Left the Gran Caribe Real in Cancun on March 5, 2008. It was a nice sunny getaway, in a really nice room with a balcony overlooking the large pool and ocean. Here is what I learned:
No beach; true. There is a sandy strip atop the sea wall, so you can lie back on a lounger or bed and enjoy the sight and sounds of surf, watch albatross, pelicans, and seagulls fishing; order food and drink from the "beach" bar; read a good book; and get a tan. If you’re not traveling with kids who want to run in and out of the surf, this isn’t a problem. If you want to play beach volleyball, think again. I knew this from other reviews before I went, so I was okay with it.
Library w/ books and DVDs, and DVD player in every room. While there was a DVD player in my room, I never found a library w/ movies to watch or books to read. Thank God I took my own paperbacks!
This one was tricky. I didn’t know what "show cooking" was until I arrived and found out it is simply a cook-to-order grill in the restaurants. You know, an omelet or burger made right in front of you. Buffet food was rarely warm enough to counteract bacteria growth, so all 4 of us went heavy on show cooking. Omelets were great, hamburgers were good. This really should have been better, but who do you tell?–because….
Guest Relations: Finding someone who spoke English was always a challenge. The servers spoke some, the staff behind the check-in counter spoke some, the bar wait staff spoke less. This isn’t a problem as long as you’re relaxing in the fresh air and want a margarita, but if you want to tell someone something important, like the "hot" food is barely warm, or there were dos cucarachas in my room, forget it.
Guest relations is to the left as you walk into the hotel. Up a step or two, right in w/ the group trying to sell you an "upgrade". The Guest Relations sign at the far end of the hotel, right next to car rentals, never had a person behind the desk.
Everyone we encountered took hard American cash or plastic. If you want to break a five or ten for ones, though, you can’t go to the desk. They deposit all American money in a locked box to be exchanged later at a favorable rate. They keep none on hand for guests who want to tip an employee who goes above and beyond. None.
Morning Glory snorkeling tour needs to work out some kinks. They gave us our lunch when we arrived at 9:30 a.m., piled our snorkeling gear on top of that, told us we could use biodegradable sunblock ONLY (guess who was selling it at $8 a tube), could take nothing on the boat but our sunglasses and towels and snorkeling gear, and had us leave our lunch (looked like ham and cheese sandwich) and all our belongings on tables. They had "bins" for our valuables. Whoopee. I’m not complaining about using biodegradable sunblock; it’s good for the environment. Just tell me upfront next time. They did take us to good spots to snorkel and I saw things I’ve never seen before. Even swam above a HUGE stingray; its tail alone must have been 4 feet long. On the 2nd spot, I got the feeling I could have swam back to the boat and no one would have noticed I was missing. When I returned with the others, my sister said, in fact, that was what three others had done. I thought the returning group looked smaller! I used to wear masks in my pool (I’m a woos); they masks they provided were the best I’ve ever worn. tour #2. ChichenItza. Fabulous!
Hotel has 2 pools. Small pool off lobby bar is nice and quiet. Large pool is noisy w/ scheduled activities, microphone, and plenty of speakers.
Some good, some not so good. Doesn’t rate w/ cruise ship shows, but I’m easily entertained. Plus, karaoke in the hotel lobby bar on Sun and Thurs was a hoot.
Most USA hotels can’t seem to get 2 rooms on the same floor for our traveling party, but this hotel did.
Hey, they let vendors come right in and set up around the large pool in the evenings. You’ll get nagged on your evening stroll to see the surf. Isn’t *that* lovely? They will haggle; the stuff is overpriced about 3 times what you can haggle elsewhere.
Travel agent told us one thing, but it’s obviously been relaxed in the 2 years since she’s been there. In Gaviotas, the open air poolside restaurant, women wore coverups 98% of the time. Men wore tanks or shirts over their suits. Everyone had flip flops. In Albatros, the "nicer" all-windows restaurant above it, people wore everything. Not so many swimsuits, but lots of shorts, even at dinner. Even jean shorts. In Marias, the "upscale" restaurant, people dressed nicely. The food was no better than the other restaurants, was served with more flair, and the waiter said the money wasn’t that good. Okay, why he felt he had to get that said–oh, I know, he was bucking for a generous tip.
My sister and her husband got pinned by the Real Resort "time share" / upgrade spiel. 90 minutes later, she had a pretty wrap, a nice beach bag, and a $50 voucher good toward any tour.
Not a white Zinfandel to be had. If this is your drink of choice, better find another one. The house white wine is dry. Margaritas were delicious, except sometimes at the pool and "beach" they came in different colors and flavors. I discovered I like a Tequila Sunset. Or maybe it was a T. Sunrise.
In spite of the aforementioned cucarachas, the hotel is kept in sparkling condition. Oh, take earplugs. They hose down the pool deck at night with noisy equipment.
This was the nicest bathroom I’ve ever had in a hotel. The shower was a walk-in large enough for four w/ a hand-held shower head that could be raised and lowered to suit.
Varied from day to day. Somedays I got everything I needed, others I didn’t get enough.
Mine never got cold. I speak enough Spanish to convey this. They eventually changed out the fridge, which got cold 3 days later. They generally kept enough soda and bottled water in it.
We all drank it and ate raw vegetables; no one got sick. I even had a soda w/ ice at the downtown Burger Chef w/out problems.