This was our first time for my husband and me at the Hidden Beach, and it will likely be the last. The overall experience was good, but it's too pricey for one week of vacation for non club members. This place is probably very good as a time-share resort, and quite a few people we met there were members. Our main reason for going there is because we wanted to try out a completely clothing-optional resort, and as far as that goes, Hidden Beach met our expectations. Guests were very friendly and non-judgemental--you can wear a little or nothing at anytime, anywhere. There is no pressure to participate in events/games, but the resort is very small and so you can't really get away from the crowd. Nevertheless, we had a very relaxing vacation. And it follows that, to get any kind of quality night life, one would have to put on clothes and go to the other side of the resort (the El Dorado Seaside Suites), where there are more bars and beaches, etc.
Meals and restaurant service:
There is only one restaurant at the resort, with a dining room and a covered patio, which is where the most sought-after seats are located. The tables usually seat 2, but there were a few tables of 4 or 6. The meal times are typical of other resorts; despite being the only place to dine, we did not find it difficult to get a good seat at breakfast (between 7:30 and 8:30). Lunch is the only meal that can be served either at the restaurant or at the BBQ (few times each week), which is set up near some picnic tables on the pool deck. There are no dinner reservations but as long as you do not go at peak times between 6 and 7:30, you will not have to wait long to get a seat.
We arrived during an unusually cool period, when temperatures plummeted to below 8 C; on our first night, we found quite a few patrons inside the dining room, huddled in their Hidden Beach -provided white robes. I followed suit, thinking that it was customary to dine in robes, but when temperatures warmed up the following days, virtually everyone dressed down. I preferred to wear a light top or a wrap when dining, but many (especially gentlemen) preferred to wear their birthday suits and sit on a towel.
We have stayed at another El Dorado resort before (the Royale north of Playa del Carmen) and so were expecting gourmet foods similar to what we had. We were somewhat disappointed that in Hidden Beach itself, the menu was limited, and did not offer gourmet items. During the week, we tried everything once, and I imagine that had we stayed two weeks, we would have had eveything twice. Once a week, there is a supper on the pool deck, and it is a VERY miniature version of a beach party at the main resort--enough said. Like many other reviewers, however, we found the restaurant service to be superb. Most of the staff have worked there for many years, and are accustomed to greeting and serving repeat club members. In fact, it had the feel of a country club atmosphere. If there were au natural country clubs around, I imagine it would be a lot like the Hidden Beach. Over at the Seaside Suites, there were the usual oriental, mexican, continental, steakhouse varieties of restaurants. We tried two of them, and the meals were not memorable for their tasty foods, but rather for their poor service, and long wait times. There may have been gourmet items, but I do not remember them being prepared well. So, bottom line, expect good food in good quantity over at the Seaside, but not necessarily gourmet fare.
Room and service:
Our room could have been a real winner--large, bright (windows on three sides), just meters away from the pounding waves of the ocean. Near these windows sat an inviting jacuzzi, which we used once (with a bubble bath). We also had a separate shower and 'his and hers' sinks. The maid service and drink stewards were excellent. Nothing to complain about at all there. Unfortunately, the room was located directly opposite the large hot tub within the Skylight pavillion (I think that was the name) where nightly entertainment was held. Hence, from about 9:00 pm until well past midnight, music boomed continuously--often to an empty dance floor! We complained three nights in a row to no avail. Finally, on the fourth day, we happened to talk to the assistant manager, who then promised that the music would be turned down after 11:00. By turning down, he meant from REALLY loud, to just loud. I've read recommendations from previous reviewers who said to choose the units on the other side of the resort. We discovered, however, that those quieter units are seldom available because club members usually have them reserved first.
During the day, the Skylight Pavillion sat idle and we really enjoyed our private hot tub (in fact, the only warm hot tub in the Hidden Beach resort, since the other one was a cool tub)--then we found out that about 5:30, people would file in with their cocktails in hand, and as I mentioned earlier in the review, this became party central after 9 pm. But except for a dozen or so people, not many stayed for more than an hour or so. The management knows what the members like and they do not spend much money on the entertainment since that's NOT why patrons go there.
Pool and beach:
The repeat patrons have a buddy system that ensure they have their favourite beach beds or lounge chairs on the beach staked out long before breakfast. This is not unique to Hidden Beach and I have seen this so often that I don't bother to get up early ( i.e. before 7) to try to claim a chair near the pool. We were able to find a chair or a bed on the beach, and that's where my husband prefers to be most of the time. However, since the resort faces due east, not every place on the beach gets sun throughout the day. Also, the cushions on many of the beds and lounge chairs are packed down and should be replaced. There is no place to swim on Hidden Beach because the bottom is not sandy but rather rocky. The pool is relatively small and not conducive to recreational swim; even so, it was frequently used for volleyball, and many people really enjoyed this.
Clothing optional/Au natural experience:
This is not the first clothing-optional resort for us but the first one that was C-O throughout. As mentioned earlier, both the patrons and staff are comfortable around people with or without clothing. There are only two rules. First, there are no visitors, and secondly, no one can go outside of the Hidden Beach "compound" without being clothed. This was a bit of an inconvenience since we booked a nude "Water journey" at the spa (available every Sunday from 5:00 until they close) and had to go and leave there fully clothed. The spa was exceptional and was the most professionally run of any that we've attended. I highly recommend that you take the time to indulge. Doing the water journey au naturel with my husband was one of the best experiences I've had at a resort.
The second most enjoyable was the nude cruise that we went on mid-week. This was set up by the manager of the resort and cost us $150 USD for two, and well worth the expense. (I am pretty sure that another independent company runs it, though). The trip lasted from 9:30 until 5:30, and since we had to catch the bus outside of the compound, we had to be fully clothed to start the trip. There were 20 of us, smaller than the usual 30 or 40. After about an hour of bus ride north towards Cancun, we headed for one of the top 10 beaches of the world, and number one in Mexico--Maroma Beach. This is high praise, but you can see why it is deserving--lovely wide strip of fine white sand as far as the eye can see-- great for walking in and lying in. It is also an ecological reserve and so development has been well contained. Following an amazing local lunch under a large tent, we had an impromptu mud treatment on the beach, with husbands and boyfriends rubbing wet sand all over our bodies and then dusting us off with dry sand and finally rinsing everything off with the ocean. Of course, lots of alcohol was flowing before, during and after the lunch on the beach. Even though the cruise was completely au naturel, no one did anything of a sexual nature.
In closing, if you like a C-O resort and do not care much for night life, this resort is worth a try, as long as the higher price is not a deterrent. For the money, I would rather go back to Cuba to the Cayo Santa Maria or Cayo Coco, where the beach is fantastic and clothing-optional and the cost is probably half to two-thirds. After doing the cost-benefits, we have indeed decided to go back to Cuba for our next vacation.
Choose rooms located in the south wing and on the ground floor--you will appreciate the convenience...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.