My husband and I spent a week here, Dec 16th-23rd. It was my second all inclusive experience but our first together. It is the standard that all our future trips will be measured by! It was recommended by mother who visited a few years ago and a friend that visited earlier this year.
Reception: We did get a complimentary glass of champagne while checking in. Our bags were taken care of upon arrival and we were shuttled to our room after check in. Everyone was tremendously friendly with the exception of the actual guy checking us in. He was on par with an average hotel reception desk experience. Not overly friendly, but not rude. Just average.
The room: We had room 514. We requested an ocean view villa. Not worth the upgraded price, as the palm trees do block most of the ocean view. All the villas offer a pretty view of the grounds. Spend the upgrade money on activities or something else while you are there. There is one villa building that offers supreme ocean views, but it is reserved for presidential club members. (We will be staying there on our next visit!)
The rooms are clean and lovely. We requested a king size bed and were given one. There is no bathroom privacy. The toilet door is frosted glass and about a 2/3 door. There is a glass wall separating the bathroom/sauna/shower/toilet from the bed room area. This is good to be aware of if you are traveling with someone that you may not be perfectly comfortable taking care of all your personal duties in front of. My husband and I have been married 25 years and still prefer a little privacy, so I found a spare blanket in the closet and hung it over the glass partition and the housekeeper left it there for the remainder of our stay. My husband would step out on to the balcony and vice versa so we could have a little bathroom privacy. No big deal, but again, something to be aware of if rooming with friends or family members.
The food: Very good! My husband loved the pizza/burger place. Breakfast at Cocotal was outstanding. Lunch at La Isla was fantastic. Our favorite dinners were at Kampai. The service was great everywhere. The only negative dining experience we had was at Fuentes. We arrived at 9:30pm. They close at 10. This may have been the problem, but the food wasn't looking so good by then and we literally waited 10 minutes before finally asking if we had a waiter. They assigned one to us, but we really couldn't get out of there fast enough.
All other meals were so fresh and delicious. The salads are fresh, the meat and flavors all so pleasing.
The bars: The Martini bar was such a pleasant place to have a drink. We didn't stop in until our last night there. I wish we had visited it sooner. Excellent chocolate martini.
The pool bars were great. My husband met many bartenders, but Julio and Cesar were the absolute best of the bunch!
My husband believes that tipping increased the drink potency.:) I have to agree.
Guacamayas at night was a hopping place! I enjoyed the shows more than my husband, but that goes without saying. I love all the costumes and dancing!
The pools: were cooler this time of year, so we didn't swim much, nor did many others. I think they may be slightly heated though. They were much warmer than my pool at home. We are from South Florida, so we are acclimated to warm weather. The cooler temps this time of year kept us out of the water.
The beach: I thought it was pretty in spite of the sandbags. The sandbags are an attempt to restore the beaches after hurricane Wilma, I believe. The ocean water was too cold for us anyway. There are better beaches elsewhere for swimming.
Dress code: Stick to it. Everyone does. My husband's wardrobe consists mostly of suits and casual beach wear. He should have gone shopping before the trip! Casual elegance is the norm and bermuda shorts/collared shirts come in handy for dining. He wore a nice shirt and tie for a few meals and I dressed up, and we never felt out of place. To each his own is pretty much the code.
Room service: Awesome. The friendliest people. Timely service. Nice menu options. 24 hours. Great for days that you just don't feel like getting dressed.
Concierge/Butler: We had Ceci for the first half of our trip and she was such a perfect concierge. She took care of us! We moved up to the casitas the second half and didn't have as good of butler service there. I made a few requests (make up mirror was missing from the room and I don't see well without one, missing coffee cups for self serve coffee in our room, and a refill of the vodka and wine in our casita) and none of our requests were honored. Would have been nice, but didn't spoil our stay.
Excursions/transfers: i booked online prior to arrival using Lomas. I love Lomas, but the rep at EDR needs to be replaced. I've never had a bad experience with Lomas (I used them during my last trip to Mexico). The rep at EDR just wasn't up to EDR standards.
We went to Tulum on Tuesday and it's a worthwhile trip.
We used Lomas for our transfers to and from the airport, and they make everything go very smoothly and the airport reps are super friendly.
Exotic Travel Club: We opted to hear what they had to say. Since we knew immediately that we were in love with EDR, we knew we would want to come back. We were promised it wouldn't be high pressure sales. Well, it wasn't too bad. Definitely a sales pitch, but not too much pressure. We ended up buying into the travel club and have no regrets. We plan to return at least twice next year. We feel we got a fair deal, and if we didn't, we don't know it! We spoke with others who participate in the program, some having been there, 7,10, and 12 times, and all are happy and considering additional purchases in the program. We got an upgrade to a presidential casita suite. It was an entirely different experience from the villas. We can't quite afford to stay in the casitas every time, but if you can...do it!
Casita accommodations: Casita 3219. A little slice of heaven on earth! Clean, special treatment, private pools, infinity pool on the second floor, better views of the ocean, though still a few palm trees to look through. We met Jesus on our last day there. Too bad, because he was so helpful and friendly. The casita pools have hot tubs near them. The beach is a little nicer,
The grounds: Stunning! Immense! So many places to enjoy around the resort. Exceptionally well kept and cleaned. Large enough for long leisurely walks. Bicycles are available for use. Shuttles are available to take you wherever you need to go.
Staff: 90% hit, 10% miss. Most go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. A few missed the mark. Overall, though, no real complaints. People are people.
Crowds: at this time 40% capacity. No crowds anywhere. Though, I talked with many people who all said that no matter when they've visited, the place is so spread out, it never seems crowded, even if it is.
Tips: We tipped...on everything - shuttle, room service, wait staff, bartenders, etc. We like to. It is in no way expected. You will be treated well regardless.
1. If you travel in winter, bring a lightweight jacket and possibly some slacks. Especially if you are like us and live regularly in a warm climate.
2. Sunscreen. Bring it. We forgot some and had to buy it there. It's expensive, and you will need it, even in winter months.
3. Bring a beach bag, a backpack (if you plan on any day trips), and women might like to have a small handbag or purse for going to dinner and entertainment.
4. Bring lots of small bills for tipping. I think we ended up going through about $200 USD in tips. Only if you like to tip, of course. Again, it's not necessary if you don't have it.
5. I saw in another post the mention of some mild nudity (topless). It didn't bother me, but if it might bother you, be aware you may see it.
6. Smoking: not inside, but outside is fine. You can ask your room attendant for an ashtray to use on your balcony or patio. You can buy a decent cuban cigar in the stores. They have someone that hand rolls them once a week at Guacamayas. Though the hand rolled ones are mild and my husband prefers the bold. He brought plenty of his own and made a few friends just by sharing!:)
7. Ask for an umbrella if it rains. They will provide one. They even let me take mine to Tulum with me.
8. Internet: $52 for the week. Free in the casitas.
Conclusion: This is the place to go if you need to get away from it all! You will be treated special, you will enjoy great food and peaceful moments. We plan on making this our home away from home.