Sunscape Tulum – Mayan Riviera, Mexico Hotels – Debbie's Caribbean Travel & Resort Reviews



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Sunscape Tulum – Mayan Coast  ~  Reviews Posted – 23

Sunscape Tulum Photos:     1, 2

Sunscape Tulum Melanie ~ Canada

December 2005

What’s not to love?! Truly a remarkable property!

I have visited other Sunscape properties and was very much looking forward to visiting this one from Dec 4-18th. I had emailed the wonderful GM ahead of time and received a glorious room upgrade. (I don’t want to give too much away so poor Linda isn’t overwhelmed with even more emails than she already receives!) Let’s just say I was very fortunate.

The architecture is stunning. I really loved the hacienda-style buildings. Rooms are a touch dated, but are lovely in their own way and are all being upgraded as they transfer over to become a Dreams property. They were already going around adding dvd players, floor mats, and silver trays for the bathroom amenities.

The food is outstanding! I ate everywhere but the sushi restaurant and was not disappointed once. Some faves: Seniggi- Shrimp Broth, Spring Rolls, Yakitori Chicken, & the best chocolate mousse. Casanova- Snapper entree and seriously the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. El Charro- I ate here for lunch everyday. Why wouldn’t you when you’ve barely sat down and they’re putting salsa, guac, and chips down in front of me. Cayetano even remembered that I liked lemonade so would bring that over too without me asking for it. Their mahi mahi was delicious, as was virtually every other thing I tried. Have the lime soup. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve already "attempted" to make it at home, with I only wish the same results. This was the best food I’ve ever had at an AI, hands down. Service is outstanding all around as well.

The construction is not quite done, but at no time did it bother me, other than hoping the new pool with swim-up bar would be ready in time before I had to leave!

Truly, the only thing close to a "downside" is the beach. It is not the easiest to navigate to get into the water without stepping on rocks, etc, but they are constantly raking/cleaning, etc. It is still very pretty to look at, and hopefully will be back to pre-hurricane conditions soon.

It may seem like a long way from the airport, and it is, but you are so close to all the attractions the Riviera Maya has to offer, that the resort seemed perfectly located to me.

Go and enjoy. Maybe I’ll see you there when I return next year!
Salud!

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Sunscape Tulum Ken and Rosemary ~ New York

December 2005

We stayed at the Sunscape from May 8-22. We had a marvelous time. We booked a ROH via Compass/Apple vacations, but called ahead to request a room near to the ocean with a king size bed. We were upgraded to a spacious junior suite with a wonderful sitting area in the 100 block; and, a large bathroom with a bathtub/shower, double sink, toilet and a bidet. The furnishing was comfortable,and we had lots of drawer space for our clothing. There was an in wall safe in which we placed our personal pin number. Maid service was excellent; we received more towels and toileteries than we could use. Our bed was turned back every night, except when we were in the room and declined the service. We were less than a minute for the restaurants and about 2 minutes from the beach.

The Food
The food was marvelous, plentiful, and wonderful selections. The service in the all the restaurants was outstanding; but dining in the specialty restaurants (Senggi, Casanova, El Charro) was heavenly-more elegant that a five star in New York. The service at the Hacienda (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) was flawless; friendly, efficient waiters who always sought to please. Oh, and there really is 24 hour room service; we ordered hamburgers at 1:30 and 2:30 AM; they were delivered hot, tasty (well a little overcooked for me), and with all the condiments within 15 minutes.

The Beach
The beach was incredible. The water so blue and warm. Lots of beach chairs and umbrellas. Lots of hammocks. It was so safe, that we left our beach bag on our chairs while we were at breakfast and lunch. Ours was the only resort on the beach; no vendors- so peaceful. There was even waitress service; we ordered drinks and light snacks. Talk about total relaxation.

Trips
There are lots of tours, but we travelled on our own. We took the van for $2.00 each to Playa de Carmen, went to the Blue Parrot- danced and saw a marvelous acrobatic and fire show (no cover charge). We took a cab back for $28.00. We went to Tulum (by van) and took the public bus to the ruins at Coba- really fun and must see. We have been in the area before- already visited Chechinitza and Tulum ruins- both greath.

Snorkeling and Scuba
Snorkeled the resort dive shop- saw a sea turtle, a stringray, and other flora and fish. Ken wanted to do a Cenote dive with the resort dive shop, the Mayan diver, but the owner stated that he doesn’t take out inexperienced divers. Ken has 17 dives under his belt. We could not understand his logic. Ken eventually went diving with an excellent dive shop in Tulum called Cenote divers and had a wonderful experience with no difficulty at all. We highly recommend this company for certified open water divers.

We highly recommend the Sunscape Resort- we will return there

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Sunscape Tulum Elizabeth ~ USA

October 2005

My husband and I decided to take a five day trip from September 25-30 to the Riviera Maya to celebrate our anniversary and also as a “babymoon” as we are expecting our first child early next year. This was our third trip to the area; our past experiences consist of the Bahia Principe Tulum and the Copacabana.

We booked the trip through Apple Vacations but booked the airfare separately due to prices being several hundred dollars cheaper to book directly through USA 3000. This was our second time with USA 3000 and I won’t hesitate to use them again. The quality of the food has declined significantly, but at least they still feed you and show a movie, unlike most major airlines. We caught a 7:00 AM flight from O’Hare and flew directly into Cancun without any problems.

Upon arrival at Cancun, we proceeded through customs and immigration without any problem. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that the timeshare people were less intrusive than past years. We immediately found our Apple representative and were directed to a 15 passenger van, unlike past years when we took a larger bus. We made two stops along the way to drop people off at Bahia Principe Tulum and one other resort before arriving at the Sunscape Tulum.

Once we arrived at Sunscape Tulum, we immediately knew that the service was going to live up to the expectations we had after reading so many reviews. We were greeted with “Welcome Home!” champagne and a cold face towel. I did see the plate of cookies behind the desk but we were never offered any. We were happy to learn that our room was available immediately and that we were upgraded to a junior suite at no cost because we were celebrating our anniversary. They also honored our request to be as far away from construction as possible. This meant being in the building furthest from the beach, pool, restaurants, etc. in room 424. It did cause extra walking but we certainly didn’t mind it at all.

Rooms – The rooms were very simple, yet comfortable. We found they looked just like the pictures posted on the website. The junior suite had a full tub rather than just a shower in the bathroom. The water pressure was fine but on some days the water was only warm rather than hot. (I should mention that my mother and sister vacationed at the resort after us and our trips overlapped by a day. Therefore we were able to view their standard room.) The junior suite did have a few extra amenities in the bathroom. The amenities were larger than found in most hotels, but they are not restocked during your stay.

Each room has a small dorm-sized refrigerator that is stocked daily with beer, soda, juice and water. Other resorts we’ve stayed at have only refilled the fridge every other day. One day we happened to be in the room when they refilled and the gentleman noticed that we hadn’t touched the alcohol. I told him that I was pregnant and couldn’t drink. From then on he gave us extra of everything else. I appreciated him being so considerate. Also, in the room was a small coffee maker. We don’t drink coffee either so I can’t speak on the quality.

Being placed on the second level, we did have balcony with a small table, two chairs and a hammock. The hammock was a great place to read before dinner.

The junior suite also has a desk, chair, and daybed. The extra space was a nice touch to the room. This somewhat separate area was partially partitioned by a half wall with wrought iron on the top half.

Beds weren’t particularly soft, but that is the norm in Mexico. However, we never did have a hard time falling asleep in the evenings.

The television was hidden in an armoire. We were surprised to find so many English speaking stations. Unfortunately, they were stations out of the state of Washington so many of our favorite shows were broadcasted significantly later than our normal bedtime.

In general the rooms are hard to compare to the Bahia and Copacabana because the styles were so different. They certainly weren’t as fancy, but other amenities made up for it.

Grounds – The grounds were very simple. You don’t see the large amounts of marble or granite that you see at so many other resorts. Again, it is hard to compare to other resorts. However, the Bahia was set up parallel to the beach so almost every room had a view of the ocean. The Copacabana and the Sunscape were perpendicular to the ocean so more walking was required and there were fewer ocean view rooms.

Restaurants – The first night we opted to eat at the Hacienda, the buffet. I must say that this is the prettiest buffet I’ve seen. The service was excellent and our glasses were never less than half full. The quality of the food was excellent for a buffet and far better than the Copacabana and the Bahia Principe Tulum. The Hacienda is also the only place that breakfast is served. This is my husband’s favorite meal of the day and he wasn’t disappointed. The Hacienda was closed for lunch during our stay, therefore we at the restaurant by the beach. Again, the food was excellent. They had a fairly wide variety of food items. Before taking your order, they brought a bowl of chips and a plate of salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Absolutely no complaints there either.

During our stay we were able to eat at the Italian restaurant twice and the Mexican once. I was hoping to try the Asian, but it was closed during most of our stay. Both the Mexican and Italian were great. The presentation of the food was not lacking in any way. The quality was also better than any other all-inclusive that we’ve visited. I had read in the past that the portions were small so we ordered numerous courses. That was a big mistake on our part because we had way too much food.

I should also mention that the Sprite they serve is different than that served in the United States. My husband didn’t mind it, but I didn’t like it much. It was far too sweet for my tastes. Just remember that the recipes of the bottled drinks may differ slightly compared to what you may be used to.

Service – We’ve always had good experiences in the Riviera Maya area, but I think this was the best service-wise. When laying by the beach or pool, there were servers circulating constantly taking drink orders and clearing empty glasses. If they sensed that you didn’t want to be bothered they left you alone. I also loved the fact that they brought fresh fruit cups in the morning and cookies in the afternoon. The cookies weren’t the best I’ve had, but the gesture was nice. Also, one afternoon we were offered a plate of paella while laying by the beach. They also took food orders at both the beach and pool.

Beach – The Copacabana had the best beach of those we have visited, by far. I thought the Sunscape had a better beach than Bahia, but my husband disagreed. Portions of the beach consisted of crushed coral and were rather rough on the feet. What most people don’t say in the reviews is that there are portions that are powder soft. The water does have quite a bit of seaweed. I DID NOT see bags of garbage as some reviews have stated. However, there is some debris that washes ashore. The resort does a great job of keeping it clean but we did see it as we walked off property.

I would highly taking a couple long walks in either direction. If you walk north, you will come to an area where there are a lot of birds fishing. You will also come see some smaller cenotes in the ocean. We loved it so much that we brought my mother and sister to see them during our afternoon together. You’ll know you’re getting closer when the water gets cooler. The water is crystal clear there and extremely refreshing. After experiencing that, the ocean will feel like bathwater on the walk back to the resort. If you walk south of the resort, you will come across some rockier areas and will see more wildlife. We saw fish jumping out of the water and numerous stingrays from the beach. Those walks were a nice break from laying by the beach or pool all day.

There are plenty of palm trees but no palapas on the beach. However, it does appear that they will have palapas when the new section of the resort opens.

Pool – Like so much of the resort, the pool was simple. It was rectangular in shape rather than the free form that is seen in many other resorts. One thing I did like about it was that it varied in depth. The pools at the Bahia and Copacabana were no more than 4-4 ½ feet deep. There are plenty of umbrellas available and we never had to be there early for a shaded spot.

Construction – This was my biggest concern when deciding to stay at this resort. It does appear as a bit of an eyesore but was not intrusive. I was pleasantly surprised how quiet it was. I am glad to report that it was not disruptive.

Picture Service – Like most resorts, they do have photographers walking around and taking pictures of guests. One day they had an iguana and another day they had two colorful birds. We humored them by allowing them to take the pictures. The pictures of the birds were taking with my visiting family and my proud mother told them of my pregnancy. The photographer used this as an opportunity to take pictures highlighting my barely visibly pregnant belly both alone and with my husband. These pictures ended up being priceless and I’m secretly grateful to my mother for bragging about the baby.

The pictures were $10 for a 5×7. Unfortunately, I do not remember the price for larger sizes. However, I was glad to see that they had kept with the times and used a digital camera. Therefore they did offer to burn the pictures to a CD for $8 a picture. Just be warned that they will not lower the price for multiple pictures. We asked how many we had to purchase to get it for $5 a picture and they said 70!!! We decided to buy three pictures and have prints done at Sam’s Club for pennies a piece.

Excursions – During past trips we visited Playa del Carmen. Due to the distance and the fact that we’ve already been there twice, we opted out this year. However, we did take a taxi to Tulum to see the ruins. We paid $6 each way for the taxi and $3.80 for entrance to the ruins. Be warned that they only take pesos at the ruins. We exchanged money at the front desk of Sunscape for a fair rate. The ruins were really has hot as everybody said so be prepared with plenty of water, you will need it. Also be prepared by wearing your swimsuit. The beach there made up for everything that the Sunscape lacked. The water was clear and blue and the sand was soft. This beach was by far the nicest that I’ve seen in my life. It was extremely scenic with beautiful rock formations and the ruins in the background.

Overall – I had some concerns after reading reviews on various websites. We had a wonderful vacation though. Would we recommend the Sunscape to our friends and family? Yes. Would we return in the future? Yes. Is it the only place we will visit in the future? No.

If you are looking for a resort with great food and service, then Sunscape Tulum is for you. If you are looking for the best beach, then you won’t be as happy here. It all depends on your priorities.

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June 2005

My wife and I visited Sunscape Tulum from June 11-18th, 2005.

Good Points: The food and restaurant service was the high point of the vacation. The food was plentiful, presented well and tasted great in all of the restaurants on the resort. The staff was extremely friendly and went out of their way to wait on you and cater to your every need. The staff at the pool were the best that I have ever seen! They were there all day waiting on you with drinks and food – they made the vacation! The events in the pool were awesome also.

The drinks varied from being watered down a bit to extremely strong. I finally switched to beer for some consistency, but I’m not complaining.

Our first room was excellent in appearance and size and if you placed a couple of dollars in the mini bar – it became overstocked. Thanks for the tip. The maid service was spotty but acceptable. The time share people never bothered us after we turned down the initial offer to meet with them to review the resort.

Bad Points: To start off with the Apple van driver bringing us to the resort from the airport wanted to stop and get a few beers before we arrived. That concerned me but we managed to talk him out of it. And the ride from the airport was 2 hours and the ride back was 2 and a half hours. Way too long on that highway.

The front desk personnel and the Apple representative varied from being indifferent about our concerns to being rude. We exchanged some of our money for pesos and they were short on some currency at the front desk but wrote down in their ledger that they owed us and we should come back later. We came back later that night and they acted like we were trying to rob them. They said "what ledger" do you have a receipt – and of course we were never offered one and I didn’t think we needed it since it was written in their ledger. It was a small amount of money so I told them if it was that important to them then they could keep it.

Our room was great looking but was a far walk to the beach. That was OK but the AC did not work very well and we were up the first two nights sweating. We asked to be moved and the two rooms we looked at were even hotter. We were finally moved to an ocean front room that was slightly cooler but smelled musty to the point that it almost made you sick. We were informed, by the front desk staff, that this room was saved for complainers. We dealt with it!

The excursion we went on was the horse back riding. DON’T DO IT! We thought it would be a nice little diversion in the middle of the week but it was very scary. My wife and I were the only ones going that morning, so it was just us and two guides. They start by driving you deep into the jungle in a 4X4 (because nothing else could navigate this path) and you end up at some shacks where a few very old horses were housed. It would be something you picture they would take you if you were being held hostage – or worse. We went on a ride through the jungle on a stony path the horses constantly stumbled down and the mosquitoes would literally cover your legs to the point that they were black (no the apple rep did not tell us to take bug spray or wear long pants). We then arrived at a sink hole that was also scary and the water was quite green. We told them we were done and please take us back. The lead guide kept trying to get the horses to trot and my wife had never ridden before so she was scared for multiple reasons. He was nice but the entire $120 trip was a huge waste.

We went on the bike ride to the ruins at Tulum and it was very beautiful there but the bike ride was a bit grueling in June. I would do it again but my wife almost suffered a heat stroke.

The beach at the resort was beautiful but that was about it! There was coral and rocks just below the surface and you would break an ankle if you went in. Also, the sand was broken coral and felt like broken glass so no running on the beach bare footed. And if you leave the beach that is right in front of the resort, expect to run into some scary locals who look like they were just released from prison. These people were there each day.

And as for night-life – there is none! But if you are there for the rest and relaxation then it should work out for you.

In summary, the food is excellent and the service in the restaurants is very good. However, there were too many bad experiences (front desk staff, apple representative and the lack of AC) for us to ever think about returning to this location.

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Sunscape Tulum Doug & Rosa ~ Canada

May 2005

We happened upon this resort as a result of a poor Travel Agent. We were bumped from the Bahia Pricipe for the first two days and were forced to spend our vacation at two resorts.

The air travel and customs all went smoothly and the locals are quite frindly and tip hungry. We were accosted by two seperate gentleman offering up tours, free stays etc etc. I had to laugh when he actually asked me for a deposit. When you land here , talk to only your resort rep.

The ride to the resort is well over an hour, and the drivers are a joke at best. Seems they call the highway the Mexican Autobahn and there were numerous close calls on the trip. There is no regard for the passengers or safety and having children with you changes nothing. These drivers must surely be paid by the trip.

All the resorts are gated and are maintained like nothing I have ever witnessed. Manicured mostly by hand and no detail overlooked. Many lovely backdrops for photos and films. The workers at this resort raked and manicured the beaches every morning and we enjoyed the swimming area . The pool was small and there is only one, yet for the size of this resort, I thought it was adequate All of the staff were as freindly as one would expect, yet there are several hawks preying on guests and dupe you into time share presentations by offering a tour of the resort. The timeshare group reminds me of carnies at the local fair and if you do not sign on for a time share are overly rude and beligerant, smooth walkers , fast talkers, beware and pass on these fellows. Ricardo is the first contact and will smooth you into their claws. They are very organised and have every trick in the book down pat. The aggressive guy, the take over guy, the big guy. This soured me for the rest of the day, wasted almost an entire afternoon.

A lovely dinner for all on the beach, white linens, always great service and the food was excellent at all venues. Four of six of us were quite ill, yet I am sure it was from the fruits and washing practises at the bars. Local water to rinse dirty glasses and then refills. Bring your own cups, we will next time.

The staff at the poolside bar go above and beyond to make sure you are happy and content and I must say this was the highlight of this resort. They have much construction all about and one would be wise to wait for this to be completed. I suspect they are soiciting funds from guests to finance this construction. It is needed as the rooms, although kept spotless, were sub par and the musty odor was nauseating at best. Even with the windows open and the door, it was unbareable and our room, the air conditioning was down and the fridge did not get restocked over our

two days. When we travel again, I am sad to say until the new rooms are completed, I/we will go elsewhere. It is unfortunate that the resort workers could not be utilized at another resort, They were truly the highlight and take note Tulum, hawking timeshares and soliciting money are things we would not tolerate at home, and definitley would not expect from a first class resort.

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January 2005

First off we travel twice a year to the Riviera Maya area and we were not pleased with the Sunscape. The staff is great like the other resorts in Mexico but that was the only great thing about the resort. The rooms were not as nice as one of the 4 apple resorts that we stayed at. The musty smell was choking in the rooms. The rooms had no style to them and looked similar to a lock and store it garage. The walk to the beach was ridiculous about 10 mins. and we were only 1/2 way down.

The beach looked very nice and there were plenty of beach chairs and huts. The ocean water had a smell of a porta potty in July ( Sulfur Smell). Try getting a smooch from your wife with that smell in the air. Food and drinks were good not near as good as the sister resort "Secrets Capri "( best resort ever!!!!). I know that there are people that are going to read this review and question if I know what I am talking about, but trust me that I truly believe that if you have never been to an all inclusive in the Riviera than you will have a great time but if you have seen what the other resorts have to offer than I feel that you will be extremely disappointed with this resort. We had family that went a week after we got back, for their honeymoon, we felt sick that they were going to the same resort but we kept positive and hoped that they had a better time. They got back and we could tell by the looks on their faces that it wasn’t up to what they expected. Come to find out later they hated the resort. The Pool was sad ( and I mean sad, small). The drive to the resort 2 1/2 hrs. We thought that maybe apple was joking about the 6 apple rating but come to find out it is now a 6 golden apple! Must be because Apple Vacations owns this resort but they also own Secrets and my hat goes off to them for that resort.

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Sunscape Tulum Richard ~ USA

January 2005

I made an error in judgment by purchasing membership privileges at Sole Sunscape Tulum Resort. Once they received my money I no longer existed in their eyes. Making bookings is a treacherous, grueling affair. When we were lucky enough to actually receive reservation confirmation, upon arrival a whole new set of problems have occurred ; a long wait, moldy room, no hot water, leaks and mix-ups resulting in our kids actually separated from us by several buildings! In short, they don’t care. I suggest you keep your distance from this place!

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November 2004

My boyfriend and I returned from Mexico on the 21st of November 2004. We stayed one week at the Sunscape Tulum. Overall, my rating of this hotel would be a 6 out of 10.

Pros:
We found the maid service to be excellent. Someone came by to clean our room every day and it was spotless when we returned. They would even fold our clothes that we left lying around and leave us little animals on the bed made out of towels. Very impressive!

The food is simply amazing at this resort. The Italian restaurant is incredible and we ate there nearly every night. I would say it is better than a lot of Italian restaurants I’ve been to in Canada….very authentic! The Mexican restaurant is also very impressive and the presentation was amazing. The buffet had so much to chose from and it was all very good. We didn’t try the Asian theme restaurants as my boyfriend does not enjoy most Asian food, however, we also heard that these restaurants were great. Again, can’t stress enough how great the food is at this resort.

Cons:
The most disappointing aspect of our trip was the construction that was going on at the hotel. It was extremely loud and constant the whole week and the management made no effort to acknowledge or apologize for it. I would not recommend going to this hotel in the next couple of months because of this.

I’m not sure if this is really a con, but this resort is suppose to be all inclusive including tips. However, we found that tips were expected. We didn’t mind tipping because we felt that the service was excellent, however, I would warn that you should bring at least $50 American for tipping.

Some of the information found on the Sunscape Tulum website was incorrect (at least when we were there). I believe there was a theater, but they were not using it to show movies. They were showing movies in the bar (perhaps due to the construction??) and it was very noisy in there with blenders going off every 2 seconds…not sure how anyone could watch a movie like that. The beach party was a pool party, very disappointed there. Entrance to the ruins are not included as mentioned on the website…you have to pay for parking your bike and then to get into the ruins….oh, and I would recommend tipping as well 🙂

The time share selling was very aggressive. One of the sales people got mad at me because I wouldn’t sign a document. Stay away from these people!! They take up your precious hours of your vacation and are incredibly rude!

That’s about it. Overall, I’m not sure I would recommend this resort. It had it’s pros and cons, but some how the cons outweighed the pros for me. I would DEFINITELY not recommend going for a couple of months until the construction is complete.

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Sunscape Tulum Kevin & Gayle — Calgary, Canada

November 2004

My wife and I just returned from the Sunscape Tulum Nov. 5/04 after spending 2 great weeks at this resort. As this site has been such a great help for past vacations, I thought I should post something about this great resort.

Pro’s.
This is a smaller resort, for those who like it a little more on the quiet side. It also means If the resort provides good service, when they see you a lot, and they are good at what they do, it will usually become great service. This is exactly the case at this resort.

Our room was very nice and extremely clean. Except for some very minor hiccups, this was maintained every day. The only draw back was that we were supposed to get a king, and ended up with 2 twins. At the time they had no kings available, and once we were unpacked, we were quite comfortable and it wasn’t worth the hassle to re-pack and move.

The grounds are very nice, plain, but maintained like a top notch resort. The bars and restaurants were well done, as mentioned in many posts the only problem is their size.

The beach area is very nice with a more than adequate swimming area, and it seemed, plenty of lounge chairs. I’m not sure how this works in busy season as I think the hotel was about 3/4 full but there seemed to be plenty during our visit.

The food, WOW. We have been to many resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, some with higher star ratings, and we have never had the quality and diversity that we had here. From the buffets to the a-la-cartes, we tried it all and found very little that wasn’t terrific. The service in all was terrific, and quite frankly, even though you do not have to tip, after the first day, we felt compelled to. They were that good. One day comes to mind. We were having Breakfast @ the buffet, and after handing off my plate to my wife so I could pick up some extra juice, the maitre’d came running over to her and insisted that she let him carry the plates to our table. Keep in mind she was only about 20 yards from our seats with the 2 plates at the time. The other thing we heard about was the size of the restraunts made for long waits. We never waited more than 45 minutes, always in a lounge and they have put in a pager system which is great. We also like to eat around 8:00 ish on holidays, if we would have been ready earlier, the wait would have been shorter. We knew to check in at 7:30 and our table was ready right on time.

The Cons.
There are not many, more so, things that can be added or improved upon.

The size can also be a draw back. The after dark entertainment was average at best. Some cool things such as movies and Monday night football on the big screen at the beach are great, but the shows?? seen 1,seen them all, especially after 2 weeks. When they end at about 10:30 the place becomes somewhat of a ghost town. Because you are about 45 minutes, or a $35.00 cab ride from Playa del Carmen, it’s very tuff to get out very far, and so far, Tulum hasn’t developed much nightlife. We were not looking for wild parties, but the ability to dance to maybe some top 40 type music would have been nice. They say they have a disco. If they do, no one seems to go, or dance, maybe because there aren’t many staff left to lead the partiers. Also looking at the average age of the crowd, which was mostly couples in the 30-55 range, These resorts have to stop playing techno-babble and play us the tried and true music we know and like to dance to. This may have a lot to do with why everyone hangs around for about 10 minutes, and then calls it a night.

The other small problem was the animation staff. Don’t get me wrong, the one’s there are great, the problem is that there aren’t many of them and they put in at least a 12 hour day, 6 days a week. They never seemed to have much luck organizing the games, as no one seemed that enthused about playing anything. also the pool and beach areas are not all that conducive to games etc… At the moment, there is only one pool and it’s not all that big or fancy. This is all about to change though, as during week 2, they started excavating part of the hotel and beach area for a new pool with swim up bar, more rooms, and hopefully a couple of more larger restaurants. This will also cause a small amount of discomfort as they are working out of make shift bars etc at the beach, and there is a lot of construction noise during the day. It didn’t bother us but, we did hear from some others that were a little unhappy.

All in all, I would certainly recommend this resort to anyone, in fact, I already have. If this resort only rates 4 stars, the 5’s we have been at better pull up their socks, because this one so far blows them all away.

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September 2004

My husband and I visited Sunscape from Sept 11-18th.

Good Points: We found the food to be excellent, definitely above average for an all-inclusive. I am a very picky eater and there was always something at the buffet I enjoyed. Definitely visit the Asian restaurant when you go, the food and service were wonderful.

We found the staff in the restaurants and at the bars to be friendly and helpful at all times. When I got up to refill my drink at the breakfast buffet a staff member would always appear and offer to do that for me. Contrary to some of the reviews that I’ve read we did not find the drinks to be at all watered down or weak, they were actually very strong at times.

The second room we had was very nice, a garden view jr. suite. We moved from an Ocean view room and much preferred the garden view.

We were at the resort when there was a threat we would be visited by hurricane Ivan. The staff was very efficient at preparing the resort for the possibility of a hurricane. They had to remove all of the objects which might possibly break or fly around in a hurricane. They worked solidly for 24 hours to prepare the resort and then for 24 hours afterwards to replace everything after the threat of Ivan was over. Luckily we were spared any significant bad weather from the hurricane, and their efficiency definitely instills confidence if we had not been so lucky.

Bad Points:
We found the Ocean View rooms to be very musty. Definitely due to the high humidity, but unpleasant none-the-less. We had specifically booked a garden view jr. suite after reading the reviews but were "upgraded" to an Ocean View room when we arrived. It was a bit of a hassle to move to a garden view room, but after our insistence they accommodated our request. Given we had to spend a day indoors due to the hurricane threat I’m glad we made the switch.

The maid service was horrible. Definitely the worst at any hotel I’ve ever stayed at. One day the room would be made up but there would be no hand towels or face cloths, the next no toilet paper or the garbage’s had not been emptied. All of these were annoying, but not as bad as the time the maid too shampoo out of the garbage and put it back in the bathroom. You see the resort gives you 3 small bottles as their welcome gift when you check in. There is shampoo, body wash and body lotion. They do this instead of leaving it in the room. Our shampoo bottle had a dead bug trapped inside, so we threw it out. The next time the garbage was emptied the maid took the shampoo bottle and put it back in the bathroom, dead floating bug and all. I found that to be very unpleasant. It also seemed to be their standard practice to take any plates or glasses out of your room and place them in the communal hallway to then be picked up and brought back to the kitchen / bar. While this may be a good solution logistically it does lead to ant/bug problems as they tend to collect around the dirty dishes. On more than one occasion while we were there the dirty dishes were not picked up until the next day, which means when you return to your room at night you have to weave around piles of dirty dishes and the many bugs that were feasting on the leftovers.

The only other thing to watch out for are the time share sales people on the resort. They are very aggressive, and as many high pressure sales people tend to do, they make things up. We were told that the white building was only for ‘owners’ to stay in, but in reality the white building houses the ocean view rooms, where we had our first room. They give the typical time share sales pitch and there is a very aggressive and ignorant man from Scotland who comes in to give the hard sell after you turn down the first person. He was definitely there to try and intimidate and confuse us by throwing out nonsensical information and became very belligerent when we pointed out his double talk. The free gifts are not worth the hassle and 2 hours of your time, although they will claim that it will only take 1 hour.

In summary, the resort was fine, the common areas are beautiful, the pool is too small and the water in it too warm, the food is excellent and the service in general is very good. As the other reviews state this is a resort in which you will find lots of R&R, don’t visit if you’re looking for an active nightlife.

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Sunscape Tulum Kristina — Canada

September 2004

Hi Debbie,

We just returned from the Sunscape Tulum We went the last weekend in August and luckily escaped the Hurricanes. But it is certainly risky to travel to Mexico at this time of year.

I have to say overall we really enjoyed this resort. It was very clean and the beach was amazing. The food was exceptional in all of the restaurants. The spanish coffee service in the Italian restaurant was very special.

The gym was nothing special, but if you are a weight lifter you have all the equipment needed to do maintenance while on vacation. The treadmill is also great. I would recommend going in the evenings, even with the A/C the room really heats up in the morning.

It was also fabulous to get served food and drinks on the beach. The 24 hour room service also rocked! Ceasar was the best server on the beach

We had gone there for total relaxation. And we got it, it is a very sleepy and quiet resort. So if you need R&R this is the place.

On the downside there are three complaints I have: 1. The housekeeping came early every day and there was no "Do Not Disturb" signs for the doors. Very enjoying when you want to sleep in. 2. There was never enough water bottles on the resort in general. Understocked in our rooms and never any at the front desk. We had to call many times to get our bar fridge re-stocked

3. Both my husband and I got "Montezumas Revenge" and were very ill the last two days (And for a good week after the vacation, I still don’t feel right). We believe it is because of the cleaning practices of glasses at the bars. There were no hot dish washers to wash glasses at the bars, they were rinsed quickly with local water. We figure some of this local water got into our drinks and led to our illness. This is a very serious matter and I have emailed Sunscape to bring it to their attention.

Would I recommend this resort? I am undecided.. mostly because of my last comment. If it wasn’t for that, I would have given this resort the thumbs up!

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August 2004

Just to start off with, I am a travel agent and have been to many all-inclusives and traveled to Mexico six times. I traveled with my son, 6, husband and 14 other families with children.

Mostly, I have very positive things to say about the resort. The food and service is really the best. The waiter service to beach and pool is a huge plus. The beach is a bit of a disappointment, after traveling and hour and ten minutes to get to the resort. Lots of seaweed, which they rake up in the morning, and some in the water. The water can be murky at times, depending on the season. It’s sort of rocky (small pebbles and rocks) before you get to the main beach area. The ocean is great for swimming and very calm. Everything is clean and well-maintained. Love having no bracelets and towel cards. I thought the music by the pool was great, by the way. It was different every day. You can’t keep everyone happy, I guess. I thought the activities were really good and something was always going on. We even had teenagers that did not get bored. The "teen club" they advertise is non-existent. Bring friends or travel with them.

Having said that, the room situation and maid service to them is not at all consistent. I had been in touch with the hotel directly several times as to the need of our group, as far as bedding. It was not there on check in, after repeated phone calls to the front desk, and finally showing up in the lobby with crying and tired children the first night. Whatever you do, do not book any ocean rooms. THey are all in the same wing and have air conditioning and mold problems. I had several in the group getting moved, only after much ado. They were not at all happy, after two or three sleepless nights, I can tell you.

Ants were a problem in another. Maid service was a problem in many. I had a regular deluxe room in the 100 building, and it was more than fine, and better than anyone’s room in the ocean wing, which you pay a lot more money for. I do not think it deserves a six apple rating by Apple vacations. I loved the private transfers we booked, and it was well worth the money. For the same or less money, we could have gone to the Moon Palace and had way better rooms, which some in the group had been to, and more luxurious.

I really liked the resort overall, and would recommend it if you stay in the cheap rooms, particularyly the 100 block. A

A Note: tip the maid on arrival with a note in spanish, and you will not have any problems with restocking of items or cleaning the room.

If you have any questions. email me at etaz001@msn.com
Johnna Tazzetto, Owner J.C. TRavel, INc.

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Sunscape Tulum Keith and Lori — Illinois

August 2004

My wife and I went to the Sunscape Tulum July 13 – 20, 04. We had a great time. This made our fifth time in all-inclusive resorts so we are not totally green. Having been to the Sunscape Grand in Punta Cana last year and liking the way it was run we decided to try Mexico this year.

We will tell what we found so you will maybe know what to expect.

Be aware that you cannot check into your room until 3:00pm. So if your early and have much time to kill and your bathing suit is where you can get at it to change into you can relax around the pool and have a few drinks. For us our bus trip to the resort took over two hours because we had to stop at five other resorts first so we found the buffet restaurant and had lunch.

Ricardo is a lot of help. He smoothed us into a time-share presentation that took a little time but we found out where all the restaurants and activities were. No, we did not buy. Ricardo did get us a trip into town, which was good.

Our deluxe room was #326. It was a garden view on the second floor, which is what I emailed a request for after we booked. The room was the cleanest we have stayed in with no musty smell. The refrigerator was new and stocked with cold beer, pop and water.

At the pool, the towels were always rolled up and placed on the loungers. If the towel was rolled up the lounger was up for grabs. No towel cards needed. This was great but the down side to that we noticed was that people left the towels on the lounger instead of putting them in the dirty towel container we they were done with them. It was hard to tell if someone went to eat or was in the pool. I think for this reason the towel card is better. The music at the pool was dull. Rod Stewart and Elton John? BORRIINNGG!!

The beach had a lot of corral close to shore and there were many snorkelers out there. We sat on the beach the first day the insect bites were so bad we stayed at the pool.

We did three restaurants while we were there. The buffet was our main eatery most of the time. The food was the best we have had at any resort we have been at next to Sunscape Punta Cana. If we had to complain about anything it would have to be the service at the buffet. Getting coffee and water refills was slow sometimes. The wife requested water 4 times at lunch our last day there. Another time I got the water myself. It appeared to us that the staff was unhappy. This may have been because they were under staffed.

Having talked to the general manager in Punta Cana, we knew service, good food, dedicated staff and cleanliness was a high priority of the Sunscape resorts.

Since being to Rivera Maya two years ago, it has really cleaned and built up. Playa Del Carman’s 5th Ave. has really changed for the better. There is lots of shopping and restaurants. We went to TGI Friday’s. Nice break from buffet.

All in all the Sunscape had the best food and accommodations.

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June 2004

We enjoyed our best Riviera Maya experience ever at the Sunscape Tulum. All the staff was very focused on making our vacation as relaxing and trouble free as possible. We would like to thank Caroliena, Orlando(except for the Tulum misadventure w/Frank),Suzy, Fidel, the entire staff at the pool restaurant who always have a smile, great food and drinks with a clean table and timely service available. Also our maid service was great for 5 of our 7 nights. The other 2 nights would have been fine at any other hotel but these people set very high standards. The food was great. Hands down the best consistent quality we’ve experienced in Mexico. 24 hr. room service. Top shelf liquor. Great service. Seems like an easy winner right? If you require top shelf rooms(Palladium, Occidental Excaret)beaches(Club Meava Tulum,Barcelo Maya)or grand stage productions(Palladium) this club may not be exactly what your looking for. If on the other hand your looking for great food, service, drinks and friendly people check this place out.

P.S. had along 2 daughters ages 11 & 13 and never had a worry.

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Sunscape Tulum Karen from Calgary Alberta

April 2004

My family and I stayed at the Sunscape March 16 to the 22. The one down side to this vacation was the fact that it was too short!! We all loved the resort : ages ranging from 65 to 6. The staff were very helpful and bent over backwards to please us and contrary to what other reviewers have said, the staff treated our son like he was a king, which he got a kick out of! The food is to die for and there is a lot of it. The service in the restaurants is the best I have ever had, there was always some one whisking our empty plates away, and refilling our water and coffee; yes we did tip but we found that it wasn’t EXPECTED. The staff always had a hola and a smile for us, but then again we treated all the staff like they were our friends, and in fact we made quite a few friends that I miss. The rooms are simple but very tasteful. To tell the truth you don’t spend that much time in your room any way. There was always ample hot water, and for replacing the Toiletries, there are big bottles of every thing, enough to last you two weeks or more, we ended up bringing the left overs back home with us. I liked the idea that you looked out at the other balconies, it gave you a chance to say hello to every one if you wanted. If you want to do something fun I recommend the horseback riding. I did this, and had the time of my life, Mario the guide is a lot of fun and the only word of warning I got from him was to watch out for logs on the beach, the rest of the time we were having races(when no people were around) there is an extra cost for this but as a experienced trail rider, worth every penny.. Say hi to Mario for me if you go. The beach goes on for miles, and you can walk to your hearts content. We all loved it and are looking forward to going back again. If you have more questions give me a shout at whiddk@shaw.ca , always glad to help.

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Sunscape Tulum Liane — USA

March 2004

Overview:
**My family of five had an enjoyable stay at the Sunscape Tulum from March 5th – 12, 2004. Following is a detailed report with my experience, observations and opinions:

Overview:
The Sunscape Tulum resort in Quintana Roo, Mexico offers a quiet and relaxing retreat for anyone who prefers quality dining over most of the other all-inclusive features of a resort of this type. The resort is small (only 238 rooms), isolated and located about an hour and 15 minutes from the Cancun airport. In my opinion the resort caters to upscale couples ages 40+. It definitely is NOT a place for singles. While this property does allow children, I wouldn’t say it is particularly family friendly. The facilities are adequate for children, but kids are not catered to and families are not the central focus at this resort. (I’ll provide further detail later on). However, this resort is "FAMILY OF FIVE FRIENDLY" if one of your children is under five years old. Most travel agents will not tell you that, however the hotel WILL allow five people in one room under these conditions. I speak from experience, my whole family stayed in one standard room. The property is very well laid out. All the main areas are centrally located from the rooms and nothing is a far walk. If you are looking for a very laid back and relaxing vacation, this would be a good place. There isn’t a whole lot of entertainment. Their is no animation staff running around bugging everyone to join in on the daily activities. There is no disco. It’s very quiet and restful. It’s a true beach resort.

The hotel offers an unrestricted All-Inclusive Plan which is supposed to include all facilities, amenities and activities. As typical with most all-inclusive resorts, this does not include spa treatments, motorized water sports, and tours. (The Palace resorts is the only chain that I know of that includes some spa services and unlimited tours/excursions with a 7 night stay). Reservations are not required at the specialty restaurants and guests do not have to wear wristbands at this resort.

Apple Vacations rates this resort as a 6 apple and most travel agencies concur with a 5 star rating. Overall I would rate this resort 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely rate the a la carte restaurants as 5 star in food quality, presentation and in service. These quality specialty restaurants are what set the Sunscape Tulum apart from the other all-inclusive resorts in the Riviera Maya. The Hacienda buffet restaurant offers very good food (especially for a buffet), however the service was quite lacking and would rate 3 stars. In fact, the service throughout the resort is best described as inconsistent. It ranged from horrible to excellent. Room service, maid service, daily newspaper service, nightly turndown service, concierge, and wait staff did not live up to expectation of a five star resort. Also, the non-oceanview rooms, although ample in amenities, lacked the luxuries of a true 5 star hotel. But this IS Mexico and I have to say that overall the resort is of high quality, but still not 5 star. One last note, while tipping is supposed to be included, it is evident at this resort that the staff expects tips. Service greatly improves with tips and tipping makes more of a difference than any other all-inclusive resort I have ever stayed at (and I’ve been to many). If you are not a big tipper, don’t expect much in the way of good service.

One last thing I feel compelled to mention; the day we were leaving the resort was overbooked and arriving guests were being rebooked at one of the Secret’s resort located closer to Playa Del Carmen.

Specifics:

Property:
The resort is very small for an all-inclusive (although I was told they have plans for expansion) with only 238 rooms. The grounds are clean and well maintained throughout. Large potted flowering plants are abundant in the courtyards and corridors. There is at least one cactus garden. The grounds are very green and the area surrounding the resort is basically untamed jungle. As mentioned above, the property is very well laid out. Nothing is a far walk. The bars are very centrally located to the beach, pool and restaurant areas. In my opinion, the size and layout of the property is one of the resorts greatest assets. The quaintness of the resort accentuates it’s old world charm. Throughout the property there is a feel of casual elegance.

Rooms:
All rooms have balconies or terraces. Most non-oceanview rooms overlook a courtyard with a fountain in the center. From your view you also can see your neighbors from the other 3 buildings which also face the same courtyard as well as anyone who happens to be passing through the courtyard. And they can all see you too. The balconies/terraces are not very private. Oceanview rooms do not face one another, so you will not be watching your neighbor eat breakfast on their balcony. It appears that the oceanview rooms do actually have a view of the beach area and ocean (I am assuming, but I did not stay in an oceanview room or suite). The oceanview rooms are located in the white buildings that are just behind the Mexican Restaurant. It appears that the oceanview rooms overlook the Mexican restaurant, spa and the cenote as well as ocean. Hacienda Club rooms are located above the main lobby area and also have oceanviews.

The standard rooms which are closest to the restaurants, bars and beach is the 100’s block, followed by the 200’s block, then the 300’s and finally the 400’s block. The 400’s block of rooms is closest to the Theater. Standard rooms are furnished with 2 double beds or 1 king, a bench, a desk with chair, a 6 drawer dresser, a 27" color cable television, CD alarm clock/player, coffee maker (with coffee provided), ceiling fan, thermostat controlled air conditioning, electronic safe, stocked mini bar (with bottled water, juice boxes, beer and soft drinks), iron and ironing board, hairdryer, scale, and bidet. The bathroom was tiled in marble (including the shower). Please note that the standard rooms do NOT have bath tubs. I read a lot of reviews that complained about the lack of hot water in the showers. While I agree that the water was not very hot, I found it adequate. The water was warm and I found it refreshing after a long day in the hot sun. I wouldn’t have taken a hot shower even if it were available. Each room has it’s own terrace with a hammock, small table and two chairs. Two Robes and two pairs of slippers are provided in each room for guest use. The rooms are dimly lit, so if you are an avid reader you may want to bring along a book light. The accommodations are simple, the decor subdued and traditional to the Hacienda style. The non-oceanview rooms, although ample in amenities, are sparsely decorated and lacked the luxuries and ambiance of a true 5 star hotel.

Guest rooms are supposed to have twice daily maid service and a nightly turndown service. Our beds were only turned down one of the 7 nights we stayed there. I believe the restocking of the mini bar counted as a separate service and coupled with the regular room cleaning it brought the daily service total to twice daily. Also, newspapers were to be delivered each morning to your room, but we only received this service once during our stay. Our room did not have a "privacy/make up room" door knob hanger. We could have used one on the mornings we wanted to sleep in. It’s something the resort definitely should add.

Beach:
The beach at the Sunscape Tulum resort is quite secluded. You can walk for miles past the resort without meeting up with another vacationer. At night you can lay and watch the stars with no obstruction or distraction from lights from surrounding areas.

The beachfront area at the hotel can be broken down into two areas, swimming and non-swimming. The swimming area is gorgeous!. No seaweed, no shells, no coral, just calm crystal clear water. Beautiful! At about 10 am each day the staff drags a huge blow up, floating trampoline with a slide out into an area of the ocean which is about shoulder deep (on me anyway). It was used by both adults and children. A great place to suntan and then jump in the warm water to cool off. The swimming area of the beach houses all the water equipment (paddle boats, kayaks, etc). Oh, and no waves at either beach to speak of. This beach is not like the ones in Cancun. There will be no body surfing opportunity here. We saw some people try snorkeling, but never heard if it was good or bad. I did notice that they had to swim VERY far out to snorkel as the water is fairly shallow a long ways out. The thing to know is that if you want to lay on the swimming side of the beach, you need to get up very early in the morning and reserve yourself some chairs. I swear, they were filled up at 8 am. If you don’t care where you lay, there will always be chairs available on the non-swimming side of the beach. On the non-swimming side of the beach the sand has some ground shell and seaweed both on the beach and in the water. But this is the ocean and to be expected. There are also hammocks in many spots on the beach which I thought was a nice touch. However, I never got to lay in one because you had to get there before sun up to reserve one (I’m being sarcastic, but they did fill up very early). The same goes for the shade sombreillas or just a spot under a palm tree. These are all highly coveted spots on the beach.

There are three bars located in close proximity to the beach. The Barefoots Beach Bar is right on the beach near the swimming area. This bar has about 8 – 10 swings hanging around the bar so you can sit in the shade and enjoy a drink while swinging to the sound of the waves or the bar stereo. The Mexican restaurant bar is at the opposite end of the beach and the pool bar is located close to the center of the beach. Waiters walk the beach and serve you drinks. They will also order and serve you lunch if you request. Look for a young boy named Johansen. He was the best server. Always a smile on his face and genuinely happy to please you.

Pool:
The oceanside swimming pool is clean, cool and refreshing. It’s nothing fancy, just a rectangular olympic size pool, but it is right on the beach. There are many wooden lounge chairs with padding surrounding the pool and several shade sombreillas. As mentioned, there is a bar right adjacent to the pool area and usually one server floating around to bring you drinks.

Next to the pool is the Cenote. There are steps leading to the waters edge. I rarely saw anyone venture into the waters. I took a dip myself and discovered the water to be quite chilly. It was a beautiful site. The water was crystal clear and there is a fountain in the center. My kids met up with a small gecko basking in the sun on the rocks around the cenote. It was quite a kick for them to see. They lost interest in the geckos after our trip to the ruins where we saw many iguanas.

Room Service:
The Sunscape Tulum resort offers 24 hour limited room service as part of it’s all-inclusive package. It allows for the very nice option of having breakfast on your terrace in the morning or an afternoon or late night snack. The menu, however, is very limited. We were pleasantly surprised to have our children’s non-menu requests honored (like grilled cheese). Menu items offered included hamburgers, quesadillas, cobb salad, and spaghetti. While not gourmet meals, the food was good.

Restaurants: El Charro (Mexican) Casanova (Italian) Senggigi (Asian) Gohan (Sushi Bar)

Hacienda (Buffet with nightly themes)

I ate at both the Casanova and the Senggigi specialty restaurants and would rate them both as five stars. The attention to presentation, service and quality is immediately apparent. The food has that flare of gourmet excellence and tastes incredible. The Casanova restaurant served a five course meal which ended with a rolling cart serving an after dinner drink of Brandy, Sambucca, Amoretto, etc. It was a very nice finishing touch.

They do not take reservations at any of the specialty restaurants. All restaurants open at 6:30 pm. The specialty restaurants fill up quickly. If you are not there and seated by 6:45 pm, you will have to wait. They do not rush the guests out either. It’s very nice for those who are relaxed and enjoying eating, but those who are waiting can be there a long time. If you do not get to the restaurant early, it is best to go later (after 8:30 pm). We waited from 6:50 pm till 9 pm one night to eat at the Asian restaurant. All the specialty restaurants are very small. Senggigi has approximately 8 tables and Casanova has around 20. Each of the four A La Carte Restaurants closes one night a week.

There is a dress code at the 4 specialty restaurants. They do not allow beachwear, shorts or open shoes (men only). The expectation is that men will dress in slacks and ladies in dresses or nice slacks. We were disappointed to find out that the Casanova (Italian) restaurant does not allow children. After we made arrangements for our 3 children to be cared for in our room, my husband and I ate dinner at the Casanova. We were extremely unhappy to find that there were two other families with young (3 – 5 year olds) children eating at the restaurant.

The Hacienda is the large buffet restaurant. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here and there is no dress code, but the expectation is that guests do cover up their beachwear while dining. The food was good for a buffet, but not 5 star quality. AT each meal there was at least two made to order dishes. In the morning it was often omelets and pancakes/waffles. At other meals the made to order dishes included quesadilla, pasta, short ribs, etc. Each night there was a theme meal. I noted that when the Casanova restaurant was closed, that evenings buffet was Italian. Another night was Mexican complete with a small band in the entry area and a strolling Mariachi band that sang right at your table.

Also, each day at the Hacienda restaurant, there was usually a table set up either in the front or back near the buffet with a serve yourself cocktail or alcoholic beverage. Some days there were buckets with Champagne (cheap brands like Andre) and I remember seeing a whole setup several times to make your own bloody marys (complete with Stoli Vodka). These things weren’t pointed out to guests, but they were available.

There is a daily Tea Time from 4 – 6 pm in the bar area of the Hacienda Restaurant. They basically put out a pot of hot water with an assortment of tea bags for you to self serve. Also available on a table in this area are a plate of cookies and a tray of sandwiches to snack on. Unfortunately a ton of flies tend to show up for this afternoon snack as well. I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything after seeing the food swarmed with flies.

Bar Service:
The bar near the pool offered the best selection of middle to top shelf brand name liquors. They had their bottles displayed with a selection that included Stoli & Absolute Vodkas, Jose Cuervo Especiale Tequila, Bacardi Rum, Jack Daniels Whiskey, etc. However, even if you ordered a mixed drink with a name brand liquor, the bartender still used the well liquor and added a bit of the brand that you ordered. So you actually got half and half (good stuff & the local variety). One time I ordered a Stoli Martini and I had to specifically ask that it be made with only Stoli. Also, if you are a martini drinker beware that they POUR vermouth INTO the drink. I recommend that you try a Mohito (made with fresh mint and lime). This bar had a pleasant sitting area with wooden tables and chairs. It was especially nice in the evening for having drinks before or after dinner. At night there was usually one server dedicated to this area. I noticed some people snacking on some kind of snack/nut dish with their drinks, but we were never offered anything and usually had to get up to order our own drinks.

The bar at the Hacienda restaurant had a table set up with many different bottles of tequila available to try in a small lounge area. However, none of these were used in ordinary mixed drinks. Again, you must specifically request a brand or you will be served the local well tequila. This Hacienda bar mostly served the restaurant guests during mealtime. This is also the area where the 4pm tea time is hosted.

The Barefoot Beach bar was open all day and well into the night. I believe closing time was 1 am. While there aren’t tables, there are a number of swings that hang from the palapa and surround the bar. It offered a nice break from the hot sun while sipping a refreshing beverage. The horses are kept in an area back behind the Barefoot Beach Bar. Kids enjoyed seeing them even though we didn’t ride.

The bar at the El Charro (Mexican) Restaurant was also open most of the day and into the night. By day it served both lunch guests and the beach/pool wait staff who served guests in those areas. At night it mostly catered to it’s dinner guests. We had lunch at El Charro twice, but never dinner. The outdoor food & fly thing bothers me. If you are OK with it, try El Charro for dinner. Or you can order lunch on the beach which comes from El Charro.

In the evening there is one additional bar which is located in a waiting area between the Italian and Asian restaurants. There are stools at this bar as well as tables with chairs in the surrounding area. This bar served guests at all the area restaurants (via your waiter) as well as guests who were waiting to be seated (self serve). Along the top edge overhead the bar you will find their better liquors displayed.

Entertainment:
The Entertainment at the Sunscape Tulum consists of a limited animation staff. They are out during the day engaging interested guests in water aerobics and dance lessons. In the evening there is nightly movie show in the cinema. And at 9:30 pm each night there is some kind of entertainment show either in the theater, on the beach or in the main courtyard. This resort is not the place to go if you are counting on an exciting nightlife and fabulous entertainment. It’s very mellow, no wild parties, no nightly dancing and it’s not the place to go if you are interested in meeting people.

Weekly Show schedule: Monday – Welcome Party (in the plaza outside the lobby) Tuesday – Mayan Show (in the theatre) Wednesday – Casino (in the theatre area) Thursday – Mexican Show (in the theatre) Friday – Beach Party (on the beach) Saturday – Karaoke (in the plaza outside the lobby) Sunday – Caribbean Show (in the theatre)

Mexican Crafts Fair – About every other night a small crafts sale is set up in the courtyard outside the main lobby in front of the gift shops. They offer a selection of Mexican crafts and gift items such as bobble head armadillos, beaded handbags, jewelry, carved statues and paper mache photo frames. They also bring in a guy who hand rolls cigars for you to purchase. I can’t attest to the quality of the cigars, but I did see many people purchasing them. I refrained because on a previous trip I bought some hand rolled cigars in Punta Cana, DR and the humidity ruined them. They would never stay lit. So I now stay away from such items and opt for more quality control. In fact, I didn’t buy anything at the crafts fair. Most items could be purchased in Tulum or Playa Del Carmen at a better price.

The Sunscape Tulum website states that weekly managers cocktail party is offered to guests, but we never heard about it or were invited to one.

Please note: I’ve seen several websites that state there is a disco at this resort. To my knowledge it does not exist. I also checked my resort map and hotel descriptions and there was no mention of any disco. The disco may have been available at the former Allure Mayan Riviera Resort.

The Cinema:
The Cinema is actually a banquet room with a large screen, rows of uncomfortable chairs set up (typical banquet type) and a few arm chairs tossed into the mix for the lucky few who arrive early. The refreshment area just outside the theater door had a popcorn maker and a tall refrigerator – both of which were never used and they were kept locked and inaccessible to guests. On some lucky nights there were a few Hershey kisses, mini chocolate bars and blow pops on a paper plate.

Adult Movies playing during our seven night stay were:

Spiderman (two nights), Daredevil (two nights), Radio, a Spanish movie starring Denzel Washington and one other

The kids movies started somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 pm each night and consisted of Scooby Doo cartoon movies, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc.

Children’s Club:
The Explorer’s Club is the name they have chosen for the kid’s clubhouse and program that the resort provides for children ages 4 – 12. This area is set up with a clubhouse which is dimly lit and well air-conditioned. It is a welcome reprieve for kids that have spent the morning out in the sun. The main area has three televisions set up to play Xbox, Gamecube and Playstation 2 games. The club has a limited selection of games for these video machines which are rated for children, teens and mature players. If you have young children you may want to select which games they will be allowed to play prior to dropping them off at the Explorer’s club. There is also a nursery with cribs in a back room. There is another large room through a door on the right which leads to a teen play area with a pool table and non-working video arcade games. This is what the hotel and travel agencies are now boasting as the newly opened teen center/club.

Outside the Explorer’s club house was a play yard with a large sandbox, a small swing set with a slide and a huge cage that was home to several bunny rabbits. I think this area is used by children dropped off in the morning. After lunch the kids never go outside. They do bring the bunnies into the clubhouse in the afternoon. The kids have great fun holding them and chasing after them. While the bunnies offered a good time for the kids, I feel it’s important to mention that if your child has any kind of pet allergies, you should be very cautious.

Following is the schedule that the Explorer’s Club was supposed to be following the week I was at Sunscape Tulum:

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
9 am Welcome Explorers Welcome Explorers Welcome Explorers Welcome Explorers Welcome Explorers Welcome Explorers Welcome Explorers
9:15 am Let’s Play Tour Day Let’s Play Artist Touch Let’s Play Tour Day Artist Touch
10:30 am Everybody in the Pool   Where’s the Treasure Beach Games Where’s the Treasure   Beach Games
11:30 am Spanish Lessons Spanish Lessons Spanish Lessons Sand Box Games Spanish Lessons Spanish Lessons Sand Box Games
12:30 pm Lunch Time Picnic Time Lunch Time Lunch Time Lunch Time Lunch Time Lunch Time
1:30 pm Handcrafts Paper Player Handcrafts Paper Play Handcrafts Paper Play Handcrafts
3:30 pm Football      Soccer Football      Soccer Olympic Games Football      Soccer Football      Soccer Olympic Games Football      Soccer
5 pm Movie Time Movie Time Movie Time Movie Time Movie Time Movie Time Movie Time

I had three children participating in the Explorer’s Club and they all concur that they were never offered any of these activities. The only thing that happened as scheduled was lunch time. For the most part the children played video games every day and played with the bunnies. That was about it. There were some puzzles available and I saw that they had a set up to do arts and crafts, but it never happened. Fanny is the lady who was in charge of the Explorer’s Club. She spoke English well and seemed to get to know the kids. Each day she had different helpers and many times these girls did not speak English. In my opinion, the Explorer’s Club was simply glorified baby sitting. It was an opportunity for the kids to get out of the hot sun, meet other kids and play some video games. It really wasn’t anything more than that. In fact, I don’t think there were any kids over the age of ten at the kid’s club. Older kids tended to take off on their own at the resort. I met two boys (11 years old) that stayed together all day and even went to dinner together at night alone while their parents ate elsewhere.

My kids mostly went to the Explorer’s Club in the afternoon and evening. Once or twice we brought them after lunch time, but they hadn’t eaten so Fanny ordered lunch for then from a kid’s menu that was available at the club. They offered pizza, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, etc.

At 5 pm Fanny and the other helpers will close up the clubhouse and take the children to the cinema. Sometimes the movie started at 5 pm, but most of the time it was at least 5:30 pm before it started. The Explorer’s Club staff offers the children candy and potato chips while they watch a G rated movie. Parents then come around 7 pm and pick up their kids. I believe some of the other children even went to dinner with the club staff, but I’m not certain of it.

Please note: http://travelwithkids.about.com/b/a/027584.htm and other sites (including Judy & Marie’s Travel) report that the Explorer’s Club offers arts & crafts, horseback riding, local excursions, weekly camp-out adventure, big screen movies on the beach, water trampoline. None of these things were happening while we were at the resort except the fact that there was a water trampoline out in the ocean (but the kid’s club never used it once). My children were not given the option to do arts and crafts, camp-out, take any kind of excursion or go horseback riding. Horseback riding was only available as a paid excursion/tour which cost $54 per person and required parents to participate. The only movies that were shown were at the cinema (never on the beach).

The Spa:
I did not use the spa or purchase any spa services during my stay. I did take a quick look at the spa and all I can say about it was that it looked very small.

Overall Service:
I really felt that the one place that this resort fell short of expectations was when it came to service. The service at the Sunscape Tulum was at best described as "inconsistent". There were several disappointments over the course of our stay, mostly due to the five star expected level of service and the resort staff not following through and offering the service the resort boasts. Following are some examples of the service not meeting our expectations of being 5 star:

Nightly turndown – During our 7 night stay we experienced the nightly turndown service only once.

Newspapers delivered to rooms – We stayed 8 days at the resort and only received the newspaper at our door one time.

The maid staff never once replaced the complimentary toiletries (soap, shampoo, lotion, etc) in our room.

Hacienda (buffet restaurant) – upon seating we were asked if we wanted coffee. Several times the coffee showed up after we had finished breakfast (if at all). We usually ate breakfast late in the morning when it wasn’t even busy. There was no excuse for the lack of service. My husband was constantly having to flag down a waiter for items (like catsup, coffee, etc.). Eventually we learned where everything was and started helping ourselves. As for me, by the end of the week I was bringing my own beverage from our room refrigerator or stopping at a bar for a drink prior to going to the restaurant. Even my 7 year old daughter was going to the restaurant bar by herself to order juice drinks because the waiters never came around and offered beverages.

Room service took twenty minutes one night and an hour and a half another night.

At the Cinema each night there was no one around to work the snack and beverage area. Many times there would be a plate of mini Hershey’s chocolates or kisses left on the counter. The whole time we were there, they never had popcorn (which was a great disappointment to my husband & kids who LOVE the stuff).

While the bartenders were great and happy to please customers, there weren’t many drink servers.

This resort (like most all-inclusives) advertises that tips are included. The truth of the matter is that service greatly improved with tipping and that if you didn’t tip constantly most (with a few exceptions) the staff ignored you. They weren’t eager to please unless there was something in it for them. While I was happy to tip those who made a great effort, those people were few and far between. Most did not have what I would call a 5 star attitude.

The Timeshare Pitch:
It is pitched as "not a timeshare" presentation, but of course it is. If you go to the Concierge for any reason, you WILL be asked to attend the presentation. They will offer you gifts ranging from t-shirts & booze to a free days car rental. It’s up to you if you wish to listen to the pitch.

Other Resort Amenities:
Internet Service – is available and located in a building just outside the main lobby. The cost is $5 for 1/2 hour or $9 for 1 hour. The connection is not as fast as a modem (US Standards), but it seemed faster than a typical dial up connection. I also saw someone who had his own wireless laptop and seemed able to connect to their internet with his own equipment (at no charge). There was usually no one around to monitor this.

Gift Shops – There are 2 shops on the property. One is your typical gift shop offering toiletries, suntan lotion, candy, magazines, books, bathing suits/wraps, small toys and gifts. The other shop is a jewelry store selling lots of silver items and gem stones. Both are expensive. My husband purchased a paperback book for $12 that costs around $5 back in the US.

Non-motorized water sports included paddle boats, kayaks, banana boats and I saw some kind of small boat with a sail. Two things to know about these activities. 1) The boats are best used in the morning before the wind kicks up. 2) Only one hour a day per room is included free of charge. Extra hours cost $15.

The Gym is located near the Theatre. It looked like a nice facility, but I didn’t use it.

Alexandra at the Concierge desk is delightful and aims to please. Whatever she can do for you, she will. She ends every meeting with "do not hesitate to ask".

Travel Tips: -Do NOT throw away your tourist card. You may or may not need it to get home, but if you lose it and they ask you for it you may find yourself waiting a couple of hours in line to research your entry to Mexico. -Bring LOTS of sunblock. The sun is very strong and we saw a lot of severely sunburned folks. Children especially need at least a 30 spf sunblock. -If you are traveling with young children, bring your own sand toys (pails, shovels, etc). They are not available from the resort for day use and they are very costly at the gift shop to purchase.

-Room requests – If you want to make any special room requests do so with both your travel agent and by calling the hotel directly. I always call the hotel direct and 90% of the time my requests are honored. The phone number for the resort is 529848713333. They will answer in Spanish, but they all speak English. Ask for reservations (I always spoke with Anna and she was very nice). I only call Mexico using a calling card. Direct dial calls from your home phone can be extremely costly. Always try to arrive at the resort early in the day. If you arrive late in the day, you get whatever is left.

-Bring LOTS of $1 bills for tips. The front desk was rarely able to break a $20 bill. If you don’t bring small change you’ll end up going home with lots of Pesos -Don’t change your US dollars to pesos at the airport. The exchange they offer is terrible. The resort actually had a better exchange. I’m sure a bank would be even better. Since you won’t need cash at the resort (except for tips) I’d recommend you just change what you need at the resort or use your credit card (which may have an even better exchange rate) for tours and incidentals. -When you arrive at the airport in Cancun, get your bags, go through customs and head straight to the exit. Everything in that airport is set up to talk you into a timeshare presentation. The signs that say transportation, people who ask you if you have a voucher, etc. are all simply trying to get you to listen to them. Be polite, say no thank you and head for the door. You can waste a LOT of time in the airport if you stop to talk to these people. -Use the internet to contact folks back in the states. It will be significantly cheaper than calling. If you booked your trip through a travel agent be sure to get their email address before you leave in case you want to express a concern or make a change in your plans. You can email them and have THEM call YOU at the resort. (I contacted my airline this way and they called me at my room promtly as requested). If you have to make a call, the least expensive option is usually to purchase a TeleMex calling card. -Whether you are traveling yourself or with a tour, it is best not to go to area attractions like the local Cenotes on a Sunday. The local swimming spots and cenotes tend to be much less crowded on weekdays when the locals are working. Beyond the resort:

Tulum (Mayan archeological site) – About 2 – 4 miles

The Tulum Ruins are easily accessible by a short $6 taxi ride or an early morning bicycle tour. Admission to the archeological site is 38 pesos per adult. Children are admitted free. It is best to have exact change. When there is a long line to purchase tickets you can often bypass standing in line by purchasing with exact change from a man who will walk the line selling tickets. Be advised: There is an extra charge if you wish to video tape the ruins. I believe it was an extra 38 pesos, but I am not sure.

My absolute favorite beach is at the Tulum Ruins. However, there are things that are good to know before you go. 1) You must pay to enter the ruins to access the beach. At the beach entrance it will be crowded (especially in the middle of the day when it’s very hot). There is a lifeguard there. Entrance to the water requires you to cross a small area of rocks. It’s best to be wearing some kind of water shoe that won’t fall off your feet. 2) The beach access area at the Tulum Ruins is NOT a good place to go if you want to relax and sunbathe. It is a very small area filled with lots of people who aren’t prepared for the beach, but want to cool off. There really won’t be a nice place to lay down or relax. To access the better beach area, this is what you must do: bring only the bare minimum of what you need for the day (couple of towels, suntan lotion and snacks – we brought some fruit from the breakfast buffet).! Bring your items in a waterproof bag or bring along a large plastic bag to hold them. Enter the beach area, wade into the water just past the rocky part and turn right to walk around the large rock. The water will be between thigh and chest height so you can definitely walk. You’ll have to hold your beach bag over your head to keep your items from getting wet. Head to the right and you will quickly see where you want to go. It’s not far at all. You’ll find a much friendlier, sandy, clean beach amongst the rocks. I’ve seen people go further to other little alcoves, but we didn’t go too far because of the kids. It is definitely worth getting past that first entry area to the water/beach. I was so disappointed that the main access area had become so dirty. Just around the rock is a beautiful pristine beach. You won’t be disappointed. You can even see it from the rocks above, but the only way I know to access the area is how I described.

Xel-Há (theme park with snorkeling, dolphins) – 2 miles Dos Ojos (cenotes/sinkholes for swimming) – 21 miles Aktun Chen Dry Cave and Jungle Tour – 21 miles Cenotes Kantun-Chi – 25 miles Tres Rios Eco-Park – 30 miles Xcaret (theme park) – 35 miles Playa del Carmen – 38 miles Cozumel – 38 miles to Playa del Carmen, plus 45-minute ferry ride Coba (Mayan archeological site) – 23 miles Sian Ka’hn Biosphere Preserve – 30 miles Cancún – 70 miles

Chichen Itza (Mayan archeological site) – 74 miles

Tours Offered at the Sunscape Resort through Amstar: 1) Chichen Itza De Luxe (mon-Wed-Sat from 8:25am – 6 pm) Adults $72/Child $54 2) Coba Pyramids & Mayan Village (Each day EXCEPT Sunday from 9:30am – 5:30pm) Adults $72/Child $36 3) Xcaret Ecopark (Tues, Wed, Thurs, & Sat from 8:40am till 5pm or 9 pm) Adults $72/Child $38 4) ATV’s Adventure (Daily from 8:30am till noon or 1:50 pm till 4:30 pm) Starting from $50 5) Mayan Aquatic Adventure – snorkeling in Cenotes and lagoons (Daily 9:30am till 3:30pm) Adults $69/Child $49 6) Horse Back Riding (Daily 9am/11am/1:30pm & 3:30pm) Adults $54 7) Jungle Crossing – a 4X4 Adventure into the Jungle (Daily 9:50am – 4:30 pm) Adults $78/Child $61

8) Bar Leaping – Playa Del Carmen’s night life. The tour includes Transportation, VIP Entrances and 4 hrs of open bar at 3 of PDC’s hot spots. (8pm till….) Adults $50

Other tours available through Amstar: Chikin-Ha 1/2 day adventure Daily $59 Swim with Dolphins Daily $108 Sailing & Snorkeling Tues & Fri $68 Deep Sea Fishing Daily 9am-1pm & 1pm-5pm $79+transfer Cozumel 4X4 Daily $99 Scuba Diving at the hotel Daily $40 Coba Chimuch Daily $78 Columbus Romantic Dinner Cruise Mon – Fri $77 Local Snorkeling Daily $25 + 5

Captain Hook Daily $75

Resort Contact Information: Sunscape Tulum Riviera Maya Km. 234 Tulum Quintana Roo, Mexico C.P. 77780 52.984.871.3333 Phone

52.984.871.3357 Fax

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Sunscape Tulum Suzanne — Canada

March 2004

Hola! We stayed at the Sunscape Tulum from March 7 to 14. It was fantastic. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties, from Edmonton, Alberta, and we had never been to Mexico before. We left our kiddos (ages 3 and 6) at home, largely because we did not know what to expect. Now that we have gone, we would have no hesitation in bringing our children with us next time.

Our experience with the Sunscape from start to finish was great. We arrived, and the front desk was completely prepared for us. We had requested a king size bed, and were pleasantly surprised to learn we had been upgraded to a Junior Suite. By the time check-in was done, and we walked to our room, our luggage was already there. The resort layout is great – it is not a huge sprawling complex where you need to take a shuttle bus to get to the beach! All of the buildings are two-story, with balconies facing a central courtyard. Our room was spacious, and the room temperature was perfect. Our maid was phenomenal – on our last night, she made an elephant for us out of the towels!

Overall, the service is consistently very good to excellent. Staff are very helpful and courteous. The food was excellent. The buffet was always varied, and the a la carte restaurants served a great variety of gourmet meals. In the Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda, the waiters would make these delicious flaming Spanish coffees at the end of the meal. The presentation alone is well worth ordering the coffee! During the day, while you are on the beach or at the pool, if you flag down a staff member, they will bring lunch out to you.

The beach was great. A little rocky once you get out in the water, but since it is the second largest coral reef in the world, not too surprising! But the beach itself is beautiful and sandy. With no other large resorts around, you can walk quite a ways along the beach. There is a roped-off section in the water which is not rocky at all, which is a great place to kick around.

There were plenty of activities to participate in. You can be as busy or as relaxed as you would like. Our goal was primarily to rest up and get some sun, but we wanted to do a few things, and the Sunscape is a perfect place for that. We took the bicycle tour to Tulum and visited the ruins. Our tour guide was great, until we got to the ruins and he vanished, leaving us on our own. Not knowing what to do, we embarked on our own walking tour, which we enjoyed, but I would recommend hiring a guide at the ruins to get the most out of it. We also went to Xel-Ha, which we absolutely loved. Then, we went into Playa del Carmen for a day, and the taxi driver almost killed us on the way back, driving 150 km per hour the whole way, most of it down the middle of the road! A word of caution – apparently there is some sort of feud between the Tulum taxi drivers and the Playa del Carmen ones. Our Tulum driver was sketchy on the details, but suffice to say you should use the Tulum taxis! They were courteous, obeyed the speed limit, and never tried to kill us! If you take a taxi from the hotel, which uses the Tulum taxis, ask the driver to come back and pick you up at a certain time, and he will. Otherwise, you can use the white vans. They are significantly cheaper, but we just found it more convenient to grab a cab.

Other activities included horseback riding, ATV tours along the beach and through the jungle, snorkel and scuba lessons, dance lessons, tennis lessons, volleyball, and aquatic aerobics…no shortage of things to do. Some of them involve an extra fee, but the fees are very reasonable. Upon our arrival, we were given a list of activities for the week. Also, a representative from our travel agent was at the resort every day, booking trips. If you did not book your trip through an agency, there is one on-site that can help you to book outside excursions. There is also a car rental agencyl.

There were plenty of kids and a lot of activities for them as well. My only concern about bringing my kids is that the flight from Edmonton is just over five hours, with a customs line up at the Mexican airport, then an hour and a half bus ride to the hotel. At their ages, this might be a little much for them, but I know the staff at Sunscape would treat them very well – I saw a lot of kids having a lot of fun.

One thing to mention – be careful about the time-share/vacation club pitch. They are very creative here – they get a very gracious person to invite you to a meeting on how to save money and see Mexico through the eyes of a Mexican. They offer you money, bottles of alcohol, t-shirts…and then when you get there, it’s the standard time-share pitch. Not the way I want to spend an hour of my vacation! They are very pleasant, but if you persistently and politely decline, they will get the idea and leave you alone.

I would return to this resort anytime, and highly recommend it to others.

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Sunscape Tulum Valorie from Virginia

February 2004

Booking and Airflight:
Booked our vacation at the Sunscape Tulum for 11/9 – 11/16/03) through Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel who got our deal through Apple Vacations. Susan at Ultimate was great to deal with and very efficient. A word of advice: if you get the travel insurance through Apple that they offer, they will guarantee you any price change difference that might occur prior to your flight. The price for our vacation went down twice from the time we booked, until flight time, and I was refunded the difference of over $200; if you don’t buy the insurance, they don’t give you this guarantee. Our flight was on a charter (ugh!), USA 3000 out of BWI. The flight out was good, nice take off (on time) , smooth landing, complimentary champagne, complimentary dinner (typical airline food, but most airlines don’t even offer this service any more), $3.00 for earphones to watch the movie (bring your own with you; they will work at least out of one ear, and you’ll save your $3) and they played this optional game at the end of the flight where you could write your seat number on a dollar bill, they put all of the bills in a bag, and then they got one of the kids on the flight to draw a dollar out, and the winning seat number on the drawn bill got the whole bag of money (I have never seen anything like that done on an air flight before!). Return flight had some problems: nasty flight attendants; only one bathroom available (attendant said other bathroom was too dirty to use (and why was that?..we think they were just trying to save that bathroom for their own use only!), legroom seemed very tight, and terrible lunch (yes, at least it was something …as opposed to NOTHING); take off was fine and landing was smooth; and they showed the movie “Legally Blond 2”; and you filled out an Apple Vacations Survey, put your seat number on top and they drew a winning survey, and the prize was a bottle of champagne (crazy!).

Arrival and transfers:
We landed and whizzed through the airport (no problems there, except this Mexican guy behind an official looking desk off to the side of the exit doors yelled out, “Senior, I need to check your documents” (this was already after we had been through all of the necessary inspection points) – my husband was savvy enough to recognize right off that this was just a ruse to try to get us over there for the timeshare pitch….this was very deceptive and I would have gone for it if not for my husband’s quick “Yeah, right….” Response! That would have really pissed me off and made me feel really foolish, thinking I needed to check my documents with this guy, only to find out he had duped me! Watch out…they have gotten really aggressive and deceiving with their tactics! We found the Apple Representatives who directed us to a line outside of the airport. It started storming and raining like crazy, and we were all in this line getting wet under this not-so-sufficient overhang. We stood in that line for about 45 minutes to an hour…which was ridiculous. Since our resort was so far out, they kept moving us down the line, putting all those people whose resorts were in Cancun or closer in the Rivera Maya on buses first. They finally stuffed us (the remaining 14 people in line) in a 15-passenger van, after everyone else was well on their way to their resorts. They should not have kept us waiting like that; they should have grouped us together ( recognizing who all was going to the Sunscape and nearby resorts, as they continually asked you over and over where you were going….., so it’s not like they couldn’t recognize who could be put in a van together right from the get-go) and put us on a van to begin with, instead of continually shoving us aside until everyone had been taken care of . We were not far from the beginning of the line to start with, but we were the last to be transferred; that was just not right!! Anyway, it took about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to the resort…believe me, it’s no 40-minute ride! We arrived at the resort about 9:00 pm (our plane landed at 6:05 pm, so this gives you an idea of how long it took to get out of the airport and to the resort).

Check-In and Lobby:
The bellman met us at the front of the resort with a cheery “Welcome Home!”, and advised us to leave our luggage with him and to go ahead and check in. There was Champagne and cookies on the table in the lobby, but no one presented us personally with a drink and cookie upon arrival, as they did for a busload of Swiss vacationers who arrived later on in the week. Check-in took a total of 5 minutes; very efficient. We were given directions to our room, and the bellman said he would meet us there with our luggage. The general appearance of the lobby was nice, but not nearly as opulent as you will find at the Iberostar and the Riu resorts. Frankly, the rust and blue colored sofas and chairs in the lobby are old, very worn and are dirty with body oil stains on the arms. They really need to be replaced. The Front Desk personnel are all very nice, but they don’t seem to have much authority in getting problems corrected. We had a few problems in the beginning of our stay, and we had to go to the manager to finally get action…more on that later. It rained a couple of days while we were there….the Front Desk provides a limited number of big umbrella’s for guests to use during these occasions..this was a nice touch!

Grounds:
The grounds were lovely, and well manicured. There were two roaming peacocks and a flock of ducks. There was this huge birdcage, outside of the lobby, with all types of small birds in it. We also spied a wild wondering fox early one morning – she must have come out of the adjoining jungle…she was beautiful…we thought it was a cat at first, but then we saw the long snout. I hope they don’t do anything to run the foxes away from the resort, as long as they are not harming anything…this is truly a unique sight that you don’t see everyday! Don’t come expecting marble statutes, opulent water fountains, sculpted bushes, and the like that you would see at an Iberostar or Riu resort. As was explained to us by the on-site Apple representative, the Sunscape resort was/is trying to go for a different appeal; the atmosphere of a traditional Mexican Hacienda…much more subdued and authentic to the culture. I like Glitz…..so I was somewhat disappointed in the toned-down appearance of the overall resort. They have very well manicured grounds, with courtyards in between the building accommodations. They have all kinds of arranged cacti, water fountains in each courtyard, an interesting Mexican mural painted on one courtyard wall, and benches scattered throughout the complex for resting or waiting for someone. Bad Note: they cut grass at 7:30 in the morning; this is not a good thing. And they also spray the perimeter of the blocks of rooms with an insecticide fog in the early evening (you are in a jungle, remember)…so keep your balcony door shut when this happens. They also have this totally ugly and dilapidated green fence blocking off the jungle from one side of the building accommodations; I’m glad I didn’t get a room on that side of the resort, or I’d be looking at this terrible ugly fence from my balcony every day! They need to do something about that. Also, as we walked back and forth from out room to the dining areas, pool, and the beach, there was a consistent sewer smell along the main walkway. It was stronger in the evenings, and was most unpleasant when you happened to be on your way to dinner! Management needs to find the source, and eliminate the problem. The walkways are made out of stones (or what look to be stones) and they are uneven and get very slick when it rains. Watch were you are walking!

Room:
We booked a regular run-of-the-house room. We were assigned to the 100 block of buildings (note: the 700 block are ocean view). The best description we came up with for our room was “sparse”. Keep in mind, they are going for the old Hacienda type feel….but it was still sparse even with that in mind. The furniture is wooden, appears very worn (even has marks and chips out of the bureau’s edge, where dumb, impatient, and inconsiderate vacationers have used it for an impromptu beer bottle opener….if these people had bothered to look around a little bit or called the front desk to ask, before grabbing the beer out of the fridge and desecrating the furniture in their alcohol consumption panic, they would have discovered that the bottle opener is located in the bathroom!! We even witnessed neighbors popping bottle tops by using their balcony railing as an opener upon their frenzied arrival in paradise…I hate to admit they were Americans.) The bed was King Size, six pillows, and had a sheet, vellux blanket, another sheet and then a thin cream-colored bedspread on top. I have to say that the linens were the cleanest and crispiest I have ever experienced on any hotel/resort bed; applause, applause to the housekeeping and management staff for this! There was bed turn down service at night, and they would leave cute little towels animals on the end of the bed and mints on the pillows. There was a cute bench at the end of the bed, two night stands, a dressing table and chair, a bureau with six drawers for fold-up clothes (the bottom drawer hung, and was difficult to open and close). As I said before, most of the furniture was wooden and looked old; the room didn’t give me a happy luxurious feel, as one would expect from a six-apple resort. They really need to add some flower arrangements or more artwork to spice the rooms up a bit, I think. The floors were terracotta tile. All rooms are adequately air-conditioned and we had a ceiling fan over the bed. The television got good reception; half the channels were in English and the other half in Spanish. They had their version of CNN and the Weather Channel and they had the Fox news channel. There was a small CD Player/Clock Radio combination on the bottom of the TV stand. The bathroom was nice, a lot of marble, large shower, bidet, no bathtub in standard rooms, shelves for toiletries (or shoes), and a few pieces of complimentary items (one soap, no shampoo, and maybe a lotion….it seemed like our room was lacking in the stocked “extra’s”) . There was a sewage smell in the bathroom on a couple of evenings; I found that if you put a towel over the drain in the floor under the sink, you could prevent the smell from coming in your room. We have had similar problems with sewage smells in the bathroom in other resorts throughout Mexico…while definitely not a 5 star resort expectation, it is not exclusive to the Sunscape Resort. There was a mini-fridge in the hallway, and it was not adequately stocked when we got into the room either (only 2 sodas in it)…this became a real bone of contention the next day. The complimentary safe is located in the closet (you enter your own security code for opening); the closet had ample hangers, and drawers for more folding clothes. There was also a coffee pot and coffee. Our balcony overlooked the courtyard, and it had a swinging hammock (which I found to be very uncomfortable) and a small iron bistro set (two chairs and a table), which was definitely not meant for lounging and relaxing (guess that’s what the hammock was intended for). I really hated those little iron chairs; you couldn’t sit back and relax and just watch the world go by on your balcony in those things; your butt barely fit in the seat, the chair pad was thin so your butt hurt in about 10 minutes, and you had to sit stark straight up…hated them, hated them, hated them!….management really needs to change them for something much more comfortable. The air-conditioning in the room worked great, and it did not automatically turn off if you left the balcony door open (yeah!); but you don’t want to leave your balcony door open at night, even with the screen door pulled closed….bug bites! We tried it a couple of nights (cus I like to hear the outside sounds) and the first night wasn’t too bad (I got two bug bites), but the second night, my husband said he couldn’t sleep because he kept getting bit; so we kept the balcony door shut for the rest of the week at night. Make sure you wear bug repellent in the evening when you go out; you are in the middle of the jungle, and you will get bitten…so just take precautions. I got about six bites all week; not bad considering bugs seem to love me; I thought the bugs in Punta Cana were worse, but my husband thought the bugs here were worse….just take the dang bug repellent and use it. Most of the rooms remained dark at night while we there, as if they weren’t occupied. We had heard someone say at the front desk that they were 60% occupied at the time; it didn’t look it. They still have the prior resort logo of “Allure” on quite a few items such as the soap, matches, bathrobes, and the like. They give you the standard little writing pad on the nightstand, and this itty-bitty 2-inch pencil to write with. I went to the front desk to exchange my pitiful pencil for a useable ink pen, and I was told they didn’t have any ink pens to give me. Now, I’m at a 6-apple resort, and I can’t even get a measly ink pen to write with? Gimme a break! That just shouldn’t be happening.

Pool:
The pool is pretty big; rectangular in shape; water temperature is cool; and they keep it very clean from what I could tell. There isn’t any gradual entry/exit from the shallow end; there isn’t even a ladder or steps in the shallow end to get in and out. There was a ladder in the deep end, but the top rung of the ladder was missing. Not good. Adequate number of wooden lounge chairs (with very thin cushion pads), tables and umbrellas to go around. There is sporadic drink service at the pool; but it is right next to two bars, so you won’t have far to walk to get your own drinks. Activities that I saw going on at the pool were dance lessons, water aerobics, and water polo! There was music at the pool periodically during the day; mostly Latin club type music. The pool is right next to what became known as the “stinky pool”(another couple at the resort named it that); a natural spring cenote, which smelled like sewage. Sorry, I wish I could be more positive about this “cenote”; we tried to convince ourselves that maybe it was really an underground sulfur smell that we were smelling….but after smelling it all week, my husband concluded that it was definitely not a sulfur smell…it was a sewage smell. If the wind was blowing right, and sometimes even when there wasn’t any wind, this smell did not make sitting at the pool very inviting. (This cenote was used as part of the Spa Treatments offered; we saw people actually getting in the water; the water looked relatively clear, and it has a pretty fountain in the middle of it; I guess they didn’t smell the same thing we, and many others at the resort, smelled.) Another gripe about the pool was the thin chair pads on the wooden loungers; don’t get me wrong, they were nice upscale wooden loungers; but they were hard as a rock…the chair pad wasn’t enough to make them comfortable….after about 20 minutes, my backside was numb. This needs improvement.

Beach:
The Beach was very pretty. Plenty of thatch hut umbrellas for shade; plenty of lounge chairs (you don’t need to get up early and save a chair); the sand was white, but more course than what we are used to; it was little prickly to walk on. The sand isn’t really fine sand; it is ground coral…and you can pick it up and see that it is coral..very pretty and interesting to look at though! The water looks beautiful; different shades of blue throughout; some waves…..and that’s about all the good things I can say about the water. Now for the bad things…the bottom is extremely rocky with sharp coral and huge rocks which are extremely dangerous. I cannot tell you how many people I saw stumble and fall into the water, ending up with skinned knees and legs and banged up toes. My husband was one it’s victims. He had on water shoes, and the coral was so sharp, that when he slipped on a coral rock in the water, it cut his toe through the water shoe!! The water was very cloudy; you could not see the rocks or your feet in even only 4-5 inches water. Leave the snorkel equipment at home…you have to go way out to see anything at this beach. They even have a map posted on the beach of where it is supposed to be clear of rocks, so that you can go out into the water safely. Good luck. I only went out in the water once, and didn’t venture out far for fear of falling or hurting something. I like clear water….so I can see what I am stepping on. The beach was disappointing because of this. Upon asking management about it, it seems that the government won’t allow them to remove these coral rocks because it will destroy the natural environment. I read where someone said that the Rivera Maya is the second largest reef in the world…reason for all the coral rocks…I had never heard that before. But I can tell you, that others who went to different resorts in the Rivera Maya, generally had the same complaint about their beaches as well. The Sunscape did have the big trampoline/water slide in the water for most of the week; you could walk most of the way out to it, but had to swim a little to get to the ladder. We didn’t use it, but saw others who did; some days it was monopolized by European sunbathers who spent all day laying out on it (some topless I believe). There were maybe 5-6 topless women spotted on the beach for the entire week; a big disappointment to some of the male hooter-hunters! I don’t know if I would jump off that trampoline in the ocean with all of those rocks and coral; I imagine that they know of a safe location to anchor it so no one will get hurt…it was anchored in the same place everyday that it was out there. They have various planned activities on the beach during the day: volleyball, bocce ball, horseshoes, and even a carnival-type strength meter (you know…where you hit the thing with a big hammer to see if you can ring the bell at the top!). They also have a ping-pong table on the beach, but it was being repainted or something like that the first couple of days we were there. The activities staff tries to get people to participate in the organized games and contests, but most guests don’t want to get out of their lounge chairs! Volleyball was the only activity on the beach that the guests really got out of their chairs for. But be careful…one European guy really did some damage to his ankle when he landed in the sand wrong playing the game….he was in some serious pain (and walking with crutches) for the rest of the week. There was NO red flag drink/food service on the beach when we were there; as had been advertised as “coming soon” on other internet sites. There was NO suntan lotion station on the beach, as advertised.

Beach Bar:
The beach bar was pretty cool; it was this big thatch hut off to far right side of the beach, and instead of having chairs or barstools, they had swings hanging from the ceiling (you know…like the ones you used to swing on a tree from when you were a kid!). Loved those swings! The bar didn’t seem that overly stocked with liquor either, but the selection was better here than at the bar outside the lobby. The bartenders didn’t go out of their way to be friendly or to help you in selecting a new kind of drink. There weren’t an abundance of drink menus hanging around; my husband spied ONE almost hidden in the other stuff on the bar counter, toward the end of the week. The resort needs to have more drink menus easily accessible to the guests at all of their bars; a lot of times, you want to try a different drink than the “usual”, but you don’t know what….drink menus would solve the problem. They have a light rig set up close to the beach bar that they apparently use for karoke a couple of nights during the week….we missed it, so I can’t tell you how it was. The beach bar closes at 1:00am. None of the bars open until 10:00 am (if they open then); wasn’t happy with this….if you are an early riser and are out on the beach, you can’t get even juice, soda or water until mid-morning.

Mediterranean Main Bar
This is the main bar outside of the lobby, in the main courtyard. The bar was NOT well stocked at all. My husband asked for whiskey the first two nights and they didn’t have any; they finally got some about the third or fourth night into the trip. I wanted a Mexican Flag drink on the last night we were there; they didn’t have all of the liquors to make it. The shelves always looked pretty bare…don’t know what the problem was. The bar staff tried to be accommodating…trying to suggest a replacement for what you had asked for. There weren’t any drink menus to be found here either. There weren’t enough bar stools around the bar; you’ve got this big circular bar, and there were only 6-8 stools to be had; and about 3 of those didn’t have any chair cushions on them (you couldn’t sit on them without a cushion). This needs definite attention! They served “hot peanuts” if you knew enough to ask for them….(peanuts in some sort of hot sauce coating). There were a quite a few nice wooden tables and chairs which surround the bar area, that guests can “park it” and enjoy their drinks. During the day, and on some evenings, they would have a little Latino group play and sing out by the bar. Two girls were the singers, and they were pretty good, but after a few days, the songs sounded the same. And they kept singing “Rainy Days and Mondays”….now why in the world do I want to be depressed while I am on vacation? STOP singing that song! Sing happy songs….not drag-gy and depressing songs! That drove me nuts!

Activities:
What organized activities did they have? Well, your guess is as good as mine….if you saw it happening, then you could jump in and go do it. There was absolutely no readily available listing of what was going on when. I even asked at the front desk, and I received a list printed primarily in Spanish, which was not even close to being accurate. You had to find out by word of mouth. This was not acceptable, and needs management’s attention. Evening activities that we “heard” about were karaoke, a Casino Night, a Beach Party Night, some type of show down at the Pavilion one night, a Mayan show by the Stinky Pool one night, and I guess we missed hearing about the rest. All of the evening shows/activities started at 9:30pm. We missed the karaoke; and skipped the Pavilion and Mayan Show. We saw them building a platform out in the Stinky Pool for the Mayan Show; we heard from others who went, that it was “ok”. Casino night was fun; they sit up black jack and roulette tables in the main courtyard and whoever wants to play just takes a seat. They give you a certain amount of chips (no money involved) and whoever has the most chips by 10:30 or 11pm wins a secret prize (heard the prizes were like Tequila, a spa treatment, and the like). It was a good chance to learn how to play blackjack without having to risk your own money doing it! The Beach Party was the most action I saw all week….on Friday night, a DJ and a band sat up by the Beach Bar(they played all types of music..swing, rock N roll; hip hop; reggae); the animation team put on a little fire dancing show, and then they coaxed reluctant participants into joining them dance; soon they were pouring tequila shots, handing out jello shots, doing the conga line, etc. It was fun. Keep in mind that the Sunscape doesn’t draw in the “hedonism” crowd; the crowd here is more reserved; primarily married; primarily in the 40 –70 year old age bracket; with quite a big European count. They do have the Strolling Mariachi Band that shows up in the dining room and at the Mexican restaurant for dinner some nights; they even strolled through the courtyards of the guest buildings on a couple of evenings and sat in the courtyard and serenaded you while you were out on your balconies! They would sing for about 15-20 minutes in the courtyards and then stroll on….very relaxing and romantic. This is a great additional treat from your normal all-inclusive offerings

Gym:
The gym is located in a separate building at the far end of the resort property. It has nautilus equipment (European weighted), treadmill, stationary bike, workout mats, barbells, etc. The workout floor mats were extremely worn and just plain dirty; they desperately need to get some new ones. There were hand towels and a water dispenser available for use. Techno music is played on the stereo system mostly; no TV’s for viewing while you work out. The gym has a lot of window space, and with the tropical sun shining in, the limited air-conditioning is not adequate to keep you cooled while working out. It got so hot in there one morning (approx 8:00 am) that I had to go outside to cool off. This gym is not up to par with what you would expect to find at a 5-star resort. Sign-up sheets for the bike trips to Tulum and for use of the tennis courts are located inside of the gym. Bikes are located right outside of the gym building (they seem to have a good number of bikes; didn’t ride any, so I can’t tell you what kind of condition they were in). There was NO full time personal trainer on site from 9am to 6pm as advertised on various internet sites.

Movie Theatre:
Sorry, but this was pitiful. Granted, I never actually sat through one of the movies in the theatre, I just went in there one day to see what it looked like. They did have a little counter in the entrance foyer with a small popcorn machine, where you could get popcorn and sodas for the movie. The “theatre” was actually more of a conference room with hard straight back conference chairs (with white chair covers) lined up in rows, with a pull down movie screen at one end of the room. Now why would I want to sit in a straight back chair for two uncomfortable hours to watch a movie that I could have rented at home and seen while laying back in my easy chair? The room in general is in serious need of redecoration, and there was a definite unpleasant smell in there. The movies being advertised were not first run movies (i.e. “Signs”, “Panic Room”, “Minority Report”). And I don’t believe that they ever had any midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, as I had read that they would be doing on other travel review sites. This needs definite improvement.

Food:
This is where the Sunscape Tulum truly excelled and lived up to its five star rating. The food and the service in all of the dining option areas was truly 5-star quality in our opinion. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were superb. Here’s a more descriptive run-down of our experiences in the available dining areas:

La Hacienda Buffet – (Breakfast 7-10:30 am; Lunch 12:30-3:00pm; Tea Time 4-6:00 pm; Dinner 6-10:00 pm) You were met at the door and escorted to a table (no assigned tables here!). The waiters assisted you in offering possible drink options (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) at ALL meals and happily brought them to you (no having to fetch your own drink from the bar here, like at some all inclusives). If they noticed you particularly liked a certain drink…they would bring you two of them (without being asked to!) For breakfast we had Bloody Mary’s (if you don’t like em spicy…just tell em..they’ll make it til they get it just right for you) and Mimosa’s. Buffet included all kinds of cereal (but no Raisin Bran!); made to order eggs, anyway you want em; crispy bacon (no limp bacon here!) ; bagels w/cream cheese; all kinds of breads; pastries, muffins; oatmeal, hash brown potatoes, freshly made salsa; an assortment of deli meats and cheeses (for the European tastes); no smoothies (one couple had a fit that there were no smoothies….didn’t bother us any!). Lunch: wonderful drink-of-the-day options (great Amaretto Sours!), fantastic homemade tortilla chips and fresh salsa; great soups; nice salad bar; always some great selection of pasta, veggie, meat, and potato dishes; each day a different “made to order specialty” (i.e. pastas, fajitas, tacos, etc.) and wonderful desserts (flan, cheesecake, ice cream, tiramisu, etc. ). Dinner: Champagne, and other specialty drinks; and a great assortment of food options similar to the types of lunch offerings, but always different foods than what was served at lunch. The soups were absolutely to die for! The meat dishes were always flavorful and fall-off-the-fork tender!

El Charro Mexican Restaurant – We ate here one evening; they also serve lunch here (as they are located right by the pool), but we never tried it for lunch. The food was very well prepared; gourmet in presentation! Most selections were too spicy and had too many onions for my liking; but my husband enjoyed the food, though! If you love onions and spice, then you will like it here!

GoHan Sushi Bar – Sorry, we never got around to trying it!

Senggigi Asian Restaurant – Oh my gosh!!! Great food, great presentation, great atmosphere! This is a small restaurant, adjacent to the Sushi Bar, and across from the Italian Restaurant. Get there early if you want to get in. We ate here for dinner twice. For some reason it was better on the first night than the second night we tried it. Huge shrimp; wonderful satate chicken; melt-in-your-mouth red snapper; fresh, crisp vegetables…just absolutely fabulous!

Casanova Italian – We had a one-hour wait to get into this restaurant; ate here one night. Good pasta, great desserts, ok shrimp (Asian restaurant had bigger shrimp). Wait staff was a bit stuffy.

Excursions:
We didn’t take any of the organized excursions….we have seen it all pretty much before. We relied on the local bus system to get us around. You can catch the bus (white van, actually, with rainbow painting on the sides) right outside of the gates of the resort. You can walk out to the gates, or you can tell the bellman in the lobby that you want a ride to the resort entrance, and he will gladly take you up in a golf cart (it’s a little over a ¼ mile the front gates, and the highway is right there). It costs about $1.50 to go into town (Play Del Carmen); you just stand outside the gates and a van will stop to pick you up; you just tell the driver where you want to go. We passed Xcaret on the way to town; so you can probably get a van ride to there also; it will save you a lot of money. We also took the van to Tulum one day…it’s only a few miles down the road.

Playa Del Carmen – it’s not the Playa Del Carmen we used to know and love; the bargins a few and far between; the vendors and store owners are greedy and are generally not very friendly. They delight in telling you that you paid too much for something after you purchased it somewhere else, and at Mary’s Silver shop on 5th Avenue, they tried to rip me off, and make a quick switch of placing a smaller, less valuable pendant in the box in which my bigger, more expensive pendant that I had negotiated for, was supposedly have been placed. Luckily I checked the contents of the box before leaving the counter, and caught them at it!!! They denied having switched it, but quickly retrieved the correct pendant and gave it to me. I should have walked out with my money and left the pendant and them standing there, but I hadn’t seen this particular type of pendant anywhere else in the town. So, STAY AWAY FROM MARY’S SILVER SHOP!!!!!!
Tulum – hotter than Hades!! And I mean HOT! They have shut down the little vendor shacks they used to have set up outside the ruins, and instead they have built this new modern cultural center outside down the road a bit from the ruins. Also gone are the great deals on souveniers you used to get; you pay a lot more at the cultural center. But the cultural center is nice and you can spend a lot of time looking around. They have some Mayans putting on shows in full costume, and willing to take pictures with you for a tip.

Departure:
We were so far out from Cancun that we had to depart the hotel for the airport on our Apple charter bus at 5:30 in the morning!!! The front desk advised that they would have a continental breakfast set out in the lobby for those departing so early. The continental breakfast was pitiful; it consisted of juices, tea, and fruit…that’s it….no bread, no rolls, no pastries and no coffee! This was not up to par. Later when we arrived to pick up more departing vacationers from the El Mandarin Resort, we all noted that they had a full buffet set out for their departing guests ….and that resort i

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Sunscape Tulum Rajeev — Canada

January 2004

We visited this resort from December 7th to 14th 2003. There were 6 adults (ages 33 to 70), one 4 yr. old and one 4 month old. This was everyone’s first time in the Mayan. Overall, we had an extremely enjoyable vacation. The bus ride to the resort took about 90 minutes, but time passed by fairly quickly.

Weather:
The weather was a bit cool on some days, and you definitely needed a jacket (especially the kids) for the evening. We got rain 1 afternoon, and on 2 evenings, but otherwise, the weather was pleasant.

Food:
Food was absolutely wonderful at this resort ….on par with food in Barbados, but much much better than other places we have gone to in the Caribbean (Bahamas, Punta Cana, St. Maarten, Cuba). Nobody got sick, presentation was excellent, and quality was superb. Definitely no complaints here. I am not much of a sushi eater, but my husband and I did try eating at the sushi bar, and it was very good. Our favorite restaurant (we ate there 3 times) was Senigigi (sp.?). The buffet "La Hacienda" worked well for my 4 year old, as there was enough variety for her (she is very picky!). The service was overall, quite good. One thing to note is that no children are allowed in the Italian restaurant, so lucky for us that the grandparents were able to look after our 2 while we ate there, and then they went after we were done.

Water is fine to drink from the restaurants, bar etc. but not the tap in the rooms (we used bottled water to brush our teeth).

Rooms:
Unfortunately, the week we were there (probably that very first day), there seemed to be a bit of a labour strife happening. As a result, our parents (both sets), did experience a few problems with their rooms on the first day (e.g.. told the room was ready, but when they got there, 1 room had still not been cleaned from the previous occupants, and the other room, we had to wait for, but when the key was picked up, linens etc. were all piled up on the bed!). The rooms are standard, but clean. Sometimes, the rooms took a while to get cleaned, but this could have been due to the dispute and shortage of housekeeping staff. Staff were very nice.

Beach:
A bit disappointing, but we still had fun. There are little rocks that can be sharp on the feet, but heck, it is the ocean so that should be expected…definitely not the smooth sand we found in Punta Cana! There were also LOTS of sand fleas (or little black flies) on the sand, that were more a nuisance than anything. Bug spray is a must if you want to keep free from them, but I don’t think they bite.

Pool: My mom and I went in once or twice for the water aerobics…freezing cold! It is just a rectangular pool…not free flowing or anything. No need to worry about getting lounge chairs, as plenty available.

Staff: Very nice and friendly. This is one resort where they do go out of there way to be helpful where they can. Traveling with 2 kids in strollers, the staff would come running to help prop open a door for you or help push the stroller for you. Some people do not speak English at all, but they would always try to get another staff person who did speak, to help us out.

Kids Club: My daughter went on the last day that we were there, and had a good time…she had hooked up with some kids from New York, and they all had fun. The staff are very nice, and they will order food for the kids and sit with them to eat.

Excursions: We went to Play Del Carmen for shopping…very expensive for all of us to get there by taxi. It was too difficult to think of going via local transportation with an infant. Expect to bargain when shopping.

The trip to Tulum was nice (great views of the ocean), and the all day trip to Chichen Itza was nice for our parents (again, too hard to do with little kids).

Overall, if you are looking for some r and r, then this place is not a bad choice, as there is not much to do unless you go off the resort. The Sunscape is a pretty big resort (hacienda style), so there is a lot of walking to do if you get a room far away.

We would like to go back to the Mayan, but may stay at a different resort just for variety.

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Sunscape Tulum Carole’Anne — Edmonton, Canada

January 2004

We have just returned from a 2 week holiday at the Sunscape hotel. We spent from the 20th of Dec. 2003 to Jan 3rd, 2004. We are from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

In one word the resort, staff & meals were "FABULOUS".

The items that I would like to pass on to you all, is this, the room service, was so great to have! Having the mini bar re-stocked at no extra charge was just wonderful. The staff were so very helpful, and friendly. We tried 4 out of the 5 restaurants. The service at the Mexican restaurant, was top notch. The food in the oriental, the Mexican, the Italian, and the buffet, were all so good. No lack of variety.

We loved that we were able to take bananas, apples, & snacks out of the buffet. They even offered to pack us a lunch, for our day trips. Which was so nice.

Make sure you go to tea time, at least once. The sandwiches & cookies are sooooooooooo delicious. They also make this great coffee called a "Sunscape" coffee. You have to try it if you like Spanish coffee. It was so good !

The only thing that I have to warn you about, & truly this is not a complaint. But, don’t expect hot water, or much pressure, if you have an ocean view room. The view however, is worth the sacrifice !!!!

This holiday was the most relaxing, of all holidays that we have ever had !!! Enjoy !

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December 2003

We just returned from a wonderful stay at the Sunscape Tulum Resort. It has an atmosphere of casual elegance. The food and service here are the best I’ve had at an all-inclusive resort (and I’ve been to many). I loved the pool which was great for swimming laps. The beach was made of white, crushed coral and shells. The sand was shallower and coarser than the beaches of Playacar, but still very pretty. There is a nice, roped off, sandy area for swimming. You can take nice, long walks on the beach in either direction – no large resorts in sight. Live music by the pool, waiter service for lunch and drinks, very relaxing…

We had our 4 yr old son with us and he enjoyed being in the kids club for a few hours every afternoon. Fanny, who runs the kids club, is wonderful and speaks excellent English. However there is no playground, and few outdoor toys. They stay inside and do crafts, play foozball, watch movies. They order in food when the kids are hungry (pizza, hot dogs, french fries, etc) from room service. Some evenings they did games and dancing for the kids – either on the beach or by the theatre. They are planning to build a new kids club facility this winter, as well as a separate kids pool.

I have posted my photos on this website: www.geocities.com/sunscapetulum

I think this resort is excellent value; the winter rates are $895/week per adult, based on double occupancy, including round trip airport transfers. After Easter the rate goes down to $762/week. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation with top-notch food, service, and spa facilities at a reasonable price, then this is the place!

Feel free to email me if you have any questions: vivian@chuckanutbaytravel.com

I also stayed at the new Reef Coco Beach, and at my favorite family resort – The Gala Resort Playacar.

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Sunscape Tulum Bill and Suzanne — Ajax, Ontario Canada

November 2003

Hola, We stayed at the Sunscape hotel November 8th to 15th. We flew out of Toronto (Pearson) with Air Transat. This is the first time I have ever done a last minute vacation, and it was perfect from start to finish. We booked 7 days before our departure, picked up the tickets at the airport on the day we were scheduled to leave – and encountered not one single problem! The company we booked through was Holiday Market Travel, and we saved a bundle (almost half of original cost!)

We arrived at the hotel after midnight – partly due to a late flight and partially due to the hotel being 90 minutes away from the Cancun airport. We did know this in advance, but we had to drop two other couples off at other resorts, so it was more like 2 hours away. That minor complaint is my only one!

When we pulled up to the hotel we were greeted by many hotel staff saying "Welcome Home" the bellboys took our luggage, someone else gave us a cool face cloth (heaven after the hot Cancun Airport), handed us a glass of champagne, gave us giant chocolate macadamia nut cookies and checked us in within minutes! We were so impressed by the "Royal" treatment. We were also advised we had been upgraded to a Junior Suite – bonus! They took us in a little golf cart to our room were we promptly ordered room service, which is 24 hours at this hotel.

The room had a king sized bed, tub and shower, bidet, double sinks, marble everywhere, make up mirror, scales (YUCK), separate sitting area, giant double sized hammock on balcony, safe (free), mini bar with beer, water and soft drinks (free), 27inch TV with many english speaking channels, iron and board, basket full of soaps, shampoos, creams etc. etc. Simply decorated but had an elegant feel.

The grounds were beautiful. Everything was layed out in hacienda style (square blocks with courtyard, fountain, park benches, clay pots filled with flowers etc.) The beach was nice and wide, the sand had lots of tiny little pieces of coral so it was a bit courser than we are used to – but it still was fine to walk on with bare feet. It was rocky in the water in several places, we did wear water shoes. There was a giant blow up trampoline and slide type thing out in the water, looked like fun – but we didn’t try it. Great for kids.The pool is rectangular and big, with plenty of chairs and umberellas going around it. I do prefer free form pools with swim up bars, but this one was very nice as well. They have bar service around the pool and even on the beach – nice to lay under a palm tree and have your drinks delivered to you!

There are several a la carte restaurants here – Italian, Asian, Sushi, Mexican as well as a great buffet – the Hacienda. We only tried the Italian and Mexican – both very good (upscale), but we loved the Hacienda. Whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, the door was opened for you, your chair pulled out for you, your napkin placed on your lap, your plate carried back to your table, drinks replaced the minute they were gone etc. etc. Royal treatment again. The staff at the restaurants really know how to treat their patrones! The food was outstanding at this hotel – we have been to several 5 star resorts, and have never eaten so well! Great taste, great presentation, and great variety! Also the liquor they use at this hotel is "Top Shelf", all brand name.

We saved money using the collectivos (white vans) to do our adventures off property. You just walk out to the main entrance of your resort and flag them down. They come by every 10 minutes or so and are used by tourists and locals alike. Very safe. $2 got you to Playa Del Carmen for shopping. $1 got you to Xel-Ha for snorklelling or to Tulum for the Mayan ruins. I would like to mention that Xel – Ha was the most increadable experience. The fish we swam with were huge and beautiful. We saw a sea turtle, sting ray and parrot fish, plus hundreds more. The lagoon was a beautiful turquoise colour, and so clear. My underwater pictures taken here are amazing! No one can believe we actually swam with all these sea creatures. TIP- get ther early before the bus tours over run the place and churn up the water, sending all the fish into hiding! Xel – Ha was the high lite of our vacation.

To sum up, finally –
We loved the Sunscape Hotel, we cannot believe the service we recieved, TOP NOTCH! The staff were great – Thanks Hugo for taking such good care of us! We would return to this hotel in a heartbeat. This was our first time in Mexico, and we loved it. We hope to come back and do some more exploring. Great Vacation! Adios!

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Sunscape Tulum Ben — Pennsylvania

October 2003

GROUNDS
Gorgeous…The way the resort is laid out is absolutely beautiful. Trees, plants, and grass are all green as could be and well maintained.

CHECK-IN
Easy as could be…Maybe a total of 30 seconds. If there’s a little bit of a line, leave your luggage and go over to the bar and relax for a minute or two, but overall it’s a quick process.

ROOMS
Not one complaint. Very clean. If you like a bathtub, sorry, they only have showers in the standard rooms. Bidets were a nice plus. Mini-bar always stocked and sometimes overstocked. Beds were extremely comfortable. Hammocks on the balconies were nice for relaxing in the morning after a shower. Television, I didn’t watch much but from what I saw basic channels about 25% English speaking stations and 75% Spanish speaking stations, but who goes on a vacation to watch TV.

RESTAURANTS
Not much of a breakfast person but the buffet in the morning was plentiful and good. Omelette station, pastry dish, Bloody Mary’s made with Absolut Citron, breakfast sushi, etc. were all exceptional. For lunch I ate at El Charro restaurant every day. It’s right next to the pool and you can order from a menu. I recommend the fried calamari and the shrimp cocktail w/pineapple sauce and cilantro. Dinner was fabulous. Without having to make reservations, I ate at a few each night. At El Charro get the tenderloin. The Sushi Restaurant is also great.

STAFF
Superb…everyone make you feel welcome and makes sure that you are having a good time. The bartenders, Sharky, Felipe, & Williams are fun and the activity girls (Gisela, Erika, Elana) are awesome. Overall a ten of ten.

POOL
Nice and clean, could use a swim-up bar.

BEACH
Nice beach, but the ocean floor is a little rocky, wear watershoes.

OVERALL
I enjoyed my visit to the resort and would definitely go back. Rod Gahr and his crew did a fabulous job with this resort. If you have any questions you can email me at ben@travelbybob.com.

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Last updated: December 28, 2005

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