My husband and I brought our 6 adult kids to Cozumel for a diving trip in July, and chose the Occidental based upon proximity to dive sites, the all-inclusive plan, and overall rating of the hotel. After reading all of the reviews, we upgraded to the Royal Club, and I was really glad we did.
In short, the hotel layout is interesting - the individual 3-story buildings straddle a long pathway from the main lobby to a smaller pool (all outdoors), then you walk across a pretty wood bridge through the mangrove forest and come out at the main large pool and beach. The Royal Club buildings (20 & 21) are closest to the bridge - we stayed in the RC so that was great. The beach is really pretty (large Tiki umbrellas offer plenty of shade), the pool very nice (they need more umbrellas at the pool tho), and there is a bar at the pool which at times has a very long line..needs to be expanded to accommodate more people. We had some challenge getting beach chairs at times - people save them and never show up. Typical resort challenge tho...
The rooms were nice - we had a Junior Suite and two RC Luxury. The suite was spacious - living area, dining area and large bedroom / bath. The Luxury rooms were also nice - good space. Air conditioning in the Junior suite family room area stopped working one night...we called and a guy was there in 15 minutes, but couldn't fix it. They said we had to wait until the next day - we just stayed in the bedroom and shut that door. They fixed it the next day. The AC was never cold though...almost like 1/2 power the entire stay. The other two rooms were fine.
The food situation needs some serious work at this hotel. Thankfully we could use the RC restaurant for breakfast, which we did every day. The AC worked in that restaurant, the food was OK and you could order off a menu. Everyone else has to use the buffet way up by the main lobby, where there is no AC but I hear the breakfast food was OK. Lunch was served at the Beach Club open air restaurant (buffet style) by the beach...no AC (July is HOT), and the food is seriously marginal...we expected to see more traditional mexican food, but there was not a tortilla in sight (except the chips). Lots of various meat dishes which didn't look appetizing, and strange salads that were sitting in the heat...I skipped lunch most days, but my husband and the young adults found various things (hamburgers mostly).
Dinner...OK so the choices are 1) buffet with no AC (food varied ...good one night, bad the next), 2) Sonora restaurant with a reservation and must wear PANTS, and 3) Royal Club restaurant with a reservation and PANTS. Well...our 4 guys didn't bring pants...in 90 degrees with 95% humidity...go figure. Hotel said no exceptions...even though the restaurants were empty most nights!! SO...we did room service from the RC restaurant one night (food was really marginal ...suddenly didn't care that we didn't have pants!), buffet another night (food was good that night - we went later after it cooled down but it was still so HOT in there), and the rest of the time we just went off-campus. We did Alberto's down the beach twice (beautiful walk at sunset...lots of fun at their beach party, fish tacos were awesome..), Kondesa in town has outstanding food ($40 taxi for 8 of us plus a fat dinner bill, but we walked around town and shopped also), and Guido's another night (also very good). That all added up to significantly more expense than was planned...it should not have been necessary...but it really was given the food experience at the Occidental.
Drinks were free flowing...no premium alcohol or wine, and the only beer is Corona, but this was all fine given our troop of 20-somethings. Something to note - they don't allow food on the beach or at the pool...they don't serve it there either. You have to go to the restaurant to eat. Would be nice to have snacks of some type available at the pool/beach.
The diving was great - the dive shop gave us a private boat since we had a large party, and our dive master was really great with our group (Joshua). The diving is so convenient - grab your gear at the shop, walk down the pier and get on the boat. The great dive spots are a 10 minute boat ride...that's why we stayed there! We dove 3 days (2 dives each day) and had an absolute blast. Loved every minute. We also did parasailing one day - they make it easy by picking you up right at the pier.
Another day trip we did was in these little Polaris cars. We made arrangements through Jose at the concierge, and at 8:30 am two of the 4 seater open-air cars were parked outside the resort. We hopped in and followed a lead driver with a caravan around the island all day. We stopped for a tequila tasting (learned how they make it), the Mayan ruins, a lighthouse tour (Punta Sur), and snorkeling / lunch on the south side of the island. Great way to see the whole island (at least the part that has a road around it).
All in all, we had a really great time because we made some adjustments that were not really expected. The Occidental should really take a hard look at their food offerings, maybe take some input from guests....if they would fix that AND ensure the AC worked well EVERYWHERE, I think they would get much higher marks than they do. The property is really pretty - they keep it up very nicely. Such a shame the food isn't as nice!
Royal Club buildings are 21 & 20. Top floors seem to have issues with AC.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.