During our stay the GBP's newest resort in Mexico we learnt a lot about how this new facility works, and wanted to share it with future guests of that resort.
- Sian Kaan consists of a lobby (including check-in, public relations, a jewelry store, a lobby store, and a bar), adjoining patio (called the Terrazo), spa, two restaurants, a buffet, two snack bars and 36 villas in two loops.
- there are 14 larger villas (Villas 1-9 and 16-20). On the ground floor is a Garden Suite with a patio and jacuzzi, on the second floor is a junior suite with balcony, and on the third floor is a penthouse unit with stairs up to a rooftop deck and jacuzzi. Inside all of the rooms are virtually the same, with a large bedroom with closets, a bathroom with large shower, and a living room with a small dining area including a mini-bar and sink. There is a sliding wall to separate the bedroom and dining room areas.
- the rest of the villas are smaller, and are all junior suites (i.e. no jacuzzi). The main floor has a patio, the second floor a small balcony, and a third floor a larger balcony. The rooms have a bed, closets, bathroom and sitting area. There is no sliding wall - it is just one space.
- if you want to be relatively close to the lobby (my recommendation), ask for Villas 1-9. If you like more remoteness ask for Villas 16-20.
- even with a junior suite I would recommend one of the larger villas over a smaller one if you can get it.
- the bug fogging schedule isn't always predictable, but generally happens around the complex at dusk, between 4:45 and 5:45, and specifically at the Sian Kaan at about 5:15PM. As the fogger goes along all the roads, we try to be either in our room or one of the other lobbies (Coba, Akumal, Tulum) between 4:45 and 5:45. Hiding in the Sian Kaan lobby doesn't work - they fog right along the lobby and it drifts in.
- this is a quiet resort. Sources of noise are the Zumba lessons from 4:30 to 5:00 and the evening entertainment (usually lounge type singing). Both of these take place on the patio. We stayed in Villa 5, the closest to the patio and it didn't bother us (of course we were often at the patio or off at a restaurant during the evening).
- dispite the looks of it, this is not an adult only resort, and there can be quite a few kids. Most of the kids we saw were in the 5-12 year old range - probably because the larger villas have a layout that allows kids to stay with their parents yet have their own bed area with the sliding wall and foldout couch.
- kids enjoy all of the pools. All are less than 5 feet deep and some have long steps going deeper and deeper as kids feel comfortable. The only pool we never saw kids in was the kids pool!
- the maps says that there are four trams during the day and three in the evening. However, when we were there it was three during the day and two in the evening.
- the Wa-Wa (large red and blue tram) has a route that goes from the Sian Kaan to the Hacienda to Tulum lobby and return, and runs during the day and evening
- the Coba tram runs during the day back and forth between the Sian Kaan and the Coba lobby. It does not run at night (see below).
- the Sian Kaan Beach tram runs during the day back and forth between the Sian Kaan lobby and the Sian Kaan portion of the beach. It runs frequently and quickly. Because it runs direct and doesn't have any stops it is quite fast. During the night when the beach is closed the route changes to the Sian Kaan lobby, to Coba lobby, to Akumal lobby and return. It takes a route that bypasses all the Coba villas but goes past the Le Gourmet and Mikado. We call it the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride because they generally go quite quickly along paths that are narrow and have obstacles along the way.
- the result of all this is that during the day there is no direct connection between the Sian Kaan lobby and the Akumal lobby. You have three choices - Sian Kaan to Tulum lobby and then transfer to the Akumal tram; Sian Kaan to the Coba lobby and then transfer to another tram that goes to Akumal; or our personal favourite - take the Sian Kaan beach tram and have them drop you off at the Tulum Villa 28 tram stop. At that point the Sian Kaan route crosses the Tulum to Akumal tram route. You just wait there until the next Akumal tram comes along. There is a covered bench area there should you want to sit out of the sun.
- all of the lobbies other than the Sian Kaan have three pickup areas - the Sian Kaan trams will always be found at the inner most pickup area (furthest away from the lobby) unless it is blocked by a bus.
- both the Alux (pronounce Aloosh) and Maiko restaurants are very nice, although don't expect warm and cozy - more a bit more "glass and flash". The food was excellent at both. Service for us was better at the Maiko, but that can vary night by night and waiter by waiter. The Maiko, although a Japanese restaurant, does not have show tables.
- the Alux restaurant is gourmet, which means that men must wear long pants and shoes other than sandals. We're not sure about the Maiko - we dressed that way anyway, as it has a high-end atmosphere to it.
-we found it quite easy to get reservations for both of these restaurants. We would recommend that you make your other reservations first, either in advance through Claudia or through the Public Relations desks on site, and then fill in with the Alux or Maiko. Still, make sure you try them out.
- the buffet is just like the other buffets in the complex, but smaller and less lining up (and less selection too). Each night has a theme - Italian, Mexican, Spanish, etc. We didn't actually have any lunches or dinners here - we used snack bars and the unlimited ala cartes instead. However, breakfast was great - no lineups and lots of selection.
- there are two snack bars - the Cenote Snack Bar is by the pools (shares a kitchen with the Alux) and is open 7/24. The food is very similar to that in the other snack bars in the complex, although the ambience is higher and there is table drink service. During the day there it has a small buffet, and the rest of the time you can order off a menu board. The Sushi Bar is the only food service in the smaller loop of villas. It is open from 10AM to 6PM and serves a variety of sushi plus a drink service (best mojitos in the complex!).
- there is also free 24 hour room service available. There is a menu in your room. Their service level is 45 minutes, although we never tried it.
- the Sian Kaan has a long list of many, many brand names. We're not sophisticated enough to appreciate one brand versus another, so we never specified one, but some people did. I did manage to run them out of Bailey's one night!
- some drinks are extra cost, but not many, and it would appear to be only the high, high end stuff.
- as with the rest of the complex, there is only one beer - Dos XX Lager. It's a fine beer, but it would have been nice to have some alternatives, or at least Dos XX Amber.
- the Sian Kaan has overall great Internet, but we did have some troubles.
- there are two wireless networks - WiFi Sian Kaan and Sian Kaan Lobby. Sian Kaan Lobby can only be picked up in the lobby area. It is reliable, but relatively slow. It is basically the same as in the other lobbies in the complex. The WiFi Sian Kaan wireless network rocks! We were gettting 5 Mb down and 1.5 up with very low latency. This wireless covers all of the resort, but we had problems picking it up from our room on occasion, and from some of the pool areas. The best areas to pick it up were on the patio and around the Alux/Cenote Snack bar/pool areas.
- for the rest of the complex you are given a card that you trade for your beach towels. You can trade along the way, but in the end you have to return the towels or face a fee. At the Sian Kaan this isn't an issue - you can pick up or trade towels whenever you want at the Alux pool or the animation area. These are the same blue towels as used at the other resorts. There is no counting, and no worries about fees. Hopefully everyone will act responsibly so we don't lose that privilege.
- there are five people on the team right now, and they are split between the animation area by the pools and the beach.
- activities include yoga, stretching, ping pong, aquasize, Spanish lessons and Zumba lessons. I have to give a shout-out for the Spanish lessons. My wife was lucky enough to get 1-on-1 lessons with Claudia from the animation team and they were the highlight of the trip for her.
- each room has a fairly large safe with an electronic passcode that you program
- no keys and no $5/day safe charge
- the safes can hold a 15" laptop, but barely (your results could vary!) My DSLR, on the other hand, wouldn't fit as it was too tall to fit under or on top of the shelf. Maybe the shelf can be removed - we didn't try.
Sian Kaan Beach
- the Sian Kaan Beach runs from the Dive Shop on the south, along the east side of the dolphin area, and ends at the Gran Tortuga restaurant
- the Sian Kaan portion of the beach is unique in that the palapas there are reserved exclusively for Sian Kaan guests. That being said, I didn't see anyone actively checking (but then again there was lots of room when we were there). There are fences at either end that go part way down to the water to help define this area.
- there is an exclusive beach bar. It is much like any other except that there are a few tables, and they serve beer in cans (this may just be temporary).
- we usually bring pesos in large bills and break them down there into small bills for tipping as we go. This worked quite well there, and on only one occasion were they out of small $20 peso bills.
- if you need more pesos I recommed you go to the ATM at the Hacienda. The exchange rate for us was better than exchanging at home and certainly the lobby, which has a poor exchange rate.
- most of the stores in the complex quote prices in US dollars, but will accept any currency.
- although we didn't use it there is a laundry service available. Prices seem reasonable - a bra, for example, is $10 pesos.
- please consider the use of reef-safe suntan lotions. The only one we know of that is truly safe is the Maya Solar line. You can buy it at the Hacienda for $20US/tube or USA transfers for $12/tube. The SPF 30 is a bit chalky, but the SPF 45 goes on very well and was our favourite.
- you have access to most if not all the rest of the resorts in the complex. The only part that may be off limits is the premier/golden/diamond lounges. We didn't have any reason to check that out.
- you also have access to the golf clubhouse across the road from the Sian Kaan. Apparently all drinks except the premium drinks are free, although we didn't try it.
- on the other hand, guests in the rest of the complex don't have access to the Sian Kaan. I'm sure they could ride the tram up and walk around a bit, but the staff are told to only serve Sian Kaan guests.
- your main contact before you arrive is Claudia, the Room Division Manager. She will try to get the room you want and will set up any or all of your a la cartes in advance. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org . She told us that two weeks in advance of your arrival is the optimal time to contact her. For the a la cartes make sure to tell her preferred dates and times, if you have any.
Have a great trip!