Old Reviews – Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret

  Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret   Paul ~ Calgary, Alberta

August 2009

Arrival: August 01, 2009 to August 8th, 2009
The overall building is Grande and impressive throughout and the grounds are curiously interesting to adventure. This is where all the great goes to bad…the staff don’t really care that you’ve committed you hard-earned money and your only vacation time to spend on this resort. They kind-of give the impression like "you think your better than us" feeling!! My wife and I travelled with my seven year son and thirteen year old daughter and hoped that we would experience everything we anticipated prior to arriving. To my great disappointment, this resort hotel didn’t fulfill our expectations and I would never send anyone to stay at this resort…I would suggest they go visit the park instead.

Rooms: The rooms were musky smelling, air-conditioned but humid and the bed are extremely uncomfortable with awful pillow…I had to request a new pillow because the one had this rotting smell that stunk badly. We tipped the maid 2$ every morning to make sure we’d come back to the room in good order and a fridge with refreshments. The shower is really nice and powerful but water was always getting everywhere.

Restaurants and Bars: The daily buffet was sub-par, alot of mish-mash foods that looked like yesterdays left-overs! We ate alot of fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner! One morning we ordered an omelette with cheese and to our disappointment, the cheese was something other than what we expected…don’t ask for cheese next time. The dinner services needed to be booked in advance, the one evening after a ridculously hot day, our dinner at the seafood restaurant was pre-booked and upon arrival I learned from the waiter that my 200$ BOSS walking shorts was not appropriate wear and they wouldn’t leave us in until I changed into long pants (luckily I had brought a pair of jeans) but our rooms were back in the #18 block and that would of taken me 30 minutes to go there and back…but the next couple in-line with a AC/DC black tea-shirt and ripped jeans got seated! We just walked away embarrased. The drinks in the bar is watered down and only serve draft corona beer…watered-watered down. I was at the swim-bar and the mexican waiter played like he didn’t hear us calling him. We had met a nice couple from South Carolina and they tried getting his attention and he eventually showed up then played like he didn’t understand english…what’s up with that. All we wanted was a drink to cool-off from the blistering heat…really ignorant.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: The man-made beach is a small little cove which is too small when busy and unfortunately this place has ‘no beach’ to walk along for those early morning or evening strolls. The grounds are located in a jungle yet zoo like atmosphere and you have to walk and walk and walk everywhere’s to get anywhere’s. Yes this is shuttle bus but only ‘one’ and if you miss it you need to wait a half-hour or walk. The pools were good and our kids really enjoyed them.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: The ‘Vegas’ style shows were awful and really loud…like they wanted to give people the impression that this is where the parties at!!…not! They had this children’s hour on this stage and the one lady looked like this was the last place on earth that she wanted to be at… and that she didn’t like children…really weird and disappointing. We decided to leave the resort to find a real beach on the ocean and went to Playa to find one…this was great! We hired a local taxi man to give us a tour around for a full day…and he brought us to the coolest places such as Akumal to swim with turtles.

Other Comments: On our last day – check out was noon and our flight out was 10pm – we and many other tried to extend our check-out and the reception desk didn’t accomodate any of the many Canadians stuck there! They couldn’t give a ‘sxxx’ – and couldn’t really go anywhere’s because we had luggage and needed a place to shower up if we went swimming…nothing. In closing, I would never go back nor would I offer a positive review of the resort..sucks for Occidental because I’ll go to another resort before ever going back to this one. I think the management of this resort is really clueless how my experience as well as the other disappointed Canadians staying there will never go back. In Canada, re-occuring business is the most profitable business model…these mexicans don’t get it…

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  Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret   Carolin ~ New Brunswick

We arrived around noon, the room was not ready so we were instructed to get lunch and return, small line, not much of a wait

very clean, smell a little musty till we opened the windows , great shower,

Restaurants and Bars
mostly ate at the buffet, it was great lots of variety

loved the man made beach, very safe for kids and me (since I don’t swim so well) and deep enough , lots of fish , we went to the pools a few times, there were lots of them, plenty of lounge chairs

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
we went to the Jewellery Factory, a little expensive for us, went to Xcaret Park, it is not to be missed, I do not like shows as a rule, but I loved this one, and the park itself , wonderful

Other Comments Don’t miss the park, do the underground snorkelling in the morning, we did, and were virtually alone in the caverns, be prepared to do a lot of walking, I was exhausted by the end of the day.

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  Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret   Karen ~ New Brunswick, Canada

January 2009

Arrival: November 20–November 27, 2008
The bus ride was about one hour. The hotel lobby is beautiful. Check in was no problem. Most of them did not speak very good english but if you were patient they seemed to sort out what you were saying.

We had the standard room. It was very nice. Next time i would stay in the Royal Club as they seemed to have international liquor and you could eat at a private restaurant that over looked the beach.We tipped the maid 2 US each day and left a note asking for water and beer. Every day it was restocked!

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet s were very good! I have been to 4 other 4star resorts and I must say the food here was the best yet! The oriental was fabulous!! They even gave each of us an extra appetizer etc.the steakhouse was awesome! All our steaks were cooked as we ordered and were very good!We loved the pool bar as well as the Sports Bar.The lobby bar is far away from the Lobby and was not as good! The disco was so so. It was empty every night we went.Just as a footnote. i was with 5 other girls and we all found the drinks really watered down.This is probably a good thing but if i were to go again I would have paid the 12 US for a large bottle of Kahlua(in Town) and had a real drink for the evening.

The pools are very nice! We went to the beach once and it was small but nice. We tipped the waitress lots ( 2 per drink) Shh kept the drinks coming!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We went to the jewellery store. The bus picks you up. (Lapis) this is very high end but once you let the men working there know what you plan on spending they will show you the least expensive items. I bought a few chains around 40 to 50 US each. They are thin but very high quality.We did the Xcarat and our friends swam with the dolphins. They had fun. I did it in Cuba and it seemed to be a little better in Cuba.

Other Comments: All in all it was a really nice resort. We are taking the kids to Grand Palladium in the spring as I did not see alot of things for my teens to do. I like the resorts that have an area with pool tables etc. so the kids have the chance to meet other teens. We did not see any bugs while we were there.The best thing about this resort would have to be the food. The staff were also very friendly.

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  Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret   Karin ~ USA

July 2008

My wife and I spent a week here in mid-July 2008. We were very happily surprised that it was even more than we had hoped for. Service was wonderful, friendly, and efficient. People everywhere were eager to help with directions or service. We tipped but not elaborately. Ate in two restaurants, the steak house and the beach for seafood. The steakhouse was nothing special but the seafood was great with a wonderful view and refreshing sea breeze. Ate in the buffet several times, food was always good. Vegetarian wife was totally satisfied and I loved the variety. The grounds were beautiful. We were asked about the inevitable timeshare but we turned it down and the same people were friendly and helpful every day.

Several times we were passing through the amazing open air lobby and came upon really photogenic local cultural events and entertainment. The management has obviously been upgraded to very guest friendly compared to other reviews I read. The real advantage to this resort is the free day pass and easy access to the Xcaret park next door. My wife swam with the dolphins and we saw a lot of fascinating cultural activities. A easy short trip to Tolum was interesting but by mid morning very crowed and super hot. The photos with locals in Mayan costume in the parking lot was a great souvenir and a lot of fun. I don’t know how they do it but I received less mosquito problems during our stay than one evening in my own yard. Flew down with a charter package flight that a cattle car but a change of schedule put us on Aero Mexical for a wonderful flight back with a meal, free drinks, and a new aircraft!

July in southern Mexico is hot, even at the beach. Bring plenty of sunscreen and changes of clothes. We loved the small intimate lagoon, the large grounds and the park spread out the guests so it never seemed crowed. I snorkeled and enjoyed myself, my wife really enjoyed the service. A great experience

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  Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret   Jill ~ Minneapolis, Minnesota

April 2008

Arrival and Flight: The flight was great and arrival into Cancun was seamless. Remember to leave the paper stub from immigration in your passport as you will need it when you depart. I made the mistake of removing it on my last trip to Mexico and went into a panic when I thought I had tossed it.

Rooms: I had to move from Building 14 as the room was musty and moldy and my asthma kicked in. The beds and pillows are rock hard and the bedding needs to be updated. The television is very small but I didn’t have much time to watch TV anyway. The rooms are painted a bright orange and need a fresh coat of paint. Bathroom was clean. Bring your own soap, shampoo, and body wash – theirs has a very bad smell. There is no lotion available in the bathroom either but otherwise a nice set of amenities (razor, toothbrush, shoe shine sponge, comb, sewing kit, etc.). The ironing board is a small portable one – found it was just as easy to wear wrinkled clothing. Towels are nice and big.

Restaurants: I ate at the buffet for most meals and it was nothing great. If you are there more than two days, you will find yourself wanting to escape to Playa del Carmen for a change of pace. Service is okay, too many kids for my taste. I went to the Sonora Grill twice. Again, the food is nothing great and two days was plenty. The menu is very, very limited. Salad bar and dessert bar were a nice touch.

Bars: Just okay.

Beach and Pools: I personally like the lagoon though some would miss the long walks down the beach. Grab a hammock on the Beach Club deck for a great snooze in the ocean breeze.

Grounds: Very well maintained. Dark at night though so watch out for the speed bumps.

Activities and Entertainment: I didn’t participate so I can’t give an opinion here.

Tours: We booked all of ours through CEO Mexico. Great company – highly recommended!

Conclusion: I am a corporate meeting planner and had a group of 74 people there April 4-7, 2008 for a customer reward trip. One word describes it: nightmare. The resort has the infrastructure and an incredible setting. I’m sure it’s fine for the bargain traveler who isn’t expecting much, but for groups, forget it. The service at the front desk, concierge, bell stand, and guest services is terrible. I thought I would crack if I heard one more "no problem", or "I’ll be right back". No problem really means "you have a problem and I don’t care", and "I’ll be right back" means "you will never see me again". If I needed something, I would have to ask at least a dozen times, and then wait to see if anyone would follow through. Dirty dishes were left on a table by our registration desk overnight. Beverages were not replenished. I didn’t like that my attendees were being harassed and treated rudely if they declined the timeshare tour. If this resort wants to attract groups it is going to have to have a complete overhaul of management, put some policies and procedures in place, and some intense staff training. I will never return with a group and I would never recommend this resort to others.

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  Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret   Ted ~ Canada

December 2007

We are a couple – 29 & 30 years old, and stayed at the resort week of 16-22nd December 2007. Booked about 1.5 months before departure, the least expensive package for this resort, via Air Canada Vacations.

Past vacation travels have taken us to Cuba, Jamaica and Bahamas.

Traveled Air Canada Vacations from Montreal. Arrival at Cancun was uneventful. Cancun airport is like most other Caribbean airports busy, but most savvy travelers should find no trouble navigating the maze. In under 30 min. from arrival we were on a minibus heading to the resort. Travel time to resort was about 1 hour as we stopped to drop off people to other resorts.

Upon arrival we were greeted by very friendly staff, bell boy took our luggage and delivered it directly to our room while we were offered a choice of freshly squeezed juices. Check in staff was great (definitely did not experience the grumpy welcome mentioned by last reviewer).

Had a great room overlooking one of the pools. Very spacious and welcoming with marble floors. Bathroom was all marble/granite. Nice balcony with 2 chairs and table. Mini fridge had water, soft drinks and beer (was restocked daily). Tv/cable was equipped (like nowdays most NA hotels) with computer style keyboard and could check for free weather or other resort amenities or browse the Interned via the TV for a charge (7us/day or 20us/wk). AC, water pressure/temperature were at par with any 5 star NA hotel.

Went to all the a la carte restaurants except the oriental – instead we chose to repeat the seafood. Food quality, presentation and service were positively rivaling any respected NA restaurant and we deemed were the norm. For those who disagree, I think you simply pick on the impossible, or like a couple we met – did not like seafood and all they could find at the Italian restaurant was the lasagna!?!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet was also full of choice, variety and service was at par.

Many to choose from, variety of local and imported alcohol (ex. always has a choice of Bourbon’s as well as Scotch). Bars do get crowded, but then who wants to go to an empty bar :), I have not waited longer then 1 min to get served. Yup 1 min. not more.

At the beach there was always a waiter bringing drinks to the lounge chairs for those who had already one toooo many or tooooo much sun… naa that can’t be possible hah:))

Pools seemed great however didn’t even get our feet wet there, I have a pool back home. I go south for the ocean sand and sun, not the chlorine.

Well beach is a man made little bay. It does get crowded but so do most beaches. There is no long walks on the beach here, because….. its just 5 min long. Swimming in the bay is fun however, water is clean, shallow and there is plenty of fish to see. Swimming outside of this bay is not permitted as 1. the coastline in that area is all rocks, so its pretty dangerous.. waves+rocks you get the idea. 2. Currents are strong ~5 knots along the shore line.

Just to say again, that the enclosed man made bay is big enough, as well as protected and there is stuff to explore, so I find its actually safer and funner for kids and most adults then a regular stretch of beach.

That said however, for the more adventurer types, there is an area directly in the ocean, right in front of the seafood restaurant "supervised" by the life guard, where only if you have snorkeling equipment/feet protection, you can navigate b/n the rocks and get in the water for some snorkeling. The life guard will not allow you to swim there if you don’t have feet protection as you can cut your feet on the rocks or coral.

If you plan on snorkeling, bring your own equipment as the resort ONLY has masks. No fins, NO snorkel.

Big resort, very well maintained, has a few enclosed areas with animals, like flamingos, monkeys and deer. We walked every where and we were never more then 5-10 min walking from beach, lobby, restaurants. Otherwise there is an elongated golf cart contraptions that go around the resort and will give you a ride to anywhere. That’s what they are there for, so if you don’t feel like walking stay still for 2 min and one will pass by to give you a ride.

What I liked, is that the resort has the animals to be visited as well as a small shopping village, so if the weather turns crappy you have options.

Real activities, not like most other resorts. So tennis is tennis, with the training sessions and little tournaments; same with beach volleyball, archery (fun, fun), bb gun/rifle, ping pong, etc… also all your pool activities, aerobics, yoga etc. And I found that lots of people participate so the activities are not cheesy, and are lots of fun.

The X-caret park located next door to the resort is a natural park exhibiting Mexican wildlife, fauna, culture. Most all-inclusive packages to the resort include a 1 day pass to the x-caret park with multiple re-entry for that day so returning for food is easy. Visitors to the park from the resort have a specially build entrance so you don’t leave the resort or require any transportation to enter the x-caret park.

Here is how we visited the park. If you want to see most of the park then planning is key. We entered the park around 9am after a good breakfast at the resort.
Spent the morning following the provided map visiting the sites that did not require swimming ie. the under water rivers. Then came back to the resort for lunch and a change to bathing suits ~1pm. Following which we spent the afternoon swimming in the x-caret’s underwater rivers and snorkeling at their beach (same idea as the resort’s beach). Around 4pm we came back to resort to shower/change again, grab a quick bite and be back for the 6pm show at the x-caret park.

The X-caret’s 6-8pm show is in a large semi-open auditorium style setting that showcases some Maya history as well as post Hispanic Mexican music/dance.
What a great way to finish a long day!! After the show you can hurry back to the resort to catch the dinner buffet before it closes at 9pm. Otherwise tours to visit the Mayan ruins at Coba and Chichen-Itza are available as well as all the Jeep/ATV/Catamaran snorkeling type variety tours. Also scuba diving is available at the resort/or X-caret park. Some people also visited Playa del Carmen by taxi (12us each way) for some shopping and a long beach if you desire. We did not do any of the above tours as we felt that visiting the X-caret park was enough.

We really liked the resort, great everything. Holds its 4-5 star rating quite well and well deserved. I have never heard so many times staff members say "its a pleasure to serve you"!

Would be happy to return to this resort and will recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different from the standard all-inclusive scene.

Last note on TIPPING. Met a Canadian fellow that put me to shame. Boasted how great the service is and remains great whether he tips or not, so he had stopped tipping!!

Please, all of you that read this: people working at the resort make very little money and mostly work for tips; don’t skimp on the tips; if you spent an extra $50 in tips for the week, it won’t burn a whole in your pocket but will go a long way in theirs. Tip not only your waiters at the restaurants but also the buffet waiters as well as bartenders. And in the meantime give a dollar to a grounds keeper as well.

Providing great service is a Mayan tradition – don’t abuse it!

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret David, Cathy, Rachel, & Michelle ~ Toronto Canada

July 2007

Just stayed at the Grand Occidental Flamingo XCaret from June 16 – 23rd.

Was afraid of the rainy season, as it had rained 6 days in a row just prior to this week. Checked CNN & Yahoo & Weather network and it said rain/thunderstorm/showers with 60% chance of POP. We’ll I had 7 days of pure sun and 32 degrees weather with 80% humidity. Couldn’t ask for more!!!!

Here’s a quick BACKGROUND of some of the resorts I’ve been to so you can judge where I’m coming from.

Bahia Principe – Punta Cana DR (nice new resort, great beach but only ok food), Riu Tropical Bay, Negril, Jamaica (good food/best beach); Grand Playdium Kentanah, Mayan Riveria (posh place and good food and beach, deep pool); Iberostar Domincaus Hacienda La Romana DR (posh place good food); Casa Del Mar, La Romana (bad food/service, good snorkeling/beach), Brias Guadalvauca, Holguin Cuba (awful food, good beach), Coral Hamaca, Boca Chica DR (avg food, nice shallow beach), Rancha Luna Ceinfuiegos Cuba (rather not talk about it).

Top picks for service would be Iberostar & Playdium, best beach Riu Tropical Bay; best food would be Riu/Iberostar/Playdium.




  • Great variety of pools – large size and lots of shallow areas for kids

  • Free pass to X Caret Park – worth $70 US each

  • Pool and Beach waiting service for drinks

  • Lots of fish to look at and feed on beach – just bring bread/banana/cereal

  • Ease to get loungers – will vary with when you go

  • Amazing grounds – with Mayan ruins, ecological mangrove/swamp/jungle with lots of iguana, lizard, butterflies , zerbre (pig like animal) wandering around

  • Nice swing floating bed by the beach

  • Floats and Rafts at pools

  • Good liquor – Ice cold Corona on tap served in large mugs in buffet. Premium liquor also – congac too!!! Fresh popcorn avail at bars.

  • Nice Hammock section by beach buffet. Great breezy place to chill and look out to the ocean esp after breakfast/lunch.

  • Entertainment – Although it was lipsic the dancing was great – superior to other resorts. Even props/costume were nice.

  • Beautiful architecture of old village style with canals in main shopping area

  • Amazing fish filet at buffet (grouper/snapper/salmon etc.). Fresh and perfectly cooked. Also very tender and tender flank steak at buffet

  • Best Air conditioner in room (no card required) and stays cool all night

  • Good frozen/hard ice cream. – usually melted in other resort. Best flavour was mango, lime, chocolate chip Favorite appetizer – seafood salsa, Peruvian fish salad

  • Good variety of breads – good European style

  • Sports bar with pool table & darts and nice cold air conditioning.


  • Beach can get crowded especially right in front of the beach as it’s narrow

  • Dinner buffet was soo soo. More choice at the lunch buffet ironically

  • Not enough bartenders at beach bar

  • Grumpy front desk people

  • Fair A la carte restaurants – buffet often better. Service was hit or miss there too. Felt like at buffet as appetizer was buffet style and so was dessert (except seafood a la carte

  • Some foods that were not at par were Ribs (very dried out both at buffet & a la cartes), pastas at buffet – it’s not a made to order one. Only pesto one was good other type not too exciting


Got a great deal with Air Canada Vacation. Usually they charge premium compared to other tour operators but it was a lot cheaper. Esp kids paid next to nothing but taxes. This saved a thousand for 2 kids. With A/C the seats were comfy and the entertainment system on new airbus was great. Flight was 3 ½ hr. Arrived at terminal 2 in Cancun. Not as chaotic as other terminal.

Easy transfer to hotel after ignoring all the time share/taxi people inside the terminal trying to pretend to be your transporter. You must go outside the terminal to get your rep from any tour operator. Anyone before that have alternative motives. Mini van whisked us away quickly (small group) to the resort. 45 min later we were there. Note: the hotel is far from the highway. Most resorts you can walk to the highway to catch collectivos if need be but the resort is nestled about 2 km in.

Check In:
Arrived at 1:15pm and went to the front desk greeted by grumpy unfriendly staff. This is the only place where all were grumpy. We were told our room was not ready for 3pm. I had emailed the resort 2 times 1 week before requesting certain building along with other requests. They completely ignored everything and gave us the crappiest room (bldg 11 – attached to lobby). Other resorts I’ve been to tried, here they do the total opposite and give you the worse. I demanded a better location and she said she’d see what she could do. Grabbed lunch at the buffet then came back at 3:30 and room still not ready!!! Hint wear bathing suit underneath so you can jump into the pool right away.

Finally got the build we wanted. Building 20which was next to the big pool and midway to the beach. Great location. Had room 20205 overlooking a smaller pool & canal. Rooms were nice with granite and glass shower. No moisturizer. Good water pressure and extremely good air conditioner. This is the only resort that doesn’t try to shut off the AC in the middle of the night. Other resorts shut down the AC at about 2am and make you sleep in vent mode until you wake up – soaked with sweat in a stuffy damp room. The bed is nice and hard. I liked it others may not. The bed felt a bit damp after one night I realized that if I took off the plastic cover on the mattress the bed breathed better. The room had a safe – free and programmable (but must reset each time you open it). Mini bar had small bottle water & soft drinks and beer. Stocked daily. You just request and you get esp if you leave the tip near the request.

To me food is one of the main criteria’s of a good resort esp since you eat 21 + meals there for a 7 day stay. The food I would have to say was ok, good but not amazing. As I mentioned the lunch buffet was generally better than the dinner themes. Seem to be more meats at lunch. With Buffet 101 always wait for fresh food to come if there is not much in the trays. They are very good and quick on refilling so this works at this resort. When things came directly off the grill it was very good. Most things were not over cooked. This is one good thing about the resort. My favorites at the buffet were the fish filets (snapper/grouper/sole/salmon). Fresh and perfectly cooked. Also good was the chicken breast and flank steak (both very tender). The sirloin steak was kinda tough for me. Loved of course the guacamole with fresh nacho chips. There was very little shellfish to eat at this resort (no giant prawns only the odd tiny shrimp/no smoke salmon either). For appetizers was the good cold seafood salad. There were some good desserts. Not a huge variety but pretty good quality (more on the European tastebuds). Ice cream was nice and frozen and yummy esp Mango and Chocolate Chip.

Beer at the buffet was ice cold – corona with lime and in a nice 20 oz mug. This was nice. Wine was drinkable but not great. Other resorts usually have undrinkable house wines.

As for breakfast, it was you basic resort spread. Very consistent with other resorts as you really can’t go wrong here. Choices of fruit juices/smoothies, hash browns, bacon, omelette, tamales, bagels, good baguette and some sweet Mexican buns, cold cut (no dry cured ham though –procsuttio). Quesadias, veggies and variety of yogurt and cereals. As for fruit it was primary papaya, watermelon, cantelope, grapefruit, bananas, plums, etc….

Main Buffet Themes:

Sat – Italian (nothing exciting – didn’t seem too Italian to me) Sun – Chef Special Mon. – French (didn’t seem too French. Only had some wine sauce stews Tue – Mexican Wed – Oriental Thur – ????

Fri – Seafood

I choose my a la cartes based on the themes I wanted to miss. You get 4 a la carte for a 7 days stay. I’d say compared to other resorts I’ve been to, the a la carte and not as good at this resort as others. The food is no better than the buffet. Appetizer & dessert was typically buffet style and pretty much the same as the buffets. So it’s only really getting a few more choices on the entrée and the fact of being served. My luck was not the best. Had very slow service and even forgotten at 2 out of the 4 restaurants.

Ok but same as buffet except entrée. Had filet mignon. It was a good size and tender. Prob best on the menu. Daughter had bbq rib and it was very dry – not recommended. Guess they need to stew and boil the ribs better. Kids menu is the same for all restaurants. I’d recommend the flank steak for kids. Tasty and tender (but avail at buffet usually).

My youngest daughter celebrated her 3rd birthday there and we requested a cake. They put a slab of cake on a plate and wrote happy birthday on the plate with candles and 3 balloons. That was nice but waiter just dropped it off and left. Not that I wanted commotion but most places would at least gather a few waiters and sing a song. Oh well.

Cream of pumpkin was good until it had the bitter aftertaste. Appetizer bar was like stuff at buffet (where the real antipastos??). I had veal, which was not bad. Others had the linguini with Portobello & truffles. Sounded good but needed more sauce and a little less salty. Also had shrimp and steak – not too exciting. Dessert was reg. dessert buffet. Fair tiramisu. Instant machine made cappuccinos (unlike some resorts that would make it from scratch.

Nice atmosphere but couldn’t believe they wanted to stick us inside in the worst seat despite being empty. Demanded to sit outside by the side. Leek soup was ok. Peruvian seafood salad was nice – served in cabbage plate. Salmon wrapped in bacon seemed the best. Surf and turf was steak and 3 mid size shrimps. Nothing exciting. Dessert was pretty running and sad crème brulee. I was disappointed with this as it was not good. They didn’t even brown the top.

Worst service we had as we never had our plates ever taken. The appetizer buffet was good but nothing diff from buffet. Main I had chicken fajita and one beef fajita. Nothing exciting. Small order. Also had a note shrimp & steak. Ok but nothing exciting. Dessert was same buffet style dessert.

10 for the number/size and variety of pool at this resort. Guess they had to make up for the lack of beach. Lots of shallow areas for kids and integrated Jacuzzis within the pools. Some canals joining various pools. Only one has a swim up bar but there is pool service if you are too lazy to get off your butt. You can bring your lounge chairs into the pool where there are inclines. I liked the quieter one near our room rather than the large one. But did try them all. The water was warm and clean.

You have been warned about this from the beginning so forget those long strolls along beach. They did the best with what they had. The cove is a manmade inlet with sandy white sand and clear water. Very little seashells. No waves but nice warm clear ocean water. Tons of fish. Schools of blue tangs, palmas, snapper, pipefish and other. Bring bread/cereal or banana to feed them. You will be surrounded by them jumping for the food. They literally will almost eat from you hand. Ingenious tiered layout to the beach. First level was lounges. Second had lounges & hammocks & a few swinging beds (very chic – with curtains). Third tier was lot of beds to lie around.

Note the beach bar does get busy. Often only with one bartender.


Best part of staying at this resort is the free tickets to the park. You must get tickets the day of or day before from the X caret office in the lobby. It’s a 5 min walk to the park side entrance. Make sure you go early. This is good to avoid crowds in the underground river and the blistering heat. Went to the underground river with my 3 yr old and 5 yr old daughters. Initial a little concerned if they would be able to do it. But it turned out the 3 yr old loved it. You get a large bag to but all your belonging in and this will be given to you at the end. I wrapped my camera in there, as I didn’t want to walk back to get the camera. The bag is locked so it’s ok, just pad it well. Go to the river on the right side (natural). It’s much better and is where everyone goes. The water is cool. If you have your own flipper it helps you move faster and float.

Beach had lots of hammock. Snorkeling area, swim with dolphin area. The park was too hot and huge. Even just to get to the butterfly area took a good 15-20 min walk thru the scorching heat. Inside the pavilion was a waterfall and free flying butterfly. Very nice but I don’t think it was butterfly season as not too many. Saw the village and then the cemetery. Struggled to the rest of the park as too hot. Did finally get to the nice Air Conditioned aquarium, which was nice, both internally and to cool off. Back to the stifling hot and saw the massive sea turtle. There was dozens of 10 ft turtle. Couldn’t wait to get back to the resort after 2-3 hrs. Walked back and got ice-cold beers to guzzle down at the buffet and drank it within a minute. Ahhhhhh. Wanted just to hang out there all day with the nice A/C. Went back to the pool and relaxed in nice pool. You could either have an early dinner or alternative wait till after the show. Got stuck at the end but still ok seats. If you get there early you can take pictures with all show people from the front entrance leading to the theatre. HINT: bring a portable battery operated fan. It’s hot in the theatre. The show started at 7pm and went thru the history of the Mayan civilization right up to the current society. Very entertainment. Little long sometime esp for kids. 2 hrs long with intermission. At they end you run back to the resort and catch the buffet for dinner if you didn’t eat before.

At the resort they wanted $90 US for 2 tank dive. I checked out Playa the day before and arranged a 2 tank dive for $55 including equip at beach divers near the ferry plaza. Problem was the transportation cost. The resort is set in 2km from the highway so it’s not as easy as other resort along the Riveria to catch a collectivo to do excursion get into town. At $10 each way by cab it wouldn’t be worth it. I had an ingenious idea. A cab may take you to the highway from the lobby for about $3. Then you take a collectivo for $2US. Saving $15. I couldn’t get the cab but did manage to hitch a ride from a worker on his motorbike the highway. Even better. So it only cost me $2 to get into town. On my way back took a $2 collectivo but couldn’t manage to hitch a ride back from the highway. Ended up walking in the heat for 20 min. Still spent $55+2+2 vs $90.

Did 2 drift dives – almost back to resort from Playa. Could see X Caret.

Tagl Reef – not a lot of coral but amazing sea turtle. Giant and spotted about 10 during the dive. There were morays and the best was a school of 20 giant tarpon fish (15 ft each). This was a deeper dive at about 80ft.

Baraccuda Reef – Nice shallow dive approx 45 ft. Very good marine life and coral. Saw more turtles, rays, stone fish, giant green moray, crabs, tons of grunts, snappers, squid, trigger, etc…..

PLAYA De Carmen
Nice souvenir shopping. $10 US cab ride to town. The town has changed with new plaza with chic trendy shops since the last time I was there 4 years ago. Starbuck, Hagen Daz, Diesel, Harley, etc…..Kaulua for $10 US 1 litre. Tequila about $12US, T shirt – better quality will be about $11 US and Cap for about $10-15US. It’s scotching hot again. Best is to visit in evening when bars come alive and the sun is gone.


Food: 7

Drinks 8

Rooms 8

Pools 10

Beach 6

Facilities 8

Service 7

Value 9

Recommended if you get a good price. If it’s the same price then go for an Iberostar/Playdium or Riu with better food and beach.

If you have any questions, you can email me at namabeer@hotmail.com

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Michelle & Jim ~ New Brunswick

May 2007

Hi !

We spent a wonderful week at the Grand Occidental Xcaret in the Mayan Riviera ( April 17-24) . The resort is absolutely beautiful and the weather was fantastic ! In general we were very pleased with the resort with just a few minor exceptions. Everywhere on the property was very clean. We were in building 19, directly beside the ‘activity pool ‘, on the third floor. The rooms was spacious and since we were in the back, we looked out on the jungle from the balcony. We ate at the buffet most evenings as we made friends with a waiter and he became our ‘ regular’. The service was top notch ! We found the food and the service better at the buffets than at the a la carte restaurants. There was plenty of variety at every meal. We particularly enjoyed having breakfast and late lunches at the beach club, overlooking the water.

The beach is man-made and I actually preferred it. The water was very clear and you could easily see the sand below and lots of fish. There were a few days where the red flag was up and if we had been directly on the coast, we couldn’t have gone in the water. The waitresses are very attentive at refreshing your drinks, both at the beach and the pools. Because of the size of the resort, I guess, it never seemed crowded anywhere and there were lots of places to sit,etc.

We were very satisfied with the evening entertainment and also with the day we spent at Xcaret park. It is a wonderful place !

I will mention the negatives just for interest sake. We would not choose to go to such a large resort again because we spent alot of time trying to find our way around, despite our map and the several ‘ you are here ‘ maps’ all over the place. We seemed to get lost every day ! We got roped into a time-share presentation for a vacation club. I knew what it was but I didn’t know how to refuse without offending our concierge, which I thought was important. It took 2 1/2 hours of our precious vacation time, longer than the 90 minutes that they say. We finally had to be firm and there wasn’t much pressure, which was good. We were given $40 USD to spend at the gift shop for our time.

Other than these things, we had a great vacation. I love Mexico,,,,the people, language, music, food, etc. Can’t wait to return !

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Carol Ann ~ Ontario

March 2007

We stayed at this resort from Mar 3 – 10. 3 couples in our 40’s and 50’s. This was the 3rd time at this resort for my husband and I and our other friends 1st time. We all loved it. The weather wasn’t the best but we still had a great time.

The food was excellent. Buffets were good and had a good variety. We visited only 2 of the a la cartes – the Seafood and the Steak and both were very good. Excellent fillet mignon at the steak and awesome creme brulee at the seafood. I gained 4 lbs this week.

We really like the cove to swim in because the water is nice and calm even when its rough out in the ocean. There are tons of fish to see and you can feed them bananas and bread. They practically bubble out of the water to get it sometimes. On the second to last day the lifeguard took the guys out in the cove beside the adult pool (between the resort and xcaret park) he showed us where to snorkel and dove down and got us a star fish to hold and take pictures of. He called the spot just out from the front of the resort barracuda reef. We all got up early on our last morning and went out to snorkel there. Our friends had taken a snorkelling trip a few days before and said they saw more fish than they did on their paid trip. A huge sea turtle swam under us and we also saw a small barracuda. We wished we had known to go here earlier in the week. I guess they don’t advertise this because its a protected area and they would have to get special permits if they did. The lifeguard just asked us to sign a book saying they would not be responsible and let us go out.

All very nice. Tried a different pool each day.

The free pass to the park next door is a great bonus. We have been there a few times and find it hard to see all of the park in one day. We all really enjoyed the float down the underground river. There are 2 sides to it. One side is more natural and has many caves. The other side is man made. Less caves but the caves that are on this side seem longer and darker. The show is long but is still excellent.

We stayed in Bld 12 at the front of the resort which I thought I wouldn’t like. The 1st trip we were in bld 20 (next to the swim up bar). 2nd trip we were in bld 15 (next to the quiet pool). However building 12 ended up working out great. We had a bit of rain so it was nice not to go out in the rain to get to dinner or the show at night. Rooms were a little musty at first but we left our door open for a while and it seemed better after that. I guess this can’t be helped with the humidity.

We went on the Coba, Mayan Village Tour on Thursday. Went to a Mayan Village, hiked through the jungle, went down a zip line, repelled down a cliff, canoed across a lake and then had an authentic Mayan lunch at the village. After that we went to a Cenote to swim (an underground cave filled with fresh water). Then to Coba to see the ruins and climb the highest pyramid in the Yucatan. The girls went to Playa del Carmen for the afternoon one day to get our souvenirs. The guys went deep sea fishing for the morning $375 US and caught nothing. Also beware – they booked at the booth down by the beach and were told that beer and snacks were included. They were not and they had to buy there own as well as pay for the taxi to get there. Its true what they say – always book through your tour rep at the resort and you will get what you pay for.

Overall We really like this resort. The food is great, the rooms are clean, the resort grounds are beautiful. We always said we wouldn’t go to the same resort twice but this resort just seems to have everything we are looking for.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Janice ~ Ontario, Canada

January 2007

We almost overlooked this resort because of the dug out beach, opposed to how the beaches normally are. Our travel agent had been here before and suggested it, and we were not disappointed!

It was one of the most beautiful resorts we had been to. The pools were amazing! You never had to hunt for a lounge chair, there were plenty, the food was awesome, the rooms were very clean and nice.

The bonus to this place is that you get a one day free pass to the Xcaret Eco Park next door. You can come and go as you please. We got our passes the night before (to avoid the line up), and were at the gate at 8:30 am. If you want to do the Underground River, and yes, do it, do it first. We were the first ones in and had the place to ourselves. No one else came through for 20 minutes. When we walked past at 11:00 am, there was a huge line up. You can put all your stuff in a locked bag, you get the key, and the people deliver it at the end of the river. We walked the park, went back to the resort at 1:00 to have lunch, laid by the pool for awhile, then showered and went back to the park for the night show. Since I don’t speak a word of Spanish, some things I didn’t understand, but it was still fantastic! The park was great, but I’m not sure I’d want to be there ALL day.

We went to Playa Del Carmen one day, did 5th Ave. The prices were high, but you could bargain with them. I bought a mexican blanket, which originally he wanted $35 US for and I ended up paying $20. We walked a few blocks in and went to a grocery store. Much cheaper. My husband bought a big bottle of Vodka for $8.00 US, opposed to $40 on 5th Ave. But don’t take them a Travellers Cheque, it really confuses them. Take cash.

We had beautiful weather everyday, except one day of rain. 79 to 85 degrees F.

It was a fantastic trip! We loved it there!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret T.N ~ Toronto, Canada

January 2007

We just returned from our wedding/ honeymoon from the Mayan Riveira Mexico. We left Jan. 6/07 and returned Jan. 20th.

The first week, we had a group come down for the wedding and stayed at Occidental Grand Xcaret.

The resort is pretty big, not the best for people who have trouble walking around, however they did have a little train going around which was great. The food was fabulous, everyone enjoyed it and there was always plenty of variety. The buffet would change their "theme" every night to one of the a la carte restaurant menus: seafood, mexican, oriental etc. My only complaint about the a la carte restaurants were that you had to make your reservations to get in and ofcourse they would be booked up. We tried to book the same day we arrived and had difficulty getting into all of them, especially the seafood. I was really upset, especially as this was for our wedding.

The rooms were great, I must say the showers always had hot water, great water pressure and were very clean. They come with shampoo and body wash mounted on the walls, so you don’t need to bring any from home… however they don’t have conditioner.

We stayed in building 19 which is located right by the pool. It was perfect for us.

The pool was very large, perfect temperature to cool off, but not frigid and was very clean. The waitresses were very good about coming around to serve drinks in the afternoon. The entertainment team was very good, because they would ask to include you, but would not continue to bug you if you weren’t interested in their games or events.

There is a little man made beach which is nice as an option, but not if you are interested in taking long walks. It is usually pretty busy. The water is warm and there are plenty of fish to see.

The wedding: We got married at 5pm. I would suggest getting married between 3-4 as the sun went down at 5:20pm and it was very dark for photos. It didn’t help that there were dark clouds that day, however I wish we had it at 4pm for more light. We got married out in the gazebo by the coast and they set up white covered chairs for your guests. We had 32 in total and they accomodated us no problem. It is very very windy down there most of the time, so be prepared for that. Otherwise, the ceremony was perfect. 20 min. in length and they translated into english for us. Immediately after we had champagne to toast for everyone, which was a nice touch. We had dinner reservations at the Mexican restaurant. Initially I wanted the seafood restaurant, but they had a conference booked there and we couldn’t go. I was disappointed, however the Mexican restaurant was great. We had a corner to ourselves that they decorated for us and it was very good food. Our wedding cake was heart shaped and very cute. There was enough for all of our guests. The flowers were absolutely beautiful. I was thinking that I would have to have tropical flowers, but when they showed me the book to choose from, they had roses and lillies and anything that you wanted. I was very impressed with the arrangements and it was well worth buying additional flowers for the rest of the wedding party.

Our wedding coordinator Edith was very good at responding to my questions via email prior to going and she was wonderful once we got down there aswell.

I would highly recommend this resort.
Our second week, (after everyone else left) we had our honeymoon at Aventura Spa Palace **Adults only. (about 10 min. away) We had to arrange for our own transportation and got a taxi that cost $14 US. Our room was excellent. Every room has a HUGE 2 person jacuzzi tub and I would highly recommend using it. The bathroom again was great, clean & they supplied you with everything. From shampoo/conditioner to toothbrushes and toothpaste. You don’t have to bring much in the bathroom department. The best part was being able to brush you teeth with the tap water as they use reverse osmosis so you don’t have any contamination. They had a 4 bottle bar (tequila, rum, brandy & whisky) no charge and would refill the bottles if needed. You have your own fridge, (stocked daily) with water, pop & beer. All inclusive is no joke*** They have 24 hour room service (no charge) and get it to you in 20-30 min. All of the restaurants and food were amazing. The a la carte restaurants were first come first serve, no reservations. Which meant that you got to go to all of them without being told "sorry, it’s booked for the rest of the week". We never had a problem getting in. The only one that had a waiting list was the Steakhouse. The resort is HUGE, it’s 2 sides. The south and north side. It’s like it is 2 resorts in one. They had a shuttle going from one side to the other constantly and this was very convenient. We stayed on the North side (spa side) It was great. Quiet and relaxing. The pool was very nice, a little cool, but was refreshing with how hot it got. The lagoon style beaches were not what I expected (again no long beach to walk along) but they were very nice anyway. Lots of umbrellas to sit by and quiet for the most part. The water had plenty of fish to see. The gym is unbelievable, indoor pool & hot tubs… very very nice. The spa was amazing. We had a romantic couples massage and it was extremely relaxing. They are pricey, but the resort gave us "spa dollars" and we only had to pay $80 US. We went to Moon Palace (closer to Cancun, 50 min. away) to go golfing and the course was fabulous. The carts were included and you could get free clubs too. If you wanted to upgrade to Nike or something it was a $30 US charge. You have to pay for the driving range, but it’s very reasonable. Bring your own balls, or they have some for sale in the pro-shop (new and used) The shop was well equipped with anything that you needed, all brand name stuff. The resort also offers many tours that are free. I would recommend checking a few of these out. They also have a shuttle bus going into town or Cancun free, so you can go shopping or to the Water park. Palace resorts owns Wet n’ Wild in Cancun and you can go free. We had an amazing time at this resort and I would highly recommend staying there!!!!

Aventura Spa & Palace Review

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Dianna ~ Canada

January 2007

Hi everyone – we (my husband and I) and another couple stayed at the Grand Xcaret from Dec 3 – 17, 2006. We are Canadians eh. Three of us are 30-something, and one is a really ancient 40 year old.

My husband and I (neither of us is 40) have a different opinion of this resort than our friends. We were not impressed with the place and our friends thought it was great and say they will be returning. I think this proves the diverse tastes of people and why it is so important to read reviews like this and take time to decide where you’d like to stay. I DID read the reviews religiously and have to say that all my apprehensions about the place were well founded.

Some background – we have traveled a fair bit and so we know what we like and what is possible. Our beach holiday travel experiences include:

  • Caribbean cruise

  • Cook Islands – fantastic by the way!!!

  • Australia

  • Dominican Republic (Punta Cana)

  • Cabo San Lucas

  • Cancun

  • Hawaii

We thought we’d try the Mayan Riviera as this was our friend’s first “adults only beach type” holiday and it is a good all around destination with enough site seeing.

Booking: We booked with Selloffvacations.com. This is the second holiday I have booked with them and think they have a great service: at least $100 cheaper per person than with a travel agent.

Air Travel: We traveled Air Transat from Vancouver – this is a charter and, no, it is not luxury. You can pay $250 – 300 for upgraded seats to Club Class but they go almost immediately so good luck!!! I personally don’t mind it – it’s only 5-6 hours of your life each way.

Airport arrival: Easy to clear – it’s a random red light/green light system – you push a button, if you get a green light you’re good to go, if you get a red light they rummage through your bags – not fun! We got a green light so no problems.

Airport return: Scam artists!!! You will almost invariably have to pay for excess baggage. They only weigh checked luggage though, so put as much in your carry-on as possible. Tip: you can take your booze in carry-on (we didn’t think we could cuz of the liquids issue, but apparently it’s ok?) On the way down we had our snorkel equipment in with checked luggage and were fine with weight, on the way back we put it separate (each person is allowed one sporting good item for free) and they said we were overweight??? We got dinged $20, our friends were dinged $100!

Another tip for airport return, consider arranging your own transportation to the airport instead of using the free transfer. All you do is spend your time picking up people, waiting to check-in, and sitting around in the airport. You can get another ¾ of a day if you make your own arrangements.

Hotel: It is very average in my opinion. We stayed at the Grand Paradise Bavaro in Punta Cana (4 star) and the Xcaret was not materially better and it is rated a 4-5 star.

  • The food is excellent. There is lots of variety and the standards are excellent.

  • The staff are very friendly and they make a point of getting to know you if you make the effort.

  • Stay away from the rooms in the main building (11 and 12). They put us in 12371? The first night and it is right by the sewage treatment – the smells wafting through the halls are interesting to say the least!

  • We asked for building 18 or 20 and got 18103. Great building – we were right outside the main pool and the next closest building to the main lobby where all the restaurants are.

  • Went to the gym once (I know!) and it was adequate – treadmills, ellipticals, weights

  • Sex in the Poooool is great – get your mind out of the gutter! This is what they call the shots (any concoction they can think of!) at the swim-up pool bar. Have a few Sex in the Poooools and the issues I talk about next may just disappear.

  • The funniest entertainment nights are the audience participation ones –guests will do the funniest things. The actual performances are average at best, but what else can you expect?

  • The entertainment staff is great – Ra, Franco, and Louis do a great job and they go out of their way to make sure the ladies feel special. To give you an idea: their favorite number is 69 and they are often heard to say, “I love my job!”

  • The shops in the hotel are very good – the quality is great and I don’t think you pay anymore here than on 5th Ave (the main shopping area in Playa del Carmen) unless you are looking for the junky stuff.

Main issues with the hotel:

  • Far too big – although most in this area are very large. I like to be able to move back and forth from beach to pool as the mood strikes me and this is not possible here.

  • The beach is bad – let’s face it. You can candy-coat and talk about the fish (very few!) or you can get real and say that a murky bay that is only about a 200 feet long is not a beach in any sense of the word.

  • The pool bar is totally inadequate for the size of the pool. Yes, the waterfall is cool (you have to go through it to get to the bar) and the Sex in the Poooool is great, but it is noisy and makes keeping warm an issue – we didn’t have great weather!. If you don’t want to go there, then you have to rely on the waitresses who are few and far between. We started to order two or three drinks at a time just to avoid a half hour wait. And we’re not lushes, although the mango margaritas do go down quite nicely!

  • Make sure you ask for premium liquor – i.e. if you order a Caesar they will use some god awful vodka that smells like boat gas unless you specifically request Smirnoff.

  • Food is not regularly available. There is no place that is open all the time. The beach club is open the most consistently (7 – 5 I think) but unless you’re down there, you’re not going to make the trip from the pool. You can’t just go somewhere to get something to eat; you have to make sure it is open. There is no 24-hour place. The latest is 2 am for anything.

  • There is no room service.

  • If you just want a snack – good luck. You can’t eat by the pool or take things out of the restaurants. Sometimes the main buffet will give you a to-go package but it depends on the mood of the maitre-d. At the pool restaurant all you get is, “Is not possible Missus, too messy!” When I am lounging by the pool all day I don’t want to move – I want a quick and convenient way to get some nourishment other than the mango in my margarita. The restaurant by the pool opens at 11:30 so if you’re hungry before then you go to the main buffet. I typically get up early, get a lounger, and want to eat around 10:00 – I now have to pack up, and head off to the main lobby area to get some food, which I can’t take back with me. I’ve got to sit down, in the restaurant and eat my food like a good little girl. It may sound inconsequential but if you’re not a breakfast, lunch, supper type of eater, it’s a pain and I’ve never encountered this anywhere before.

  • The staff at the buffet restaurants is inconsistent – we tipped all the time and sometimes our plates were removed promptly and other times two dirty plates sat in front of us. Missing cutlery is common but you just have to steal it from the table next door!

  • The FunClub pool pipes the same music everyday, repeated three or four times a day and we were there for two weeks. Get some new music guys!

  • I tried unsuccessfully for two days to get the movies working in my room – it’s like $11 for a movie but we wanted to watch one. No-one could get it right, so I just gave up.

  • This hotel is a long way from the highway so you have to take a cab everywhere. Other reviews talk about catching the Collectivo and going anywhere you want for $1.50. Not so at the Xcaret.

  • There are unexpected sewer smells all over. I think this might be a problem at all resorts but it’s not pleasant when it happens.

  • Don’t waste your money on the $25 lobster you can get at any of the a la Carte restaurants. Mine was like eating rubber it was so overcooked.

  • The seafood restaurant El Pescatore, by the water is a complete let down. We were expecting so much and it was by far the worst meal. The Italian and grill restaurants were excellent and we LOVED Paco’s Tacos – the causal dining place that you can go for dinner anytime instead of the dinner buffet. It switches daily with the Pizzeria, which is not as good.

  • Activities are not great – you can play tennis if the pro is there. The FunClub do their best but most of the stuff is lame. Yoga is just some pre-aerobics stretching. Pool Volleyball and Water Polo never happened. There are five or six pool floats available (at pool and beach) so if you want to make you get one, bring your own.

  • The concierge people will try to sucker you into looking at the Royal Club. They insist it’s not a time-share, but it’s the same sh$^, different pile. I’ll save you the bother – (our husbands went for it cuz they were told the ladies would get a free massage, but we didn’t end up getting it because we didn’t attend.) For $49,900 US you can join the Royal Club which allows you to stay at any Occidental resort from $85-$115 per night and they help arrange discount airfare. Membership lasts for 100 years so you can will it to your kids. There is a yearly membership fee of $455 US. Essentially I can do lots of other things with 50 grand – like invest it at 10% and go on a vacation every year while still keeping my principle working for me. It’s a no brainer for me, but hey, again, different strokes, for different folks. While we were there we only saw two or three couples using the Royal Club – nuff said.

While we had a good time, this is not the resort for us. But like I said, our friends loved it, so there you go. I would rate it a 4 star at the most.


  • Xcaret is great. The show is too long for my liking but interesting.

  • Xel-ha – wonderful. The huge fish by the bridge next to the open ocean are a must see. There are also huge rays swimming below – awesome. We saw the largest Parrot Fish ever – complete with barnacle type things on his lips that made him look like he had a goatee.

  • Tulum – interesting but they have all the paths close to the largest ruin blocked off so you can’t really see anything. Don’t pay for a tour ($45) just stand by one and learn what you want. The beach here IS amazing – plan to spend some time at it.

  • Cozumel – awesome. We rented a Jeep and toured the island. Stop at each of the bars on the beach for a cocktail! Very rugged, very beautiful.

  • 5th Ave – shopping in Playa Del Carmen – must experience but the prices are high compared to the rest of Mexico (Cancun excluded). This is not a cheap Mexican shopping experience but you have to buy some stuff, right?! Go to Sam’s Club on the highway for cheap booze and smokes.

Weather – ours sucked! We had 4 days of sun out of 14! Everyone tells us how out of the ordinary that was, but all I know is what we experienced. It is blazing hot when the sun shines, so I hope you get good weather if you do decide to go.

All in all an average vacation at an average resort. We will probably try Cuba or go somewhere in the Indies like the Maldives for our next vacation.


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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Stuart ~ UK

November 2006

This review covers [1] KUONI TRAVELLERS USING MONARCH AIRLINES (ESPECIALLY THOSE TRAVELLING FROM MANCHESTER) and [2] review of a 1 week late-availability Kuoni holiday in late October 2006.

For anyone thinking of booking a Kuoni holiday package here please note the airline booked is Monarch. Having experienced the Monarch service we would not recommend this unless like us you either get a good late-availability £price or want to travel Kuoni to this hotel. This is because the legroom, seat comfort, food, entertainment and service are strictly short-haul standard and not suitable for a 10-12 hour long-haul flight. This flight is seriously long, even without delays (and we suffered delays on departure for both legs of the journey). Monarch charge for everything, the quality of food and entertainment is low and Monarch’s punctuality record is poor (2 weeks before our holiday the actual connection from Manchester to Gatwick was cancelled). For us the £250 Premium cabin upgrade each would have effectively almost paid for another person to come with us, and still only takes you to the Economy class of most scheduled airlines. For this reason we would not book another holiday with Kuoni using Monarch regardless of how good the actual deal or hotel was.


Despite previous reviews we sailed through passport/luggage. Make sure the immigration and customs cards are filled in correctly before leaving the plane (there are websites for Yucatan and Mexico which show you the format and how they should be completed) and remember to keep the retained bit safe with your passport. Check carefully with your travel agent/rep if you pay departure tax on leaving or not – the price of this varies and if it doesn’t remember to leave enough $. Remember to carry some small denomination pesos for the luggage porters who will take you past the various touts to the correct stand for your travel rep. Be aware they all seem to use identical white Chevrolet minibuses so make sure you get on the right one. On departure excess baggage was charged at £7sterling/kg and lots of those on 2-week vacations fell foul of this and suspected a scam with the weighing machine. If your luggage is heavy make sure you have enough currency in case as they don’t accept credit cards.

Initial impressions are great, large spacious Reception and a fast check-in. You get 2x swipe room keys and 1x each towel cards. Don’t lose either or you will be charged when you leave plus a map of the resort. If lucky you will be escorted to your room – we weren’t but although large there are numerous large maps around the place and everything is well signposted. Luggage will be delivered to your room so remember the small denomination notes for the luggage porters as they earn it. The staff are generally excellent and friendly but be aware some don’t speak much English and a few words in Spanish are easy to learn and go a long way.

The resort is large but once you’ve found you’re room you’ll find like us that you will probably only need the pool, beach and buffet complex so it’s easily cracked. The walk from the buffet to beach is an easy 10-15 minute walk maximum and the shuttle runs regularly even if it doesn’t stop outside every block. Some blocks have easy short-cuts, other’s like 14 don’t. As mentioned on previous reviews be aware some floors can be lethally slippy. All the hotel and grounds were kept spotless.

Room was large, clean and comfortable (apart from lacking a 2nd chair) with an excellent maid service. We were in Block 14 overlooking Xcaret on the 3rd floor. Note some rooms will overlook the pool, and some pools can be noisy. There are no lifts and although easy the stairwells were not lit at night so if mobility is a problem ask for a ground floor room. Good storage space, complimentary mini-bar that was re-stocked every day. Bottled water is handy for trips out, if you need more ask the maid. The air-conditioning was excellent and works when the room was empty, so you return from a day by the pool or beach to a cool room. If it rains there is a complimentary golf-sized umbrella that you will need (when it rains it seriously rains). Note the safe needs to be re-programmed every time it is opened but is large enough for things like cameras etc. Bathroom was large and spacious, complimentary toiletries provided and the power shower was excellent.

BEACH We used the beach rather than the pools, the gardens are nice and immaculate but you cannot move sunbeds round to somewhere quiet so you have a choice of either pools or beach. The pools by block14 were noisy with Americans, the other pools even worse and apparently have piped music as well so it depends whether you want noisy or relaxing. Beach is an easy 10-minute walk away from block 14. Pick up your towels en route and remember to take them back.

The beach is actually a man made cove, tiered with sunbeds and some hammocks and was almost deserted but may get busy in high season. Don’t come here expecting a 5-mile walk along a beach. The sand is nice, and its safe shallow bathing if you’re not a good swimmer. For shelter from the sun and occasional showers get there early to nab one of the thatched covers that were excellent. The beach bar opens at 7 for breakfast and there’s also a drinks-only bar. Down fronting the Caribbean is a nice adults-only pool but again this might get packed in summer.

The food was frankly the most disappointing thing about the hotel. It wasn’t bad, just disappointing. The buffet is large, spacious and well air-conditioned but got busy even in the time we were there. There are no set tables every meal, you wait to be seated somewhere. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the main buffet, with other meals at other locations dotted round the site (try breakfast in the beach bar overlooking the ocean). The breakfast was geared towards American but there was a choice of juices, cereals, waffles, pancakes, toast etc. If you prefer tea to coffee trying practicing this in Spanish as you need to ask for this. We had lunch at the beach bar when in the hotel which was good. The dinners were usually on a themed night but we found the choice uninspiring and lacking variety plus the items were likely to re-appear the following day (Yucatan style pork for breakfast for example). As for the quality it was alright for the grade of hotel just nothing exceptional, so don’t expect gourmet quality. The main complaint was the service, every day at least 2 of tables we were led to were incomplete, missing cutlery, cruet pieces or napkins and it was a pain having to appropriate them all the time. As for bars there are loads round the resort serving alcoholic and soft drinks, all were good though some waiters/bar-staff struggled with orders in English but generally the waiter service was excellent, even without being tipped every time.

You can book up to 4 speciality restaurants in a week stay, be aware if you do organised excursions as like ours they may arrive late back at the hotel so you miss your reservation. We were disappointed with ours, we tried the Steak Grill and the Seafood ones. The steak grill was nice but felt rushed, we had 4 courses in under an hour – no sooner had you finished 1 course than another was in front of you so don’t expect a leisurely evening. The seafood was a disaster, they use the beach bar but almost the only lighting inside is a covered tea light on the table so we read the menu by Magilite and weren’t sure if we got the meal we ordered. For a 9pm reservation they began clearing up tables around us at 9.15 and a rude and noisy American party in the same part of the restaurant basically ruined our meal so it wasn’t a great night. Don’t forget if you book an early reservation you can always leave early and head for the buffet, if you book for 9pm you might miss the entertainment. Note that there are strict dress codes for these restaurants and tipping the waiter expected.

Organised entertainment is laid on daytimes, and there is a free gym and spa. At nighttimes there are shows but the theatre was full packed even off-season and there wasn’t much of a waiter service for drinks. We only saw 1 show (Broadway musicals) which looked good but there’s not much else at night if you aren’t into that sort of thing. There is a lobby bar that also got busy but there is no games room as such. If you wander round at night time be aware the site isn’t that well lit.

We booked 2 full day trips online in the UK when it was booked through Kuoni who use Gray Line. If you do this check carefully whether it includes lunch or not as when we got here we had to pay for one we thought was included. We did the Chichen Itza trip with the Tulum/Xl Ha trip but note there is a lot more choice from the Kuoni rep in resort though the prices quoted there are in $US which makes a price comparison difficult. [a] Chichen Itza – note this starts from Cancun so arrived with us an hour late. Expect another 2 hours of pick-ups and travelling so you won’t get on site till lunchtime. They do stop for ‘restroom’ breaks but note the place we stopped at charged you for toilet paper. Their souvenir prices were expensive though there were items not seen elsewhere – note you will be inundated at Chichen Itza will hawkers of all kinds. Lunch was at the hotel near the entrance, you won’t enter through the main visitors centre. The tour/route march lasts 2 hours in the heat (or rain) so be prepared and covers quite a large area. The guide lets you wander off to do your own thing if you feel confident of being able to get back to the minibus. The site is spectacular providing you can avoid other tourists or hawkers, it might make more sense if you have seen a plan or a guidebook first and note if you like taking pictures be prepared to run to catch up with the group, the guide was a good laugh but don’t expect to learn too much. On the way back the tour diverts to a cenote for those willing to take a dip/swim which is a shame as we’d preferred more time at Chichen Itza itself. Expect yourself back from the trip 8-9 at night so don’t book a restaurant. [b] Tulum/Xl Ha – we knew from the previous trip to expect a delay and this one was another hour late one. This meant less time in Tulum which isn’t too far travelling but felt rushed with only 45 minutes. This site was seriously crowded with tourist buses so don’t expect any souvenir pictures without seeing lots of other people in shot too. This trip was also available as a ½ day excursion which we would have taken if we had waited till we got in resort. Xl Ha is an eco-park and scuba/dive park similar to Xcaret. There’s not a lot to do if you don’t want to swim/scuba etc. We paid for all-inclusive wrist-bands ($24US each) that cover most things, including meals, drinks and ice creams. If you don’t then note that these are seriously pricey and as the temperature was early to mid 30s on the day we were there it was too hot to do anything but sit on the beach. Our tip is to wait until you get in resort and then decide, note there are other tour companies and you might prefer to try theirs.

You get 1 free pass per person per visit, its exchanged for a ticket at the Xcaret shop by reception. The hotels own entrance is signposted from reception and takes about 10 minutes easy walk from the buffet. You can go in and come out again during the day, so we recommend going early to see the things you want before it gets too hot and crowded, coming back to the hotel for lunch (as the pass does not cover food and drink) and either going back or the beach for the afternoon. The evening show is excellent and not to be missed, it runs 7-9 so bear this in mind if you book a restaurant meal and go early to get a good seat – you can leave at 9 and still get the buffet. To see everything would take all day, and involves a lot of walking. They give you a map but it is seriously easy to get seriously lost (especially coming back out from the orchid house as we did) and some staff don’t speak much English. Our tip is plan what you want to see to avoid back-tracking too much and take plenty of water.


1. Tipping – some Americans tipped for everything, others never tipped. Tipping didn’t seemingly bring you vastly better service and we found it impractical carrying lots of small denomination notes around with us all day for tipping every drink but there’s no provision for tipping the whole restaurant staff for example before you leave. The maid was excellent and was tipped accordingly, when you leave remember a tip for the porter who collects the luggage and the front lobby porter.

2. Better exchange rate at the hotel for £sterling than $US – hotel only exchanges travellers cheques for Mexican peso$ and not US ones. Think Mexican $peso for spending though some prices are quoted in £US as well – juggling 3 currencies can be confusing but note if you buy with $US you will get change in $Mexican.

3. Phone calls home – we were warned by the rep that using the room phone direct is seriously expensive. We were advised to try a ‘Toucan’ pre-paid phone card ($100 peso) but despite several attempts we could not get ours to work for any UK number so be warned. Mobiles might work in Mexico but not our Orange pay-as-you-go, even for texts.

4. Timeshare scam – previous reviews mention a ‘concierge’ who offers you a tour of the site as a bait for a timeshare promotion. Ours was slightly different, we had a phone call on the Tuesday from someone purporting to be from the tour company asking us to meet them in reception the following day at 4pm to discuss changes to our flight details home. Luckily we were seeing the rep the following day to pick up tour tickets and mentioned this but were told it’s a timeshare scam so beware of any unusual messages or phone calls.

5. Shops – hotel shops look great but are mostly expensive designer clothes and jewellery. The ‘tobacconist’ sells things like hats, clothes, snacks etc, but the prices seemed high. For ‘souvenirs’ such as pottery, cigars or tequila there are some at the airport duty-free and these seemed cheaper.

6. When you leave make sure you request luggage collection in good time as they can have several hundred arrive/leave at any one time. When you hand back your various keys and cards you will be given a booking-out confirmation and when your luggage is collected the porter will give you a slip with your room number and the number of pieces. When the mini-bus/taxi arrives make sure the porter gets both bits of paper.

RATING The weather was fantastic, the staff friendly and the hotel was very good if not quite as good as it thinks it is. If you can avoid some of the over-bearing Americans you might have a nice relaxing holiday when the resort is quiet if that is what you want, but at high-season or full-price this might be a bit of a gamble.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret C and L ~ Ontario, Canada

October 2006

My wife and I, along with 2 other couples (ages between 30-37yrs) flew in from Canada and vacationed at this property from Sept. 30th – Oct. 7th. This was a great trip from start to finish, except for one small incident, not the fault of the resort. This issue, I’ll get to later in the review.

No problem, flew down via Skyservice and it was on time, meal, not bad…no complaints! Once in Cancun, yes, get ready for the "time share" folks, they’re everywhere but a simple "no gracias" is all it takes. We usually like to enjoy a frosty beverage or two while enroute to the hotel so we made a very short jaunt over to the bevi stand and purchased a few for the ride over. A little steep in our opinion (approx. $5USD for 1 cerveza), but hey we’re tourist and they know that, so they try and cash in! We were surprised they didn’t have beer on the bus, but certainly not a problem.

No problem here…it was obvious the resort was only 1/3 full so there was no line up. Only one of our 3 rooms was ready at the time so we just stored our friends luggage in our room until theirs was ready, not a problem. Nice to have the much welcomed "welcome drink". I should add they also delivered our luggage to our building (#20) which was right near the swim up bar (NICE!)

Outstanding, clean, spacious, colourful etc. No complaints here. We had rooms on the first floor and experienced NO BUGS in the room the whole week. As a bonus, our balconies were right at pool level, so you could litterally swim over to your balconey if you wanted…very cool!

Awesome…very lush, well maintained and HUGE! Yes, there is a shuttle service if were sick of walking but we didn’t mind the walk…it was great excercise, especially after indulging in the excellent cuisine. Hats off to all the grounds keepers, who work tirelessly and often receive little credit for their efforts.

Yes, often a very opinionated subject but the consensus among the 6 of us was that it was excellent. The buffet was always a treat with a wide variety of choice and very attentitive restaurant staff. We particulaly liked "Pacho’s Taco’s" by the main stage, upstairs, excellent grub! We also enjoyed 3 of 5 specialty restaurants, the Mexican, the Oriental and Steakhouse. All were great and a pleasant dining experience had by all!

This resort was so big we actually never made it to all the pools. The ones we did hit were, the swim up and the one in front of our rooms. We did walk by the other ones, while enroute to going somewhere else and they looked great! Pools were always clean and there was definitely NO PROBLEM getting a lounger.

Again, open to debate here but from our perspective, EXCELLENT…very cozy and intimate, a great place to read, not over populated and again no problem getting a lounger. Now, and it’s been said before, if you prefer the long beach for long walks, then no, this may not be the beach for you. However, we had more then enough exercise, just walking throughout the resort, so it was fine with us. Water was always calm and there were always fish around, to watch and/or feed bread if you wanted. (little guys were harmless)

Plentiful, they were everywhere, so you never went thirsty. We are in they habit of bringing our own cooler mugs, which save you trips to the bar (they hold more then those standard plastic cups) and keep your drink cold. It never fails, every trip we take, people always ask "where did you get those?" If you can grab one, take one along, you’ll never regret it! Lots of choice at the bars and they usually had many premium brands of liquour available.

Unbelievable…we actually made it for 3 workouts during our stay. Yes, we’re on holidays, but for us it helps take the guilt away for all the consumption we indulged in the rest of the time! The facilities were very, very nice, one of the best, of the many resorts we’ve stayed at previously. Lots of equipment, clean, etc.

We thoroughly enjoyed them, again always open for debate depending what you like. We thought the dancers, house band and musicians were all excellent and very talented. They worked very hard and it was only a shame that the crowd reaction was often unapprecitative.

Very nice set up inside and although we only went twice it started out busy. You see, for some unknown reason, the DJ liked to play music which did not correspond with what was happening on the dance floor. What happened was there was alot of mexican music played at the start, which was great, some would dance, but after, say, 20 minutes of this, the requests for actual dance music started flooding in. The result was 80’s glamour rock or some other rock band from the late seventies. Hey, we all can appreciate great music from all genres but, it was obvious people were getting frustrated with the music selection and started leaving fast. Ironically enough after several trips to the booth, the guy finally plays "dance music" unfortunately the place had virtually cleared out by that time. The same situation happend BOTH times we attended. Perhaps a change in DJ’s would be in order here!

DAY TRIPS We attended 3 of them.

1) Xcaret Park, which is located right beside the resort…it was free for resort guests so this was a bonus (regular $80.00USD per person) if you were staying at another resort. The experience was awesome. I had read somewhere that "someone" had found it "boring". Don’t know if they were at the same place, we were just mad that we only gave ourselves 5 hours to see it. There were many animals, exhibits, ruins, resting areas, you name it…too much to list. The bonus was the night show, which went from about 7pm to 9pm. Outstanding…the actors are true professionals and we really enjoyed ourselves.

2) Tulum Xtreme…amazing! It was a mixture of zip lining, repelling into a cave, snorkleing and visiting the Tulum ruins. A full day trip with lunch provided. (amazing lunch too!) The ride into the place was adventurous, while bouncing along on the "smooth" dirt roads…awesome! Just a word of advice, DO bring insect repellant, not so much for the zip lining, repelling, but for the actual RUINS portion at Tulum. The "little darlings" were VERY hungry. It was actually comical…this poor tour guide is giving us a briefing on the history and all you can see/hear are about 40 people slapping themselves silly at the pesky little buggers! I guess you had to be there to appreciate the visual!

3) Popped into PLaya Del Carmen (approx 15 minutes away by taxi) and it was cool as well. Lots and lots and lots of shopping to be had here. We didn’t find the vendors to be as agressive as in other countries we’ve visted so it was a pleasant experience overall. This is where you’ll find the ferry for Cozomel as well. The taxi ride is a standard $10.00 – $12.00USD.

Were outstanding, always friendly, smiling and never hesitant to help or answer any of your questions. English was WIDELY spoken throughout this resort but do yourself a favour and practice your spanish…they appreciate it and eventually, so will you!

This trip was among the best we have taken. We’re not travel guru’s by any stretch, but have travelled quite a bit. Your trip is always as good as YOU want to make it. Understandably, some things happen which are beyond anyones control, but a POSITIVE attitude goes a long way. Having said that, the only issue we certainly did not enjoy was witnessing the "drunken tirade exhibited by a gentleman from Massechusettes. This person, along with his lucky new bride decided to drink themselves into oblivion and cause UNBELIEVABLE ruckus in front of the guests in building #20. In short, the man was convinced that the HOTEL had purposely locked him out of his room. The actual problem was he was too liqoured up to operate the door card properly, I know, a tough task! I know this because as he was continually kicking the crap out of his door, I offered to help (my mistake) only to have this classy gentleman now accuse ME of conspiring the whole event. Yes, this in turn warranted him into wanting to fist fight me.

Being the bigger man, I turned and walked away. Assaulting an extremely intoxicated man was not my idea of a vacation. I often deal with these type of individuals at work, so I didn’t feel it necessary to continue having my efforts, to calm him down, fall on deaf ears. I simply turned and walked back to my room. Unhappy that his provocation for a fight was being ignored, the male decided to toss a few pieces of HOTEL furniture around after the fact. Our party of six, left for dinner and to my knowledge, they were kindly escorted off the property by the Mexican Police. (sucks to be you!)

All in all, a fantastic trip and we would HIGHLY recommend this property!

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Kim

August 2006

Travelled to the grand xcaret August 12, 2006 – August 19, 2006. We are from Canada. Family of four aged 19 – 50.

Hotel: Overall this resort was amazing. No complaints whatsoever, except the size of the beach, yet it is still very nice. Service was great, the staff very friendly, and warm. Very clean rooms were always done on time as well as the hotel itself very well kept.

Pool: there were 5 huge pools; we stayed at the main pool most of the time where the fun club was as well as all the action. The other pool in front of our room (#17) was the relaxation pool, no music just little huts and lots of seating, as well as a Jacuzzi. These were the two main pools we stayed at. Very large, lots of seating no need to wake up early to grab a seat, there are plenty.

Bars: there were so many bars I think around 14, there was a waterfall bar in the main pool very close to, where you had to get your drink underneath the waterfall and drink it there which we all thought was very neat. As well as the next pool over there was a swing bar where you sat on swings literally while sipping on your margarita! So relaxing…every pool had its own unique bar. There was a lobby bar, theatre bar, snack bar, etc…

Food: the food was amazing, no complaints at all. We ate at 3 a la cartes the oriental, the Italian, and the Mexican. The buffet was just as good as the a la cartes if not better. We didn’t visit the seafood a la carte because on our last day the buffet had a seafood festival which was amazing for seafood lovers; they had mussels, jumbo shrimps, and crab!! No charge. It was very tasteful. The buffet had its own themes every night and each and everyone had its own variety. Their ice cream by the way was very yummy! The late night snack bars upstairs were very good as well, I liked the paco’s tacos which was open till 2am and the pizzeria they served things such as quesadilla’s, enchilada’s etc.

Disco: the disco was bumpin’ most of the nights, people from all over the world visited in there; therefore you see very different dance moves. All ages from 18 to 50. Anyone could be seen there. They played good modern music, along with some traditional Mexican music; the bar in there was good as well. The seating in there was nice, lots of privacy, a medium size dance floor. We went twice and enjoyed it both nights.

Beach: this is the only minor downfall, not even enough to complain about, the size yes it is small, not much waves. Yet lots of fish. I pulled my lounger into the water most days and waked up to may many fish swarming around me (completely harmless) little white, baby blue colored fish, a beautiful sight. The sand as white and soft as can be. Lots of loungers, beds, and huts to relax in. and a tip for the fish you can feed them right out of your hand. I went into the ocean maybe up to my waist and had a bun from the buffet and ripped several little pieces off for them and in 10 seconds I was swarmed with literally 100 fish all sizes, colors, just gorgeous. The deeper I stepped the bigger they got nothing scary though, very gentle. If you held the bread in your hand under the water they would actually come right up to you and eat it straight from your fingers, which I thought was very neat.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Chantale and Mario ~ Levis, Quebec, Canada

July 2006

The Flight, lovely our 1st time with Air Canada Vacations

Arrival at the Airport and Coach ride to Resort — Super efficient hadn’t been to Mexico in over 13 yrs, luggage was there as fast as we got to the carrousel. Ride to resort was about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, had to wait almost an hour before taking off from airport due to a big family arriving 20 minutes after evryone else on bus!

Arrival at the Hotel: Quick and efficient, only funny thing is that a hotel employee walked us to our room but never offered to take my luggage.

The Buffet Was awesome, great food, great variety, heck at times it was better than the A la carte ones!

The Alacarte Restaurants — Not better than buffet! Very disappointing, langouste was not included in the seafood restaurant (extra $25USD) considering that if you have langouste you are not eating something else that the extra would be reasonably priced. The Mexican was no better, nothing truly spicy on the menu, nothing authentic. After these two we gave up and stuck to the buffet.

The room — Very nice and clean with a lovely bathroom with HUGE shower with bench all tiles nicely. Minibar service A1.

The Beach — This is not why you go there. It’s a small inlet that lets sea water come in. Not the great expanse of white sand and sea you expect. But, the chairs were plentiful on 3 levels and nice gazebo beds with drapes.

The Pool, We really are not ones to go to a resort and want a lot of games and noise around us which is what the main pool has to offer up. So we didn’t stick around the Fun pool. We stayed by the adult pool (which is sea water) near the sea.

Overall, we were extremely impressed with the Occidental because we chose it because of it’s proximity to Tulum and Xcaret park and Playa del Carmen. All those 3 places are GREAT to go see. Xcaret admission for one day is FREE with stay at Occidental.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret  

June 2006

HI There
We have just come back from a wonderful holiday ,at the grand flamenco xcaret. We stayed there from the 16 may 2006–30may 2006 As a family we have stayed at at all inclusives in the dominican republic,and cuba, and can honestly say that the grand flamenco knocks all the rest flat.

when we arrived the scale of the lobby area just knocked us back….it was like a cathedral….and we were met with very friendly reception staff waiting for us with a lovely cooling cocktail. we were dealt with very quickly and shown to our rooms….which after traveling all the way from the uk was a godsend not to be left hanging around. we were put in block 18 near to the main pool area, which was perfectly positioned for us as it was central to all the amenites. the room was lovely it was a good size with a lovely walk in shower, tv ,internet ,mini bar stocked with beer soft drinks and water, which was replenished every second day. we really coulnt fault the room at all.

the grounds were so well tended and lush green ,it realy is an oasis. as it has been mentioned by other reveiwers they are very exspansive but let me tell you that everything is in walking distance ,and very accessible. after all the lovely food your gonna eat over the vacation,the walk will do you the world of good.

while im on the subject of food……there is so much choice to choose from the buffet is fantastic very wide variety to suit all tastes. many times i only whent in at lunch times to keep my wife company,saying im having nothing ….only to see a chef turning a lovely juicy sirloin steak… just had to have it mmmm you just wont be able to help yourselves

theres also all the other restuarants that you can book. we ate in the italian which was great. the mexican ,the oriental,senora grill(steak house)and not to forget our favourite pescador seafood restaurant. all were fantastic with excellent variety and first class service. hey people you certainy are not gonna go hungry at this resort,thats fo sure. well lets get on to drinks…..lobby bar was our favourite because the margaritas that they serve there are out of this world. you can have any cocktail that you want and all that we tried were excellent and of good quality. the beer they serve is carona which is a good refreshing drink.

the pool bar is a must to frequent as you have to swim up to it and go under a waterfall to get to it ,then just sit there waist high in water and relax and take in your wonderful surroundings

the main pool area is definately the place to be if you wanna have fun, the guys and girls who work there are so very friendly and make sure you enjoy yourselves , must say thanks to all the fun club crew alex,mariana,jaqueline,david,oscar,and miguel you guys rock

there are so many activities to do from vollyball, water polo,archery,rifle shooting,water arobics,cookery classes,spanish lessons,salsa lessons where do i stop the list gos on and on.

well the entertainment on the evening is just first class the resident dancers and singers are so so proffessional. they put various shows on through the week like the broadway show ,latin exsplosion,the 80s show various others and we could not fault any of them. just gotta say that chrissy the leader of the troup is so very talented as are all the others.

Well lastly im gonna tell you about the beach area, I have heared people moaning about the size of it,well let me tell you its true what they say…size isnt everything when you get there and see it for yourselves your just gonna love it perfect. when you swim your gonna see so many different species of fish you just wont beleive it. and to top it all, if you dont have kids and wanna get away from the little blighters, you can go to the adults only area just the other side of the beach club…. a oasis within an oasis. last word i have to say is that we have already booked to return next year 2007 because we enjoyed it so much…..if your planning on treating yourseves at all , book this place you wont be sorry

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Andrew

May 2006

Date of Travel: April 29th – May 6th, 2006 Tour Company: Nolitours Flight: Air Transat

Booked through: Selloffvacations.com

This was my 6th All-Inclusive vacation to the Caribbean, and so far it was the best(previously to: Barcelo Beach Resort – Punta Cana, DR/Barcelo Solymar – Varadero, Cuba/Bavaro Princess – Punta Cana, DR/Allegro Papagayo – Liberia, Costa Rica). The Mayan Riviera is a beautiful spot with lots to do, great weather and great resorts. Price paid for trip: $1430CDN taxes included. I travelled with my girlfriend and 2 other couples, all in our 20s.

Our flights both ways were great(I guess I won’t complain about the movies). Both were on time(even early on the way home). This was the first time that I was offered “fast food” on a flights…we got breakfast sandwiches from Harvey’s on the way down and a Subway Roast Beef sub on the way home. The one complaint that I did have was that the luggage limits were less on the way home than they were on the way down, meaning if you are close to the limit departing, make sure not to buy anything down there, or else you will be paying through the nose on your return flight.

Transport to Hotel:
Cancun airport is a little confusing and busy, but there was only one way out, and all the tour operators were waiting right there. The bus ride to the hotel was about 50 minutes, and we were the first to be dropped off. My only complaint here was that a cold Corona would have been nice for the ride, but not a big deal, as you can have all the Corona you want, fresh from the tap as soon as you get to the resort

They certainly know how to start your week off right. As you check in, there is barely enough time to finish your welcome cocktail before you are checked in and somebody is showing you to your room, as well as all the other services the hotel has to offer along the way. We arrived at the resort before noon, so we weren’t expecting our rooms right away, but to our surprise, 1 of the 3 rooms were ready, so we had a place to change/store our luggage.

Resort Grounds:
Yes, this resort is big, but not to worry, as you will find everything you need at all corners of the resort.

This is a small beach, but quite nice, with a bar about 25 feet from the water’s edge. The breakfast/lunch buffet(as well as Seafood Restaurant at night) all overlook the beach area. They have many beach chairs and even some private beds. The swimming is nice. If you walk down the beach to the left, you can access the Mayan Ruins that are on the hotel property.

There are several pools on this resort, and they each are a little different. We were in the partying mood most of the week, so we stuck to the main pool, which is where they have another lunch buffet, 2 bars, including a swim-up bar with a waterfall(the only issue here is getting your drinks back out without getting pool water in them). They have activities going on all day(movie soundtrack trivia, volleyball, obstacle courses, water aerobics…etc.) They also have waitresses coming around all day to take your drink orders. Tip them at the start, or all day, and of course they will come find you more often.

As I travel more, I find food to be more and more important, and this resort took the cake(pun intended). We had our 4 a la carte meals, which you can book for the week as soon as you get there. El Pescador – Seafood – This was our favourite a la carte, Mexican – good, but if you are in a mexican mood, Paco’s Tacos is the place to go. It is just outside the Mexican restaurant, you can sit down and order from a menu – awesome – beware of the green salsa, very spicy. Oriental – not bad at all, but don’t look for anything too exotic. Steak House – Very good, the only problem we had was that this dinner was booked for 9:30pm, and this is when the entertainment starts, so we were serenaded the whole time by the lovely kareoke singers(oh wait, sarcasm doesn’t work while typing, does it). The buffet is good for most meals(they even had veggies burgers, I’d never seen that elsewhere). If you take one thing away from this review, make sure it is to visit Paco’s Tacos…Plan to eat at least one dinner there…very good mexican food.

We went to Playa Del Carmen, and it was fun, but you will find that you can find most of the stuff from PDC on the resort or at the airport(and therefore doesn’t count towards your luggage limit). It’s a funky little town, and they have many bars right on the beach.

We did 4 excursions: Xcaret Park – Interesting little park, the underground river is a must. The night show is pretty amazing. I wouldn’t have paid for this tour if it wasn’t included with our resort. Xel-Ha –about $80USD This park was amazing. Take the all inclusive. Great snorkelling, the lazy river, good food, great booze. Captain Hook Pirate Ship Dinner Cruise $80USD– this was one of the highlights of the trip. They pick you up at the resort, and take you into Cancun. >From there, you get on an old Pirate Ship and they take you out into Cancun Bay. There is a comedy show for a good hour, which is hilarious. The whole time, they are feeding you whatever drinks you want. After that, you get a lobster and steak dinner right on the ship. It was great food. After dinner, they have everybody return to the main deck and they have the 2 ships meet up and the pirates have a battle. After the battle, they get everybody up dancing and more drinks. Let’s just say everybody in our group was a little tipsy for the ride back to the resort. Scuba Diving $120USD– We took the course right on the resort, and were bussed into Playa Del Carmen. They took us out on the boat and we got 2 full-tank dives. The coral was nothing spectacular compared to what I say in Cuba, but the wildlife was pretty amazing(the most fish I’ve ever seen, Giant Sea Turtle, Moray Eel, Big Spider-like things, a white sting-ray. The only thing here is remember to bring a bottle of water or juice with you, as between dives, you get a little thirsty, and they didn’t have anything to offer/sell.

Overall: Great Vacation – 7.5 days of perfect weather, great service and good food. I would rate this resort at least a 4.5*

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Rich and Kelly ~ North Bay, Ontario

March 2006

Where do I begin. Let me start by saying that this is our second all inclusive trip. We went to the DR two years ago and loved it. We decided to try Mexico because we found a package out of Sudbury which eliminated the need to travel and overnight in Toronto. My husband and I stayed at the Grand Xcaret 28 Feb – 7 March 2006. We booked our A/C vacation online with Wholesale Travel. If you’ve ever seen cheap prices online and wondered if you’re actually getting a 5-star package, the answer in YES. We ended up paying much less than if we would have booked through a travel agent face-to-face. A/C flight was great out of Sudbury, ON. Lots of leg room compared to the cattle-cars the charter flights use, plus the plane was about half empty so we ended up with two seats each which was great for stretching out.

Here are some of our highlights and tips:

Timeshare: These people will get you at the airport and at the resorts. Firmly say ‘no thanks’ and be on your way.

Check-in: Smooth. I use a cane for walking and there are no elevators, except in the main bldg, so we had requested a ground floor room. Upon checking in we found out that we had been booked onto the third floor. The staff quickly recognized the error and was able to switch us to a ground floor room but not until the next morning which still worked out fine. We were escorted to our room by a lovely lady who explained to us all that the resort had to offer as we walked to bldg 18. The rooms look just like they do on the website and brochures, very clean and tidy. The safe is in the closet and it is programmable. Choose whatever combination you want. Next morning we were moved to a ground floor room and received upgraded pillows, fruit basket and four bottles of premium liquor for the error.

Resort Layout: The resort is spread out, but still very manageable on foot. There are little trolleys that will take you through the resort, but honestly, you’re on holidays, what’s the rush, walk. Besides, when you walk the resort you can see all the wildlife: deer, flamingos, iguana, mirandas, boars, etc.

Beach: The beach area is small, but it’s a good place to snorkel as there are many small fish that use that area. They will normally swim right up to you. Also plenty of chairs. Good snorkeling in this area.

Pools: The pools are massive and have plenty of chairs. Most mornings we didn’t even have to put out towels to save seats. Swim up bar is fantastic have a Miami Vice.

Food: The buffet and a la carte restaurants were excellent. We could always find something to eat. By far, the seafood restaurant was our favorite. Breakfast at the beach club is great.

Xcaret Park: The free day pass to Xcaret Park is great. There is so much to do there from swimming with dolphins to floating down the lazy river. It’s a whole day adventure where the wildlife roam free! The night shows are excellent.

Shopping: There are many shops right on-site. You don’t even need to leave the resort. If you do, Playa del Carmen is the place to go for great deals.

Money: Bring American money and travelers cheques. You’ll have no problems with either.

Phones: Your Bell/Sprint calling cards won’t work here. You need to purchase a Mexican calling card for $100 Pesos. This will give you approx 12 mins worth of calling time. These cards can be purchased in a vending machine located by the pay phones to the right of reception. You can make collect calls from your room; however, there is no way to determine what rates you’re paying.

The Mexican people are wonderful. They absolutely love Canadians and will receive you so well. Remember, smile, say ‘Ola’ and relax. You’re on holidays and you will absolutely love this resort. We can’t wait to go back next year.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Maggie & Murray ~ Nova Scotia Canada

March 2006

We were at this resort from the 12th to the 26th of February 2006

We loved the resort, the food was great as was the wine and drinks. Found the staff always pleasant and helpful. Being able to book the al a carte resteraunts for a week at a time was certainly a plus. The rooms were very clean and well appointed.

One pool was closed the whole time we were there in fact they had just completed the re-tiling and were filling it up the day we departed. This made the other pool and small man made beach quite crowded at times, this should be much better now that all the pools are open.

This is a family resort and we found there were just too many children, some parents just seem to arrive and turn their little darlings loose, also (not the fault of the resort) doors slamming and loud noises in the hallways all hours of the day and night.

As mentioned in a previous review – Cancun Airport is a disaster on the weekends with numerous aircraft landing and the place filled to capacity. When you finally get your luggage and clear customs you are desended upon by people selling time shares and all manner of things. The departure was also terrible as from the time you got to the airport untill you were checked three times by security and all your luggage opened twice you were starting to wonder if this was worth it.

Again we loved the Resort and the visit to the park next door was the high light of our trip, but I think we will probably stick to Adult resorts in the future.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Brad and Brandi

March 2006

Just returned from staying at the Grand Xcaret for five days on the Mayan Fun and Sun Surprise booked thru FunJet.

It is a bit worrisome flying into the Cancun airport and not really knowing where you were going to stay, but we were delighted with the resort. The look on peoples faces when we told them was priceless.

Running the gauntlet @ CUN airport was no problem, this was our third trip to Riviera Maya so we are used to the hassles from the locals. We paid an extra $26 for a direct FunJet van ride to the hotel so it only took 45 min and it was direct to the lobby, no stopping at other hotels and it was worth every penny.

After an exciting ride down the highway, we arrived at the resort to find that it is 99% repaired from hurricane damage. Only painting and staining were going on with very little wind damage to the gardens visible, unlike the rest of the area with is still littered with debris and rebuilding (especially around Playa Del Carmen).

We arrived early, about 1000, so we knew our room wouldn’t be ready, but we packed our pool gear in our carry on luggage, and after meeting with our rep we went right to the pool for a few hours.

Note: Our FunJet rep warned us about the new crime issue in Playa Del Carmen, there are many people with no employment due to the hurricane so we were told not to venture too far off the main drag in town (5th Ave.) to avoid tempting the local thugs.

The room was ready around 3 pm and our luggage was in the room when we finally went to get cleaned up. The rooms are nice we were in building 15 which is on the smaller more quiet pool. No thumping music or harassment by the entertainment staff, and the bar there is staffed by Jose. He’s got a pretty quick wit so watch out! But he does make your drinks with good mixes and consistency, this bar tended to be less overcrowded than the beach bar and the main pool bar.

The beach is non-existent but for a cool man made lagoon, and there is an adults only area there with lounges and hammocks.

The service was awesome. Always someone asking what you needed, and it didn’t take a Mexican minute to get everything, drinks were still frozen and cervesas mas freia. The food was average for an all inclusive, on par with other places we’ve stayed, too much variety trying to please all. I wish they would serve true Latin cuisine instead of all the other junk. No stomach issues for me or my wife, nor did I talk to anyone who was having problems.

Weather was perfect, except for a massive thunderstorm that lasted for three beers.

At times I did feel that I was the only American there, which was fine with me, since I saw some of the Canadians acting just as poorly as US travelers (Idiotas come from any country I guess). If you insist on wearing a t-shirt to dinner make sure it has sleeves mullet head, and don’t glare at the hostess when she tells you there is a dress code. Pants are required for the gentlemen in the sit-down restaurants. Beer was good, wine was fair, and you have to ask for top shelf liquor.

I tip everyone, but the staff did not act as if was expected, and they were very gracious when tipped. The staff does not like Canadian money, that was made pretty clear in a few cases, and I really didn’t understand that.

We didn’t use our free pass to Xcaret, and never went to any shows, but the people seemed to enjoy them. We tend to be lazy so it was games and booze in the lobby bar after dinner. Service here was prompt as well even with the large amount of people there in the evening.

Our trip back to the airport was on the large bus with three stops, and if you fly out on Saturday gives yourself extra time since the airport is busier than I’ve ever seen it (think floor of the stock market).

Overall I would rate this trip as four and one half stars out of five. Loss on the food issue. I would return to this hotel with no hesitation.

If you have specific questions, you can email me eeriebytesfishmaster@yahoo.com.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Mitchy

February 2006

We visited the Occidental Flamenco Grand Xcaret during the week of Feb 2 to Feb 9/06. Four of us went on this trip, my boyfriend and I, my son and my parents. Upon arriving we were greeted by warm, friendly and courteous staff, a welcome glass of champaigne and the wonderful smell and sight of the tropics. Our room at the start was very musty and I must say that I was a bit concerned because my father has chronic asthma and thought that perhaps this would of affected us, but by the next morning after we had opened the doors and turned on the ceiling fans, our room had lost the majority of the mustiness, after all, we were the first guests to be there after the hurricane had closed this resorts doors. We were in building 18 and the rooms were very tastefully decorated, the housekeepers did a fantastic job of keeping our rooms clean as well as noticing that there was a small child in the room, so they would do little towel figures of animals that delighted my son as well as myself.

The food here was absolutely delicious,, they had something for everyone and they worked really hard to please. My son loved the pizza, they had different pastas and pizza’s every day, it was great for kids.

The pools were beautiful , clean and spacious, the swim up bar was fantastic, a nice way to refresh yourself with plenty to drink. The beach was small, I will agree to that, but it was very clean and safe for children, it did the trick, we layed out in the sand, drank our tropical drinks that the servers worked so hard to get to us and we enjoyed the hot sun baking on our bodies…I had no complaints whatsoever on this issue, after all, I was on vacation!

The resort is gorgeous, I would recommend this place to anyone, I probably won’t be back for quite some time as I love going to new places, but if this crosses your path, I would definately nab at it, you will not regret it, it’s truely a wonderful, beautiful resort. Oh, I forgot to mention Xcaret Park, it’s a must see, you get a free pass and it’s worth every minute of your day to visit.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Mandy and Tony ~ St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

February 2006

We visited this resort the week of February 2nd to February 9th 2006. Our service provider was Nolitours, air service provided by Air Transat and the trip was booked through Selloffvacations.com.

This was our first trip to Mexico and I can say that if far surpassed all of our expectations. We have travelled to Holguin, Cuba twice, Varadero, Cuba once and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic once and this was our best trip ever. I am 32 and my boyfriend is 40 and this is our views on the trip.

Flight: It was okay with Air Transat, no leg room but that is a given on almost all flights. The early morning meal on the way to Cancun was a fruit cup and muffin. Our return flight was a Subway sub and cookie. Only suggestion I can give is pack light. Leaving Toronto if your luggage is a little over the weight limit they usually don’t say anything but they’ll get you coming home. We thought we were within our weight limit and we were 12.5 kgs over coming back and they charged us $84 Canadian, not a nice surprise to finish off our perfect vacation.

Cancun Airport: After getting through customs, beware of people posing as representatives of your resort. We were nabbed by a man that said he was with Nolitours and that we had to talk to him, he looked very official and after listening to him talk for a couple of minutes we realized we were being roped into the timeshare thing you get warned about so much so we firmly told him goodbye and were on our way to the bus.

Resort: First impressions weren’t good because we were under the impression that this resort was finished remodelling and was 100% operational but the lobby was littered with scaffolding and about thirty men thatching the roof. We proceeded to check in which went very quickly and smoothly, they gave us our room number and we went back and told the porter and then we headed off to find our room. We were put on the ground floor of building 18 which is nice and close to the lobby and not to far from the restaurants. Upon entering the room we were quite pleased with the layout of the room but the television and air conditioning didn’t work so we waited for our bags to arrive and told the porter we would be changing rooms and walked back to reception. They gave us a new room right away in building 22 on the second floor and it was perfect. They were just super in the way they pleased anyone that had the slightest problem.

Pools: There were four pools, two were empty when we got there and men were busily replacing the tiles. By the second day of our trip the pool was refilled and gorgeous. The swim up bar is one of the longest I’ve ever seen, there is a water fall covering it so you have to get drenched to get to it but it’s a lot of fun. Two of the pools have swing up bars which are neat. You actually sit on a swing at the bar, there are also a lot of hammocks.

Beach: We knew before we got there that the beach was small and man made so we weren’t disappointed, it was really ingenious the way they make the most of the space they have. The water was clear and warm and you could snorkel right on either side of the beach, there were a lot of fish to see.

Restaurants: We mostly ate at the main buffet which was excellent food and never boring. Every night they seemed to have a theme night, I liked the Mexican and Italian nights. We only at the beach buffet once for lunch and it was also excellent and all the service was fantastic. We only booked two a la cartes because we never know if we will be hungry at the time we’ve got booked so we like to play it by ear. We ate at the Senora Grill and the Hacienda. We liked both very much, dessert at the Grill was amazing, it was the best cheese cake I ever had and my boyfriend said the crème broulais was excellent. The Hacienda was the best meal we had and our waiter was amazing. We only at once at the late night Paco’s Tacos and we weren’t overly keen on that one. We had been hoping for some French fries or chicken fingers or something but it was all Mexican food like tacos and nachos or burritos which we thought might have given us heartburn that late at night.

Bars: The wait staff at all the bars were great. There are no shortage of bars. There are about three or four pool bars, lobby bar, beach bar, sports bar and disco. They are very good about coming around wherever you are sitting and bringing you drinks. I can’t say enough good things about the people and the service.

Disco: It looked great and we heard most nights it was packed but we never stayed up that late.

Evening Entertainment: The nightly entertainment starts at 9:30 and most nights we were too tired to stay awake. The two shows we did catch were the Karaoke night which was funny and the PreHispanic show which was amazing with tribal costumes and elaborate headdresses.

Excursions. We didn’t book with Nolitours but opted with the desk beside the lobby because their prices were better. We booked a combo trip for $78 USD which was a trip to Tulum to see the ruins, they were beautiful and so is the sea below them and a snorkel trip on a catamaran with a nice boxed lunch and all you can drink. We also hopped into a cab and went to Playa del Carmen to shop. Have the cab drive drop you off on Fifth Avenue, that is the shopping district.
The beach there is excellent too. The cab costs $9 or $10 each way depending on which cabbie you get. You can also take the ferry to Cozumel and I think that costs $10 each way as well.

Xcaret Park: When staying at this resort you get a free day pass into the Xcaret park next door. It’s literally next door. You just follow along beside the stream, stay on the right hand side and you can’t miss it. You can see some amazing aquatic life, coral reef, sea turtles, dolphins, manitee, jaguars, howler monkeys, etc. You can also swim through the underground rivers and snorkel. They also put on a fantastic show each night. We would definitely go again.

Other mentions: Lots of wildlife on the resort, they have white tailed deer, parrots, fish, turtles, flamingos, Iguanas, etc. Great ruins right on the resort, I love that the resort built around them and preserve them. Lots of shuttle stops around if you don’t want to walk anymore. Lots of activities like air rifle, archery, aerobics, etc. The gym had really good equipment in it. We didn’t take advantage of the spa services but they looked good. The tennis courts were in good shape, there is also a putting green but we never saw anyone using it. There are bicycles you can borrow from behind the pool bar.

In Summary, this was the best vacation of our lives.
We loved the resort, the resort staff, the other vacationers we met (hi Simone and Jason and the Smiths), the landscaping and gardens, the wildlife, the ruins. We fell in love with Mexico and we are already planning a return there next year. If you have any questions about the resort or the area, please feel free to email me at giddddyup@yahoo.com.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Linda and Lee ~ Coventry, UK

February 2006

upon arriving in Mexico going through customs was a drag there was massive queues and it too about an hour to get through. Once outside it was fantastic my husband could have a ciggarette his first one in 11 hours now that is a record.

We was greeted by our tour operator who directed us to our bus. On the bus we was offered a nice cold beer which of course we had to accept.

When we arrive at the resort we said wow the reception area was fantastic. We was offered a nice cold fruit cocktail drink. We was given our room keys and the bell boys took our luggage to our rooms. We was shown personally to our rooms and things were explained to us about the resort and what to do if we want our towels changing everyday. You just put them in a pile on the bathroom floor and by magic clean ones were there for us.

We did have a junior suite as we got upgraded as we was getting married there. Now the room was fantastic a massive bed for us two and our daughter had a bed which was a sofa bed at the other end of the room which was nice and private for us.

The resort is fantastic the staff can’t do enough for you. Our daughter went to the kids club every day we couldn’t keep her out of it even though she was the oldest there. The time we went there was not that many children in the club but she had a fantastic time.

The evening entertainment was really good. Even my husband enjoyed the shows.

We tried all the restaurants apart from the fish one. Everyone was fantastic. We loved the pizza bar. yumyum.

The swimming pools were so clean and nice. The bar staff were so helpful as well. Every staff in the resort were so helpful always had a smile for you and nothing was too much trouble for them.

As for the lake in the reception everyone is moaning about i thought it was so nice and relaxing looking at the fish and cooling down with a nice drink and popcorn. By the way think the fish eat more than us. The lady that served you in the lobby must of walked miles everyday up and down those stairs to get you a drink.

We went to the beach a few times but to be honest we prefered the pools.

On our wedding day i had my hair and make up done in the salon oh what a treat. A flowered cart came to pick me up with my bridesmaids and we had the hotel photographer take pictures. We went down to a lawned area where chairs and music was playing and a beautiful view. I was in heaven i was marrying the man i love and could not of wished for a better place.

Our wedding co ordinator was fantastic anything we wanted she sorted it out. She was even one of our witnesses.

We are returning to celebrate our 2nd anniversary there again in Oct 2006. We are so looking forward to going back to a fantastic place.

I can’t understand why people moan about the smallest of things like having to use your legs now and again. People moaning that the place is so big but if it was small they would be moaning then.

we would come back to this resort year after year. Would recommend going to the show in the xcaret park adults might find it a long show but the children learn a lot from it.

As for swimming with the dolphins it was magical but we went to Cancun for it and it was quite a long journey. So this time we will be swimming with them in the Xcaret park. I think this time we will spend a couple of days going to the park as we missed so much.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Julie ~ Canada

March 2005

We travelled to the mayan with our 2 kids 8 and 3.we stayed at the xcaret for one week and we loved it.

It is a beautiful resort, rooms are very clean, there is a fridge in the room.{ don’t forget to tip} we were in building 17 close to everything . well relatively close it is a big resort so if you like to walk you will enjoy the scenery.

The pools were very clean and huge i think there were 5 in total..My 3 year old had a great time in the pool there were alot of kids her age.My son who is 8 had a great time with the fun club, and the kids club. the guys at the fun club were terrific,there was always an activitiy to participate in. the kids club deserves a 5 star. patrizio who i believe is in charge there, was very sweet and well organized.

The food was very good the breaksfast buffet was excellent.so much variety, the service was good. and don’t be cheap and tip. sonora grill was probably the best.oh go to the beach club that was good.

The beach was the only downfall it was small and man made good for the kids not very dangerous,

Xcaret park was fun it was hot lots of walking

In closing we had a great time, i could have stayed another week . gracias grand xcaret hola………..

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Barbara And Gil ~ Port Coquitlam, B.C. Canada

March 2005

We booked our vacation with much research and I wanted to only stay at a small resort, in the end we decided to come to this resort which was to our delight to be more thank we expected. I have not been to Mexico so this was my first experience, my partner had been to the West coast of Mexico and to Cancun before, The hotel is absulutely beautiful and the staff could not be more pleasant and accomadating, we had a small problem one morning with our room safe and i thought it would take forever to get someone to come, not so within 10 min. it was fixed and we were on our way. the night shows were very entertaining the food in the restaurants were good and the buffet was more than one can expect. we come from Vancouver, Canada where we have the best restaurants in the world so we were quite amazed at the quality of the food, we liked the Beach house everyday for breakfast and the Buffet near the large pool for lunch and the Med. Restaurant was our favourite. The only negative we could say was the smoking , the restaurants do not allow it so it was great but when we went to the show at night it bothered us. I suggested to the hotel that they make on side smoking and the other non smoking. The park next door was great and the show at night worth taking in it is amazing. I read a lot of info on this resort some negative some good and I am glad that we didnit listen to it, because we have travelled a fair bit to know what is good and what is not. The hotel is working on the stale water that flows through the canal that runs through the hotel, we used to feed the fish at the bar at night when we stopped for a drink before dinner. Don-t be afraid to book this place, you will love it.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Catherine & Claude ~ Georgetown, Ontario

March 2005

We spent the first week of January here and loved every minute of our stay.

Rooms: Were very nice and clean. Our boys 12 & 14 loved the large shower. At home you can’t get them in it and here you couldn’t get them out of it. We had a problem with our safe in the room which was our fault and another time with the shower. I called down to the front desk and I think it was about 5 minutes at the most, and someone was knocking at our door to fix the problem. Very efficient.

Restaurants: The Buffets was amazing. Food was always fresh and plentiful. Each night was a different theme. The staff very friendly and do speak English. My boys really loved the Buffet and said it was like eating at the Mandarin restaurant every day.

The 5 restaurants in the resort were very nice and the food very good and always good service.

Beach: It was small, but we knew that before we booked resort. Our boys are past the pail and shovel age, but there is still enough beach for that. The beach is a bit of a walk from our room, but with all the food we ate we enjoyed our walks around the resort.

Pools: There are 5 of them I believe, but don’t think we swam in them all, we just enjoyed the large one out the front of the unit we stayed in #19. The kids and my husband played the water polo and I enjoyed the Aqua Arobics they had daily in the pool. The pools were always clean. Lots of loungers around the pool for everyone. They have inner tubes at the pool which are great just to float around on and enjoy the sun.

Bars: I believe there were 15 bars, never went to half of them just to many to visit. The swim up bar was great and the swing up bars were rather neat. The bar in the lower lobby is very nice, you are right beside the woods.

Xcaret Park: This is a wonderful park to visit. We spent one full day their seeing everything. Swimming in the underwater river was great, fun for the whole family, everyone wears a life jacket. One thing that is really great is that when you stay at this resort they give you a free day pass to the park and you can walk their in about 10 minutes tops. We went back a second day just to do two events. We swam with the dolphins which was pricee but worth it as we will probably not be doing it again. We also did the Sea Trek excursion where you wear the air helmet and walk under the ocean with divers not to far from shore. Saw 2 Sea Turtles and held one, that was amazing, and you see lots of schools of fish etc. We didn’t have to pay the second day, as we were just going for the 2 events. It is just to much to do in one day.

We took a 10 minute cab ride into Playa Decarmen 2 evenings to look around and do some bargaining, that was a lot of fun and a must see.

All in all I would greatly recommend this resort and plan to go back again. All the staff of this resort were wonderful. The resort and the grounds are kept beautiful. The shows every night of the week are worth seeing. Their is a disco at the resort but never went to it. We were just so busy all day and in the beautiful sun, we were just to tired to go, next time we will.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Troy and Shelley from Peace River, Alberta, Canada

February 2005

We just returned from 11 nights (Feb 8-19) at the Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret. First thing I want to say is we would go back and are already recommending this resort to friends and family. My wife and I went with another couple that had been here 2 years ago, two other women friends and a baby under two. The deciding factor to which resort to go to was the other couple saying they were perfectly happy going back to the same resort. As far as any negative reviews, I think some people cannot be pleased. Nothing is perfect, but this place came close.

I cannot estimate how many people work at this resort, but there are a lot (couple hundred at least). Out of the numerous staff almost everyone of them looked at you and smiled when they said hello or hola. This includes the young guys sweeping sidewalks. As far as people saying in other reviews that the language can be a barrier, let’s remember that we are in THEIR country, and just learning a few simple phrases in Mexican goes a long way. One thing I noticed in a recent review, commented on the guest services fellow sitting in the front of each building block. I don’t understand how you can be guest service as well as the snake trying to get you into a time share talk. Anyways once you figure that out, just ignore him.

The food was fantastic. The favorite restaurant among the group was the Sonora Grill, we went there twice. Other than the restaurants, the buffet was great for breakfast, lunch and supper. We have been back home for a week and I sure miss the buffet breakfast. Almost all of the staff in the buffet restaurants are wonderful and go way out of their way for you. (Especially Bernardo at the beach house buffet, thanks!) Just a side note here, it you have nut allergies, make sure to have your medications with you at all times. They do have signs saying what most food items are, but of course not how they were prepared and there were a few items that had nut ingredients that we wouldn’t have expected to. A few scary moments there.

The room was good. It might not be as posh as some might like it, but if you are spending that much money for a holiday, you aren’t there to watch t.v. in your room all day. We didn’t have any problems with the safe and it was nice to have in the room, although I never felt as though we needed it. All the staff seemed very trustworthy. The fridge was stocked up everyday. The housekeeping staff were always friendly. The complaint I would have here is that the rooms are VERY un-soundproof. You could hear everything in the rooms next to you. But again, we hardly spent any time in the room, so it wasn’t an issue.

The pools were very clean and the water wasn’t as cold as everyone says it is. (maybe it’s just me). The pool we were at always had good music playing and the girl that ran the activities was amazing! The bartenders at the pool and beach should get a raise as they go nonstop all day. Unfortunately some people don’t get this and start to get abusive. Be patient with these guys.

Yes the beach is small, and it could get crowded, but it was so wonderful that we didn’t mind. Having it built with the lagoon is the best, as the ocean outside the lagoon was always rough. In the lagoon the water is calm and you can swim without any worries. Plenty of fish to check out without booking a tour. If not well versed at snorkeling, this is great for practicing.

We had a lot of fun at the Disco a couple of nights. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t Cancun, like you see on t.v., but if you are over 30 and would like to whoop it up without the 20 year olds, you’ll be fine. They play some pretty good music and would even play what we wanted if we brought it to them. The shows every night were also entertaining.

With your booking at this resort, there is a free pass to XCARET park next door. It is really next door, you walk there. Tour busses come from Cancun to this park. The park is a must!! Well, for one it is free. My wife went swimming with the dolphins, and although it was pretty pricey, it was well worth it for the experience. Different people from our group went snorkeling, snuba diving or deep sea diving at the Xcaret Park and were very impressed with all of it and the prices didn’t seem too unreasonable. The underground river at the park is free to go through and is quite an experience as well. We all loved that. The evening show is fantastic. There is no other way to describe it, and really, if you are there, you have to see it for yourself to understand. We didn’t think it was too long (2 hours) but I guess it depends on what your definition of long is. Even the 20 month old loved it and was entertained the whole time.

The parents of the baby hired a babysitter for quite a few nights that we were there, and there were no concerns at all. The girls come right to your room and they were both very sweet girls and they felt totally comfortable leaving their child with them.

One thing I have to mention is security. In our group we had 4 women. If by chance one of them were walking by them selves at night, they always felt secure. A security guard would always be nearby. Not step by step, but in the background. Very reassuring!

Overall, this was an amazing place to stay. Besides it’s unbelievable cleanliness in the rooms and throughout the whole place, the staff there really make this place work.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Chris and Cindy from Canada

February 2005

Dates of travel, 5 to 15 February 2005. 3rd time in Mexico.

We flew from Toronto on Air Canada, for our stay at the Occidental Flamenco Grand Xcaret resort. Arriving at Cancun at about 2:00 pm, our first challenge was to clear customs. Many flights arrived at the same time, and it took over an hour and one half to clear. Then it was “run the gauntlet” of friendly “passenger information” people, who look very official, but whose one role in life is to sell you a time-share. As we were looking for the Air Canada Vacations representative, we got waylaid by these helpful people, but got out of that snare as soon as we realized what was happening. Beware of anyone who offers you free anything – they are trying to sell you, and you will waste valuable vacation time if you listen to them. On the plus side, it just takes a little polite firmness on your part to move on from these earnest salespeople, and you are on your way.

Outside the terminal, we found our Air Canada rep, who showed us the way to the bus. Finding this person was a challenge, because he was very short and had just a little sign. However, once on the bus, we were fine. The ride to the resort took about 45 minutes and was quite pleasant. The Air Canada rep on board greeted us, explained what was going on, and gave us some good information on what to avoid during our stay. Time-share salespeople were number one on his list! We were told that the water at the resorts was fine, although the tap water might be a little salty for our tastes, so sticking to bottled water was recommended. I can’t remember the other advice he gave, but at the time I remember feeling grateful that he made the effort.

Arrival at the Grand Xcaret was around 4:30 pm. Check-in was no trouble. We confirmed for the Air Canada rep that our bags were indeed off the bus, and the bellboys took charge of them after that. Check-in was trouble free. We were a bit concerned that we were not in a smoke-free building, as we had requested that, but in the event it proved not to be a problem. I never smelled any smokiness in that building. Also, we had a ground floor room, which suited us fine. The front desk staff were very helpful and took all our concerns and questions quite seriously and helpfully – a trend that I saw continue from most of the staff throughout our stay. The room itself was quite lovely – you can see them on the Grand Xcaret website. We had two double beds- we would have preferred a queen size, but the double proved to be adequate, although my wife found the mattress to be a bit hard. The room was well appointed, with 110V outlets and a blow dryer in the bathroom. My only complaint would be that there were wooden doors (two) between us and the adjoining room that had zero sound absorbing qualities. Thus, when people in the next room made noise, it transmitted quite well into our room. Notwithstanding this, as we did not spend too much time in the room it did not end up being a big deal, but if the hotel upgraded to more sound absorbing doors, it would be a good thing. Another nice feature was the true “all-inclusive” nature of the resort – the minibar was no charge and contained very useful bottled water, some pop and some beer.

The dining at the Grand Xcaret was the best I’ve seen yet in Mexico. The main buffet was located in the main building and featured fabulous food. There were many choices to be had, and a lot of variety from day to day. My one observation would be that at breakfast, for some reason a coffee thermos is put on each table, but not the little jug of hot milk that typically accompanies Mexican coffee. So, one could get coffee right away, but had to wait to grab a waiter to get some milk. At the Beach Buffet, tables had both milk and coffee, so I’m not sure why this wasn’t done at the main buffet. A small complaint, to be sure. I might mention at this point, that the staff was very hard working at all times, and were very helpful. As to the other dining, there are five specialty restaurants. We stayed 10 days, so we could book six times at a restaurant, while those staying 7 days could book 4 times. Nonetheless, the restaurants were so good that we kept booking them, and never got turned down even when we went over our limit. The Sonora Grill was fabulous. We went there three times, it was so good! The one restaurant that disappointed was the Oriental. I would say that the resort has not got the hang of oriental cuisine quite yet. Other than that, the food at the restaurants was great. My wife found a grasshopper or something on the dessert bar at the Sonora Grill, but since the restaurants are open to the air, such things are bound to happen!

There are many pools at the resort, and a man-made beach area. Deck loungers abound, so there was never a problem finding one. My wife found that the pools were a bit cold – I don’t think that I ever went into a pool. The beach area was more appealing. Sheltered from the wind, it was warm, the water was pleasant, and it was possible to get snorkeling gear so as to paddle around and gawk at the fish. One must buy a snorkel at $3.00 US, snorkels being a personal item. The sea-water pool, which is around the corner from the man-made beach, is the only topless sunbathing area, but for most of the time it was quite windy and cool out there, so we did not take advantage of this area during our stay. Although the man-made beach area is very nice, if you are looking for long stretches of sandy beach, this resort is not for you.

The resort includes one-day admission to Xcaret Park. Xcaret park is a fabulous park, with the most amazing displays of animals and Maya culture. We enjoyed the underground river immensely, and I also took the opportunity to go snorkeling in the inlet. Probably not the best snorkeling experience to be had, but nonetheless there was an amazing variety of fish, sea turtles and marine life to be seen. We saw a bit of the show at the Mayan village, and then the full show from 6 to 8 pm at the theatre. This featured Mayan and Mexican performers doing traditional games and dances. It was fantastic and very much the highlight of our trip.

Playa del Carmen is not far off, and a taxi into town was only 80 pesos. We went in several times to shop and to poke around. Dealing with the vendors is a hoot. Be prepared to bargain. In one case we knew we had hit the bottom line when the vendor referred to us as “F—-ing Canadians,” but this was a rare case of hostility. I found a bargain on Kaluha in a pharmacy on 5th Ave – only 90 pesos for a 980ml bottle, 5 pesos below the best price elsewhere (and well below the duty-free price of $13 USD at the airport). As there are lots of cruise ship passengers and other tourists wandering around town, the competition among the stores is ferocious. We had an excellent lunch in “Limones,” where a cerveza was $1 USD and the food was very tasty. Returning to the resort was simply a matter of hailing a cab, being sure to negotiate the fare prior to getting into the vehicle, as we had been advised to do.

Another side trip was to Chichen Itza. We bought the trip in the hotel lobby instead of from the Air Canada vacation rep. This was cheaper by some twenty dollars. The trip featured a very well-appointed bus, a guide, stops at a craft mall, swimming in a cenote, lunch, and of course a guided tour of Chichen Itza. The Grand Xcaret being quite close to Playa del Carmen, we got on the bus first, which then proceeded to stop at almost every other resort between us and Tulum to pick up other passengers prior to hitting the road for Chichen Itza. This made it a three hour trip each way to the famous Mayan city. The stop at the craft fair did not yield much. I was not too impressed by the quality, and basically it was the same stuff you can get in Playa del Carmen or elsewhere. There is a much better selection of crafts right at Chichen Itza. I loved the cenote. This particular one was located very close to Chichen Itza, and has a formidable series of steps leading down to the bottom stage where one can either dive into the water or descend via a wooden ladder. There is a washroom outside the cenote where you can change into your bathing suit, but there is no place to store valuables, so be prepared to leave them all on the bus (alleged to be safe) or with your spouse or another traveller. The dip into the cenote was quite refreshing. There are fish in there, but they don’t nip you, and while there may be the bones of long-ago sacrificied Mayans at the bottom, they did not bother me either.

At Chichen-Itza, we lucked out as our bus guide turned out to be an extremely well-informed retired teacher, who seemed to know everything about the Maya and their culture and religion. All aspects of how the buildings were laid out and to what purpose was explained in depth. Very interesting! I went up the main temple to the top, 91 steps. Going up is easy, going down is more challenging psychologically, as the steps are very small and very steep. I was told afterwards that the proper way to go up and down is diagonally, not straight. This makes it easier.

Another interesting outing was to the Lapis jewelry factory, south of the resort. At the Grand Xcaret resort there are a number of stores, among them a Lapis jewelry outlet. The lady in there was quite helpful, and offered the tour of the factory. This is completely free, and can be combined with a shopping trip into Playa del Carmen. Of course, they want to sell you jewelry, but I must admit that there was no undue pressure at any time to buy. As Valentine’s Day was coming up fast, I decided to accompany my wife to the factory. It was amazing to see the quantity and quality of the jewelry they produced there. We did buy some items, and I was satisfied that the prices were fair. It is possible to bargain, so don’t accept the list price as being the final offer.

I would say at this point that time-share salespeople were in the resort, and in fact in Playa del Carmen as well. Just be firm in your resolve not to waste your time with them, and you won’t have much trouble. I am a bit irked that the resort has these people stationed in each of the building, posing as guest services personnel. They do fulfil that function, but they are really there to sell you!

Lastly, the resort offers some very good wildlife on site including flamingos, deer, lots of birds, howler monkeys and many iguanas. The evening entertainment was by far the best talent we have seen at any similar resort.

All in all, it was a great vacation, and we would certainly return. However, variety being the spice of life, we will probably try out another Mexican location first!

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Joe and Debbie ~ Thorold Ont

February 2005

This review may seem a bit long but I felt compelled to write and defend this fine resort from a lot of the other negative reviews keeping in mind that an opinion is of a personal nature and no two are the same.

My wife and I along with my mother, brother, sister in law and their two young sons enjoyed a wonderful stay at this fine resort and am still wondering what all the whining and pining is about. If you had expected to be waited on hand and foot you should have reserved at a Sandals or Secrets Resort and paid double or triple what you did .

Check in: Thorough and fast with no language problems.

Rooms:We were in Building 11 which is right next to the lobby. No undue noise, balcony was small ,room was clean no musty or sewer smell as I should know as I have a pretty good honker and it works really well. Tip if you want but it really doesnt matter. Does it make you happy if you have a swan on your bed? Then dont tip, we found no difference.

Restaurants: Lots and plentiful. If you cant find anything you like go to another one because this has everything you could want. No complaints here!!

Beach: My wife and I are beach people so we were a little dissappointed. Who wouldnt be but we knew it was small so we enjoyed what we had. Water was OK for snorkling. Another review stated that there was brown water from inlet: NOT TRUE! Dead fish: NOT TRUE! Seaweed: NOT TRUE! This was live plant matter and should not be cleaned as it is live plants.

Pools: Again lots and plentiful. Water was cool but do able, music was fair with a lot of variety.

Bars: Lots and plentiful. Read previously that drinks were watered down. NOT!!! Asked for and recieved very good and potent drinks, just ask my wife she recommends to stay away from the Long Island Ice Tea!! I myself would ask for certain drinks made with Appleton Rum and would be asked in return white or dark and they would proceed to crack open a new bottle.

Food: Different theme every night. Again if you didnt like one thing then try something else. There is so much to enjoy that if you didnt find something then there is something wrong with you not the food!

Concluding comment: The only complaint that we would have is that the resort is huge making it a long walk if you are not up to it but it does have a cart that stops at certain points along the way. Would we return? Sure if the price was right again. My hope is that this review will counter a lot of the negative ones that have been posted.

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Brad & Lori ~ Canada

February 2005

We visited this lovely resort from January 30 to February 6. The food was great and the service was even better. All the staff knew very good English and Hola was said with a smile everytime. We stayed in building 21, top floor, ocean view, king bed. Building 18 had some kind of flowers planted all around it that smelled really nice when we walked by. The maids left either a beautiful towel arrangement or flowers every day. We were told to tip every other day and one day she never even took the tip from the bar fridge, it sat for two days until I put it on our pillow! I think these people are very well paid here. The pools were the best feature for us, the beach being small and crowded (but we knew this ahead of time). There was always lounge chairs available at any time of the day at the pools, no need to save them with towels. The internet pricing was 5.00 american for 15 minutes, but we found it in town for .50 for 15 minutes! We taxied to town for 8.00, sharing it with another couple met in the lobby since it’s the same price no matter how many people. When people in town started asking us to go to a time share deal, we just told them we were leaving the next day and they politely left us alone. When the vendors called us into their stores a “no, gracias” was enough. Vendors came to the resort at night but weren’t pushy at all. There was a man, Luis, who painted the most amazingly beautiful pictures with his fingers located near the theater, a must see! We went to Xcaret park one day,very interesting, although we both agreed we liked Xel Ha better. We would definitely recommend this resort. Feel free to email us with any questions bradt6t2@yahoo.ca

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Kim + Erin ~ Thunder Bay , Canada

February 2005

Just returned from a seven day vacation ( jan 25- feb. 01) on the beautiful Mayan Riviera. The Royal Club at this resort was great!! Treated us to anything we could want, service at the pool, room service etc., excellent. My daughter ( 11 yrs. old ) had the pool to herself the majority of the time, she enjoyed her time on this holiday more than both her visits to Varedaro, which she also loved. Service at the Royal Club for dinners could not have been better, food was always great, served in a very friendly manner. Gambino, Mercedes and the rest of the staff ensured an enjoyable stay. Tip these guys, they deserve it!! Xcaret Park was lots of fun, the show at 6:00 P.M. was also OK. Hired a cab to take us to Xel Ha , cab driver charged us $ 80.00 , we spent 6 hours there, he waited for us while we explored, had lunch, swam etc., did some sight- seeing on the way back to the resort, better than taking a bus tour which left the hotel at 7:30 a.m. and did not return until 6:00 P.M. We could leave when we wanted !! Food at the restaurants was good, ate at the buffet one dinner, lots of shrimp etc etc . Had a great time, would return to this resort anytime. Chuck,

Almost forgot, met some great people from the U.S. and from Sudbury !!

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Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Chris — Princeton, NJ

November 2004

We have just returned from a little disappointing 7 days stay at Grand Xcaret by Occidental.

It was our 4th vacation at Mayan Rivera and the worst and the most expensive one. Before we stayed at Iberostar resorts. We went there with 6 yr old daughter and 17 months old boy. The resort has not made its mind about their target clientele. I do not think the resort is kids friendly, starting with wrong design – stairs everywhere, ending with banning kids from accessing some spots. Due to their negligence, the resort had one child fatality in the past and now instead of being more prudent in terms of safety they simply restrict access.

The kids disco is a joke – every day the same tricks.

In comparison to Iberostar their food variety is quite limited. They need European or American cooks! The service was at best inconsistent. I asked at the front desk to fix the dangerously sticking out screw from the closet (missing door handler) to be told to call some number. When I insisted their took the room number but never fixed the problem (safety negligence again). The waiters often stand doing nothing not seeing their clients needs – there should be always a supervisor there. The ‘beach’ is very small and the water there is not as clean as in the nearby Xcaret park. I think the resort is dumping their waste straight to the water where people swim. Smoking is very annoying at the congested ‘beach’.

We had very unpleasant interaction with macho Mexican guests who seems to be very hostile towards white Americans and Europeans.

The architecture is very nice but impractical. Rooms are nice and clean. The swimming pools are not heated but very clean (perhaps too cold to make them dirty).

I think that beside top two people the management is local and the reflection of their mentality is visible. French is not widely spoken. It is predominantly English and Spanish for visitors from Spain.

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