Like you, I read as many reviews as possible from a variety of sources before I decide to book a vacation. I picked Secrets Maroma as our January 2013 vacation spot based on the excellent reviews and overall ratings, especially the ones from Trip Advisor.
Here is my (our) 2 cents:
Yes, the beach is amazing - like sugar sand, no rocks or shells to step on and for me who is not an ocean swimmer, I went in more than a few times and did not feel afraid. We also went for some good walks and this beach is definitely made for that!
The staff is indeed as gracious and friendly as everybody says. Our concierge, Roberto was a hard working and caring young man; nothing was too much trouble and when you called him, he answered or called right back as soon as he could. That is typical of Secrets Maroma and my husband and I believe that management has made great service a mandatory requirement of all staff members, as we never met anyone who was not ready to offer above and beyond service.
We loved the 24 hour room service box in our room and the option of pushing the "do not disturb" button beside it, so that you could leave the tip in the box and the staff would leave the food. We used it several times for breakfast as our eggs ordered through room service were just the way we like them (and less hassle) than going to the buffet.
Speaking of food, we enjoyed the filet mingon from the French restaurant called Bordeaux and the house wines everywhere are just fine (Chilean). The servers will offer you a wine list - so overpriced - a J. Lohr, red wine that I pay about $22 a bottle in Canada was $75 here and so no way were we paying that! But there wasn't any pressure to buy. One night we tried the Italian spot called Portofino and ordered parmesan chicken which presented with a bbq sauce of some sort but nothing Italian about it. We ate a lot at the pool as there is an outdoor grill serving typical fare like bugers, hot dogs and fries but also, fresh fish and bbq chicken with lots of side dishes to choose from. Right on the beach, is another bbq, which we didn't try but other folks said was really good too. In addition, on one side of the pool is a casual sit-down restaurant with menu and we had some tacos, salmon and other good food here too. Definitely try the Coco Coffee lounge near the lobby and choose an iced coffee or fresh ground cappucino made just the way you like it - with or without alcohol. At least once during your stay, Secrets will offer a coffee tasting class and you can sample some wonderfully rich creations - Yum!
Alcohol here is top shelf if you want it - so we ordered Purple Rain drinks with Grey Goose vodka or Crown Royal and diet coke with fresh lime (their limes here are soooo good). We had a swim-up room in the Preferred Club and they refeshed the little mini bottles (50 ml) of premium vodka, rum and rye everyday including a small fridge with Corona beer (4 in your fridge everyday if you want it) pop and water plus m&m's and pringle chips.
Do we recommend a swim-up suite? You betcha! Ours was warm and inviting and we used it everyday! A pool staff cleaned it regularly and it was a great way to end the day or start it!!
Everything was going just great, when we (okay, me) decided that we should take the time share tour with a "Vacation Councellor". Big mistake - the Councellor had been calling us all week to have breakfast with him and because we liked his attitude, we, (me again) went. This is where, Secrets started to decline. Our nice Councellor turned us over to 2 other men who took turns with a fast and pressured presentation.We could never get a straight answer on cost - and they wouldn't allow me to write anything down and nor did they give anything like a pamphlet. What started out as an investment of like $64,000 ended up as $11,800 if we signed NOW. Are they kidding?! We met a couple later in the day at the pool who signed up a year ago and never got what they were promised and were staying at Secrets Capri (down the road) with a day-pass to Secrets Maroma because they could not actually stay at any of Secrets top resorts - something in the fine print. They had already been to see their lawyer..... You would have to pay top dollar for the 5 star resorts and even then it wouldn't be worth it (hence the pressure to sign immediately) and so this left a sour note with me and my hubby. So, be careful, the gifts they try to bribe you with to take the tour (coupons off spa, gift store ect) is just not worth the aggravation and you can't get the 2 1/2 hours back! (Apologies to my patient husband.)
On another note - Take some bug spray - something else I learned - as if it rains, or at nightime, mosquitos will out and looking for their dinner too! I received some good bites and they still itch. Haha.
Overall, we really had a good time; loved the resort, beach and staff - although I am not giving it full marks due to the time share pitch...but we do recommend Secrets Maroma anyway.
We loved the swim-up suite and the water was always warm and clear.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.