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  The Casitas at El Dorado Royale  Mark

January 2008

Okay, here’s a little insight into our experience at El Dorado Royale Casitas and getting there with Thomas Cook.

Anyway, firstly a little about our choices :

- We are a married, early 30s, European couple….
- Spent 2 weeks in a Swim up Casita between 30th Dec 2007 and 13th January
- Travelled from London Gatwick to Cancun coach with Thomas Cook
- Limo transfers with Lomas travel

Thomas cook
We had the Thomas cook lounge access at Gatwick, which was a waste of 100 pounds as you are given access to the cheaper/shabbier of the two Serviss Air lounges and for some stupid reason they allow kids in. Now I love the little bast…darlings, but God created executive lounges for the primary reason of avoiding them! Complimentary chloroform or at least Sellotape would have come in very useful here, but security checks meant a ban on liquids over 100ml and we would have needed a lot more than that….We didn’t last long before scrapping the idea and heading out for some shopping.....

There was very little difference between Thomas Cook cattle and Premium cattle classes, all equally cramped, all with the complementary screaming new born in each cabin, leg room was a problem for anyone over 5.6”, but we’re both short so were fine....

Cancun airport was fine even with 2 large 350+ passenger UK flights and 5 US flights landing within the same hour, luggage took a while but hey it always does and I made the mistake of not putting my wife in the queue for customs which you have to go through after you collect luggage whilst I waited for the luggage. 2 hours later we were through...On the bright side, all the local airport staff were friendly, the airport very new and clean and the only idiots were some lippy Mancunians looking to pick a fight with security....hmmmm.

Lomas Travel (Part owners of El Dorado)
Had a hot and cold experience with Lomas Travel. I can't fault their pre-sales both online and by phone, they were prompt and very friendly. The same was true of the dedicated rep based in the foyer of the hotel who we booked the dolphin experience with. The let down was the airport transfer.

The limo transfer was arranged prior at a cost of 150USD as the thought of a 12 hour flight coupled with a 20 hotel drop off no doubt sat next to newborn triplets didn’t tickle my ivories. Anyhow the drivers with relevant placards wait outside the main terminal building and needless to say there are quite a few..... for future reference the guys from Lomas are dressed in turquoise (rather than blue) shirts and a white tie but they are better hidden than French traffic police with those radar guns waiting for the English heading down to Le Mans. The only difference is that the Gendarme jump out of the bushes and snap you with your trousers down, but at least making themselves known, where as Lomas Travel are obviously far better trained: exquisitely covert and have the art of hiding behind columns down to a tee...30 minutes of phoning the main office and watching the Thomas cook coaches steadily depart, the guy shows and pleads ignorance stating that he had been there all the time- “Where were you?” he asked, “Hmmm, well please forgive me Senior for wasting your time, my wife and I actually saw you hours ago, but wanted to play a game of hide and seek as we had so little fun on the flight and then….would you believe it, just as we were about to come over to you, I was distracted by those long lines of beautiful airport trolleys which I just had to go and count and take photos with … individually-such joy!”.

Anyway we were led to the long limo - suitcases in tow, 150 gets you a car but not a porter or assistance….it also doesn’t get you any water or soft drinks, we queried the driver, but he smiled and mentioned that of course there were no drinks, what a ridiculous question as I hid my head in shame! – The wine glasses were lovely though, so who am I to grumble! 20 minutes later we were at the hotel…Best 150 dollars spent! Next time I have 150 bucks to suitably invest, I think I’ll buy some pink fluffy dice with Swarovski encrusted crystals to hang on my car dashboard…..

Check in
Okay this is where it gets good. We were met by a concierge as we stepped out of the car and taken by a Golf Cart to the independent Casita reception along with a Canadian couple. All sorted within 10 mins, 500USD card authorisation for spa and other charges like internet (which goes at 8USD per 30 mins, no wifi and only shared PCs). Porter brought the luggage direct to the room promptly and with a smile. I can not emphasise how friendly and helpful all the staff were with or without tipping.

Bars and alcohol
All the liquor is readily available and recognised brands, available 24 hours a day at all bars, but not room service.

Martini bar is horrendous, unless you like large sports screens or the smell of an alcoholics anonymous gathering treated to a “drink all you can” session at hooters…It really did stink of people who were on the verge of alcohol poisoning…If you want to chill out and feel like you are in Mexico, try the bar at Jo-Jo’s which at least is open air and more relaxed…..

I have to say the free local sparkling wine really is not palatable – so don’t get your hopes up to it being even close to a Cremant or a Cava, because it’s not. I am in no way a wine connoisseur and we’re not ones to waste a bottle especially when it’s free, but the complementary bottle in the room remained unopened as we checked out… Still the Americans seemed to love this “champagne”, so perhaps it was just my taste buds suffering from jetlag and food poisoning and Ebola all at once. …We picked up a few bottles of bubbly at Duty Free, chilled it for the day and took it to the restaurants….They do, however, have Moet for 250-300usd and Cristal for close to grand….Bargain! If you are the type who like to uses 50s as a replacement for toilet roll – makes London restaurants look simply cheap! As for the wine list, excl. the house wines, the cheapest red/white was 40USD with the average around 70USD. About average prices for a standard bottle in a good restaurant.

Restaurants and Food
Firstly those in Casitas, go to your concierge and pre-book your tables for a decent time…

All the restaurants were great (except Fuentes which was about as Mexican as the Queen is Jamaican), but this all comes down to the dish you choose for the day – luck of the draw really. Yes there is a dress code, thank god! For some reason people do behave themselves when they are dressed well and this made for some nice dinners in a pleasant atmosphere. Kampai and D’Italia are great for those having problems adjusting to the heat with solid air-conditioning which would make Frosty feel at home….For normal people, I would advise jumpers (sweaters)/long sleeve shirts for the gents and cardigans/pashminas for the ladies along with a request to be seated away from the A/C vents.

Do the candle light beach dinner! And ask the concierge if you want something special…We arranged for some Mariachi to come down from Cancun for the hour and they were outstanding…best 300 spent to keep the lady happy…

Weddings
The hotel really made a huge effort to make the weddings extra special and have multiple locations for the ceremony and enough bars and areas to host a separate banquet. To those of you who got married (there must have been 10 couples): Congratulations, the brides were all beautiful and the grooms were very lucky. I hope the other guests didn’t disturb your magic day – It is just that some people didn’t realise you were getting married and felt that you were just a party to gatecrash and make as much noise as possible when around you….don’t you feel sorry for them, how were they to know - It was confusing for them, I mean the white dress, brides maids, crying mothers – this could have been a Star Wars convention or anything…

Ok so here’s the run down: 5* resort with 5* service with 4* food let down by SOME 2* clientele. Take the hint (and for once I’m not talking about my fellow Englishmen - my memorable foreign policy friends from across the pond and your northern neighbours), I know you’re only there for a short time ( it seems that most of the noisy parties were only there for between 3-5 days, but they were always promptly by another group), but do you have to drink all day – I know it’s free (a novelty and you have to get your moneys worth!) and the bars opens from 10:00 and you have proven that you can drink non stop from 10.00 am til 2.00am on the first day, but think of the couple on honeymoon or aching for some quiet time at this romantic resort …. If I go back, I’ll change my profession to selling hearing aids – I know I’ll make a killing!

Disclaimer: We met some stunning people from all over the globe including Americans, Dutch, Canadians, Russians….. Luckily there were a select group who represented their country with distinction! But I do think you know what I am talking about, every country has those who really fail to represent their country and Cancun is north Americas playground.


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The Casitas at El Dorado Royale Canada

April 2007

Where do I start? In my opinion this has been my best trip EVER! Boyfriend and I travelled, early 30's and booked last minute on www.Selloffvacations.com ,which by the way was my first online purchase and it was a breeze ;) I had been eyeing this resort for a month waiting for it to lower in price.. It varied only about $100-$200 ever......so I just booked it!!!!! It was higher than our typical price range ( DR one year, Cuba the next). The amount paid($2500.00 each) was well worth the price!!!!

Flew AC out of Halifax at 5AM......had a hot meal(return too!) which was great. Everything was smooth landed and had a bus at the airport to shuttle us to the resort. We arrived about 45 minutes later and this is where the service began. Once our hotel voucher was read and CASITA accommodation was noted, they whisked us off to a separate section of the hotel immediately and told us to wait there and our bags will be in the room when we are finished and offered champagne while we waited 2 minutes. A bell boy then picked us in a golf cart style car to our own private CASITA concierge. I was totally blown away by this.....all others were still in the lobby checking in regular style with luggage in hand, lined up.

During our shuttle to our private CASITA concierge check-in the important details of the resort were pointed out. Turned out our concierge(CECY) was in her own glass style gazebo directly in front of our room(2914) which made it easy if we had questions ever. We then sit in the AC room, drink shampagne and check in. How easy was that? When done they take us to our room. CECY opened the door...the room smelled fantastic( turns out it was aroma therapy oils). The first opinion was HEAVEN as she walked us around our room pointing out the features, I.e., huge closets, safe in closet, armoire containing TV and mini bar( religiously stalked daily b/w 5-9PM) the hot tub, out door shower, and patio which had a double hammock and bed on it for relaxing siesta's. Access to the lazy river with two beach chairs 10 ft from the door!!!!! For yourpuse only! I was in heaven already!

The bed sheets were so nice, atleast 400 thread count, King mattress was pillow top and super comfy, you have a choice of 5 different pillows during your stay should you l want aroma therapy pillows or a different density. The floor was white marble and furniture and accessories were dark wood..... The AC worked perfect and is remote controlled which is conveniently attached to the bed post so you will always find it. The AC was located high up near the ceiling which was a smart idea to cool the hot air and direct it downward. Ceiling fan worked nicely in combination. A little hint, if you leave door open and have AC on...the marble floors will get moist and become very slippery ;)

CASITA guests have access to dvd's and music during their stay at no charge. We crashed everynight at 9PM so that was not used. Turn down service each night was a treat! They had replaced ALL towels in the room, turned down sheets, fluffed pillows and lit a tea light and aromatherapy oils for your return( there was NEVER a musty/moldy smell ever) and mints left on pillow, and gave the room a quick sweep and tidying.

The first two dinner a la carte's were booked via email prior to our leave. You can find the website for Karissma hotels and on that you will find the hotel and menu selection along with contact info for booking. They only allow you to book two days in advance, however having our private concierge it was no problem to book additional nights as CASITA 's have priority availability and seating. We ate at everyone of the a la cartes. The La Carreta, is now named Les Fuentes and you don't need reservations for here ( bonus). It is more Mexican and it was OK as compared to the others.

Le Cocotal seemed to be the fanciest. You can see pictures in the Karissma Hotels site. During my pre-booking of the restaurants, I noted in my email a specific day was a birthday celebration for my boyfriend and wanted to book LeCocotal for that evening. I totally forgot I did that until we were done eating that night and the flutist came over to our table, along with a waiter and a birthday desert cake done all fancy, to sing happy birthday! He was quite surprised as was I!!!!! This is one example the kind of service and class you will find at this resort! Every place we went on the resort they asked us if it was our honeymoon? Newlyweds? Special occasion? I found it a little strange but that birthday celebration explained it all. Turns out CECY( our private concierge) had also read my email in advance knowing there was a special day to be had and she too went out of her way to make it special!!

The food was fabulous, not one trace of sickness at all. We ate squid, shark, octopus, beef tenderloin, etc There is plenty of bottled water everywhere for your convenience. Everything was tried imaginable and we both were fine the whole time!

The Beach,you read from other reviews, is a bit of a downfall, however it was a minor detail. The CASITA's have designated loungers and Cabana beds, so you are NEVER without a spot to lay and relax. There is a section further down the beach near the wedding gazebo that has a man made salt water/ocean pool. This is where we lounged every day, plenty of room to spread your beach chairs and the convenience of going to swim in the pool that is refreshed periodically with the natural tide! No chlorine, no kids and no goofs splashing ... Refreshing chill of salt water. What else could you want? For beach lovers who like to snorkel and ride waves I think they would be disappointed. It was extremely windy our week there and the beach was red flagged everyday...*sigh* But if there was no wind we would have melted in the heat so it was inviting :) We did not get to Parasail for that reason but found other things to do. There is beach volleyball everyday as an option.

As an Excursion we did the FULL DAY COBA tour with ALTOURNATIVE TOURS. Our guide was Hugo( an Orlando Bloom look alike) Very professional, clean and on time. We left at 8AM driving to Punta Laguna to a fresh water cenote, 50ft repel!!!! Very interesting- take an underwater camera)! After that we trekked off to canoe across a lake to a huge zipline across an alligator infested lagoon (not seeing any thank god! And no casualties!) We canoed back to take part in a Mayan ceremony with a "minister like" Mayan and experienced some traditional Mayan cooking. This was so yummy, chicken, rice,soup,taco's-perogie style, pasta, at the same time learning about the Mayans and how they evolved. By this time it is only noon and we are off to the ancient ruins in COBA ( one of the few remaining ruins you are still able to climb, as per Chichen Itza. Very interesting History there. The climb to the top (120steps) is breathtaking. There is a few craft markets set up there for buying as well when you are finished. By this time it is 5PM or so and we are on our way back stopping at the ALTOURNATIVE hedquarters where you have the option to buy some photos of you zipping over the lagoon as a souvenir. They were very pricey...and if we had known in advance we could have taken our own pictures for free!!!!!!

The common dollar is US and the ratio of pesos:US is $10:1. Good to know when going into town. One evening we called a Taxi($20.00US) to take us shopping to Playa del Carmen.something you must experience...remind you of bourbon Street in New Orleans. Tons to buy...leather shop, markets, alcohol, jewelry, clothes. Our best steal was a 40oz. Kahlua for $9US, here in Canada $40, and $17 at the airport duty free!!!!!! Don't buy from the first market.....they get cheaper down the line...and they love to haggle!!!! Another day we went to CANCUN to shop again on the resort shuttle(free,gone all day). Bought some silver there and ate at TGIFridays!!! Great day....interesting to see the "hotel zone"...lovely beach but hotels are side by side and the beach is not private!

The only negative about this resort is the selling of the EXOTIC CLUB TRAVEL. They gave us $150.00 El Dorado dollars for attendance. You can use it towards anything on the resort. So we used it for our sunrise couples massages in the sky massage huts on the beach ...HEAVEN!!! We were told it would be 2 hours of our time....4 ours later we were still there listening to Australian Mike try to scam us out of $39,000US!!!!!!!. Offered 60 days/25 yrs of travel at EDR, initially at 39G's....in the end I had him down to$8G's, 60 days per lifetime . What a scam....that did not include food , by the way it is 3500.00 a week to eat there;) Nor did it include airfare. So once we figured out the math and noted we got the better deal at $2500.00CDN a person as per his offer...he got all snippy and said " we are done here...goodbye"!!!!! So if you want to go for the money ..do it..... otherwise...don't bother. You can also barter you heard others were offered 300.00 in EDR money to attend and they will match it.....which we did not find out until we went. But the massage made it all worth the rudeness!!! Not a major issue!

I would love to return to this resort and I would in a flash, however there are other places I would like to visit as we are only young and new travellers. Our only hope is they all compare to this one! We are definitely hooked on 5 star service and will continue from now on thanks to the CASITA's at EDRR. I highly recommend it!

And to note, they are building new section" SPA CASITA's" and this will be a totally separate resort section eventually. They hope to be complete by August 2007. I bet they will be lovely. And in my email prior I requested to stay in the newer CASITA's which they did accommodate nicely(section 29,30, 31 are the newest) If you would like to know more please feel free to drop a line, I have pictures as well. macgilln@eastlink.ca


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The Casitas at El Dorado Royale. Jerry and Linda

April 2007

My husband and I traveled to El Delrado Royale 3/21/07 – 3/28/07, we are in our early 50’s and from Missouri. This is our second vacation to the Cancun area and second time to an all inclusive. Our first trip was 4 years ago and we went to the Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen, so much for our history. We were traveling with 2 other couples. We booked a standard Casita and our friends stayed in the basic suite. Upon arrival, after a toast of the bubbly with our friends, they took us to our Casita check in. It went very smoothly, we arrived at 10:00 a.m. and our room was ready. They also took the liberty of making our first few dinner reservations, which we changed because we were eating with 2 other couples. After checking in, they escorted us to our room. It was room 3011 in the new section and was very nice. Our concierge escorted us to our room where she explained to us our choice of aroma therapy scent; talked about the pillow menu, room service, the mini fridge and other things. You get other little perks with the Casita booking; lots of pools, and pool bars, beach beds, a wonderful young man named Enrique would bring us newspapers, fresh fruits, sandwiches and ice cream throughout the day. Our friend’s standard suite was also very nice and it was about $1400 less. If I would travel to this resort again I would book a standard room, I think for the price difference you don’t get all that much more. But, if you’re honeymooning…it would be worth the investment. We were told by our concierge that they were hoping in November to be opening up the new Casita section and eventually El Delrado Casita would be a separate resort to itself.

We ate all of the restaurants and got the times we wanted. We enjoyed each and every restaurant. It did take us about two hours to eat, but when you’re working through five courses, it takes awhile. My husband and I really enjoy this. The portions were more than enough, I can honestly say, by the main course, I wished they had served me a half order of the entree. I love to eat and I always had some food left on my plate. The people who have complained about not enough food, I just don’t get it! A couple of nights we ordered a couple of bottles of wine, they were a lot better than the house wines. Don’t forget, there is an extra charge for wines off the wine list and they’re not cheap! The cheapest is about $40 US and goes up to several hundred dollars.

The beaches weren’t as bad as I thought they would be. You could walk them if you wanted to, make sure you bring beach shoes. There is a lot of coral beds to maneuver around, but there is sand also. Lots of people walk and jog around the resort.

I had a hot stone massage while I was there and it was very nice. I can say I was very disappointed in the ambiance of the spa. It was very generic and lacked the luster I thought it would have. My spa room had a loud air conditioning unit and a sink that a No Tell Motel would have been ashamed of. But once again the treatment itself was good.

I visited the doctor while I was there. I went down there with a sinus infection that I was being treated for at home. About the 3rd day it wasn’t getting better so I thought I would try their medical facility out. She gave me a shot, (not sure what it was, but it stung) a round of a stronger antibiotic and also some Allegra. I was feeling much better after a couple of days. I was able to charge the doctor fee to the room, but had to pay cash for my shot and the medicine the pharmacy delivered. It cost about $170 before it was all done, but I was able to enjoy the rest of our vacation.

The timeshare thing was no big deal. We were asked a couple of times by our concierge and told him nicely no thanks and he accepted that.

Positives: The staff was very attentive and polite, beautiful grounds and rooms, very good food, I thought the beaches were just fine, we had no hassle with dinner reservations and my friend from the other section made most of them.

Negatives: Drinks were very watered down. I drank all day long on the beach and never could get any sort of a buzz. House wines were fair at best.

They had lots of things to do, but we were just happy lying on the beach and sunning. My husband did to parasailing and he said that was great.


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The Casitas at El Dorado Royale. Cynthia

January 2007

Our visit took place December 8-13, 2006. The purpose of this trip was a last minute romantic trip. The drive up from the main gate to the resort is depressing and unimpressive, still needs a lot of work after Wilma. But when you hear and see what they have already accomplished since last year, and how badly this resort was affected, you will be amazed! The lobby is beautiful and there are a few shops in the lobby area (reasonably priced). Check in went smoothly, as we checked in mid-day and there was no wait. We were met with the customary champagne greeting, but the man at check in was rather "cold" and uncharacteristically unfriendly, he offered us an upgrade to a casita for an additional $140USD/night, which we declined assuming our room would meet our expectations (I admit up front I have very high expectations). Since we were already paying $400/ night, we declined. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a glass of champagne. They loaded up our bags and drove us to our rooms on one of the golf carts. THE ROOMS: We had originally booked an oceanfront suite in the main resort area of El Dorado Royale (BEWARE there are NO TRUE oceanfront rooms, though you have a lovely view). Our first suite was #414. Overall a good location considering the size of the place, it was located on the 2nd floor (not good, always go for the top floors due to how the noise carries at this resort). The room was a disappointment to say the least! The room itself was a bit small, the bathroom unimpressive, and the jacuzzi tub had a window with a view of the ocean but the window was broken and could not be opened, so much for your view! The patio was very small, so small that to swing on the hammock would have been impossible, if not painful. For us the room was too cramped for a 6 day stay (especially as it rained nearly the entire trip). So before even unpacking, we asked to "see" a casita to decide if we wanted to upgrade, that took some doing on the part of the staff, but they accommodated our wishes (by the way, Jose, the bell boy was sweet and very helpful).

We opted to look at a 2nd floor casita #2615 (the 1st floor casitas lack ANY privacy on the balcony as walkways are right next to the casitas and often times they have obstructed views of the ocean and the whales or sandbags that are everywhere and sometimes they only have a view of the bar). Thank goodness we decided to look at one! From the moment we walked through the door we knew this was what we were looking for! The Casita is roomy with a vaulted ceiling, has a large balcony with table and chairs (for dinner on the patio if you like or playing cards), a large hammock, which is wonderful to fall asleep in at night, and a couple of lounge chairs. The bathroom is large and has an outdoor shower which even in the rain is great and has a view of the stars when there are no clouds! It was perfect for a romantic trip. We had a bottle of champagne in our room each of the 1st 3 nights (don't know if that was an error or not, but I took advantage of it). Our indoor Jacuzzi was in an alcove in the room and had a partial view of the ocean out one side and a view of a neighboring casitas porch out the other, (not completely private when curtain is open). The porches are NOT private, they are in fact semi-private. By the way the upgrade only cost us $100/night additional, since we asked to see the Casitas concierge to check out the room beforehand, I think she felt bad at how disappointed we were with the original room.

Every night with turn down service the maid would fill the aromatherapy holder with a lovely fragrance that would greet us when we returned from dinner, filling the room with relaxing scents. It made it more pleasant and relaxing.

Each quad of Casitas has its own small pool and bar area (now closing at 5pm instead of 11pm).

You DO get a higher level of service in the Casitas. You have your own beach beds and chairs reserved only for Casita guests (and they DO monitor that). The beach bar service is great (and pretty continuous) each area has a bar/beach attendant. They came constantly the few times we had sun (actually in the drizzle too), sometimes with ice cream, sandwiches, fresh fruit and of course unlimited beverages.

Annoyances: We had requested turn down service during our meal hours (twice), but they couldn't get that right. However, it only took a phone call and within minutes someone took care of it both times. Likewise with morning housekeeping, one day by 4 pm our room had still not been made up, once again it only took one phone call to correct the problem. The inconveniences were negligible! Much thanks to Sonya, our concierge in this regard. She was also great about booking our dinner reservations. We had read many reviews on this hotel and so I pre-reserved the 1st 2 nights. If you are NOT in a casita BE SURE YOU E-mail a reservation for your first 2 nights of dinner, if you are in a Casita, that’s what you are paying for, priority seating, you don’t have to worry.

RESTAURANTS/ROOM SERVICE: We had a nice late night romantic dinner in the room one night after a LONG excursion to the ruins, They paid attention to even the littlest detail setting up an elegant table in the room, even though they delivered dinner late at night and in the pouring rain. The food was extremely well prepared and the presentation was lovely.

Be forewarned, this is a large resort and you will walk 1/2 mile to a restaurant, or more. If you don't like to walk you can wait for the shuttle (right!). As for me I love to walk, so even in the rain it was great exercise - considering how much weight one puts on in a week at one of the AI's one should not complain. We have been going to AI's for some years now, and I have to say, of the many we have stayed at (Secrets Excellence Punta Cana being the best) the Casitas food is some of the best we have had for an AI. Although it was disappointing that not one of the AI restaurants serves lobster. We had expected at least one lobster dinner, but it is not offered at this resort unless you purchase the romantic dinner on the beach which by the way is with about 20 other couples and quite frankly for the price NOT romantic, or private. But remember it is still AI food. This may be considered gourmet all inclusive food but DONT expect Delmonicos or Mortons type of gourmet, it is what it is, gourmet all inclusive! Each restaurant has a different theme/menu and they change throughout the week. D'Italia, was especially good and romantic for dinner. Service is NOT fast at any of the restaurants, but this was supposed to be a relaxing trip for us, so we prefer it that way at dinner, though some may get a bit impatient. Fondue needs a little work but is okay, watch out for the seafood fondue though. La Cocotal, is great for a la carte and a small buffet breakfast, we often ordered Belgian waffles from the menu and still went to the omelette buffet and made our omelette as well. Jojo's on the beach for the best lunches (be prepared for a LONG wait there) they go a good job of grilling the food. I felt the food was a notch above any cruise line I have been on, and any other AI resort (save perhaps the lobster at Secrets). IMPORTANT NOTE: At this resort they have a dress code for dinners at most of the restaurants, which UNFORTUNATELY many americans (mostly men) refused to adhere to. Come on guys, what is so bad about wearing dress pants and a nice polo shirt. I can't tell you how many women I saw dressed for the occassion, with a male companion in bermuda shorts or jeans! The staff didn't press the issue as the hotel was not at full capacity, however, I was informed they DO press the issue during high season.

STAFF: As for the staff, they couldn't be better. They are every bit on par with Secrets Excellence. From Sonia in the casitas concierge service, to Jeannette at Cocotal and Jojo's, who's smile always started off the day right, the staff was terrific. I look forward to seeing them again next year.

BEACH: Not a great beach, that’s all I can say. Enormous sandbags the size of whales are present everywhere. The surf is rough and red flags were the daily fare. As for walking the beach… forget it. This was perhaps the MOST disappointing part of the resort. For those who love to “do” things, they have beach volleyball daily, when it’s not raining that is.

ACTIVITIES: There are also bicycle tours and horse back riding. There is a sad lack of other activities (we did shoot a bb rifle one day on the beach). There were no pool tables or fusbol tables or air hockey tables that I could find, and only 1 ping pong table in the larger pool area of the resort. My husband and I are pretty active, so the lack of “activities” such as that were disappointing (guess you really get spoiled at Secrets). They can definitely improve in this area. Most activities around the pool (ie. Volleyball) were at the opposite end of the casitas section.

BARS: There are a number of bars throughout the resort, no lack there. However, some of the bartenders had a more limited shall we say repertoire of drinks… either they didn’t know and just made you what they wanted or said no problem but got it wrong… but they didn’t skimp on the alcohol though. We never made it to the Martini Bar, but it looked lovely (it is in the lobby). We quickly discovered the bartender by our casita knew how to make a proper drink, and had him do a lot of the mixed drinks after that.

EXCURSIONS: We took only 1 excursion and I highly recommend it. It was with Alltournative. It is the COBOL excursion. We had a sampling of repelling (about 60 high-nothing too dramatic and a cakewalk for my hubbie who regularly repels off 15 stories and more) perfect for a 1st timer like myself, a zipline over a lake, canoed a little, hiked at little, bicycled at COBOL (don’t try to walk it, and don’t spend the money to get a bicycle taxi ride, it is great exercise) and of course climbed to the top of the pyramid (which will only be permissible until end of 2007 due to new laws). Best part though was the trip to the Cenote where we swam and dove off a high makeshift dive board. The water is terribly cold but as pure as one can imagine and it is the clearest water I have ever seen! It was about an hour there of fun. Well worth the cost of the trip.

SPA: We had a couples massage on the beach in the light rain, both women did a great job. It was my husbands first and he really enjoyed it, he almost fell asleep, mine was okay, I needed a deep tissue and got a relaxation massage instead, still nice.

NEGATIVES: The beached whales (ballenas) - these are the largest sandbags I have ever seen in my life, hence the nickname "the beached whales". But they are absolutely necessary to regain the beach that Wilma lost, so be prepared this is NOT the greatest view of the ocean. Lack of a great carribean beach, which most of us expect when we go to places like this, anyone anywhere can just “hang out at a pool”. Time share not a time share pitch… be warned, we joined under pretenses that have since been discovered to be untrue. I would recommend you skip the pitch, it all sounded good at the time, but quite frankly I think we may have wasted a great deal of money. I like to go to a warm carribean climate every February, which I am doing in a couple of weeks again, but unless you plan to return to this place or one of it’s sister resort owned by Karisma every year for at least the next 15 years, PASS on the not a time share time share. Or if you have rain or some free time take it get the $150 gift certificates for the SPA etc.. and say not interested, one good thing is they really are NOT high pressure sales. . But to join, really there are FAR too many other great resorts in the area, Secrets Excellence Riviera for example.

OVERALL: The positives of the Casitas outweigh any little problems. We were happy with the trip overall despite lousy weather and a disappointing beach. We will probably return to the Casitas again especially since we are now club members.

NOTE: The resort is soon to be divided into The El Dorado Royale Resort and Spa and The Casitas at El Dorado Royale. They are currently remodeling and adding more casitas. The later would be the one I recommend.

I hope this review, lengthy as it is, helps. If you would like more information or to see photos you can e-mail me at cynthiamack2@yahoo.com


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  El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort   Karen ~ Ontario, Canada

April 2009

Arrival
Chaotic at the airport, but otherwise smooth

Rooms
Beautiful rooms - jacuzzi tub for 2. Never enough places to hang wet towels and bathing suits though - no matter which resort you stay at

Restaurants and Bars
The food was AMAZING - artistic presentation, and delicious. They tout gourmet food and we agree with them. And my husband is picky about having good food at a resort. Two disappointments to make you aware of: 1. The orange juice was not fresh squeezed and was watered down. 2. DO NOT order room service - our order was messed up and the quality was so-so - clearly not prepared by the chefs in the restaurants.
There is no buffet offered for lunch or dinner, which makes the food better - but you don't have the option to quickly grab something and get back to the pool or whatever.
Bar service and quality of drinks was excellent.
The house wine, which is included in the package, is actually very good.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beautiful grounds. Well maintained and cleaned. We were unable to enjoy the beach though because it was too windy all week. We were looking forward to snorkelling. This is not the resort's fault of course. They have a manmade salt water pool at the beach which you could still swim in - it had walls protecting it from waves. Little crabs were up on the rocks sunning themselves....cute. So we hung at the pools all week. We reluctantly gave in to the selfish ritual of claiming a lounge cabana by the pool every morning....

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went into Playa Del Carmen a couple of times - and snorkelling at Akumal - with sea turtles. VERY COOL - and FREE entrance because it's a public beach/park.
SPA SERVICES - we didn't partake - they were overpriced.
There were concierge stations placed all over the resort to meet your wants and needs Abundant staff eager to please everywhere you go Public Bathrooms on the resort were well stocked and cleaned

Other Comments
We are 37 and 45, and went with another couple. We were glad to have had friends to talk to while we waited for our meals at the restaurants.
We would totally go to this resort again. I agree with the 5 star rating.
Resorts often say that tips are included, but you still feel like you have to tip....WELL - not at this resort. We still tipped sometimes(out of habit perhaps), but never felt like it was expected. We observed that most people were not tipping.


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  El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort   Cathy ~ Burlington, Ontario

March 2009

Arrival: February 21 - 28
We arrived on the 21st of February to fairly cold reception staff. As we were travelling with another couple, we were located in two completely different buildings in two different areas and when we asked to change buildings, they said it was impossible but then lied and said that our friends had already asked about us moving but our friends hadn't even asked them anything about our room location so it was kind of weird. For the rest of the week, the front desk staff were very good and I happen to make a comment on the survey at the end of the week regarding the initial reception staff.

Rooms
Regarding room size and furniture, exactly the same as the El Dorado Seaside. We had upgraded to an ocean view room and had NO ocean view at all!! I mentioned this to our personal concierge the next day of our arrival and they were excellent at getting our room changed to a different building with a better view. No questions asked and no arguments. We switched from building 44 to room 4224 and the view of the ocean was spectacular!! If you paid for the upgrade beforehand, be sure to ask for it if you are not happy with your view upon arrival. We also had the concierge check with us about 3-4 days later just to see how we were enjoying the resort and again, we expressed that we were happy with everything and no further concerns were addressed but I think if we had any, they would have genuinely been concerned.

Restaurants and Bars
Food is good but is gourmet so portions are small but the wait staff were very good about making suggestions or about bringing additional food. We ate at all the restaurants for dinner and liked the Italian, Fondue and Asian restaurant the best. Cocotal was great for breakfasts.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
We always stayed down by the beach and although we were expecting the sand bags, the beach was the most disappointing. There was plastic garbage in the water that had washed up every night from either the cruise ships or from a local recycling plant because you couldn't take a couple of steps without stepping on some sort of plastic garbage. Once you got past that, it was good. The water was clear and warm but always wavy due to the winds. Lots of small fish to see even in 1 or 2 feet of water. They are thinking of removing the sand bags because not only are they an eye sore but they are not doing the job they thought it would do and that was to release the sand naturally back to its original place (after three disastrous hurricanes). The beach is also quite small, particularly for swimming and/or walking. Grounds are spectacular. They are very well groomed by hard-working individuals.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We took the Xel-Ha tour which was good. Snorkelling was a little disappointing because there was a lot of sand but some fish around the rocky areas. The most exciting thing I saw was a stingray which was pretty cool. The neat thing about Xel-Ha is that it is all inclusive (75 USD) and that includes your food, booze, towel and snorkel equipment while giving you a new snorkel every time. Dolphins were very cool but at a very expensive cost. For 30 minutes, you could go in the water with them for 109 USD and for 149 USD, you got to spend 40 minutes with them. Although I wanted to do it, I didn't and kind of regret it now but we simply ran out of time. As it was windy, the lazy river was a lot of work but the initial part of the river was really, really cool as it's a natural park with cool critters (on the shore such as crabs). You can also use bicycles and there is a play area for kids ... it's a really cool place to visit and am glad we did it. Longer bus trip than expected though as it stops at other hotels too.

Other Comments
Having been to the El Dorado Seaside two years in a row, we wanted to try the Royale to see the difference and for the price and the size of the resorts, all 4 of us preferred the Seaside. The Seaside is smaller, food is better (believe it or not) and the beaches were more beautiful. If I had known all this, I probably would have opted to spend a third year at the Seaside as opposed to going to the Royale. Overall, I would rate the trip an 7.5/10 where as the Seaside was probably a 9/10. No matter what, I felt safe on the resort (despite recently issued warnings), people were friendly and there was no snow!! Flying WestJet out of Hamilton was the best idea ever!!!!


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  El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort   Nicki ~ Canada

December 2008

Arrival: Dec 15 - 22 2008
We were met immediately by someone with our tour company and brought to the resort. Once at the resort everyone was friendly and helpful.

Rooms:
The Junior Jacuzzi Suite is really nice. It had a king size bed, functioning air conditioner and large bathroom. It was very clean and the maids did a great job.

Restaurants and Bars:
There wasn't a lot of authentic Mexican foods but the service and food itself were fantastic. We ate twice at the Oriental restaurant because it was so good.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The beach was beautiful though the water was a little rough. The pools are clean but after dark there are no lights so you can't really enjoy them in the evenings. Every day we saw staff working on keeping the grounds clean and the gardens maintained.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did three tours off the resort. Chichen Itza, Cozumel and Xel Ha. One thing we weren't told is that you should always charge the tours to the room then pay at the end. That way if something happens between the time you pay and the tour the hotel can deal with it.

Other Comments:
It was really nice to be at an adult only resort. The experience on a whole was really good, we're already thinking about another trip down to Mexico :)


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  El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort   Amy

December 2008

Amymc@dreammakersvaca.com

I went to the El Dorado Royale in Mexico from Dec. 4-6, 2008 for a travel agent conference. The conference actually started a day earlier, but I had a previous commitment so arrived a day late. It was my first time staying at a Karisma resort and it will not be my last. This is an adults-only, all-inclusive resort. I recommend these resorts to others and will continue doing so with confidence. This particular resort is an adults-only, all-inclusive resort. My husband toured a few of their resorts in June, so he was anxious for me to go and to experience it myself.

A few observations:
Airport Transfers: I was picked up at the CUN airport by Lomas Travel. I had a private transfer and was in a clean SUV, with a polite driver. It took 25 minutes from the airport to get to the resort, so it was a breeze.

Check-in: The check-in was ok (not great). I was not greeted with champagne (although others were and I was offered some later) and it was just an ok first impression. The person at the front desk was nice however and she gave me a map of the resort. The resort is quite large but I was able to navigate it quite easily. I was taken in a golf cart to my room.

Room: I was in a Jacuzzi Jr. Suite (cheapest room category) and was extremely impressed. It would be comparable to a “middle of the road” room elsewhere. It was large, had a huge shower/bathroom area and had a hammock on the balcony. The view was a garden view and I thought it was lovely. This was my first time in ages that I did not have an ocean view room, but I was fine. They use Teva toiletries and the scent was awesome (I am a picky product person). They gave me shampoo, different soaps, bath gel, lotion and bubble bath-very nice! The room did come with complimentary 24/7 room service which I used one night. I had a small frig. stocked with water, beer and soda. My room was spotless and housekeeping came early each day. The menu was very limited but the service was fast (took 11 minutes!) and polite. They also had a candle by the Jacuzzi tub which was a nice touch. There were carts and pick-up stops throughout the resort so you never needed to walk places unless you wanted to. Next time I stay here, I will stay in a Casita Suite which offer more space, personalized service and amenities.

Beach: A lot of people complain about the “whales” which are sand bags on this beach. I knew this going into this trip, so I was fine with it. You may want to bring water shoes as I felt the floor of the ocean was somewhat rough. They did have drink service on the beach. It was slow but pleasant. Nice feature!

Food and Beverages: Outstanding! I love food and this resort excels in this area. Due to having work functions to go to, I did not get to experience many of the restaurants. I did eat at the La Cabana Pizzeria for lunch. I had some type of corn on a stick (almost like a kabob-it was not a corn dog) and a salad. They were both delicious! I also ate room service one night. I ate at the Las Fuentes Restaurant one morning for breakfast and they had an awesome buffet spread of many different items. I had delicious vegetable fajitas at Jo Jo’s one afternoon The resort did a good job of keeping our group of 200 travel agents busy and hopefully out of the way with banquets and meetings in the conference area of the resort. Considering they were serving large groups, the food was tasty and fresh. I typically do not drink too much but I had a chocolate martini at the martini bar and it was tasty. Service was friendly and the presentation of the food items was gorgeous. Activities: I did not participate in anything but they had a full schedule. There was an activities stand and you could also borrow a bicycle to ride throughout the resort. You will never be bored at this resort.

Weather: It was typically 75-80 degrees each day and was sunny. This time of year would be a little cool for me personally. The pools and ocean water were brisk. It was very pleasant though and we barely had any clouds. It certainly was much nicer weather-wise at the resort than back here in Pennsylvania!

Service: This staff is extremely well-trained and it shows. Almost everyone smiled and greeted me when I walked by or needed something. I attempted to speak Spanish with them and it was much appreciated. I NEVER felt any kind of pressure to leave additional tips (I was so pleasantly surprised with this) but did tip happily throughout my stay.

Grounds: The landscaping at this resort was gorgeous. The landscaping was lush, green and very tropical.

If anyone has any specific questions, please let me know. In a nutshell, I will continue to recommend this resort and hope to go back again in the future. It has an extremely romantic atmosphere, great food and service and it prices out well. This would be good for Honeymooners or couples wanting to spend a romantic vacation together. I traveled by myself and was also comfortable there. It would not be a good choice for someone who has mobility problems (it is a large resort) even though they do have carts all over the place. It also would not be a good resort for someone who desires a small, intimate resort. My husband would have loved staying here and he is particular, so that is a huge compliment to this resort. It was a great “match” for me and I highly recommend it!


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  El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort   Victoria ~ USA

July 2008

My husband and I spent a week in June at the El Dorado Royale, Mexico. We have been to all-inclusives in Jamaica, Punta Cana, Cozumel and in the Riveria Maya area. The El Dorado Royale was definitely a five star resort.

We found that the meals were wonderful and it was a nice change not to have the usual buffet service. We did the candelight dinner by the ocean and found that to be extremely nice. We stayed in a casita suite and my husband enjoyed the outdoor shower. The staff was always attentive, courteous and friendly. The bars had top shelf liquor. The biggest draw back that we found was the beach. The beach has been damaged from hurricanes and there are huge sand bags along the beach area. If you are looking for a soft, sandy beach that you can walk along, this is not the place to go. Or if you want to snorkel at the resort, this would not be a fit for you. The beach area is rocky and red flags were up for the whole week that we were there.

But as far as the resort itself we were very pleased and would return again.


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  El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort   Bob & Lana ~ Riverview, NB

January 2008

Visited EDR between Christmas and New Years', booked only after considerable review of different options in the Mayan Riviera. We're both in our 30's, having travelled to other all-inclusive resorts in Cuba and the DR. That being said, this was our first stay at a "five-star" resort, and our first stay in Mexico.

Flight and Arrival
Flight to Cancun was uneventful, and once there the process from baggage claim to loading onto vans/buses took about half an hour, which seemed reasonable and relatively well-organized. EDR is relatively close to the airport, so only a half an hour after boarding our van, we arrived and were greeted by bellhops who took our luggage and presented us with hot facecloths (nice touch). Check in was smooth; while our room wasn't ready, we were given a beeper and told to go have lunch; as soon as we had finished lunch our beeper went off. The front desk quickly had us taken by cart to our room.

Accommodations
Our room (in the 100 block) was “Oceanfront”, as requested. The room had all amenities as advertised by the resort. Washroom and shower were clean. There was a faint musty odour in the cabinetry and drawers, but nothing to scream about. The mini fridge was restocked daily giving us a steady supply of water and soft drinks (and beer, “Tecate“ brand!). Minor issues that crept up (no AC remote control, no hot water, faulty TV remote control) were quickly resolved by smiling concierges and other staff.

Location of the room was obviously close to the beach, but also close to the “Health Bar” (more on that later); tough to say what the ideal location would be, given that the resort’s layout has restaurants spread out around the place. There are periodic shuttles, but rather than wait for a shuttle we’d just walk everywhere, no big deal when the weather’s nice (it was). Those with reduced mobility might beg to differ.

Beach and pool
We’re beach people, and even though the other reviews are accurate in terms of the beach’s quality (poor to average), it was still perfectly acceptable to us. The nicer parts of the beach get busy quickly, with guests with a lot of early morning time on their hands reserving most spots (chaises, palapas, etc.) by leaving a towel. Some don’t ever bother showing up, which in my book should be grounds for throwing their towels/books/bags in the ocean, but I digress. The “swimmable” parts of the beach (meaning not rocky) are nice enough; the shallowness of the water is mitigated by its clarity and the fish that you can see to the naked eye. Bars are generally close by, but if that doesn’t work for you just wait for a waiter to come serve you at your chaise!

We only briefly sat by the Main Pool, which looked nice. Those chaises also get taken quickly, and the general area gets really packed and busy. Your best shot at “quiet”, if that’s what you want, is at the beach.

Activities
Like with any resort, EDR has staff planning the usual complement of activities. Staff did seem organized and motivated. Full marks for innovating with an evening stargazing activity with telescopes and a knowledgeable staff member! There are nightly shows but we were too wiped out to see them.

We booked a couples’ sunrise massage through the Spa and we were not disappointed…again, staff were obviously well-trained and well-organized.

Restaurants and bars
Restaurants: In our opinion, this is where EDR shines. Everything is “à la carte”, even breakfast at “Cocotal” where there is a well-stocked buffet but menus are available if that turns your crank. Waiters are professional, helpful, and eager. Some restaurants have salad bars accompanying the “off the menu” food, and at all restaurants the menus were impressive in their breadth (perhaps not the hamburger/pizza place, which without being impressive still had quality food). Those used to the standard all-inclusive buffet will be amazed. All restaurants were good, but “Fuentes” and “El Rincon” both provided exceptional meals.

We enjoyed the candlelight dinner on the beach, compliments of our “anniversary package”. There would normally be a cost associated to this, so check out your included restaurants first before going for that. It was nice, but whether it’s worth the cost is another matter. (Another nice touch: a personalized dessert marking our anniversary was presented to us).

Bars: the Martini Bar and Guacamaya’s are great spots to spend time before/after dinner, and bartenders there were both responsive and knowledgeable. Drink menus are available for the undecided. The ”Health Bar” is also an à la carte restaurant by the beach, but seems to be busiest serving smoothies and fruit juices (made from scratch, so allow more time) to walk-up patrons. We had lunch there but kept coming back for the smoothies.

Tours
We only booked one tour, the “Express Tulum” tour. It’s express all right: leave at 8:30, back by 2:30, with about two hours on site. We felt a little rushed to see the ruins in that allotted time, but on the other hand we were back at the resort early enough. It seems to take a while to negotiate traffic near Playa del Carmen, but the AC in the bus makes the drive bearable.

Miscellaneous
We never felt obligated to tip, but did so anyway. Service was in all respects consistently above what we have seen at other resorts. The grounds were extremely well-kept, with the odd bird or reptile popping up around the grounds. Public buildings were always clean and facilities in good working order. Internet access, while not cheap, was of a decent speed. All staff have a basic working knowledge of English, but will test your Spanish if you feel like it! Managers are present most everywhere, and most of them seemed hands-on, which says a lot.

All in all, from A-Z we felt like EDR lived up to its marketing. We would not hesitate to return or recommend it to others looking for a quiet, high-quality holiday.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Laura ~ Canada

December 2006

Signature Vacations with Skyservice via Toronto

We just returned from a great holiday at the El Dorado Royale. We left on time from Toronto (6:10am) and landed a half and our early in Cancun to find it over cast and raining heavily. Since our last trip to the Rivera Maya the Cancun Airport is completely new and far more efficient than our last trip. We had our luggage and were on the shuttle bus within a half hour of landing. The luggage carriers are still out in full force but a quick, no thank you, and they leave you alone.

The El Dorado Royale was the first stop on the shuttle around 20- 25 mins from the Cancun Airport. While enjoying a cold Corona on the bus, our rep went thru some items with us and told us where to meet our hotel signature rep the following day for a brief meeting about the resort and the excursions. He gave everyone papers with that info and on the bottom is said “reminder: that $45.00 US is needed for departure taxes”. I was shocked I had do idea that there was a departure tax in Mexico. At our briefing with Katharine (from Ottawa) our Signature Rep at the resort explained that the parent company that has recently bought Signature owns the UK sister company called First choice and that Canadians do not have to pay this departure tax because we are on the same continent. The visitors from the UK do have to pay this fee, but they are in the process of changing the hand-out as it is causing great confusion with the Canadian travellers.

We arrived at 10am at the hotel. Our room was ready, we were offered an upgrade to an oceanfront suite for $90.00 US a night. We went to our original suite to check it out first and we were taken by golf cart with our luggage in tow to a third floor room in the 14th villa. This is a great location as we were close to everything! Normally I do not care much about the room I stay in, as I hope not to be in there much, but if I could have known how much rain we were about to encounter on this week I would have considered upgrading. Oh-well, no biggie. The room was our only negative about the resort. Our room was in the older section of the hotel and were OK. I would rate them a 3 star. At first glance they are not that impressive but the rest of the resort makes up for that. The bathroom counter had tiny ants on it everyday and the water pressure in the shower was non-existent. (I think that the fresh flowers that our laid out through out the room bring in this little bugs) Of course, we could have called and changed rooms, but these were small items and we loved our location. The shower head was location at 78” off the floor and was a fixed head. In the newer section the shower head is a removable hand held shower head this would have helped with trying to get the shampoo out of my long hair. The air conditioner (remote controlled) was attached to the ceiling in between the closet and the king bed. This would blow on you while trying to sleep. At first I didn’t care for the fabric hanging on all corners of the bed, (to look like four poster bed) then we started to utilize the fabric to stop the air blowing directly on our eyes throughout the night. There was no way that we would have been able to go without the AC, even with all the rain it was still very warm even in the evenings. Our friends had a new room and the AC unit was mounted on the wall which would have made for a better location. The nice thing in this resort is that they are so service friendly that while building the new section the have remedied all the things that guests had complained about in the years before. The armoire had a TV and the bar fridge in it. The fridge contained water, pop and beer. There was also bottled water in the bathroom and by the coffee station which also had a coffee maker and mugs. There were also 4 drawers in the bottom of the armoire for more clothing storage. There was desk, chair and a mirror beside the armoire and a full length mirror in both the room and the washroom. In addition there is a table for two near the glass patio doors and in front of the Jacuzzi tub. After using the tub, there was orange/rust residue in the bottom the tub. Everyone we meet had the same experience. (Might be from lack of use, or rust in the pipes?) The room has a safe in the closet with a key and lock for you to be responsible for. Also, four shelves for clothes and tons of racking space. We had 10 hangers about half with pant clips. There was an iron and extra pillows along with robes in the closet.

The patio has a table and two great lounging chairs and a hammock. I love the hammock on the balcony, I used this for reading and resting. Even when it rained, I would just put a towel on myself and swing away. Our third floor room allowed us to see the ocean. The first two days the ocean was so rough from the storms that we could hear it from our room at night which was really fantastic!

I had read on this site to email the resort prior to departure to request the first two dinner reservations and they quickly responded. When checking in I was given the reservation cards for our first two dinners. Then went to the concierge after unpacking and booked our dinners for the rest of the week. We got sittings between 6:30 – 7:30 every night with the exception of one night when we ate at 6pm. We tried every restaurant except the Fondue and opted for Asian twice (which was a good choice as it turned out to be our fave). Our concierge also gave us a package with coupons to use throughout the resort with many $10.00 coupons for the spa, upgrading suites, moonlight dinner, and the jewellery store on site.

We headed over to Jo-Jo’s for lunch and had our first of many fantastic meals. As we were eating it started to pour and I mean pour! The hotel does offer complimentary umbrellas but they were all signed out so we took off our shoes and walked in the mid-calf high puddles that covered the walk ways (no joke). With no sun in sight I headed off to the gym. This is the nicest gym I have been to yet while on holiday. They have lots of cardio equipment and some weight machines and the view of the ocean as you are running is awesome. You have to walk into the spa reception area to get to the gym, this building in under construction right now as they are expanding the spa. There is an alternate door but in currently blocked.

Next to the spa/gym is the covered pool/theatre/bar where there is dancing lessons, bingo and Spanish lessons while it was raining. The Guacamaya bar was open everyday at 11am even though in the booklet the hotel provides it states 5pm – 2am. This is also where all the shows are at night and the live entertainment.

By the time we were on our way to dinner the hotel had brought in water removal trucks and equipment. The walk ways to our villa were completely covered by water to the point that the golf carts could not even go through. We were forced to rollup our pants and go for it! We ate and La Carreta (Mexican) and it was simply amazing. I had the chicken fajitas and daiquiri, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Luckily the Guacamayas bar is in the same area and we stuck it out for the night in the bar. The Guacamayas bar has swings, tables, and stools as chair options. It also has a convenience store right in the same area if you feel like a cigar after a few cocktails or some munchies.

Our first night we met Angel, a drink waiter in the bar and we stayed with him the rest of the week. We tipped him after the first round and he look after us every night, before you could finish your drink he had another one ready and on the table for you. Even on the busiest nights Angel would always manage to make us feel like we were the only people that he was serving. We would tip him a couple times a night.

The shows at Guacamayas are as follows: (9:30pm- 10:30pm)
Monday – Mexican night – mariachi bands and traditional dancing

Tuesday – International show – more traditional dancing

Wednesday – Circus show – very good entertainment

Thursday – Casino night

Friday – Ideal couple night

Saturday – Zapping TV show, interactive game

Sunday - Caribbean show – more traditional dancing

At 10:30pm there is an interactive ½ hour show where the audience is encouraged to join in….

Monday – Tequila testing – lots of fun

Tuesday – Musical trivia

Wednesday – Dance class

Thursday – Live back

Friday – Super bingo

Saturday – Dance class

Sunday – Ventriloquist

Before (starting at 8:30pm) and after the show there is a live band in the same area until 11:30 then a DJ takes over. The music varies but all American dance or “wedding dancing tunes”. This location is VERY loud. You are not able to have a conversation with others while the bands or the show is on. The alternative is the beach bar. It is also a great place to hang out, especially when it isn’t raining. This is right next to Jo Jo’s and is nice to hear the ocean while having a drink. The Martini bar is the other evening option; it is located off the lobby and is lovely. There is a billiard table in a separate room off the bar. There is a drink menu and a martini menu at this bar. All the liquor is top shelf and the drinks are consistent at every bar along with awesome service.

After our first night, every day the weather got better, it still rained one or twice a day but we would sit out and enjoy the hot weather.

We used the internet for $8.00 US for 30 mins. The internet room is located in the lobby. The shops in the lobby are nice for souvenir shopping and the jewellery store also had some really nice items and I found them to be very reasonable priced.

The spa pricing was very reasonable. Manicure $35.00 US, pedicures $45.00 & facials & $60.00 US. They are busy so book a couple days in advance. The spas iscurrently under construction in order to expand it size. The unfortunate part was that the noise from the construction did not lend it self to a very relaxing environment. When it is done it will be super!

The food here is among the best we have ever had at an all-inclusive. We had great meals and dessert at every restaurant. The service is amazing and the people that work here are warm and inviting. The Asian restaurant was a favourite followed by the Italian, which was very hard to get into. We booked our dinners the first day we arrived and didn’t eat there until our last night. Jo-Jo’s was a great atmosphere in the evening with the waves crashing……very nice. We really wanted to do the lobster dinner on the beach, but our weather was so unpredictable that we were worried that for $160.00 US might not be worth the money, weather wise not food quality. Next time we are booking it. There is also a fondue option on the beach for $130.00 US

There is a small Mexican restaurant behind Fuentes that is open for lunch. If you didn’t have a room over on that side you might not find it. This is not on the map that the hotel provides and is hidden behind the vegetation. We meet the chef for the Funetes Restaurant who was a Toronto girl, she told us about it and it was superb. The management staff were always eating there and it was never busy. It doesn’t serve alcohol there just pop or water. There were serving tacos, fajitas, nachos, pizza, etc……..yummy!

All the restaurants are themed except for the Cocotal restaurant. Every night it is different.

Monday - Mexican night

Tuesday - Maya night

Wednesday – Chef’s Menu

Thursday – Gala night

Friday – Caribbean night

Saturday – Gourmet night

Sunday – Dine around

 

There are lots of activities to keep you busy, such as painting ceramics by the pool and making tie dye t-shirt by the fuentes swimming pool, also the resort offers:

Jungle bike tour 10 am

cenote tour at 11am.

Yoga/Pilates in the spa at 8am

Tennis lessons at 8am

Pool volleyball and beach volleyball at 11am

Cooking lessons 12 on Tuesday

Water aerobic at 12

Water polo 12:45

Dive demo/ football soccer @1:30pm

Dance lessons 3:15pm

Beach & pool volleyball at 4pm

Spanish lessons at 4pm

Cocktail lessons at 4pm

Towel decoration lessons at 4:30

Riffle shooting 4:30pm

There is a free shuttle daily to Playa del Carmen except on Saturday and everyday to Cancun. Book your spot with your concierge.

I know that a lot of people think that the resort is large and too spread out, personally, I think that it is a great size and that the design is so smart that it never feels crowded or busy. The resort was at 92% capacity while we were there and the resort spread itself across the beach at its widest part and people are never fighting for chairs or beach beds. So many resorts these days have the main pool and beach at the one end and then move all the guest rooms down towards the lobby. The result is a long and narrow resort. El Dorado is extremely wide. Hence, maximizing the beach front. If you are going to walk the resort length from one end to the other at least you can do it while enjoying the ocean view the entire time :) In addition, the resort is the only one on the beach. Which allows guests to not have to wear the AI bracelets.

As others have mentioned the resort in expanding and is going to split into two separate resorts in 18 months. The Casita section will be a resort on its own.

We did take a taxi to Playa Del Carmen one afternoon. A cab will cost $20.00 US each way. Our rep had told us that the cheapest place to buy tequila would be the Walmart. We got dropped off there and walked the 5 blocks to the 5th Ave. A bottle of Kahlua was $6.00 US and tequila started at $4.00 US.

The pools were very nice. I liked that they pools weren’t so large that they never warmed up. Here at the end of the day you could easily walk in to the water without any hesitation. The main pool was a bit more main stream with lounge chairs lined up around the pool. Fuentes pool is also the activities pool but set with in the concrete was a ton of mini gardens. It made for a much more secluded feeling, nice touch! Every pool has a swim up bar, with the exception of the salt water pool that is built-in the beach. There are 11 pools in total plus the beach. This is why there resort never feels crowded.

I could go on and on but this was a great resort with lot to offer anyone. We enjoyed our holiday so much that for the first time ever we are going to re-book for our holiday next year. Plus, we are going to bring 14 of our friends with us! We just hope that the rain will stay away next year J


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort G & S ~ Tobermory, Ont., Canada

November 2006

My husband and I just returned from a week at the El Dorado Royale Resort & Spa and aside from poor weather, allot of cloud and rain, we had a great, relaxing time. We are a couple in our 50's and have travelled several times to St. Martin, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Mexico (both west and east coasts).

The concierge service for booking meals was very good, however I believe that their main purpose is to promote the Kismat Hotel Chain's Exotica Club, so be prepared to be asked to give up a morning to do a tour and sales pitch!

The food:
Excellent! I am a foodie, and my friends and family say I have high standards when it comes to dining out. I was constantly surprised at the ingenuity of the food presented to us at all of the restaurants. Often when allot of time is spent on presentation the flavour is lacking, not so at the El Dorado.

We had a lovely breakfast every morning at La Isla restaurant, including very good eggs benedict, light and tasty waffles, chicken enchiladas etc. Plus there was a buffet section of fresh fruit, pastries, cheeses and cold cuts. Service from Jose was great and we had a constant supply of really good orange juice and so-so coffee. You could also have champagne, ceasers etc. with your breakfast!

Best Lunch Restaurant - Jo Jo's on the Beach
Fantastic service from Julio. Delicious calamari, crispy fish fingers with a chardonnay/mayo dip, a wonderful ceviche of shrimps and bay scallops in coconut cream are some of the appetizers. Main courses consist of Mahi Mahi, Grouper in coconut mango sauce, fajitas as well as the usual barbeque chicken on a bun, beef strip loin on a bun etc. all beautifully prepared and served.

Best Dinner Restaurant- Cocotal
We had dinner at Cocotal 4 times and had wonderful meals each time. The service was outstanding thanks to Pamela (Hostess) and Francisco (Server). Some of the dishes included fillet of salmon, fantastic duck in a rich delicious sauce, chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cream cheese, again all beautifully served.

We also dined at the Asian and Italian restaurants.
The food at the Asian was very good and plentiful, be careful when ordering the noodle and rice dishes, they are large enough to share! The food at the Italian was good, however it was the only restaurant where we were disappointed with the service. It was very slow and we had to ask for more wine.

Beware of the wine list unless you are prepared to purchase your wine. They offer you a wine list at every meal but the price is charged to your room. We found the house Argentinean wine was very good and our glasses were never let empty except at the Italian restaurant.

Late in the afternoon, before dinner we would go to the Martini Bar where you could sample many different martinis and mixed drinks. I would have preferred if it had been an open air bar, however, it was very nice with comfortable chairs and a big screen TV showing non-stop soccer for you soccer buffs out there. How about the occasional cooking, fashion or decorating show for the ladies?

The beach is fine, inspite of what other reviews have said. Lots of chairs and beach beds although in order to get a beach bed for the whole day you do have to be an early riser. We would reserve one with towels before going to breakfast, which we were told to do by a hotel employee. We never had a problem and our things were never disturbed. We also had very good service on the beach with drinks being delivered just when we needed them!

I had a package spa treatment which included a 25min. back massage in a "skyloft palapa", a facial, manicure and pedicure, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The entertainment was OK. Between 8:30 and 9:30pm they had a group playing in the Bar near the spa. They were very good and people would dance etc. Then at 9:30 on several nights there were shows with dancers which were entertaining. Karaoke night was miserable. Trivia night was fun. The band would then play again after the main show until closing time. Service again was very good.

We didn't do any tours, however, we did take a taxi to Playa del Carmen and our driver Unberto was very informative, giving us a mini tour along the way. Purchased a few silver items and didn't do to badly with the haggling. We also purchased some silver in the Jewellery shop in the hotel and didn't find the prices to be outrageous!

Overall, the resort is lovely, the rooms are very nice (try and get a ground floor with your own section of the canal pool and lounge chairs).

Our biggest complaint were the chairs on the balcony, very uncomfortable and difficult to get in and out of.

Would I recommend the El Dorado Resort, yes, would I return definitely!


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Steve ~ Somerset, England

September 2006

My wife & I stayed at the El Dorado Royale for 14 nights from the 8th September –23rd September 2006. Overall we had a good holiday even though there were a few issues…

Journey
We had a 4hour car journey from Somerset via the dreaded M25 motorway. We parked the car at Flightpath long stay C/P & stayed the night at the Sofitel hotel, which is connected to the Gatwick (London) North terminal.

Because our tour operator First Choice classes the El Dorado Royale as a Premium Hotel we were allowed to check our bags in the day before.

After a decent meal & a good night’s sleep at the Sofitel we made our way across to the terminal in plenty of time (2hours), so we thought. Not having to check bags in we thought it would be a breeze, couldn’t have been more wrong –the new security checks are causing havoc & time, it took over an hour to pass through security/passport.

When in the departure lounge we realised that most of the flights were at least 1hour delayed & so was ours.

The flight was fine. The new 33in pitch seats & individual TV’s helped & surprisingly the food was half decent. We arrived at Cancun 1 hour late at about 14.30 the flight took 10 hours. I’ve been to Cancun airport once before so I wasn’t looking forward to the chaos –this time there was none, it was so smooth, admittedly we hit a green light unlike last time!!

After customs we made for our coach (bus), found it no problem, being one of the first on the coach we had to wait nearly an hour for all the other passengers –all the other coaches left & we were still waiting & waiting until eventually the bus driver set off, minus two customers (they must have got a taxi & forgot to inform the rep-how kind) to our hotel, a trip of a long 45 minutes followed. Finally we arrived at a not very spectacular entrance to the resort- from door to door it only took 26 hours!!!!

On entering the lobby area I was expecting something special mainly because of the comments I’d read on various websites about how grandeur it looked-didn’t knock me over, seen lots of better ones on our travels.

At least ten other couples got off our bus who were staying at the resort so there was quite a queue, reception didn’t seem overly interested, they only had two check–ins open –hey what the hell- we got a glass of sparkling wine (champagne comes from one area of France & this bottle had no made in France anywhere) drank it then checked in.

Went to the waiting bellboy area to catch our golf buggies to our room & there was even confusion over that, no organisation whatsoever, perhaps we hit them at a busy period!!

Room
Eventually a bellboy drove us to the room pointing out different restaurants, bars pools etc en-route. We had landed at room 5225 in the new part of the resort the bellboy showed us the room & left with a tip I might add! The room was on the third floor it had a pool, garden & sea view all in one- not bad when we only booked a garden view room (there’s a story in that- tell ya later). Got to admit the room was gorgeous & big- better than I expected (I was sent a phone video of the room from a friend who had stayed at the resort previously & it didn’t look that nice). Only negatives about the room was the air conditioner being noisy also the fan made a hissing sound –the bed was a bit hard & the water temp in the shower was hard to set, it fluctuated somewhat. Major plusses…. great sea view, large balcony with nice seats, out of this world Jacuzzi, double sinks, large flat LCD TV. Remote air con control, coffee maker. Towel elephants, snails, turtles, dolls etc with flower petals skilfully created by our maid, they didn’t come cheap mind 2$ a day - Best of all a brand new room untouched by the unappreciated.

The story
… I booked our holiday about six weeks prior to departure & most days (sad) I was surfing the net for as much information as possible about the resort- In-fact my wife gave me a telling off because she felt she had already been to the resort because of all the info I was telling her, after the first three weeks I thought best not to tell her any more titbits! Then I read that the main pool & three of the restaurants would be closed during our stay + building work was taking place in two other areas of the resort + the spa area was having a refurbish.

Now as you can guess I wasn’t a happy bunny so I went with all guns blazing I emailed the resort, the First Choice rep at the resort (Cancun based), the First Choice head office (England) etc telling them that I wasn’t happy especially the fact that no one had informed us of the work being carried out (one week prior to the holiday we received a standardized letter from F/C). My plan was to create a fuss before we arrived at the resort not whilst we were there –I asked for an upgraded room away from any building work-surprise surprise that’s what we were allocated unlike the other F/C customers who had rooms near the building site (main pool).

Grounds & Beach
Most reviews seem to say the grounds were beautiful I thought they were okay nothing special compared to some resorts I’ve stayed at. I agree with most, the beach is a let down –if a beach is important to you don’t go to the EDR. One thing that did amaze me is the pathways from the Fuentes pool to the new blocks- the paths go over the lazy river to the buildings but there’s only access to one room per path which means everyone has to walk the long way round to get to their rooms or climb over some bushes for the short cut, obviously there’s been a botch on the design when only one room in a block of 15 rooms as the only direct access, um!!

One other thing the golf carts come whizzing along the pathways at speed, be warned at night they bomb along without any lights on & the grounds aren’t well lit.

Restaurants & Bars
All evening meals have to be pre- booked by your concierge when you arrive at the resort, with the exception of the first two nights meals which can be booked prior to you’re arrival at the resort via E-mail to the hotel –I booked the Mexican for our first night & the Italian for our second, when we checked in at reception they issued us with reservation coupons for the restaurants that I’d booked. We had no problem reserving other nights restaurants at times we wanted, can’t believe people had problems booking restaurants, if you’re a little flexible you’ll be fine.

Mexican was my favourite restaurant whilst Jo Joes was my wife’s favourite.

Italian restaurant on our first visit was very poor the waiter forgot to bring a course- when I told him he just shrugged his shoulders & laughed & he wasn’t forthcoming with the wine either. When we got up from the table to leave his hand was out for a tip, it was the only time I didn’t tip- can you guess why? Because we had 14 nights at the resort we decided to give the Italian another chance & this time it was much better but we still only received one glass of wine, I didn’t push it because the wine was awful. I’m sure the cheap plonk is a ploy- rubbish house wine supplied hoping guests will pay super inflated prices for the better wines on wine lists provided.

Oriental was okay the starters & the sushi were very good the main meals were not so good.

Fuentes restaurant is different they are trying a new concept -its definitely not working, it’s too pretentious, food wise- if the restaurant was at the other side of the resort near the pretentious guests (casita – my joke sorry) it might work - my bet is- this will be turned into a steak house eventually.

Cocotal had some decent food but the service was inconsistent- one night it was great, on another occasions it was non-existent.

Because of the limited restaurant choice we frequented the Mexican on three occasions. The first & second time the food & services (Oscar, fantastic waiter) was superb –the third time all the staff knew us (we tipped well) & the experience was a bit creepy especially from one of the young girl hostesses on the door, she followed us outside after the meal asking us if we’d like to come back tomorrow –we politely said we’d booked elsewhere (didn’t really want to go a fourth time) but she was insistent & said she’d book us a table for tomorrow, we declined, got the feeling she was just after more tips- cynical I know.

Breakfast was taken at the Cocotal main restaurant everyday except for one morning we tried the Fuentes, which was a mistake- I’m sure with a little more insight Fuentes could be a great success for the resort but it isn’t happening yet. Breakfast in the Cocotal is good, not great, been to better buffets for breakfast, the service again is very inconsistent.

Lunch was mainly taken at Jo Jo’s which had the best lunch type food & the service was very good –we tried Fuentes a couple of times- the food was good but very small portions-one lunch time we walked out because of lack of service, sitting in a near empty restaurant for 10 minutes without a drink is not my idea of service so we walked & went to Jo Jo’s. There’s a new small snack bar at the side of Fuentes -the food & service is very good, they do take-away pizzas as well.

Had room service three times, it was okay nothing fantastic- luke warm soft chips, soggy salad, get the picture, service was on time & very good.

All Bars had very good service & very good standard of drinks (no bottle beer which I missed.) There was quite a few top shelf spirits they did not stock.

Activities & Entertainment
This is where the resort is a let down in my opinion. Organized activities are non-existent unless you’re into pool games or dancing. All travel brochure & web sites list activities like French Bowls, Horseshoe and rifle-shooting etc.etc.- there was no such thing.

Evening entertainment in the swing bar (the only entertainment on the resort) is unbelievably poor. 6-8 dancers dancing on a stage for an hour doing the same routine every night, granted in a different costume each night-Mexican night- Caribbean night….its virtually the same every night, no wonder everyone was in their room early. A fellow guest had a theory as to why the night entertainment was so poor- He said it saved the hotel money, why make the entertainment fantastic? All that will do is cost the hotel more in staffing & drinks. After the 1hour Broadway entertainment there’s a live band –well I think they were live!!! Oh I forget one night it was casino night- that’s the only night I enjoyed plus I won a t-shirt & sarong. There was some dirty dealings concerning the staff- after the casino games had finished everyone was asked to give all there pretend monies to the croupier at the table & he’d give you a pretend cheque for the total amount- the cheque would then be used for bidding in the auction at the end. I got my cheque something like 70,000$ the guy next to me only had 50,000$ the croupier said to him if he gave him 5$ & he’ll write 100,000$ in the pretend cheque. –I know it’s not the crime of the century but it shows what mentally some of the staff had at the resort.

Staff
Most of the staff are very friendly & helpful a few $ does help. The staff all seem to work hard with a smile on their faces with a few exceptions. Servicing of the rooms is very good can’t think of one complaint. The drink service around the pools & on the beach is very good mostly; one waiter though just walked around with a tray & didn’t ask anyone if they’d like a drink- what a fool! every drink we got whilst on the beach we tipped -his loss!! We stayed mostly on the beach near the Fuentes pool area, in that area there was nowhere to get a drink- only from the walking waiters who serviced the pool bar –that same pool bar shut at 17.00 which is far too early, no one could get a drink after that time in that area.

Other Guests
Where do I begin! This is the first resort I’ve stayed in where the guests are mainly North American & British. Usually on our travels the resorts have had numerous nationalities staying there, which makes for a more cosmopolitan feel, which I missed this time. First night we were wakened at 04.30am by screaming ********* voices that had no regard for fellow guests, luckily these ********* left after a few days. One day we were sat on the beach watching a group of ********* continually shouting for a waiter to keep filling their glasses up with alcohol, they were constantly screaming at one another & the poor ********* waiter. After a couple of hours these ********* were plastered (It was middle of the afternoon) they were staggering all over the beach –one woman in her 50’s was out cold & it took four of her drunken friends to carry her off the beach. Every ********* seemed to be shouting and, was intoxicated. One night I was sat on the balcony, 500yards away an ******* couple were having a conversation with an English couple I heard every word the ********** couple said sadly those English need to speak up!! I’m sure there are some decent ********* but unfortunately for us they weren’t staying at the El Dorado Royale at the same time as us!

Checking out

Our bus wasn’t picking us up until 17.15 so we decided to keep the room on for an extra 3hours @ 25$ an hour, it was well spent –on check out there was a 50$ bottle of wine itemised on the bill which we hadn’t had- it took some convincing it wasn’t ours, The checkout guy eventually got the signed receipt for the bottle of wine, luckily the signature was nothing like mine then I notice the room number on the receipt- it was 5252 ours was 5225 always- double check your bills.

Overall
I nice break, a beautiful room, great weather. Will we be back? No. It’s back to the Greek Islands for us next, where in the past we’ve meet some really nice Americans.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Ontario, Canada

August 2006

We really enjoyed our stay at El Dorado and would probably go back if the resort does a few changes. Here are the pro, cons and tips:

PROS:
- The food is absolutely amazing! Everything is served a la carte and is presented beautifully. The portions can be small for some meals, but if you're still hungry, just order another plate. Food ordered through room service is also delish. You have to make reservations for dinner but you'll most likely get in somtime during your stay. Buffet breakfast at Cocotal is very good and theres lots of variety. Also the mahi mahi ordered through room service is excellent as is the creme brule from La Caretta.

- The service is excellent. The waiters are always asking if you need something and the people working there (which there are many) are also very courteous.

- My husband and I got a couples massage (50 minutes each) and the ladies did a great job. You get a full head to toe massage with the full budy option (we got the swedish one - deep muscle massage).

- The wave runners on site are a must try. This adrenaline rush is great and the wave runners (or what we refer to them as sea-do's) are great for a singe or couple. You take the machine right out into the sea and since there's usually noone else there, you get to enjoy the water all to yourself. We also bought a package for ATV's and Speedboats and both of these were great too (just remember- everything is charged in American $ and we got this package from the guy sitting in the lobby with a table and tons of brochures).

- The rooms - We stayed in a villa room with an ocean view and it was very nice. The washroom has marble floors with a large open shower and the room has a nice canopy bed with a large jacuzzi. If you're planning on staying at the beach more often, a villa room is just fine. The air conditioning was great and lots of privacy. If you want to hang out in your room more then a casita is probably a bit better because it has an outdoor shower and the ceiling is much higher giving it a larger feeling. But the furniture and jacuzzi is the same. Swim up casitas are nice because you can jump into a small pool-walkway. The presidential suites are WOW. Of course the price for these is also a WOW. They are furnished beautifully with plasma tv's, a kitchen, dining room and second bedroom. Total of 3 washrooms and your own personal swimming pool. A chef also comes into your kitchen once during your stay to cook a meal for you.

- The beach is nice and there are plenty of lounge chairs in the regular and casita section, including palapas (but I'm sure when the resort is full, it must be hard to find a palapa or beach chair under a shade.

CONS:
- not really much of a con for food but we went to the Italian resteraunt twice during our stay (4 days apart) and the menu was exactly the same...so I don't know if the menu really changes every 14 days as the website claims.

- there was too much construction going on during our stay and even though they tried to block out the noise with loud jazz music, the machines were quite overpowering. The construction also caused them to close their main pool and 3 resteraunts (La Isla, Pizzeria and Fondue). One time we went into the casita section and were lounging on the beach when we were told to leave because we were not from the casitas. I was really pissed because if you're going to have construction that is really loud and not provide other alternatives for people to relax at the beach for, then you might as well let them relax elsewhere. And we were not even sitiing in the palapas that are reserved in the casita section for only the casita guests. I hated the fact that they kept the boundry for the casita guests during construction because if it weren't for construction, I wouldn't have cared for the boundry since everything else is closer to the villas (resteraunts, lobby, spa, entertainment, etc).

- the beach has a lot of large sand bags there were really annoying my husband. They were a bad eyesore but they also prevented some good waves from coming onto shore. The waves were really nice in the casita section but there beach was rocky (potentially harmfull if you weren't carefull- a wave pushed me over a rock and it scratched my thigh badly). The villa section of the beach was smooth sand but lots of plants and stuff washed up ashore.

- phone calls are expensive and internet is $3 for 10 min, $6 for 20 min and $8 for 30 min and the time seriously flies!

TIPS:
- Make your dinner reservations all at one time so that you can assure yourself a reservation at all the resteraunts.

- Don't leave a deposit with anyone from the airport even if they tell you it's a tour and you will get some excursions free - they just want your money.

- Some people at the resort will try to make you buy a vacation package (similar to a time share). They will give you $100 as an incentive for listening to their presentation but make sure you do your research because what their selling you has restrictions even though they tell you it doesn't. They are very persuasive but read the info on the RCI website for all the details. If you want to go for the money, go ahead but be firm with your rejection.

- If you think you may try the wave runners, take goggles because you'll get splashed in the face a lot.

- We went to Playa del Carmen and it was nice- no real bargains though because this place is mainly for tourists. Prices are jacked up so if you want something, negotiate and try to get the beast deal. (prices are marked up atleast 50% and when the cruise ships come in prices are even higher) go when no cruise ship is scheduled.

- make sure to keep a lot of small change - give tips to whomever you like but if you give a tip to your regular waiter or bartender, he will make sure to keep you happy and give good service.

- if you have a balcony make sure not to close the door completely when you are out becasue it will lock you outside.

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay and would love to go back when the sandbags are removed, and the construction is all complete.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Megan & James ~ Ontario, Canada

August 2006

POOLS:
The pools were fantastic, very warm. There was one main pool and then a smaller pool for each of the four casita sections. All of the pools had swim-up bars. The water in the pools (as well as the water in the rooms) was slightly salty if you got any in your mouth. Anyone could go into the casita pools, but only casita residents could use the deck loungers next to the casita pools (they were really nice) or the “palapas” (beds) – they were also really nice. The casita guests are differentiated from the villa guests by the colour of their towels.

SERVICE:
There was a concierge for each section which was extremely helpful – they book your trips, spa services, restaurant bookings, return transportation, everything. And because there were so many of them you never really had to wait to get help with anything. It was great.

ROOMS:
We stayed in the casita section (Casita 25 section) so that’s what my description is of; we never saw a villa room. The casita room we had was gorgeous; it was a big suite, with a big four poster bed, Jacuzzi in one corner. The shower temperature was sporadic. There was an outdoor shower as well which was more reliable, but if you were on the first floor (like we were) it was less private. Great view from the balcony, which had a hammock, two lounge chairs, plus a table and two straight chairs for when you get room service. The fan/air conditioning I found a bit loud when sleeping but the room itself was quiet – you rarely if ever heard people walking by or in other rooms.

FOOD:
All restaurants require reservations for dinner. Breakfast is a la carte and/or buffet. The food is gourmet, and so good – better than any other resort we’ve been to. Our favourite restaurant was the Mexican. As we were on our honeymoon we also had the candlelight beach dinner which was also fantastic. We also got the room service for breakfast one day and lunch another and it was great to sit on our balcony having this great meal!

BEACH:
There is a beach but there is a cement break wall so the view isn’t as great. The water was warm & clear with lots of fish and crabs to see. Snorkelling equipment was available to take out into the lagoon. You could also rent kayaks, but as you couldn’t take them out of the lagoon it seemed a bit pointless to go out in them (the lagoon is fairly small).

Overall we thought this was a fantastic resort – we would go back in a heartbeat.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Carol

June 2006

This is a fantastic hotel - we loved it here and will be going back as soon as we can.

There was a lot of American's there (no problem with that) they were nice people and most of them only stayed for one week - there was quite a few weddings within the two weeks we were there..( I would choose this place if I was getting married again)

Rooms - We had a Jacuzzi room Room (No. 816) and it was lovely- we looked over one of the main swimming pools and La Isla restaurant. The room was kept very clean - Air con worked well didnt need to have it on so much as I normally do a there is one of tho's fans over the bed witched worked very well.

Pool area's - There was two main pools one that was very quite and one that had a few activities going on through the day - but both were lovely with swim up bars. There were other pools which you could go in all had swim up bars - these were near the Casita - again all lovely.

Sea - when we first saw the sea with tho's very large sand bags in them i thought how ugly they look and couldn't something be done to make them look more attractive - but I had to say once the sun was out and you were sitting on the beautiful beach with crystal clear waters and a lovely cool breeze,you just didnt take any notice of them. apparently these have been put there since the Hurricane and will be taken away a some point.

Bar's - The pool bars were all very good and we always got what we asked for ( Cognac and diet coke..Ummm lovely) or a cocktail sometimes which again was lovely.

Main bar ( near Jo Jo's)- Again no complaints. all the stuff were lovely and nothing was too much trouble.

Martini Bar (in reception) The guy behind the bar there was a bit miserable - but once we said about it he was ok - Please try a Chocolate Martini lovely jubley - I also had a brandy Alexander - that was very good too..Oh! and a B52 - yummy - it is cold in there tho - which i liked but few people found it too cold?

There was s health bar which open during the day(Near the Casitas) for smoothes and health drinks - you could get lunch there too.

Restaurants - You have to book these by the concierge ( sits by your hotel block in a little open hut each day We had no trouble booking any of the restaurants but apparently sometimes there is.My only gripe here was that we were not told about the theme nights.

Jo Jo's (Caribbean) - We had lunch there and dinner and we enjoyed the food very much (Try the coconut ice cream) the service very good.

Italian - we only went to this restaurant once ( supposed to go on the last night but couldn't make it) but I would of booked this more if I had know how god the food was in there.

Cocotel - Again the food was lovely - don't think it is open for lunch - but you can have breakfast in there

Ia Isla - This seems to be the main restaurant
Breakfast This had all fresh fruit,cheeses ,meats yoghurts etc -lots of different breads to toast - You got a choice of cooked breakfast that was waiter service - lovely
Lunch - very Nice
Dinner - Very Nice

Fondue - we only booked this restaurant once and was glad we did as it was a different experience for us - there are about 8 different cheese fondues to have with varied meat and fish and to follow the choice was white or dark chocolate fondue or a fruit compote

Japanese - This was lovely too we went there twice and both times we had a lovely meal.

Mexican - this was out least favourite - The food was ok but the waiter was very miserable.maybe just an off day!

As a whole the resort was lovely and all the reviews that o read where they said the food was not varied and other negative reports well!! all i can say is that - they must of had a bad experience or they are extremely fussy and believe me tho i am fussy too and i though it was wonderful.

Tipping - no need to tip -(but it always helps)anyway, we did as we felt the service was that good the tip was well deserved.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Canada

March 2006

My husband and I spent some of our wedding purse on our honeymoon at the Eldorado. We had a fantastic time.

The resort was beautiful beyond our wildest expectations. The staff was cordial and accommodating.

My only concern was the beach. My husband and I are beach-people. We do not use pool facilities in any resort we visit. We were surprised to discover the huge sandbags in the ocean. They are quite an eyesore. However, we became quickly accustomed to them and felt protected from any sea creatures and undertows. When you are partaking in alcoholic beverages in the blistering heat, it is better to stay within the confines of the sandbags.

Our only complaint was the our ocean villas' air conditioning failed us on two occasions. Getting it repaired seemed to take longer than we would have preferred. However, it is a busy resort and one cannot expect the workers to wait on them hand and foot. We watched other residents sitting ten feet away from the bar "you hooing," the waiters over to bring them drinks. Get up off your ass for ten seconds and grab one yourself! If you are one of those people - and you know who you are, nothing will satisfy your overindulgent whims. The place rocked the casbar. We highly recommend it for a honeymoon. It makes you feel like royalty - just try not to act like it. Cheers.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Chad & Angie ~ Minneapolis Minnesota

September 2005

We just returned on September 19th from our Honeymoon at the El Dorado Royale Spa. We absolutely loved it. The service was great. We found some guests who treated the staff rudely were treated with less priority. Tipping is not required but the average. worker there makes about $5 a day so a small tip goes along way toward better service. We stayed in the Casitas which was definitely worth the added expense. I read some reviews were people didn't see any advantage to the Casitas, I believe them to be uninformed. We only paid a few hundred extra for the entire week, and it was worth every penny. We had a swim up bar right outside our patio door which was never loud or obnoxious but always had interesting people to talk with. You have exclusive access to the Palapas (King sized beds under a thatched hut 30 yards from the Ocean. Some guests from other parts of the hotel would try to use them even though it was clearly marked for Casitas guests only. We were able to secure one every morning by about 8:00 Am. Casitas guests also have preferential treatment on dinner reservations, which we were able to eat were wanted when we wanted no problem. You just had to book a few days in advance. All of the food was great except regrettably the Mexican restaurant. We love Mexican food and the service and food was terrible. We were given surveys after every meal except this one, shocking. That was really our only complaint. Other restaurants such as JoJo's had excellent Mexican food. We recommend eating the Italian more than once. I would highly recommend this as a Honeymoon destination. The Honeymoon package included a bottle of Champagne on arrival, dinner on the beach (very romantic) and a free couple massage. We found that in the Casitas especially most of the other couples were on there honeymoon as well. This made for just the right atmosphere.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Susan ~ Canada

April 2005

We've just returned from the El Dorado Royale on April 9, 2005. The trip was just fantastic! We travelled through Conquest Vacations out of Toronto and arrived at the resort with no delays. The resort was exactly as the web site portrayed. The pictures on the Karisma web site described the resort to a tee. We could not find one thing to complain about.

The resort itself was clean and just beautiful. The people there could not do enough for you.
Each room had its own bathroom as well as a jacuzzi. The king size bed was just heaven. The room was cleaned each day around 3 pm. We found that was the perfect time since we were just getting back from the beach or pool by then. The food was high class. All the restaurants were a la carte. There was only one restaurant the Cocotal which there was a buffet breakfast and even then you had a choice of the menu or the buffet. All the food was just fantastic. The presentation and taste was just like something you would go to a restaurant and pay $100 each for. The only restaurant we weren't fussy about was the Mexican restaurant. We found the service slow.

The beach was white and just beautiful. We had to go out early each morning and claim our chairs on the beach or by the pool. It was preferred by us since we wouldn't get a chair with some shade otherwise. There was a nice breeze off the water each day to make sun tanning quite comfortable. We particularly liked the adults only part of the resort. We wanted a nice quiet holiday that was stress free and we certainly got that and much more!
I would highly recommend this resort to anyone without question! It is worth every penny and more!


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Ann & Phil ~ Alberta

February 2005

We've just returned from 2 weeks at the El Dorado Royale with some friends from New Hampshire and we had a wonderful time. Our accomodation in the garden section was very comfortable and close to the small Tucanes Pool and Bar, where we hung out during the day. This small pool is behind the main pool and was a great place to relax and swim without ever feeling crowded. As we aren't beach people we can't comment on the sand or ocean swimming.

We found that the food and service in all restaurants was great. It should be noted the reservation policy changed just before we arrived and reservations are required for the evening meal in all restaurants. They can be made up to 3 days ahead and, although there was a bit of a problem the first night we arrived, we were able to eat in every restaurant, at or close to our preferred times. Also, we like to linger over a meal, something we did in every restaurant. Of particular mention is the daytime staff in La Isla, who went out of their way to make an unusual 50th anniversary celebration a success. Having mimosas at breakfast was also a treat. If we were to make negative comments they would be about the Martini bar, which we found had no atmosphere, and the booming bass music on the nights wedding receptions were being held near the main pool. The least they could have done was invite us! We very much enjoyed the resort (particularly the Adults -Only) and found it more upscale than most Mexican all-inclusives, especially in food presentation and quality. If you are expecting theme parties, buffet restaurants and lots of activities, go somewhere other than the ElDorado Royale.


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El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort Diane

January 2005

We just got back last night (January 15) from the El Dorado Royale after a week's stay, and couldn't have had a better time. We were especially interested in the type of service, room/meal quality etc we would receive, as our stay last year was over New Year's; we were in no way disappointed.

We have been to several resorts in the Cancun/Playa Del Carmen area, and the El Dorado Royale is our favorite. A big plus is the fact that it is an adults-only resort; we like kids but it's nice to have peace and quiet while on vacation.

Though the resort again was booked to capacity, we never knew it; always plenty of lounge chairs, no standing in line for anything. The El Dorado is spread out over a large area, and in the process of adding private villas, which are expected to be finished by March, and another pool (palapa-covered) next to the Guacamayas bar.

Our pool-side waiter was ever on the alert to bring us whatever we wished from the bar. A good example of unexpected courtesy: On our second day, I asked the hostess at La Isla (the pool-side restaurant/bar) if I could possibly get a club sandwhich brought to where we were sitting, and every day after that she would ask me at breakfast where I'd be so she could bring me another.

We stayed in an ocean-front suite, which was cleaned regularly and thoroughly. The mini-fridge was stocked dailly. We were surprised the first night with a bottle of champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and a fruit basket. We were told it was their way of thanking us for our return visit.

The staff couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. I took Spanish in high school and no one minded my stumbling attempts at communication, rather they seemed to appreciate it.

We didn't take advantage of the spa, though several people we spoke to who did, thoroughly enjoyed their experiences there.

Tipping is of course appreciated. These folks work hard and long hours. It was very common to see the same waiters serving not only the 7am breakfast crowd, but also the 11pm bar bunch.

As soon as the rates are out, we will be booking another trip to this beautiful resort.

Questions? HollyD726@charter.net


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