We booked our week at the Grand Oasis (3-10th Feb) on the basis that things generally go smoother between the Christmas and Spring Break peak times – which is when a lot of the less favorable reviews get posted due to the higher load factor and the clientele mix. Bear in mind that your experience may vary depending upon the number and type of guests in residence at the time of your stay.
We vacation at Cancun at least three times a year for a week at a time so we are familiar with what is or isn’t realistic to expect, and the fact that this isn’t Kansas. Over recent years the Grand Oasis has been our ‘go-to’ establishment when we want a budget priced, few frills, flawlessly-executed, week away during the off-season. In summary on this trip we had a very good week, with most things exactly as expected. Personally I won’t return so long as the hotel operates the crazy restaurant booking requirement for a la carte meals (discussed below). Cancun’s a very competitive market and there’s no need to have to get up at dawn and queue for an hour just to get your evening meal.
But starting on the plus side, our check-in was prompt and Norma and the desk staff did a great job of trying to accommodate our wishes. They went the extra mile to understand our preferences and to adjust arrangements accordingly. We were assigned a room in the Pyramid, which we prefer as they tend to be quieter (aside from the 7.30-8.30pm hour when the live show takes place in the atrium). We arrived at noon and had to return to the desk at 3pm to collect the keys, as is normal. A big thanks to them as I appreciate that the check-in time is very pressurized for the desk staff.
The room was fine with no major issues. The AC worked well, but the thermostat was mostly for show as far as I could tell - the system seemed locked to a management-defined temperature level.
Throughout the week the staff at the working level were friendly and did absolutely everything they could to accommodate our wishes. If they didn't have what we asked for to hand, they'd go off to some other part of the hotel to fetch it which we thought was excellent service for a hotel of this grade. We preferred getting our drinks from the VIP bar as they have the branded spirits – and thus access is limited to guests paying the ‘Grand’ room prices. Housekeeping was immaculate and they were happy to oblige if we wanted an extra water bottle on occasion.
We never encountered any timeshare sales types.
We generally stayed by the quiet pools. The grounds at the Oasis are large enough that they can accommodate the party crowd on one side and the quiet/family visitors on the other.
The grounds are kept immaculate and there wasn’t any problem finding some shade under the palm trees when required, although you’ll need to reserve your spot before breakfast if you want a choice (which I think is fairly normal at this price point).
Our package was “all inclusive” with additional charges of $5.50 per day for the safe in the room and $6-$10 per day for internet access – that was understood from the beginning and factored into our purchasing decision. There were optional up-charges for some menu items and for drinkable wine – which we didn’t bother with. There's no free Wi-Fi area. The purchased Wi-Fi log-in is keyed to the MAC address of the subscribing device so you can't easily share one payment between several devices. The internet service worked OK for us with only occasional slowdowns and drop outs. I’m not sure that you’d get business grade VoIP performance, despite what the service provider claims. We also take a stack of $1 bills as we like to offer occasional tips - but this is certainly not required.
The Oasis tries hard to create a resort atmosphere for example with some very elaborate shows in the Pyramid at 7.30pm each night, plus a number of other short shows in or outside the various restaurants during the evening. This is in contrast to some hotels where the nightly show is just one of the reception staff performing bad karaoke to a worn-out copy of Thriller. Do check out the show where risk-averse contortionists are winched into the rafters. There's also a troop of kids who roam around the facility 'amusing' the long-suffering guests with their antics. The locals seemed to enjoy this diversion, so maybe it's something that gets lost in translation? We really enjoyed seeing Alejandra Milan sing in the VIP bar area on a couple of evenings – she’s got a fantastic voice and seems to tailor the set to the mood of the audience. Check the entertainment listing sheet for the nights that she performs (9pm on Sun and Wed at the moment) – highly recommended, make a point of seeing her.
On the food front, the breakfast in the Market Place was one of the best that we've seen on the strip, even when compared to much more expensive hotels - and a sound something-for-everyone choice if you want a quicker lunch than the table service places. The Brazilian steak restaurant did a nice job and the wait staff were happy to chase down a particular cut/cuisson of meat, which is handy as the Mexican default for everything seems to be very well done. The top sirloin would I suggest is the piece de resistance of the establishment.
Generally the food was very good by the standards of a budget all-inclusive restaurant in Mexico. By US hotel standards that’s nothing spectacular (just to manage expectations if you haven't visited before) – but there’s plenty of choice.
On the negative side, my biggest complaint is that the hotel now requires reservations for dinner at several of the a la carte restaurants on the premises. These are not for gourmet/demonstration meals, but for regular, average-quality hotel meals. This means that to dine when/where you want you need to get up at 6.30am and join the queue of people waiting for the reservation desk to open (of course only one person works that station, while the other person in the office stands idly by). Also you have to book a day and a half in advance so if you’re only there for a couple of nights then you’re SOL.
These exact same restaurants operate just fine at lunchtime on a first come, first served basis and no one seemed to have a problem with that. What’s worse is that the restaurants run at under half occupancy in the evening - versus close to full capacity at lunchtime. Why not operate dinner the same as lunch? If they’re short on headcount then there’s 15 kids on the payroll riding around on a golf cart all day goofing around – is that seriously the best allocation of personnel when you’re not even delivering on the basics?
The introduction of this time-consuming, irritating and pointless reservations system bothered me to the extent that I won't return while it's in effect. Wasting an hour at dawn each day isn't how I want to spend my vacation time. Of course YMMV - if you prefer a buffet style dinner then there's no reason why this aspect should put you off booking.
There didn’t seem to be any mid or senior management walking the patch so it’s unfortunate that the only channel of guest communication in response to this retrograde initiative seems to be via Trip Advisor reviews. It’s a shame as this place was flawless when we stayed last spring. I don’t know if there’s been a change of management or if they just fell asleep at the wheel. I’m sure that if they spent time seeing the product from the guest’s perspective (and not via endless reports taken on clip boards and delivered to their office in the ivory tower) then they’d realize that a few things need fixing – i.e.
• A 15+ people at 7am waiting in a restaurant reservations line (moving at glacial speed) having already paid a premium for 'Grand' tier meal service
• Chaos with the pool towels – no one seems to go around collecting the used towels, meaning that they regularly run out of supplies and that people can reserve spaces both on the beach and by the pool for the entire day. The morning that I tried to reserve a bed, there were still yesterday’s towels scattered all over the beach at 7am so the loungers/beds just became a complete free-for-all fight. (Maybe things were different on other days - I gave up after that one morning). I have no problem with towel cards in a budget hotel, if that means that I can get a bed/lounger/clean towel when I need.
• Very slow service at the Asian restaurant – both our lunch visits took 55 minutes from seating to food service
• No chicken available in the Asian restaurant two days running – when the other restaurants seem to have plenty of supplies. This just screams lack of management attention to detail to me.
• Inadequate pool-side loungers (compounded by lack of towel management) – with people having to lie on the concrete instead
Again I would stress that absolutely none of this is the fault of the staff – they all worked very hard and did whatever they could to paper over the cracks. This is just poor management.
In conclusion the negatives are I believe are fixable and wouldn’t have arisen if the management were in touch with what the guests were experiencing. Whoever is in charge needs to get their executives out of their offices and onto the shop floor. You shouldn’t be learning about this stuff on Trip Advisor.
In fairness, I would definitely consider continuing to come back to the Oasis as it’s still fundamentally a great product, provided that future reviews indicate that management has fixed the restaurant reservation issue as that's the deal-breaker for me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- They don't call me The Entertainer for nothing: I'm the Grandmaster of fun, hosting live concerts, festivals and shows, even themed parties - plus everyday surprises like dancers in the lobby, and comedy skits by the longest pool in Cancun. I'm a Little more exlusive than my sister resort, Oasis Cancun, with extra amenities to make you feel special. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Oasis Hotel Cancun
- Grand Oasis Cancun Mexico
- Oasis Cancun
- Cancun Oasis
- Oasis Grand Cancun
- Grand Oasis Cancun Reviews
- Grand Oasis Resort Cancun
- Grand Oasis Cancun Hotel
- Oasis Hotel Cancun Mexico