My husband and I have visited several resorts and done cruises over the years - and even own a time share in Aruba. Our last day at the El Dorado Royale, we asked each other if we had our choice - where would we be, El Dorado Royale or Aruba (pure Heaven) ... and we both said El Dorado Royale. We are already planning our return trip and trying to figure how we can get back there before the end of this year. Keep reading my "short story" below and hopefully you will be planning your trip there soon.
For us - this was a win/win vacation since we reserved our vacation and activities through Travelocity at Bucks4Me.com. Bucks4Me.com is a loyalty shopping website I joined for Free where I earn "bucks" for every dollar I spend on any of the stores advertised on their site. They have several travel sites - so I had no problem finding the best deal and "spending." We got a terrific deal at Travelocity and I earned bucks at Bucks4Me.com for every dollar I spent that I am then able to redeem for gift cards from all types of stores and restaurants. (Yea - more shopping!)
We reserved a garden style room (we recommend requesting building 800 - definitely ground level - right between the lobby and the beach - and two pools just about right outside the door). They offered to move us to an ocean front room since they had a few rooms available and we were celebrating a very special wedding anniversary. (Did I mention that the resort is "Adult Only"? We are a very young 50s - and the guests ranged from a lot of very nice Honeymooners and folks in their 30s, 40s, and on ... just enjoying "Paradise"!) .
You can use a bike or a bicycle built for two for 3 hours (no charge) to ride all around the resort. It is a large resort and if you ride as far as you can on the pavement north into the Casitas area - you can see the alligators that live there.
We witnessed three weddings while there -one by the pool, and two one the beach (one the groom and groomsmen in kilts - Very Cool!). Our oldest son is engaged and we came home trying to convince them to get married at the El Dorado Royale!
Anyway - back to the room ... we appreciated their offer to move us to oceanfront, but refused as our room was so conveniently located to everything and such a short walk to the Caribbean water where we could watch the sunrise. My husband could lay in the hammock on our patio and we could fix drinks from the bar in our room ... or walk a few short steps and have a choice of multiple bars to fix our drinks.
The room was wonderful! Exceptionally clean - Thank you Antonia!!! When we travel - we rate the accommodations by the water pressure in the shower - and the quality of the bed (is it at least as good as the mattress we have at home?). Well - this resort is 5 star and more!!!!! We thought our home had the best - WELL, the first shower we took at home after returning from the El Dorado, we thought something was wrong because the pressure was not very strong. :)
Let's take a moment to address the "whales" that are in the water right off the beach. Hurricane Wilma set on the El Dorado Royale shore for two days back in 2005 with 125-150 mph winds. Beach Replenishment is an environmentally difficult situation and you cannot just "dump" sand on the beach. I know that because of where we live and we deal with beach replenishment. Engineers decided the best way to restore the resort beach was to fill these bladders with sand and place at various positions right off the beach ... like a nature reef. The water is still crystal turquoise blue and the tropical fish swim all around. Please do not be put off by the "whales" - it is definitely an environmentally friendly solution.
The first day we were there we met a couple that vacationed there the first time right after Hurricane Wilma's visit and said they could be standing in the lobby and see all the way to the beach as all the vegetation was gone (now beautiful palm trees and tropical flowers). The couple has returned two times since then and told us they would not consider going anywhere else ... because it could not possibly be better!
We arrived at the resort about 11:30 and our room was not available until about 3 - so following some advice from the internet, we had packed bathing suits in our carry-on and enjoyed lunch prior to jumping into one of the many appealing pools. Wait until you see the beautiful landscaping - with all colors of hibiscus. People are constantly working to keep everything beautiful - and they do a great job!
Our best advice: Eat lunch at JoJos on the beach (Caribbean cuisine) - and be sure you ask for Waiter Victor! We were fortunate enough to meet Victor the first day - and ask for him everyday afterward. By midweek, even the hostess would see us coming and say "let me seat you so Victor can take care of you". On first meeting, Victor introduced himself and we did as well. After that, he remembered our names and what we drank. So when we sat down - our drinks would arrive moments later without even ordering. He would bring us a "surprise" entree everyday. By mid-week, we would not even order - just let him surprise us with the most phenomenal food (I love fresh grouper - and everything at every restaurant is so fresh ... you'll learn why later). Victor also works at Cocotel for breakfast where you will find the only buffet in the entire resort - although they do not call it a buffet but a "presentation" - and that is exactly what it is! A fabulous fresh "presentation" of foods you may enjoy to start your day ... to include guacamole and fresh salsa with chips. The guacamole and fresh salsa are "to die for." I ate it at breakfast and lunch every day!!!! A chef will also prepare an omelet with fresh ingredients of your choice - as well as Bloody Mary's and Mimosas that you can fix yourself ... or Victor (or Peter - another fabulous waiter- ask for him on Tuesdays- Victor's Day Off) - will prepare for you. Just tell Victor Steve and Dena recommended you!
The resort boasts "gourmet inclusive" - and that is exactly what you get. I think I took more pictures of the food presentation the first few days than anything else. I would put the food up against the finest restaurants here in Virginia Beach. And we have GREAT restaurants! You will be encouraged to order something from each course (appetizer, salad, entree, etc.) as the portions are gourmet and usually smaller than what you would expect. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. This is definitely the time to try something different that you may not normally order at home because of the expense. Every single meal was a treat - and delicious.
Our thoughts on the restaurants: Cocotal "presentation" and La Isla open air restaurant by Fuentes Pool (order from menu) great for breakfast - definitely JoJos for lunch - either of the Italian restaurants for dinner (but you MUST do the Romantic Dinner on the Beach - also described below). We did not get to any of the "gourmet corners" (you can visit the El Dorado Royale website for those descriptions) - or the La Fondue - or the Fuentes-Culinary Theatre. AND - we never took advantage of the free 24-hour room service.
As far as dress code - each restaurant is different - but basically for evening men need to wear long pants, collared shirt, and closed shoes. From their website: To enhance our unique dining experience, please comply with our “casual-elegance” dress code in all gourmet restaurants.
* Ladies: Capri pants, dresses, skirts, long pants, shoes, dress sandals.
* Gentlemen: Bermuda shorts, long pants, collared shirts, dress sandals, casual shoes.
Some folks did not comply - and my husband was quick to point out any men NOT in long pants since I thought complying with the dress code was important. Come on - how often do we "dress" to go out to dinner. I encourage you to "dress" as it does make each dinner special - and most people do "dress". It was funny though to watch my husband observe men in "capri pants" is what he called them. Evidently a European thing - which did not look bad at all, actually very stylish - but he just could not grasp that concept.
And speaking of the bars - top shelf liquor at everyone of the at least 13 bars throughout the resort! My husband's choice - Crown Royal Whiskey and mine Absolute Volka! Virtually unheard of at any of the all inclusive resorts we have been too before (unless you really want to pay). The bartenders at the our favorite pool would see us coming and have the double Crown and Dos XX beer (Cerveza) waiting. I don't think Corona is offered - but you will not miss it. We really enjoy wine - and they do have a great choice of house wine (included). You have to ask sometimes to get all three choices of red and white - but they do have them. If not, ask to speak to the wine steward for that restaurant. If possible, ask for Paul - the "Head Wine Guy" as my husband referred to him (although he did have a lot fancier title at the resort - from England).
If you prefer the familiar wines from the States ... or a more exclusive wine - they do have a wine menu that you will have to pay extra for. We did that a couple of nights and because of the dollar amount spent (I think $165 - not all in one seating), we were given a "Chef's Dinner" which is an exclusive dinner where the chef presents each choice and tells how he prepared it, etc. We enjoyed that with 5 other couples and it was a neat experience.
Be sure to enjoy the Mexican wines. They are very good. We learned that we will not be able to enjoy Mexican wines here in the States because the Mexican export tax is 40% which makes them no longer competitive price wise with US wines.
The service you receive at El Dorado Royale is awesome - in all areas. The waiters at El Dorado do not expect tips since it is an all inclusive - and yet everyone is so friendly and service oriented and seems to want only to be sure their guests are happy with everything. We would tip a few dollars at various times - and it was extremely appreciated.
The pools are fabulous! I really over packed this time because I lived in a bathing suit and cover-up. Then a dress for dinner and the evening! Speaking of dinner - do whatever you have to in order to enjoy the romantic dinner on the beach! A memory that will last a lifetime. You would not believe the desert plate we were presented where they had written on the plate in chocolate "Happy Anniversary Steve & Dena" - and the absolute BEST white chocolate/vanilla dessert I guarantee you will EVER eat in your life (and ONLY available at the Romantic Dinner on the Beach ... trust me, we asked)!
We only left the resort twice. To zip line and off-road at Selvatica Canopy Expedition and Adventure Tour (you do NOT want to miss this!!! The #1 Trip Advisor Tour for Cancun ... and they deserve it. Take this from someone who loves adventure ... but not really crazy about heights. See my review there.)
The other excursion was to Playa Del Carmen to shop. We took the free shuttle from the El Dorado (ran Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings because of the heat in town), but then took a cab back ($20-$25 US) because we did not want to be away from the resort for 4-5 hours. We went for a couple of hours and then back to El Dorado for a gourmet dinner!
Entertainment: To be honest - we only saw it one night. The music and swing bar (literally an awesome big bar with old fashioned rope swings) is very cool. We always seemed to get caught up at dinner ... meeting and socializing with other people ... or laying on a bed on a beach and watching the moon over the Caribbean (yes - you too can experience that!) So we cannot wait to get back to the El Dorado Royale to see the Fire Show, Dance Show, etc.!
Speaking of the Casitas ... El Dorado has a vacation club. Take the 90 minute tour and be sure to ask for Franco (he looks just like Opera Singer Pavarotti) - and is definitely a no pressure salesperson. We have done enough of these in the past that we were absolutely not going to do this. But they offered us a Romantic Dinner on the Beach as well as a 30 minute couple massage in the sky on the beach (ohh baby - this was awesome). We could not afford to stay in the Casitas, but I wanted to see the second floor room where their patio is a private pool. Unbelievable!!!!! So we went - and we really did enjoy the tour. Wait until you see the "Fantasy Island" accommodations. Franco was no pressure and seeing everything was well worth the 90 minutes!
Remember - you can stay in the standard garden view room (which is awesome in itself) and have access to all the restaurants and bars in the Royale as well as the Casitas. We rode bikes a couple of days - and would just pull over and enjoy the pools and bars in the Casitas (very few people).
I am SO impressed with this resort chain owned by ONE Mexican gentlemen who is into living green. You will see that at the resort - as well as you can tour the "Greenhouse" right on the resort where they grow fresh vegetable so they can offer the freshest vegetables at all times. We REALLY miss the guacamole!!!!
If you are looking for a family resort - check out the AZUL resorts which are part of this chain as well. And remember to join Bucks4Me.com and book your trip there through all the popular travel sites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) there so you earn bucks that you can redeem for gift cards. More shopping online - even VISA cards that I can save up to pay for our next trip to the El Dorado Royale!!!!!
Enjoy the Moment - Every day is an Adventure - Make Memories and Make a Difference!!!
Put the El Dorado Royale in your "Bucket List" ... you do NOT want to miss this!!!
Virginia Beach, VA
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A Conde Nast Traveler Readers’Top 100 Hotels in the world and a AAA Four Diamond Resort, El Dorado Royale is an adults-only destination that provides the ultimate in service in the ultimate setting.With more than a mile of sandy beach in Mexico's Riviera Maya, El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort, by Karisma offers an escape which no other destination can match. All the luxuries you can dream of, combined with an emphasis on personal attention to your every whim, make this an ideal location for a getaway. Travelers join us from around the world for romantic outdoor beach weddings or ceremonies in our intimate beachfront chapel, relaxing honeymoons, anniversary celebrations, or just much needed time off. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Booking.com, Caribbean Online Mgt Corp., Amex, BookIt.com, Odigeo and TripOnline SA so you can book your El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- El Dorado Royale Hotel Riviera Maya
- El Dorado Royale Mexico
- El Dorado Royale Cancun
- El Dorado Royale Spa Resort
- El Dorado Royale Resort
- Eldorado Royale
- El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort By Karisma Playa Paraiso, Riviera Maya, Mexico