Region: Akumal, Mayan Coast (Riviera Maya)
Hotel: Oasis Akumal
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Meal Plan: A/I
Wholesaler: Conquest Vacations
Airline: SkyService (Was supposed to be Canada3000)
Date of Visit: November 2001
Duration: Two Weeks
Well, this is our 3rd trip to the Mayan coast, and definitely the least smooth. We are pretty much used to (and perhaps spoiled!)by incident-free trips and I guess our luck was due to run out. I won’t bother listing all the little incidents here as most of them do not reflect on the resort, except for the Canada 3000 fiasco. We were leaving from Toronto on November 11, and Canada 3000 (our carrier) announced their bankruptcy on the 9th. We also had the drive to Toronto (we live in Ottawa) to think about on the 10th. Luckily, our travel agent Linda from Sun Holidays, and Conquest Vacations came through for us, and we flew out of Pearson via Skyservice approximately one hour earlier than the original Canada 3000 flight. OK, now for the report:
Airport pickup at Cancun and drive to resort went perfectly well, as did the checkin. The resort is one of the older ones in this area and enjoys a large returning clientele. This resort was fully booked for most of our stay even though the occupancy rate in the Akumal/Tulum area was anywhere from 25 – 35% during this time. The clientele was a real mix of nationalities. The first week was mostly Europeans (Spanish, Italian, German, French) and by the second, Americans were the majority. The hotel is kind of ”split" between the regular Oasis Club, and the VeraClub. The VeraClub has its own rooms (beachfront), their own entertainment staff, restaurant, agents, etc. It is an Italian company and the tour operator is Vera Tours. Their package does not include alcoholic beverages (hence the one non-alcoholic bar) and they can only eat in one buffet restaurant. Club Oasis clients can eat in their restaurant (with a reservation). The resort is located on a quiet bay, with nothing to the left and on the right there are some privately owned villas and a bit further the new Bahia Principe Akumal. This new resort is very big (although not as big as the original section) and has very little usable beach and ocean swimming. We took a walk to it a couple of times, and as a beach and water are important to me, I was glad I did not book this resort.
Upon checkin we received a note from the hotel services manager, Leis (pronounced Lees) offering us an orientation session the next morning. This is the first time we have ever received such a thing from hotel staff, and I must say, it was invaluable, especially as we didn’t hear from our Lomas Travel rep until the Thursday of the first week (we arrived on Saturday nite).
She answered all our questions, showed us the amenities, etc. She is also the one you book your restaurant reservations with, and you can also book trips thru her, which we did.
Room: Our room was in the new (3 years old) three storey block at the back of the property next to the mangroves. We were a bit disappointed as we had really hoped for a beachfront room, as seen in the brochures. We tried for an upgrade, but we were given the runaround. We were told they were fully booked (and the place was full, no doubt) but we also saw others getting beachfront upgrades, so I really don’t know what the story on that is. The second story room was in great shape, everything worked fine, the plumbing, hot water, A/C (didn’t really need it, the nights were nice and cool and we just kept the balcony door open at night). The maid did a wonderful job cleaning the room, and we normally left a tip of about 2 dollars US every other day, and a 10 dollar tip at the end of our stay. The bathroom was nice and big with a big tub and marble throughout.
For storage, there was a closet and a dresser. We had more than sufficient space for our things. The furnishings were that nice rusty Mexican style with wood and wrought iron. There was noise from the bar at night, but it ended usually at about 1:00 am, and if you closed the balcony door, you couldn’t really hear it at all. Safe deposit boxes are available for a few dollars a day and are at the reception area, not in the room.
Restaurants/Food/Drinks: Club Oasis guests have access to 3 restaurants for supper; the main buffet, the buffet used by VeraClub (Los Tucanes) and an a la carte (La Galera). For the latter two, reservations are needed one day beforehand. Also, they ask that you choose your dinner for La Galera at the time you make your reservations. This helps them make the dishes so you don’t have to wait. Lobster dinner can be ordered and costs $20.00 USD per person. We had it one night and it was very tasty and fresh. We enjoyed the food quite a bit. It’s not gourmet, this is not a 5 star resort. Don’t expect smoked salmon and oysters Rockefeller. They always had a good selection of pastas and sauces, meats including a grilled, veggies, good salad bar, fruits, and usually one or more Mexican dishes. At lunch, the main buffet restaurant, besides the buffet, also offered dishes from the menu. The chicken tacos and their grilled fish filets (3 styles) are not to be missed….really tasty ! Every Friday is Mexican Fiesta nite, and the food is Mexican (very good) with a Mariachi band, followed by the folkloric dance show at the usual entertainment stage (more on that later). We did not run into stomach problems with the food nor the drinks. Drinks are standard house brands. Don’t come here if you expect name brands.
I found the Margaritas quite good, and the few Pina Coladas had were pretty good too. Beer is either Corona or Victoria. Wine (white or red) served with meals was Spanish, and most brands were good. The wait staff and bartenders were all wonderful. You never had to wait more than a few seconds for anything. I have never experienced such fast service in any resort. The staff were always friendly and always smiling.
The beach area is wonderful. The beach was clean and well kept. Having ashtrays for all the smokers (and believe me, they are the majority) really does help in this respect. The sand was very fine and light, very reminiscent of Punta Cana. Palapas and palm trees provide enough shade. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and even when the resort was full I never had a problem finding a spot. I never had to settle for a spot by the pool because the beach was all taken. The water was calm and clear with snorkelling only a few meters away. The snorkelling was very good so we spent a lot of time in the water. Besides the usual parrot fish, sargent majors and other tropical fish, we spotted giant rays, a lobster, an octopus, barracuda, cuttle fish and one big mother of a grouper ! Only the last two days of our vacation did the water get a bit rough and sea weed was washing to shore. I guess as a result of some storm someplace. The staff were out right away clearing away all the washed up grass and debris. There are 4 pools, the largest being at the back close to where our room was. The pools were hardly every used, so when I took the odd dip, I usually had the pool all to myself. The pool temp’s were warmer than our last two visits to the Mayan coast.
Activities/Entertainment: Well, this being the Mayan Riveria, there are so many attractions here that you really need to visit here more than once !
Since this is our 3rd to this area (my 5th if you include Cancun), we have already visited such popular attractions such as Tulum, Chichen Itza, Coba, Aktun Chen, Xel-Ha, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Having done the group tour thing, we decided that we would do our own touring. This really is the best way to go, usually cheaper and at your own pace; either renting a car or getting a taxi. A small car cost us $50.00 US a day and we were able to go where and when we pleased. So, we purchased tickets to Xcaret from the hotel services desk and went with the rented car. This gave us the flexibility to come back to the hotel, grab a bite, change our clothes and go back for the nite show (which is not to be missed !). Xcaret is about 15-20 min’s by car from the resort.
We also drove to Tulum for shopping (booze, handicrafts, T-shirts,etc). There are also handicraft stalls right on the highway which sell similar ware usually for much less. In front of the Barcelo Maya resort, there is a whole bunch of cenotes, privately operated which you can visit. So for about 5 to 10 bucks a person, you can spend hours swimming and snorkelling in these wonderfully refreshing fresh water sinkholes. We thouroughly enjoyed the one we visited, there were 4 cenotes in all, and you could rent snorkelling equipment if you needed to. We were about the only people there at the time, so we had the cenotes to ourselves.
The other excrusion we did (on foot this time) was the Yal Ku lagoon, which is a couple of miles from Akumal (you can take a cab, as it was rather a long walk). This is another peaceful area great for snorkelling. It is a lagoon of brackish water with lots of fish.
While having the rented car, we also stopped by the Puerto Aventuras area. This is a very pretty marina community with hotels, restaurants, shops and bars and a dolphin enclosure where they do dolphin encounter sessions. It’s a nice place to spend a couple of hours. The Oasis Puerto Aventuras is located here; it has been closed for renovations for about the last couple of months, so we were not able to go spend time there (you can visit other Oasis Hotels for no extra charge).
The resort has a wonderful (albeit small) animation staff. These folks were wonderful, they make you feel like family.
They organized beach volleyball, water polo, snorkelling/walking trips, water aerobics, even sandcastles building ! They are a very helpful bunch whenever you need information or have questions, and they sure saved my hide when I had a close encounter with a black urchin, you can’t even see the poke holes in my leg anymore.
Non motorized water gear was available, such as snorkelling equipment, pedal boats and kayaks. There is also a diving operation right on premises that does all kinds of dives including cave dives, cenote dives, night dives, etc. You can be as active as you wish.
We had a wonderful time at this resort, and I highly recommend it. It can be a tough decision on which resort to choose in this area, as the Mayan Riviera has just blossomed in the last 5 years or so. We were told that about 10 years ago there were some 10 hotels here, and now there are 42. So why choose the Oasis Akumal ? If you are looking for a very casual, laid-back, small, intimate, ocean front place with great beach and water, where you will feel like family with staff and other clients, then this is the place for you. I’d be happy to answer any questions, email me at: email@example.com