This could have been a fantastic stay but for the inept and cowardly actions of management, who refused to show their faces and do anything to keep a situation from going from bad to worse.
And believe me, we weren’t asking for the moon, nor are we “cheapies who pay for 3 star and expect 5”. We knew from the start that the Oceano would be the type of resort where you need to choose the top room category to ensure a pleasant experience. This is precisely what we did when we booked with Sunwing; we selected the top accommodation package of what is called a “Studio with Kitchenette”.
When we checked in, we were told that since they did not have our booked category available, we would be given their best accommodations: a Junior Suite in adjoining rooms 506 and 507 (top floor). Well, you can imagine our pleasant surprise; what a fantastic start to our vacation, or so we thought.
We had a concern, however, when we ventured out onto one of the balconies. The one off of 507 (the kitchenette with two twin beds) was shared with another adjoining room, 508, which - when we arrived on scene - was under a bit of construction. The bellman said that it wasn’t ready to be rented out yet and that perhaps (since we didn’t want to have the possibility of sharing our balcony with strangers) we could eventually take 508 instead of 506.
As it turned out, we never had that decision to make. Just before noon the next day, we received a phone call from the front desk saying that they had made a mistake and that room 506 was not ours and that to keep it, we would have to pay “double“. What?? So are we to get 508 instead? No, that’s not ours either. The kitchenette room – 507 – was to be our only room.
My other half and I were certain that when we booked the oddly named “studio with kitchenette” that it had described a separate bedroom. Without access to the internet (we had not been given the network password when we checked in), we couldn’t verify that fact, but since our Sunwing guy was sitting downstairs, we thought we’d get him to go to bat for us and perhaps help overcome some language barriers.
To make an incredibly long two hour ordeal shorter in the telling, our Sunwing rep ultimately took Oceano’s side and said that the kitchenette was all that we were entitled to and that to satisfy our balcony concern, the hotel promised that they would not rent out 508 for the two week duration of our stay. (Oh that makes a hell of a lot of sense: let’s not make any money on a room just to spite these guests who think they are entitled to a suite.) When we asked how much it would cost to “upgrade” and take 508, they quoted us $65 a night (for the next thirteen nights). At that time, we took a closer look at the room and noticed that the taps on the bathroom sink hadn’t even been installed yet! So we countered with $150 for the entire two weeks and of course, never came to any agreement other than a firm promise from them that 508 would stay unoccupied.
Fast forward one week and on Saturday night, we discovered that the access door to 508 was locked from the other side (it hadn’t been up until then). Later that evening, we heard sounds outside our door; when we looked through the peephole, we could see that someone was trying to get into 508, but seemed to be having difficulty with the card. To make another long story short, I called downstairs to the front desk to mention that we had been promised that 508 would remain unoccupied. The person very casually responded that it was only for one night as there was a teachers’ convention in town. I didn’t say it at the time, but what is it about “will not be rented out” that is open to interpretation? To me, it meant that it will not be rented for so much as five minutes and certainly not for one night, since the next morning, I found strangers standing on my balcony trying not to look into my room. The situation is not just about breaking a promise to us, but it was also patently unfair to the folks who rented that room for one night.
Our Sunwing rep made another appearance the next afternoon. When we drew his attention to Sunwing’s website stating that Oceano’s studio with kitchenette room category has capacity for 4 with “1 bedroom, 1 double bed and 2 twin beds”, he made a vague reference to the fact that we were just two people and that was why…? Excuse me? I pay for a certain room category and just because I am not toting around a couple of kids, I don’t get the "bedroom" part of my accommodations? Didn't I pay for it? (Note to reader: yes, Sunwing is going to get a letter from us regarding this matter.)
It is clear at this point that our Sunwing rep is not exactly going to bat for us, but he did say that he will speak again with management. He later called up to our room to let us know that management didn’t know how “that mistake” occurred (i.e., the renting out of 508 for one night) and that he got a renewed promise that it would not happen again.
During the first week of our stay, we were without water service from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am two days in a row. Both times, we received about three hours’ notice of the shutdown. In the second week, our hot water disappeared without warning one evening, although it was restored within a couple of hours. It became a running joke between me and my husband during the latter part of our stay: will we have water? Will it be hot? Will we have strangers on our balcony?
On our last night, we again discovered that 508 had been rented out. On this occasion, those people did not venture out onto the balcony. Just was well… our return flight was delayed for about ten hours so we did not move from our room – and our balcony – until the noon checkout.
The moral of this review is that if you have issues, management at the Oceano Palace may not understand the concept of “the customer is always right”, particularly when the customer IS right, if you know what I mean. (And this was even a two week customer!) This experience, while it did not ruin our vacation by any means, was off-putting enough that we won’t chance it again. We will be back in Mazatlan in the future, but we won’t be at the Oceano Palace.
If you think you will be lucky enough to arrive and encounter no problems with your stay, then here are three things the Oceano has going for it: 1) no need to get up early to reserve lounge chairs under the palapas on the expansive, sandy beach, 2) the resort is quite clean and well kept, and 3) it is located close to many restaurants that are decently priced.
And maybe on the down side: 1) front desk staff are a bit hit and miss when it comes to customer service (e.g., it shouldn’t be an impossible challenge to get change for 100 pesos), 2) they will likely be renovating for a while yet, so be prepared for all sorts of disruptions (like the water thing) and construction noise, and 3) a poorly installed (triple pronged!) electrical outlet in our kitchen allowed armies of teeny, tiny little bugs to overrun the countertop; we bought some insecticide spray and it did the job.
Would also like to mention that we tipped a small amount every day and our maid service was excellent. The bellman was accommodating and friendly and Tony was great in assisting with tours and providing information. Oh, and if you need internet access, ask for the password and expect that it will change within a two week period.
Room amenities: one bottle of water, soap and shampoo. No clocks (except on the microwave if you have a kitchenette). All rooms have safes. 506 and 508 had hair dryers, 507 did not. Hangers in the closet are functional when removed. 507 had generous counter space in the bathroom; showers are big and roomy. 506 was the only room out of the three that had another mirror outside of the bathroom area. 507 has an extremely tiny closet and very little other storage space for clothing; they had to bring up another bureau for us. Kitchenette comes with small appliances such as coffee maker, blender and toaster. Range only has two burners that are very close together. Some outlets have been upgraded to triple prongs; be safe and bring along an adapter if you have a computer. Lighting could have been brighter (especially over the food prep area) but was acceptable.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- More than 260 recently renovated rooms, studios and suites, most with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Mazatlan Islands Nature Reserve, Isla de Pajaros, Isla de Venados, Isla de Chivos. The rooms with street view, overlook Camaron Sabalo Avenue. All Inclusive and European Plans available. Location: Golden Zone 30 minutes away from airport, 15 minutes from downtown, 10 minutes from aquarium, and 10 minutes from golf courses. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Oceano Palace Hotel Mazatlan
- Oceano Palace Mazatlan