Travel: We booked through selloffvacations.com Since we had been to the Royal Solaris before, we were comfortable booking online and knowing what to expect once we got there. The tour operator was Sunquest Tours. The air carrier was Skyservice and the flight was direct, Ottawa to Cancun. Booking through selloffvacations.com was easy. Although I had trouble accessing their website, I booked by phone and all travel documents were received well in advance of the trip. They did a good job. We had to be at the airport 3 hours before our 6:30 a.m. flight, so we got there at 3:30. The Skyservice agent gates were not open yet, and we had to wait about fifteen minutes before they opened up to check our luggage. The flight left promptly at 6:30. They served us breakfast on the flight, which was good. They had onboard movies but charged $5.00 for headphones, so bring some if you have them. The flight over was on time and service was very good. The flight back to Ottawa was likewise very good, except for one complaint we had: they sell duty-free items on the plane, and push a cart along the aisle containing all the goods. This blocked off two out of three washrooms for at least half of the passengers for half an hour. Since they passed the cart about half an hour after feeding us (and serving beverages), there were quite a few people lined up for the only bathroom available. Although I sidled up behind the cart hoping they would let me through to the only two free washrooms, they told me I would have to wait until they were done, or get in line at the other one. I don’t think selling stuff should take precedence over bathrooms! We landed on time in Ottawa and breezed through customs.
It turns out we had an appointment to meet with our Sunquest rep at the hotel at 5:00, which we did not see on our documentation, so we missed it. She ended up calling us at 5:20 p.m. (we weren’t in the room) then leaving a message. We ended up meeting up with her 3 days later and that was fine. I was glad she tried so hard to reach us, even though it was unsuccessful.
We had to go through immigration with our tourist cards, then customs. The lines were long but moved very quickly – Mexico does a good job of being efficient in processing travellers. We arrived at the airport around 10:30 and were out by 11:30. Sunquest had representatives there to direct us to the shuttle to take us to the resort. They did a great job. At the end of our trip, we were promptly picked up by the shuttle and spirited to the airport. The lineup to check luggage was daunting; there was a least one flight to Toronto leaving at the same time via Skyservice, so there were hundreds of us waiting to check luggage. Happily, they had many (10?) counters open and we breezed through in about 45 minutes. We also sped through security screening, so we had about an hour before boarding the flight to check out the shops.
Resort: We have stayed here before and also at the GR Solaris down the beach. This is definitely our preferred resort. We arrived at 12:00, and though check-in time is posted as 3:00, our room was ready. We had to pay extra to use the in-room safe, $1.00 u.s. per day. We were assigned with a hostess to explain the facilities to us (which she did), but most of that time was spent trying to convince us to go a to a breakfast at the GR Solaris for a sales pitch for time-share. She didn’t specifically say that, but that is the pitch. She didn’t spend too much time trying to convince us though, as we are both smokers and this was our first chance off the plane to have one, so we were probably smoking her out. As in previous reviews, there are two towers: the Royal Solaris and the Caribe. Royal Solaris is more of the "party" tower, while Caribe is more peaceful. Although our room was in the Royal Solaris, we preferred the Caribe pool area because it was less busy, particularly at lunch time to eat at the pool snack bar there. They do such a nice job of keeping the resort clean! Seagulls like to pick up scraps off of plates left around the pool area, but they didn’t have a chance with speedy staff picking up, sweeping up and cleaning constantly, everywhere. If you come here (Cancun) do not leave food out; the birds will swarm you and it is really quite frightening. We were sitting on the beach one day and a group of 4 ladies got some food before three went into the water, while one sat and read. Before you know it, dozens of birds were on that food and the woman was unable to fight them off. One of the beach waiters had to come and help her. Clean up after yourself and when you have food, eat it! Another example of the cleanliness standard is when we were sitting near the pool bar the Royal Solaris one day and a patron dropped three slushy drinks when leaving the bar (maybe had enough already?). Staff had it hosed down and cleaned up inside of 5 minutes. They really do a great job in this respect. Service is really great at all the bars, staff are friendly and attentive. We felt spoiled.
Downside: The only downside at the Royal Solaris Tower was that there are four elevators and not all were working at the same time. One was out of service for a couple of days, while others would go up went you wanted to go down, and vice versa. Patience is definitely a virtue with these elevators.
Rooms: We had an ocean-view room with a king-size bed in the Royal Solaris tower, no balcony (boo!). Still, the view was very nice. Housekeeping service was excellent. The housekeeper left us towels made in the shape of swans kissing (cute) and another day left napkins in the shape of a flower. Nice little touches. Soundproofing was good, though on our 2nd last day we had some rowdies move in next door, which we heard too easily. Thankfully, they were quiet at night, which is all that’s really important, right? We had to call on maintenance one day to fix a clogged toilet and they arrived quickly and fixed the problem. The only downsides to the room were: No refrigerator in the room. Some reports provide and stock a bar fridge. No complimentary bottled water. If we wanted bottled water, we had to buy it at the gift shop and then get the guys at the bar to refill it (which they were happy to do). This was nevertheless inconvenient.
The television had limited English stations. Although there were a few american stations, about the only news we got was Anna Nicole Smith and Brittney Spears. Hubby wanted to watch the Daytona 500, but that was not on.
Beach: The beach is always beautiful. The beach was just beautiful. The weather was windy and the red flags were out (no swimming) all week, but that didn’t stop me. I frolicked in the waves every day and it was great fun. No jellyfish, just sand and sea. With all the places we have visited down this way (Acapulco, Cuba, Margarita Island, Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata) this is by far the best beach for playing in the surf. It was too rough for kids, though. Much like the resort, the beach is kept very clean and is regularly groomed at night. Bar service is great on the beach also, with waiters passing regularly to take orders and pick up empties.
Downside: The only downside was that there weren’t enough lounge chairs on the beach and some of those available would not prop up. One reason for this (chicken and egg scenario) is that guests would go to the beach first thing in the a.m. and put towels on beach chairs, "claiming" them. While there were many empty chairs at any given time, there were very few "unclaimed" chairs that people could use. Some guests ended up bringing chairs from the pool to the beach, which is a hassle.
We’re at the ocean, for God’s sake – there are pools at home! We walked by them, that’s about it.
Food service was good. Breakfast was at "Las Fuentas", located in the Royal Solaris Tower. Food was plentiful with a nice variety. They had one griddle cooking up pancakes and french toast, which hubby gobbled up happily daily. The other griddle served up eggs as you like them, fried, omelettes, etc. Our only complaint is that omelettes were not cooked long enough, so the filling was often cold. I assume that asking the cook to leave them on a bit longer will solve that.
Lunch was usually at the pool snack bar, where they have hot dogs, hamburgers, wings, french fries, fried cheese, chilli, pizza, sandwiches, fresh fruit, etc. This was always fast and good. The Caribe pool snack bar is quieter and less crowded than the Royal Solaris, so that always worked better for us.
Supper: Each restaurant had a different theme each night. Although there are others, we stuck with Las Fuentas for the buffet, and Rosmarinus for the excellent Mexican cuisine. Las Fuentas was good for supper. There was always a good variety and service was excellent. Service was great at Rosmarinus, as was the food. It was always "Mexican Cuisine" night, and we had a nice variety. We especially enjoyed the Beef Sarape. The salad bar is meagre, though. Nevertheless, we highly recommend it!
Downside: Our only complaint about Las Fuentas for supper was the bread. At breakfast, there was always a selection of rolls, sliced bread and loaves to be sliced. At supper, there were only loaves for slicing, which I do not find very hygienic. Although there are tongs provided so the guests need not touch the bread to slice it, many do (particularly children) and so God knows what is growing on them. There are no rolls to be found there at supper. I undertook the habit of picking up a couple of rolls at breakfast to save for supper. Rosmarinus has rolls for supper.
Ultimately, we had a great time and will return!