from Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Submitted on 09-08-2016
We just returned last week from a 2 week All Inclusive stay at the Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort. We chose this hotel as it was close proximity to the Xcaret Eco Park, a 5 minute walk next door along a connecting path. Also we felt this hotel offered good value for money, for an all inclusive stay, and we could get 2 interconnecting rooms, which was what we needed given we have 2 teenagers, 14 and 17. Interconnecting rooms were not something that most hotels in Mexico claimed to have, and given...
We just returned last week from a 2 week All Inclusive stay at the Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort. We chose this hotel as it was close proximity to the Xcaret Eco Park, a 5 minute walk next door along a connecting path. Also we felt this hotel offered good value for money, for an all inclusive stay, and we could get 2 interconnecting rooms, which was what we needed given we have 2 teenagers, 14 and 17. Interconnecting rooms were not something that most hotels in Mexico claimed to have, and given the age of our children we felt this was the best option.
We arrived after a long journey from the UK, about 10pm. We had booked a private transfer with USA transfers ourselves from the airport to the hotel, return, something I would recommend after a long flight. We arrived to check in at the Grand Xcaret and at first were offered 2 separate rooms, there had been some lack of communication regarding the interconnecting rooms it seemed. I explained I really wanted the room sorting out asap , interconnecting, and either ground floor or main building where there are lifts, as I have a very bad back. Within 5 minutes the rooms were sorted, and we were given 2 interconnecting bedrooms in block 11, which is part of the main building off the lobby, overlooking the river which goes through the hotel. The rooms were okay, they were clean, spacious, plenty of wardrobe space, and bathroom with WC, sink and large walk-in shower cubicle. There was a huge sliding patio door onto the balcony. It had room for 2 chairs and a small table, we just used it for airing towels etc as the wildlife, including cicadas ( they were big ! by UK standards ) could easily fly in if the doors were left open, so we tended to keep the door shut.
We got the perfect combination of beds which I had asked for, the kids got a double bed each in their room, and our room had a HUGE bed ( made my King size bed at home feel cosy !).
Both bedrooms had a small fridge, and each morning the cleaner would top up the complimentary beverages, beer, water and soft drinks in each fridge. If you needed more it was no issue to contact reception, and they brought more up to the room straight away.
Food : Overall we enjoyed the food at the hotel. There is the main buffet restaurant, which always had a good selection, the food was regularly swapped over, and many items were cooked fresh in front of you at cooking stations.
There is a DRESS CODE....in fact I am glad there was if only to stop some very lazy holidaymakers going for dinner in vest t-shirts and jeans !
The dress code is that MEN ( young children exempt, our 6ft tall 14 year old son did make the effort to dress up most nights as I wasn't sure if it applied to him or not, as looks over 16 yrs, it depended who in the hotel you asked to what the official answer was - the last couple of nights he wore tailored long shorts and a shirt / smart deck shoes and we had no problem ) worse LONG TROUSERS and SHIRT and CLOSED SHOES to all the restaurants except for the buffet restaurant in the evening. The buffet restaurant allowed a more casual dress, eg. long shorts, t-shirts etc, some people still dressed up whilst others dressed more relaxed.
Breakfast was served in the main buffet restaurant and also at the restaurant down by the sea. We ate many of our meals in the day here, the selection was good, the food was fresh and tasty, as there was a beautiful breeze and view over the sea. Good selection of food to suit most peoples taste. the waiters were always hard working and rarely stopped and always had a smile on their face and made the effort to get to know you after a few days of going to the same restaurant.
DRESS CODE for breakfast ( as I would expect ) was that it's okay to go to breakfast and lunch in swimwear, so long as you wear t-shirt, shorts, kaftan, beach dress over the top.
In the evening the buffet restaurant by the sea / beach area became the Fish restaurant. It had a good reputation, and was a lovely atmosphere and we had some beautiful food here.
There was also a steak restaurant ( really nice tasty steaks ), a Mexican restaurant ( which we found a little disappointing as we like our food tasty and a bit spicy, and found this a bit bland, and Mole Chicken must be an acquired taste... ), an Italian which was nice, and an Oriental ( we ate here twice, the first time was great and the second time was chaotic, and food not the best, so mixed thoughts )....
The lobby was stunning. the grounds were full of wildlife, monkeys, iguana, deer, agouti and coati. For my family and me, this is where our hotel really came into it;s own, the setting. It was just as if someone had built a hotel within a tropical jungle. For anyone worried about pathways and distance etc, no need, the pathways are all accessible unless you choose to walk on one of the jungle wildlife trails around the grounds, and there was a small shuttle car which carried a dozen or so people that constantly drove between the beach area and the main lobby, so if you didn't want to / unable to walk the 5/10 min walk from lobby - beach you never had long to wait.
Entertainment : this was a weekly schedule. SO if you were there for 2 weeks like us you would see some repetition. The evening entertainment was in an outdoor theatre close to the restaurants, and had a roof with open sides so was ok of rain should happen ! Entertainment varied in quality but for the most part was pretty good, the hotel had their own singers and dancers, that performed 4/5 nights a week, and were very talented. There was also a Michael Jackson show which was stunning ( hard to get a seat that night !)....there was some kiddies stuff on earlier in the evening before the adult show at 9.30pm for an hour ( although many kids stayed around as for most part it was singing and show dance type entertainment )....there was karaoke one night only.
If you were just wanting a snack evening meal then there was also a Taco place ( Pacos Tacos ) and a pizza place upstairs too.
Entertainment in the day was the usual varied sports, such a beach volleyball ( could have done with a bit more depth of sand on the court though, as man made beach, a few scrapes and bruises were noted, I did tell the management about this whilst there )....also had pool games, quizzes around the pool etc. there was a swim up bar by the main pool which was a nice touch.
For the main part we preferred it down on the loungers / beds by the inlet / beach area as there was a gentle breeze. It was easy enough to get towels from the towel hut for the day, get your loungers and go for breakfast, lovely lunch served in the same restaurant too all afternoon, and there was a bar with 2 waiters and 2 waitresses walking round the loungers taking orders all day and bringing the drinks out / collecting plastic glasses up. They never stopped, any of the them, and did a super job at keeping everyone hydrated and the area clean and tidy.
Also by the beach area was a fabulous inlet for snorkelling ! You cannot walk miles along the beach at this hotel, or swim directly in the sea, but it does have a lovely inlet of sea water which is full of FISH ! great depth and nice and calm for snorkelling in and cooling off in. you could get an HOUR FREE snorkel hire from the ProDive shop, next to the restaurant.
Other things to note : there is a ProDive Shop, they organise all the out of hotel SCUBA and snorkelling trips for anyone interested. My husband and son have done SCUBA before, and there is a great reef off the island of Cozumel so they were keen to SCUBA dive this holiday. You do NEED to book well is advance. it's NOT a sales ploy !! bear in mind they only take small groups out to SCUBA on tourist dives for safety reasons, and they didn't dive every day....it was poss. to reserve a day with a deposit, but until your money is down you haven't got your place. It was very well organised, the staff were brilliant, and my husband and son enjoyed a full day excursion going to Cozumel on the ferry and then on their boat, 2 dives, all really professional. It is never a cheap activity, but it was well taught in the pool the day before ( they did a refresher course ) and classroom, and they were up to speed before the dive and had a great day.
There is a hut that do Henna tattoos by the beach which is really great, they were lovely, and even topped the design up before we left at the end of the holiday for free.
There is a SPA, you can have treatments at the spa or down by the beach. Although I never had a treatment in the end, I chatted for a long time with a lovely lady called Diana, who was full of advice on diff things, and could get you a ''promo deal'' on some of the spa treatments. I also heard that some people with diff. coloured wristbands also got discounts at the spa of up to 30%.
the VACATION CLUB ....where do I start ?! No, I didn't go round it, and despite have been given a green wristband ( another tan line ) to show the sales people who worked on that side of the business that i wasn't interested it seemed to make little difference. If you want to give up 1.5 hrs to go round with a sales person explaining the vacation club property and how it works then great, and I heard there are ''gifts'' for you doing so. I on the other hand travelled a long way from the UK and it was my first holiday to Mexico and in a Barcelo Hotel ( new owners of the hotel ). I didn't want to commit to a vacation club, just enjoy my holiday. At one point we just told some of the staff we had been around thank you, just to stop them asking, guess they worked on commission ! for referrals.)
Other than being constantly asked if we would like to go on a tour of the vacation club at least once a day, we found all the staff to be helpful, polite, and genuinely friendly.
There was an Xcaret Tours desk in the lobby of the hotel, they will do deals - you've been told, they do have prices but we prepared to talk to your travel rep and ask their prices for any excursions too, and compare, and don;t be afraid to tell the other party what you have been offered - they all want your business.
What else did we do :
we spent an afternoon at Akumal Beach, about 20 mins in a taxi ( bell hop can get you one in 5 mins for a set fare ), for 3400 pesos 4 of us got a taxi to Akumal beach and rather than do a tour, we did what the locals do and walked into the water ( we did hire a life vest from dive shop on the beach ) and went snorkelling with the huge sea turtles ! Do it !! great little bar / restaurant on the beach too.
We did go to Chichen Itza, and we went on the tour bus from the hotel. It was very good, comfy transport and well organised. We did visit Valloidid after seeing the Mayan Ruins, the restaurant and church were good, but we weren't as impressed as we had expected with the town itself ( perhaps it had been oversold to us ). In our opinion Chichen Itza was worth doing, really enjoyed it, and if we went back we would visit Koba and Tulum
SCUBA dive at Cozumel through ProDive - def. recommend
We got a taxi one evening to Fifth Avenue at playa del Carmen, some nice shops at the nearest end, new shopping centre, then at night we weren't too bothered with the bars etc that seem to go forever. I have heard it said it's worth a visit in the afternoon also, but we never got round to going back.
In conclusion, we had a fantastic family holiday, 2 parents in our 40's and 2 teenagers. As our teens were 14 and 17, and not old enough to go in the disco ( a yellow wristband denoted too young to drink ) there was little for them to do in the evening which was a shame. that is perhaps the one thing I would improve, we have prev. been on a AI holiday to Mauritius they had a fantastic teen club in the sports bar every evening....the evening shows in the theatre weren't necessarily the taste of most teens. There was a sports bar next to the disco, but again it was the wristband and drinking age that limited where they were allowed ( they didn't want to drink, just socialise with friends they had met in the day ).....
I did think that the surroundings were beautiful and I am a nature lover, so all the animals were a delight to me, something diff. every day. We had 2 days in Xcaret Park next door, which I would say was enough. Some people had purchased unlimited wristbands, perhaps a good idea if you are a more active person and like to do the park in segments, whereas we had 2 full days. It would have been nice if there was some sort of deal / benefit to staying in the hotel and access to the park ( discounted tickets etc ) but there wasn't, shame, as this is the sort of thing you might expect as Florida !
There were a few alterations and rooms being renovated whilst we were there, but nothing too troublesome. There was a block around the activity pool being renovated, and this was another reason we preferred it down the sea, quieter, no banging and drilling etc. It was only one block so wasn't too diff. to avoid this area.
Location was great in our opinion. Not far from the diff eco parks, and also a good position for days out to Chichen Itza etc.
The weather was great, the odd bit of inclement weather we did get soon blowed over within an hour or so, or was through the night. We were worried before we left the Uk and had looked at the weather forecast, but don't worry, every few days we got some rain or thunder storm but it soon cleared .
TOP TIP ; take high factor sunscreen and plenty of it. If you go to xcaret then you will need biodegradable sunscreen, you can get it in the shop at the hotel for about ¬£15 , but may be cheaper to fin some before you leave, also their formulation isn't great protection unless constantly reapplied after water etc....and you look like a snowman ! we have never used as much sunscreen or as high a factor as we did this holiday !! you have been warned.
We would return. Overall, a great holiday .