Submitted on 24-10-2016
This was my 4th trip to Mexico, and 3rd to the Riviera Maya specifically. Considering there are well over 200 resorts to choose from, my wife and I take our time to research resorts that match our budget along with our idea of what we want out of a vacation. My wife and I wanted to do a stay between 4-6 days, adults only (sorry, but kids tend to be loud), and something that didn't require hiking boots to get from one side of the resort to the other as we have had in the past. The Ocean Maya R...
This was my 4th trip to Mexico, and 3rd to the Riviera Maya specifically. Considering there are well over 200 resorts to choose from, my wife and I take our time to research resorts that match our budget along with our idea of what we want out of a vacation. My wife and I wanted to do a stay between 4-6 days, adults only (sorry, but kids tend to be loud), and something that didn't require hiking boots to get from one side of the resort to the other as we have had in the past. The Ocean Maya Royale lived up to our expectations!
On our first day, our flight landed in the morning, and going through customs was a breeze. Our transfer from the airport took about 35 minutes. We arrived at about noon - about 3 hours ahead of check-in. Upon arrival, the concierge set our luggage aside for when we were assigned a room, and the representatives from H10 gave us a map and explained some things about the resort (restaurants, times, pools, bars, etc.). It was at this time that we got "suckered in" to do a sort of (but not really) time share sales pitch for the next morning. Hey, we knew going in that we were going to say "no", but the little they offered for our time was well spent for my wife at the spa. More on that later though.
Our vacation representative was getting re-assigned to a different hotel, and wasn't available for us to speak with about our transfer for our last day at that time, so, we decided to get some lunch from La Hacienda (the buffet available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). This was our first interaction with the wait staff, who are extremely friendly, hard working, and speak the best English that we've heard compared to the other resorts we've stayed (We both took 4 years of spanish classes in high school, and somehow retained enough to get by when we go to resorts. Still, the staff was surprised we spoke any spanish, and we had fun challenging ourselves to speak with the staff in as much spanish as we could! They also seemed to have fun too, and they were very gracious to speak english when we just didn't understand what they were saying.). The food was diverse (although not as diverse as we've had at other resorts), and very well prepared (both in temperature and flavor).
Afterwards, we went to the beach area to enjoy the view. The resort is much different than what the pictures show regarding the lounge areas, and the privilege area. From what I read before here on tripadvisor and other sites, the privilege area sounds much larger and exclusive than what it really is. We were never asked about upgrading to privilege by anyone at the resort (other than the timeshare people...but even then, not really). The privilege area of the resort on the beach was the north section of the boardwalk to the pier. This area of the beach tends to be much smoother and clearer ocean because of the sandbag dam put in place to help prevent erosion. The sandbag dam is mostly blocked from the view of the rest of the beach because of the pier and doesn't stand out as an eye sore. The boardwalk area is actually nice to have for those evening strolls to watch the sunset, or to simply enjoy the view of Cozumel. The part of the beach that most people spent their time at was on the south side of the boardwalk. This area was lush with fish who would surround you when you swim due to the many people that were feeding them bread crumbs and the like. The fish are VERY friendly, and very pretty too! There are also stingrays and crabs in the area, so be aware that danger is still out there and to be alert if you decide to swim. This area of the beach is roped off as the other side of a launching point for jet-skis, canoes, and other motorized sporting equipment. The beach area with access to the ocean is limited, no doubt, but there was always plenty of room for us to enjoy with the other patrons.
After touring the beach area, we returned to the concierge, enjoyed a few drinks, and were able to get our room at about 3. We settled into our room, and shortly after took to the pool area. The pools are separated into the "party" pool, and the "hangover" (quiet) pool. The party pool has the swim up bar, but we spent the majority of our time in the quiet pool. Staff would walk around to ask if there was anything they could get for you.
PRO TIP- Bring along the American (or whatever nationality you are) dollar coins for your poolside tipping (if you plan on tipping). We were asked about these coins by pretty much everyone, but we found out about 5 years ago how well these coins worked for this very situation. We appreciate hard work that the staff does, and want to express our appreciation by tipping. Swim up bar staff and other pool wait staff typically don't get in on the tipping action, so we found this as a way to bring them into the game! I will say, this tends to also help you with the speed of service for sure, but this truly isn't our intentions as we've been on both sides of service and know what it can be like sometimes on their side.
After a couple of hours of swimming in the pool (chlorinated pool by the way, not a saltwater pool which tends to be typical at resorts in this area), we went to the Yookusa restaurant (Japanese) for dinner. We ate at the Hibachi grill, which required a reservation. This was really the only time that we needed to make a reservation all trip. Still, the Yookusa was a great experience. My wife isn't a seafood fan (I know, right!), but the staff was VERY accommodating. Instead of sushi, we were given egg rolls as an appetizer, and my wife was able to get her dinner without the provided shrimp. The hibachi show tends to be the same type of show that you receive from other resorts, and even other hibachi restaurants in the US. Every show has its own little niches though, so it is always fun to watch the chefs work!
For our second day, we did the "time share" sales pitch, and were given a tour of the privilege area. Other than having their own lounge, the private area on the beach, and their own room section of the resort, there really wasn't anything for us. I'm sure there are some people who live for what they offer, but as I mentioned, it just wasn't for us. The pitch and tour were to take about 90 minutes, but as these things tend to, it ended up lasting slightly longer than that. The staff was however, VERY adamant about following Mexican law, which is that upon denial of purchase, they must leave you alone. With that said, we were given ample opportunity to back out of going to the pitch. They do put a good sell on upfront, but they don't push you nearly as hard as what you go through in the states.
That day, we spent our time at the pool (after finally meeting with our vacation rep for our transfer back to the airport). We decided to grab "light snacks" at El Charro since it is quite literally right there at the pool. I say "light snacks" because in reality, it is simply a small buffet lunch! They had everything from nachos, buffalo wings,and hot dogs, to jalapeno poppers, onion rings, tacos, and even probably my new favorite cheeseburgers (tender, juicy, and VERY flavorful)!
The second night, we ate at the Italian restaurant - La Dulce Vida. The only real problem with this restaurant is its hidden location behind the privilege lounge. Otherwise, you get a fantastic view of the ocean for dinner, with fantastic food to eat! A good moscato wine would have topped off the dinner, which they did have for sale. We opted though for the all inclusive options instead.
The third night, we ate at the Mexican restaurant - El Charro. By far and away, THIS is the wait staff that rocked it! Again, the food was fantastic, but the experience we got from our waitress (I think her name was Stephanie) made the meal!
The fourth night, we ate at the Romantic restaurant - Blue Moon. No, they did not have blue moon ale there...and they had a picture on the wall from Louisville, KY (again, I know, right!?!?). Still, the food here was by far my favorite of the entire trip, and the location was perfect for finishing dinner and then watching the resort entertainment.
Speaking of which, the resort entertainment is somewhat lacking. This isn't to say that you won't enjoy yourselves (we did), but this tends to be the biggest area that most resorts fail. They would have nightly entertainment in the courtyard area (usually a singer/duet), and had late evening stage entertainment (we only had interest in seeing the half hour, lip synced version of "Grease"). I kinda wish that at a minimum resorts would offer like a "round the clock" movie theater kind of thing, as I think that would do a good time filling space between shows, and could help provide set a desired atmosphere for the evening. Either way, as long as you know what to expect from the resort shows, there is no reason not to enjoy yourselves!
Something else that is kind of a pro and a con is all the wildlife on the resort. Its nice to see the animals doing their thing, but far too often, they would become something of a nuisance. The raccoons tend to still be nocturnal (and much like raccoons, will inspect whatever you leave outside). The Iguanas are HUGE!!! Though typically don't get near humans and will pretty much leave you alone. Deer do find their way onto the resort, and will allow you to get pretty close to them too! However, remember that they are wild, and have the ability to seriously hurt you if they feel threatened. The biggest pest however are the Coatis. These guys are very much so alive and awake during the daytime, and will pester you if you eat outside. It of course is not allowed to feed the animals at the resort, but people do this anyway. Also, don't be surprised to see a Coati dumpster diving for dinner in one of the many trash cans around the resort. But the biggest issue I had was when one decided to jump on our table at lunch and lunge itself at the burger I was holding in my hand and about to take a bite. Luckily I was quick enough to bat him away without getting injured (ok...ended up punching the poor guy in the face). After that experience, the coatis were no longer cute, but an annoyance to me.
As for our room, we had a spectacular view of the pool area and the ocean! The room was always very clean (as is the rest of the resort), and the beds were very comfortable. However, we did get locked out of our room due to the card reader batteries dying (took about an hour away from our vacation), and our AC continually leaked condensation. We also had a small issue with our AC in that the "filter" needed cleaning (AC wasn't cooling), but that didn't cause any loss in time from the vacation. There was a sign on the wall that said not to put paper in the "WC", which was not a clear request. From other posts on TA, we found that people had been requested to put their paper in the trash can, which we ended up doing. We don't really feel that the toilets could have handled paper as it was anyway. Still, the rooms were very nice, and were comparable to much higher end resorts we've stayed at.
One of my things I wanted to do was to also smoke a few cigars while on vacation. Its not something I do usually, so its something nice to do every now and then to break away from the normalcy of reality. There were vendors on the beach selling everything from hats, to sunglasses, to "Cuban" cigars (the seal on the cigars was a forgery...albeit a good looking forgery). The gift shop also sold cubans (these ones I think may have been real), along with cutters, and a novelty flip flop lighter (terrible lighter, but it worked for what I needed). the gift shop also is VERY high priced. One can of sunscreen that cost me sub $3 in the states cost $24 in the gift shop. So yes, you can get just about everything you need to get by from the gift shop, but you'll do so at a hefty price.
And last but not least, I want to talk about the 24/7 bar. By far and away, the staff here at the bar was THE BEST! I want to personally thank Oli for his fantastic service, and recommend that if you spend ANY amount of time here to get your drinks from him! By far and away, his Cafe De Leche is fantastic, his Mexican Coffee was delicious, and his mixed drinks all had the perfect liquor ratio in them! His personality is big, and his smile even bigger! The only complaint I have is that I couldn't bring him home with me! Oli was the quint essential representation of the quality of service you receive from the Ocean Maya Royale.
All in all, this is a fantastic little resort that will leave you satisfied in just about every aspect. If you're a couple wanting a quiet getaway, this is without a doubt one of the best places you can imagine! It'll likely be some time before my wife and I are able to sneak away again like this, so thank you to the people at Ocean Maya for making this trip as enjoyable as you did! Muchos Gracias!!!