Arrival: June 19-26:
Arrived at the hotel at around 6PM with my wife and 2 boys (9 & 12). The hotel is only about 20 minutes from the airport, and is located in the Costa Dorada complex which contains only this hotel and the Iberostar. Since there were more than 50 of us checking in from the same flight, we had to wait a bit to get our room. The front desk clerk filled us in on the mini-bar (which supposedly is operated by a separate company). Only the 2 BOTTLED soft drinks, and 2 beers(don’t remember the brand) are included. Everything else is extra, and is quite expensive. There is also a litre of bottled water in the room which is also included. We were given our room keys (cards), and sent on our way. Our luggage arrived at the room a few minutes after us.
We had requested a 2nd floor room in building 8 or 9(2 of the newer ones). We were assigned a second floor room in building 7 (#7201). It’s one of the older buildings, and is located just to the left as you leave the lobby. Buildings 6, 8 & 9 are the new ones. Our room was relatively spacious. There were 2 double beds, a night table, a dresser with 4 drawers, a hutch with 3 large drawers, some storage space for suitcases, and which housed the TV. Plenty of channels on the TV(many in English), including the major US networks, and Cartoon Network (for the kids). There was also a small round table & chair in the corner. There was additional space for clothes in the closet on some wire shelves in. Overall, plenty of space to put things away. There was also the mini bar with drinks and snacks. The washroom was a nice size with a single sink in a large counter, the toilet, and bathtub. There is liquid hand soap next to the sink, and combination soap/shampoo/conditioner in a squeeze bottle in the bathtub. A couple of minor maintenance issues in the washroom, but nothing worth reporting. We did loose hot water one evening for about an hour, but no big deal. The room safe worked with a key cylinder, that you have to get from the front desk at a cost of $21 US for the week. Well worth it for the peace of mind. The A/C pumped out plenty of cold air, and the thermostat worked perfectly. There was also a ceiling fan in the middle of the room. Beds seemed fine to us; not too hard or soft. The clock radio in the room wasn’t working properly, so we called the front desk, who transfered us to housekeeping. There was a new unit in our room the following afternoon when we goot back from the beach. Houskeeping was, as in most other resorts, a multi-phased task. Dirty towels are removed from the room in the morning, the room is cleaned and made up after that, and some time in the afternoon, fresh towels are brought in. Somewhere in there, someone comes in and checks/restocks the mini-bar. Note that the mini-bar is locked down the day before you leave. The room was clean, and we only saw a couple of small bugs one day after a heavy rainfall. The rooms are sprayed on a regular basis, as we received a notice advising us of spraying to take place one morning. They also left a card you can hang on the door if you do not want your room sprayed. We left 3$ each day for the cleaning lady, who seemed to do a good job. After the first day, she realized that we did not use/want the bed covers, and stopped putting them back on the beds. On the first day, we left a note next to the provided water bottle asking for 2 bottles, and she left us 4. Every day after that, there were 4 bottles of water in the room!
Restaurants and Bars::
The hotel has 4 a-la-carte restaurants (Pasta, seafood, tex-mex, and crepe), the main buffet, as well as Mangos, which serves lunch, and perhaps other food after the restaurants are closed (never stayed up that late). Each of the a-la-carte restaurants was closed one night of the week. As indicated elsewhere, there are no reservations for the restaurants. You simply show up and try your luck. If there is no space, they will take your room number and tell you when to come back. Only the pasta restaurant is indoors, and is small, so it fills up fast… We ate at all of the a-la-cartes, and went to the tex-mex a second time. All were reasonable good. Service was decent but nothing exceptional. We had breakfast every morning at the buffet, had supper there only twice, and lunch only once (the last day). Service at the buffet is a bit lacking. Hard to find someone to refill a coffee or water cup, or to get a soft drink. Plates are not cleared from the table quite quick enough. As for variety, there are 2 rows of hot trays (one on each side), but when they are filled, they contain the same things. In the morning there are always pancakes, and an egg/omelette station, fresh juices, all kinds of breads, etc. Plenty to choose from. For supper, however, we noticed that the variety of options could have been improved a bit. Not a bad buffet, but perhaps just a bit weak at night. We ate lunch at Mangos just about every day. There are 5 or 6 hot items (with french fries every day), as well as hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, salad, soup, and deserts. They will also cook meats for you at the grill. The meats are located to the left of the grill in a section that is sort of outside the main food area (behind the coffee machine). There were pork chops, lamb chops, steaks, sausages to choose from, depending on the day. There are also tortilla chips a soft cheese dispenser back there. There were 4 bars, one near the beach at Mangos, one by the pool, one next to the show area, that I think only opens at night, and one in the sports bar just outside the lobby. Wait time at the bars was not too bad, but I think that they need to either increase the staff behind the counters, or add another bar near the pool during the day.
The beach was quite wide, and there were plenty of loungers. Lots of trees at the back for shade for the times where all of the shade ‘structures’ (not palapas) were reserved by non existing guests. Water was generally calm, but contained quite a bit of floating sea weed. They raked up what came ashore daily, but there is nothing they can do in the water. For a few days, low tide was near noon, and the kids were able to do some snorkeling near shore at the left end of the beach. Unfortunately there is not all that much to see. The pool is quite large, and divided into 3 walk-in sections. Never felt crowded in the pool, and were always able to find a lounger. Again, though, finding a spot under a hut was almost impossible, since they always seemed to have towels, books, etc. under them, but rarely people. Considering the number of rooms in the resort, the grounds are not that large. They are generaly well maintained, but I was a bit surprised that they didn’t clear the excess water from the pathways after a major downpour. Something else I noticed, or rather didn’t notice: I never saw anyone cleaning the public washrooms. Not once. The washrooms weren’t particularly dirty or anything, but on occasion, there were no paper towels, etc.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel::
As mentioned, there is a sports bar near the lobby, with a projection TV, a couple of pool tables, and a foosball table. There are also a couple of foosball tables, and a couple of ping pong tables near the pool. There’s also a large chess board/game behind the towel exchange place. At the beech, they have horse shoes, and bocce ball, right next to the kids club building. Our kids never went to the kids club, but we did notice a trampoline, and a small swimming pool outside the building. The also took the kids go karting one afternoon (heard this from one of the kids our boys made friends with. All kinds of activities around the pool and at the beach during the day. We went to the nightly show a couple of times. Not bad, but typical resort shows. We’ve seen much worse…
Overally, the resort was quite nice, especially considering the price we paid ($2400 CDN for the 4 of us). Would we go back? Possibly, if we got a great price. However, if paying full price, we would probably try somewhere new, or go back the the nearby Gran Ventana, where we have gone for the previous 4 years. The food and service there (as well as the snorkeling) was definitely better. On the other hand, the rooms, and pool at the Grand Oasis Marien were better.