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The Royal Sands Resort & Spa All Inclusive
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Reviewed March 17, 2005

We (my husband and 2 children (5 & 3) stayed at the Royal Sands January 29-February 5. I have absolutely nothing negative to say. We loved it, had a great time and would definitely go back! As far as the "time-sharks", we were never approached ONCE! We saw a lot of sales people around but I think given the quality and standards of this resort that if you said you weren't interested they would back off right away. Our kids had a great time, they loved all the scheduled activities and the great kiddie pools. The on-site grocery store was definitely a huge plus with a large selection of food and liquors. Our favorite thing about the Sands were the balconys. They are HUGE and all with a view of the ocean! This place is really the best of both worlds with the conviences and atmosphere of a resort but having more than just a small hotel room and getting a great kitchen, dining and living area and HUGE balcony! Can't wait to go back! Thanks to all the previous reviewers for helping us make our choice!

  • Stayed: January 2005
    • Value
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33  Thank ldmamccarthy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
quebec canada
118
Reviewed March 7, 2005

Don't agree that the beds are too hard.....I love them as they are! Love the beach too. People are nice, except for the Travel Agency fellow- he is rude & not helpful. Rooms are large & comfortable- always kept very clean as is the entire hotel. We feel safe & very comfortable there. Pools are now heated. The place is clean,spacious, comfortable and the beach is fantastic. The beds are PERFECT!

  • Stayed: January 2005
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18  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Topanga, California
115
Reviewed March 7, 2005

We just returned from our week at this hotel and had a great time. Everything about this resort was wonderful. The service is first rate, the food is excellent the drinks had plenty of alcohol in them and there was plenty to keep us busy. We were not bothered by any timeshare people.

  • Stayed: February 2005
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15  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 3, 2005

As promised, long Royal Sands review from a non-family perspective... returned from a wonderful stay in Cancun just on 02/26, my boyfriend (37) and myself (30). This is going to be exausting, so get comfortable...

Overall, the trip was fabulous - as the prior two winter trips in Cancun, both at Adult-only AIs - Aventura Spa and Golden Crown Paradise Spa. Weather, ocean, fun places to see and good food.

I did like the Royal Sands enough to enjoy my stay - though I probably won't stay there again, unless I was going with a large group perhaps.It is, however, a great newer property and is an outstanding value for large families that can rent an entire villa at RS, as opposed to booking 3 separate hotel rooms elsewhere.

ROOMS:

Most excellent and my favorite part of the Royal Sands. Absolutely new and spotless, with nice bathrooms. We stayed in the lock-off - still plenty of room for 2, nice extra space at entrance, vanity area separate of a bathroom - that was great! Good maid service (I'm sure you already know that there is no towel service on Sats, and on regular days the maid may not come until 4pm, so you will be using same, rather small towel, to shower more than once - 2 towels per room per day). Also, it is nice that all resort rooms offer some ocean view - ours from 8th floor of F building was very nice, although the balcony in the lock-off is tiny (but it DOES fit the armchair that's in the room - so I'd drag mine out once in a while). It would be good to have some sort of a chair/stool on lock-off balconies (to dry bathing suites... mine once flew off the tall armchair and we had to get it off someone's patio downstairs).
Mini fridge is a nice touch - has room for milk/juice, etc.

LOBBY AND GENERAL PROPERTY:

Very nice to lux - new and sparkling clean! Large property, though majority of space is taken up by rooms and walkways - all else is the size of a smaller resort (restaurants, gym, spa, lobby, aside from the pool that is huge. Great to have a little grocery store, all items reasonably priced - try their flavored coffees at the Royal Roast shop, better than Starbucks. Divine banana bread - also offered at breakfast buffets ;) Had manicure/pedicure at the salon - the technician did a great job, b/f had a massage, said it was just OK. The gym is fine, though pretty small and cramped for such huge resort. It gets busy at times. Newer treadmills and gliders, ok arm/back/leg machines. Only one real stomach crunch machine. Nice to have, however, sufficient for a good workout.

Tennis courts looked great, well-protected and seemed always busy - it's too bad we could not take advantage of these - boyfriend has a recent elbow injury, and I'm not good enough to play with other folks registered on the tennis board, all 3.5-4 level :)

FOOD/DRINKS:

Just OK - both food quality and ambiance. The breakfast buffet at La Veranda is the best deal - as far as choices, and you can't beat the price! There is a made-to-order station, for omelets/waffles, etc. For those of you missing bacon - they do have it, but not at the buffet - ask your waiter to bring you an order.
We ate dinner at the Bandstand twice, once buffet (buffet was horrendous - choices of tasteless chicken/pork, beans, bow-tie pasta, some sort of vegetable stew and similar garbage), once a-la-carte (had the seafood combo for two, it was not bad - not great either).
The pool bar, however, had the best chicken sandwich and chicken tenders, for such a little of a price! I definitely noticed the difference between "adult" and "family" style food - and I don't favor the latter, as it's mostly carb-heavy, tasteless crap (on our first day, the lunch buffet at Veranda consisted of pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, mashed potatoes, fish STICKS (that's right), and something that looked like a rainbow colored jello (yuck). Good thing there were also some fresh salad choices
and baked chicken. I imagine RS must adhere to this type of a menu because there are so many kids, and the priority is that the kids are happy with their food - and it seems they were - some more than others, judging by the shape of them :)

Drinks were good - try the Leaping Lizard (most delicious!). One thing - tell them "mas liquor" in advance, if you like it stronger. My first drink (Pina Colada?) at GCP was so wimpy (even for me), that my b/f asked waiter if it had ANY alcohol, which we were told it did (I seriously doubt it). My b/f's drinks, however, normally arrived strong right away (??) Drinks are reasonably priced - especially at happy hour, though we didn't drink much during daytime.

One tip - if you are ordering any food at RS, beware that it will arrive lukewarm (like the food at the buffet) at Bandstand or Veranda, never hot (aside from the pool bar food, which was hot most of the time - except the time we ordered it around 4:30p, to take it to the room... the chicken was old and dry, and so were the fries, possibly made that morning. We were furious, but also starving and too tired to go complain, so we ate it anyway :)

Another thing - none of the restaurants offer unobstructed ocean view, so you can either eat inside looking at the wall, or outside, looking at the splashing kids (outdoors seating at LaVeranda is located about 10 feet across a kiddy pool... how genius). The narrow lap pool is also overtaken by kiddies - I don't know if most parents (obviosly kids don't) realize the purpose of it? We saw a few people doing laps there, dodging kiddies with snorkel masks and fins on. lol.

POOL:

Wonderful to look at, and great for swimming! Gorgeous construction with infinity edge by facing the ocean, very clean and perfect temperature. Also, the actual water is never crowded - mostly, just maybe 5-6 kids swimming and a few adults hanging out at the edges and swim-up bar. The pool loungers are, however, all taken most of the time (if you don't get out by 7am) and are, oh, maybe 2 inches away from each other, so you are well-versed in other peoples' conversations, whether you want it or not. Oh yes - the pool is completely shaded by the sprawling RS buildings by 4 pm, and it's stark empty after that, except for a few die-hard happy hour fans (it's not just shady, but also windy and brisk in the afternoons).

BEACH:

Great of course - best beach stretch in Cancun, right in the middle of the 7! Soft white sand and plenty of it, spectacular clear water, always a rough surf and huge waves most of the time (a plus for us!). We spend a majority of daytime at the beach and much of it in the water, great fun! Now for the not so great - all palapas (i.e. the only source of shade on the beach before 3 pm) are all taken by 8am, by people throwing towels on and leaving (sometimes for an entire day). The staff/guards seemed to encourage that, and make sure you keep your palapa (by writing down your room number and matching it to palapa's number....) My b/f actually did get up this early a few times, so we had the palapa on some days - not the others, which really ticked me off, especially seeing that most of the palapas were empty but "spoken for".

I don't get up for work until 8 am - why would I want to get up at 7 am while on vacation??? If you say "well, too bad, all resorts are like that - wrong, the GCP one hotel away always had palapas available (along with zero wait for everything, and I missed the GCP much). Having some shade while at the beach is a must for me.

Also, RS loungers are least comfortable I've ever known - rock hard molded plastic of a cheapest kind... ok if you lay on your back - be careful when laying on your stomach, unless you have a lot of padding or a heap of towels (or you'll discover some major pressure points on your ribs and hips). Loungers aren't a big deal, however.

Oh, lastly - although the RS has a nice, LONG share of a beach front - actual swimming is limited to 2 "yellow flag" spots - both very narrow, entrance width of about 20-30 feet long... rest of beach is red flagged. You will be swimming next to a bunch of people (by next, I mean close enough to touch, sometimes. Be ready to be
"whistled out" by a lifeguard immediately, should you break away from a swimming herd).


SERVICE:

All staff members are warm and genuine, and very prompt - much praise to hard working RS employees. The things that were annoying, like the "no-towel" Sats and lines, were obviously a management issue as opposed to individual employees. The resort is very well run, except a few very minor things. The check-in was an ordeal - and a line was very long... we waited about 20-30 minutes, bunch of new guests standing in the ropes, no water/drinks or anything else offered (I surely hope that at least the timeshare owners get a preferred treatment). The day-before checkout that promised to be a breeze, took forever as well.
Also, there is a towel card, with a daily line to GET the beach/pool towels, an to RETURN the towels (which are smaller, so many people would use 2... a lot to carry back and forth). I don't know about you, but I'm into instant gratification - I prefer not to deal with lines... not on vacation, in particular :)

Once again, however, the RS employees themselves were extremely hard-working, gracious and hospitable. We were happy to chat with each and to tip well.
Minus for the timeshare selling staff - we blew them off once, and yet they kept calling.... had a nerve to call at 8am a few times (no joke!!). We normally wouldn't pick up the phone :)

And no, I wouldn't buy a timeshare there - although our RS stay was a great deal - I can always do the same and rent a week from a current owner, half-price of RS rack rates... If I had to pay what RS is asking, I'd stay elsewhere ;)

OUTSIDE OF ROYAL SANDS:

I'm glad that RS was not AI (one, lack of food choices/quality, two - forced us out to go try other places). We liked Ruth Chris's (almost as good as the one in Chicago), delicious steaks of course (probably only real steaks in Cancun), good wine, some live music (actual R&B singer walking amongst the tables), very subtle and modern decor. The "mixed greens" salad, however, consisted of a solid quarter head of iceberg lettuce... we thought it was a mistake and sent it back wanting our mixed greens... ta-dah - the same head of lettuce arrives... shredded this time :D no big deal, great meal anyway (steak comes on hot plate - not warmed - scolding HOT, and not set atop a tray - feel free to burn your fingers, like I did (iced water did help
to ease the pain :) Good steak is worth a few burned fingers, I guess.

Lorito Joe's - great as well! Loved the atmosphere, simple, charming and relaxed - seated at the lagoon edge, watched a school of needle fish fight for bread crumbs, cute. Had a wonderful server, very entertaining conversation (b/f speaks descent Spanish :). Got a super deal at $38 per person, buffet salads + 3 course ala carte, and 2 hr open bar. The salad was fresh, great soups/appetizers, good main course (though in fairness, no such thing as a GREAT rock lobster, they made the best of it). The banana flambé at Lorito Joe's is yummy and preparation is fun to watch.

We went to Mango Tango afterwards - fun Caribbean show, and some dancing - all guests are encouraged to participate, very much fun! good drinks there - haven't tried the food. Highly recommend both Lorito Joe's and Mango Tango for a fun night. (Buy Brant's e-card, well worth it! also recommend Brant's personal airport transfer - very prompt, excellent service). At the end of the night, the DJ will play pretty much whatever - they have a good selection of salsa and other Latin dance, as well as some US pop stuff.

From good to bad: Faro's. I do NOT recommend this place - unless maybe you'll have something other than seafood, which is their supposed specialty. The service was great, atmosphere was nice with pretense at fine dining, drinks good though relatively pricey... The main course of lobster and snow crab (I know, imported, but they were out of local blue crab) legs was absolutely horrendous. Part of lobster was undercooked, the rest tough as nails, and the crab legs were... let's just say I WISHED they'd stuff them with imitation crab meat, maybe that would give it some taste! It was absolutely pathetic; maybe it's just us, but in the States, when you pay $50 a plate, you expect it to be... well, edible at least?? The highlight of the night was Mayan coffee - delicious concoction and a fun presentation, the waiter did a phenomenal job! But do pass on Faro's :)

CLUBS:

Only made it to Coco Bongo this time... the Presidents week is a busy time and most clubs would not be worth dealing with the crowds (Coco Bongo was :) Although we did stay only a few hours - it got to be insanely crowded... I mean, you can't move without having someone's hair brush you in the face or having your feet stepped on
(watch for broken glass on floor if wearing open-toe sandals).

Since we didn't go with a group this time, we had no VIP table - do, by all means, go to Coco Bongo with a GROUP, if you can!! You will have reserved table(s), and the waiter will come to YOU to get drinks. As opposed to you having stumble around the floor/benches along with misfortunate others without a place (most are so wasted that they don't care, of course :), and only getting 1-2 drinks for your $35-45 "express/open bar" bracelet.

For me, the fun wore off when some intoxicated dork on a bench above us started spilling his beer everywhere (on purpose??), so I begged my party to leave. Besides, by then everyone already had a pleasure of seeing me close-up, on the Coco Bongo's white light camera; I could now go with clear consciousness :D We took a public bus to and from Coco Bongo - it's clean, and fast, and cheap - do it! Especially going to clubs/landmarks, you won't miss your stop even if you don't speak Spanish. There will be at least 4 people on the bus, yelling "Coco Bongo-(Senior Frogs, etc)- HERE WE COME!! YEAH BABY!" When they get off - you get off :)

SUMMARY:

Great trip, great place to stay with Royal Sands. Again, I wouldn't chose it twice - it really is lovely, just not my type of place entirely - I prefer smaller, more intimate, Adult-only places (yes, that would be GCP or similar :) as opposed to enormous family ones. Although Royal Sands is probably one of the good ones - most kids were very well-behaved, and watched by parents at all times. For the first few days, I couldn't shake a feeling of being at the family block party - it's a bit boring yet mildly annoying at the same time. Not that block parties are bad - just not my type of thing :).

Maybe not the best place for adult couples, as there is little adult activity (couple volleyball games), naturally, as adults are busy watching the kids. Would be nice for RS to have night entertainment staff to take guests to clubs in groups (but then again - who'd watch the kids).

One more tiny thing - the monkey key chain off my blue Kipling carry-on bag was stolen on the last day :(
Laugh all you want (my b/f did... arg) but I was pretty ticked off.... never had anything stolen during prior stays, and this is the bag I always traveled with, btw. It could never come off by itself - has to be taken off - and it was not ripped off accidentally; it had to be either one of the RS employees (the bad was in the storage room our last day), or one of the guests' kids (after that, I had the bag hanging in the communal shower by the "hospitality" room, while showering). Both scenarios seem unlikely, yet someone took it (hope it brings them terrible luck).

All in all - enjoyable stay, customs/immigration a breeze both ways, plenty of sun and ocean, and R&R. I'd definitely recommend the Sand for families, maybe not for couples.

Questions are welcome - although I can't imagine I left anything out.

n.

  • Stayed: February 2005
    • Rooms
38  Thank chichick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Minnesota
117
Reviewed March 3, 2005

Stayed at the sands for a week in February and found the staff to be the greatest we have ever encountered. Our concierge Teri was absolutely a dream. She was there at our beckon call for anything from reservations to beach towels. If you read this Teri, thank you again. The rooms were spotless, the weather was awesome and the beer was cold!! I would recommend this resort to everyone!

  • Stayed: February 2005
    • Value
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17  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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