice, blue Hawaiians, and mango margaritas were very good. They had good tequila and Corona on tap.
2.SA. Be careful, compared to other resorts they don’t water down their drinks. One day they were doing coconut drinks and they were quite strong. They always had a drink of the day, the mango tangos were are favorite. They did not make a very good Blue Hawaiian, but I figured out if I had them add coconut rum it was much better. They had higher end tequila available and you could get Crowne Royal in the Preferred areas.
3. OCT. Drinks contained the proper amount of alcohol. The made a very good blue Hawaiian, mojito, mud slide and Bahaman Mama. The could not make a coconut daiquiri or anything mango. Occasionally would have chunks of ice in the blended drinks. The tequila was not as nice as the GSP and they also had Corona on tap.
4. SC. Did not seem to have much alcohol in the drinks. They did feature a drink of the day, which was fun. Try a coco loco and banana mama. There were often chunks of ice in the blended drinks.
1. OCT. Entertainment and activities were posted near the activity pool. Every other night they seem to have a movie in the theater. There were nightly shows at 9:30 in the theater. The show was the typical resort style show using the animation staff. After the theater show there was either a DJ or band by the pool. In the lobby nightly there was some sort of activity; karaoke, chocolate buffet (Sundays), and a perfect couple contest. They also have a market night weekly. The staff was very friendly, remembered us, and got us involved.
2. GSP. Again the typical nightly theater shows with the animation staff. One night they brought in professional acrobats for a show. During the day, they had some activities by the pool. This resort by far had the best disco.
3. SA. Again due this being a smaller resort entertainment was more limited. Mariana from the entertainment team was wonderful. She lead a bike tour and we were the only who signed up, so we got a private 30 minute ride with her. Mariana always knew our name and greeted us with a hug. One night they had a very good guitar player near the lobby pool. They also had a saxophone player at Skybar. No movies are larger shows that you see at the bigger resorts. They had a “comedian” from Texas that did a whip cracking demonstration at the club. I suppose he was good at what he did, but not really our thing.
4. SC. Probably would have been higher except for the comfort of the theater. The seats and temperature made it uncomfortable. They had nightly movies that were very recent. Animation staff put on the nightly shows and they also had a market night. They did have an Eco tour of the resort, but we did not figure out when this was.
1. SA. They excelled with our special events. On my wife’s birthday they left a cake for us when we returned to the room for the night. On our anniversary they hung a banner on the door and left another cake and champagne. Many employees knew us by name and our preferences. The preferred concierge was very attentive to our needs. One day we went to Oceana for lunch thinking it was the Barefoot Grill menu and it was not. They were happy to provide us with items from the Barefoot Grill menu at Oceana. We really enjoyed the lunch service by the pool and beach as well. Turn down service was never missed, the room was always cleaned, mini bar was always stocked, and room service was prompt and hot. I did note in all of Cozumel, including the resort, more people spoke very good English than in other resort areas of Mexico. Even airport employees were very easy to converse with.
2. OCT. The people were very friendly and attentive. In Mexico the drink service and pace of the ala carts are slower in general. We were satisfied by the pace here. The pool servers were around by far more often than any of the other resorts we stayed at. We never had unacceptable waits to get a drinks or service here. The room was cleaned very soon after we left for the day. We often were surprised by how fast the room was made up when we stopped back. We e-mailed ahead about celebrating our anniversary. We had wine, towel art, chocolates, and a personal note waiting for us. We requested a room on the upper floor and dehumidifier. We got our floor preference, but no dehumidifier. We made one request for the dehumidifier at the front desk, but it never arrived. We did not ask again because it did not seem all that necessary. We received a welcome drink when we arrived, and were ushered off to a rep who gave us useful information and tried to schedule a welcome breakfast (time-share). We were first offered $120 in spa credit and assured it was only 90 minutes long. The spa is no really my thing, so said she would check with the manager to see if we could get cash. We had a note under the door that they would give us $150 in cash to attend. We decided not to sign up for it.
3. SC. The people again were friendly and attentive. Drink service at the pool was there, but less frequent. We never waited at the bar to get a drink. The service at the buffet was quick and efficient. As a select club guest we had our own concierge whom checked in with us. They tried to send us over to guest services to schedule the welcome breakfast, we said we were tired and went to our room. We ordered room service, free with select club, and it came quickly.
4. GSP. Again overall the service was good. We went right around the swine flu was wrapping up. The resort was about 25% occupied. Due to the low occupancy, the nights the number of ala carts opened nightly were fewer. This was understandable; we still had plenty of choices. We ordered room service and it arrived promptly. There were about three normal things we expected to have access to like a hibachi table at Miso, that were “broken” it seemed to be an easy response for the things they were not offering due the occupancy.
1. SA. The preferred tropical upgrade was an extra $25/night. The cost looks like it moves around a lot based on availability. I went to their website and looked at the beginning of August stay and you could book the tropical view upgrade for an extra $50/night. If you go the end of August it is no additional cost on their website, but if you went through Orbitz it was $9/night for a tropical view. Anything $50/night or less and it is an excellent value. It provided a very upgraded room, private pool with bar, preferred lounge, in room wifi, and robe.
2. SC. The select club was just $20 extra a night. It gave you room service, beach house, Internet, liquor for you mini bar, private pool, an ala cart for lunch and more. The ala cart for lunch made up for only getting a limited number of ala carts for dinner. The rooms are at the back of resort by the Select Club pool.
3. GSP. The platinum upgrade was an extra $50 a night. It gave you room service, lounge, Internet; liquor for you mini bar, private pool, preferred reservations for dinner, ocean view room and more. The rooms had a whirlpool on the balcony and in the room. The upgrade was worth the money.
4. OCT. The privilege upgrade was $70 a night. Based on what you got and the base cost of the room we decided it was not worth it.
1.SA. No trouble with mosquitoes, ants or roaches. Got bit by sand fleas on the beach.
1a. OCT. No trouble with mosquitoes, ants or roaches. Got bit by sand fleas on the beach.
2. GSP. No mosquitoes, ants, or sand fleas. A roach got in a suitcase, yuck. Remember to zip these up when you are out of the room. Staff sprayed and took care of it right away.
3. SC. No ants, sand fleas, or roaches. Lots of mosquitoes.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In a perfect blend of luxury and excitement, Secrets Aura Cozumel is the ultimate adults-only, all-suite resort located on the island of Cozumel. Sitting just 12 miles off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Secrets Aura has it all. Bask in a world of Unlimited-Luxury® while staying in one of 266 contemporary, stylish non-smoking suites complete with private terraces or swim-up access, stunning views, 24-hour room service, daily refreshed minibar and more. For added luxury, guests can upgrade to the Preferred Club and enjoy additional amenities and inclusions. The experience continues with limitless gourmet dining at gourmet restaurants plus 24-hour dining options allow guests to devour late night bites at the Coco Cafe or stay in and order room service all without reservations and top-shelf spirits at three bars and lounges throughout the resort. Light up the night with live nightly entertainment and activities. Or enjoy land and water sports, three sparkling pools, live entertainment with pool and beach wait service throughout the day. Dive into the Caribbean at nearby world-renowned dive sites; explore the natural wonders of the second largest coral reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Learn to dive deep with the help of the fullservice, on-site dive operator, Dive House. Indulge in specialty treatments at the Secrets Spa by Pevonia®, located right next door at Sunscape Sabor Cozumel, the most complete spa on the island, or simply spend time with the ones you love. Secrets Aura Cozumel – Light. Luxury. Love. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Aura Cozumel Grand Hotel Cozumel
- Wyndham Cozumel
- Cozumel Wyndham