Recently travelled in group of 11-12 friends and family, and stayed from August 11-18. Like most all-inclusives, there were some pros and cons with this resort, however I think the "cons" have it this time. If you're thinking of going to this resort, take 5+ minutes out of your life to read this review; I know it's long, but you'll be glad that you did. It's rated as a 4-star on a lot of travel sites, but I feel it's a 3-star at the most...value for money is not there.
- We arrived after dark, and all five rooms were processed within about 20-30 minutes. We were pleased to see that the air conditioning had been left on high to ensure the rooms were comfortable upon arrival.
- The rooms are spacious, and have decent beds, if you like a very firm mattress.
- Using the air conditioning and the ceiling fan, we turned our room into a veritable meat locker at night.
- The resort was built a while back, so the grounds are picturesque; Kodak moments abound.
- There is an on-site disco/sports bar open late at night, with a decent bar selection, a good DJ, a pool table, and HD screens fixed on ESPN.
- The large pool is conveniently located next to the beach, showers, washrooms, bar and lunch buffet.
- The beach has plenty of chairs and palapas (umbrellas).
- Both the large 'activity' pool, and the beach are kept surprisingly clean.
- The beach is normally picturesque, from what we've been told. (Tropical Storm Ernesto passed through the area 2 days before we arrived, so there was a lot of seaweed, large and small rocks, and the water was cloudy / dark brownish-green -- not the light bluish-aqua shown online. This was out of their control -- such are the joys of travelling to tropic destinations during Hurricane season).
- Most staff that you interact with speak English quite well, and service is usually prompt.
- The lunch buffet is the best food option, likely because it has its own kitchen. The food here seems fresher.
- One hidden gem is the late-night pizza available from at the main buffet after 10:30pm. Don't miss out on trying one of these, they're the best food the resort has to offer. I suggest the Mexican Pizza!
- There are many excursion options to choose from.
- The town of Cozumel has many restaurants, shops, and high-end boutiques. Cozumel is a cruise-ship destination, that handles around 10 large ships a week, sometimes 4+ at the same time.
- Went on the 'Alberto's Glass Bottom Boat' - snorkelling tour. Guides spoke english quite well, were very friendly and knowledgeable; I got to swim way out in the ocean, which was a great first time experience, and my friend and I both got a great tan. All this, and as many beers or sodas as you'd like for $40 US each + tip.
- We had sent several email requests, to the hotel concierge, a week in advance, asking that our group have rooms close by. Upon arrival, the front desk manager seemed to know that we were travelling as a group, but did not have rooms close by for us; we were spread over 4 different buildings.
- We were told there was a concierge to help us with our bags, but when we looked for him, there was no one there. We walked to our buildings with our bags in tow, and lugged them up the stairs to our rooms. Ironically, two seniors and a couple with a toddler were given rooms on the 3rd floor -- with no elevators!!
- While the rooms are decent, some of the air conditioners are quite noisy, and others do not work very well. Unless you're used to a firm mattress, the beds can be quite uncomfortable. The room safes are pretty old, and don't instill a lot confidence. We had two decorative chairs in one corner of the room, but there was no real comfortable place to sit, other than on the beds. Lastly, the television was on an old small screen, tube tv, with volume controls that didn't work well. *We saw a few rooms with updated decor, seating areas, and new flat screen tv's but, no-one in our group was so lucky to get such a room.
- Right next to the beach is the dive shop and dock; I'd estimate between 5-15 boats an hour use the dock for picking-up and dropping-off. The dock is right next to the beach and ocean swimming area. It's hard to relax and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, when there are a couple outboard 150's and dive boats idling 50 feet away.
- The large pool is kept clean. As is the beach. I can't say the same for the smaller, "quiet" pool. It starts of being interesting swimming around, with 4 or 5 large iguanas and chameleons nearby, but you quickly realize that you're swimming in a glorified terrarium. The local wildlife tends to poop...which is normal, however with no staff at this pool, excrement is sometimes left cooking in the sun for a few hours...not a very nice stench at nose level, when you're in the pool.
- As I mentioned, the bars have a decent selection of alcohol. However, the mixed drinks are served very watered down -- even when you ask for a double. The drinks only carry a kick, if you tip well.
- As I mentioned, most of the staff you interact with speak English well -- but only when it benefits them. When you tip and when everything is good, their English rolls quite well. However, when you have a problem, or if you're upset about something, all of a sudden you hear "no english senor." Ironically, when you switch to Spanish, the staff still looks at you like you're speaking Chinese or Klingon. Cross your fingers that you don't have any problems with anything!
- The town is nice, but it's kinda far. At $18 each way + tip, you're out $40 US before doing anything.
- The Air Canada Vacations rep suggested we visit the town when there is only 1 or 2 cruise ships in port, so we did. Unfortunately, our group was one of the only batches of customers walking around; so while we weren't attacked or anything, we were harrassed by people hustling sales. I respect people trying to make a dollar, but it got really annoying, really fast. Moreover, I'd be quite wary of walking the area if I was alone or in a smaller group.
- Some of the cab drivers are fricking nuts! I'd say we almost wrecked 3 times...and I was only in 6 cabs, including going to and from the airport.
- I checked with the Air Canada Vacations rep on a good seafood restaurant, and he suggested Alberto's next to the hotel; he gave us vouchers for a free return cab ride, and told me to be sure to use them, so he could get his cut -- still can't believe he actually told me that! It's probably a 15 minute walk through the jungle, or 5 minutes along the beach; but instead we got scammed for 2 cabs and $20. Upon arrival, we found out the 'restaurant' is a large tent on the beach, with plastic chairs, and a stripper pole -- not very appropriate for a family with seniors, teens, and a toddler. On top of this, it's mosquito-infested!! We were stung 5-20 times each, and were told we could buy mosquito-repellant for $12 a can. We left after 10 minutes, and went to an Alberto's in town. The kitchen and bathrooms were disgusting, but the margaritas and food passed the test. FYI, this was about $30 US a head. Try the seafood soup...it's great!
- Some reviews peg the food as inedible. I think this is a stretch...but I could understand how some people might say that. I've gained weight on other vacations, but I'm pretty sure I stayed the same, or even lost weight on this one -- which says a lot about the food. The main buffet has limited selections, all served under strong heat lamps, that dry-out the food pretty quickly. The 'salad' bar was a joke, and the cold canape bar had a mix of pickled-everything, cold cuts, sweating cheese, and canned fruit! The dessert bar was a mix of melted ice cream, cake with whipped cream and bugs, and tasteless fruit. Some days were better, but not much. I suggest sticking to the potatoes and mystery fish...the only things the chef knew how to cook well.
*On Italian night, there is a pasta bar. This was exceptionally nasty! While waiting in line, they had 7 pasta options to choose from. Behind the stove, there was a sink for rinsing pans, with a sign above that clearly read "non-potable water, do not drink or use for food." While I was there the dish of raw spaghetti was drying out, so the cook's assistant filled a water pitcher at the same sink, and doused the pasta. Ewwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!
I took a leap of faith, and tried the penne, hoping they weren't soaked in the same water. The red and white sauce had flies zipping around, so I asked for garlic and oil...only to find out they had no garlic. So I got a plate of penne, dripping in oil...so yeah...didn't risk my life on that one...
- We ate in the two a la carte restaurants (the 3rd was closed for renovations). Los Olivos wasn't bad, but wasn't anything special. Our group was forced by the hotel to split into two, with the first table arriving at 6, and the other at 6:30. The air conditioning only became noticeable by 7. We were told it's left off all day, so as you can imagine, it's hotter inside than outside (outside was 40+ Celsius).
- The other restaurant had cool AC, but we experienced lousy service. They messed up the appetizers twice, and even had the nerve to argue with us about what we ordered. They stopped as soon as they saw the menu, and realized their error. The steaks were done ok, but my seafood plate was a bit gross -- I didn't finish my meal, and lost my appetite for the evening.
- The Air Canada Vacations rep told us that no-one had been sick at the resort since November 12, 2011. Why he remembered a specific date I'll never know, but that poor sap must have been really sick! Several people at our resort developed cold sores, which were attributed to the heat. Others were nauseous and/or had 'digestive issues,' which were attributed to the humidity. I attribute these to the food! My breakfasts were limited to canned fruit, dry bread items, tater tots, and cheese. So as not to be graphic, I'll say that one day I had a serious 'digestive problem' 20 minutes after eating, that was likely due to the panela cheese served that morning. In the 10 days since returning, I'm still experiencing after effects. I can't speak for anyone else in my travel group, however, I'd go as far as to suggest that the resort's claims that no one has been ill for 10 months, are pure BS. Please excuse the pun...
- Beware of the timeshare sales reps! My understanding of this property is that it is being transformed into an all-timeshare property. I may be wrong, however of the 20 buildings that are there, at least 5 were reserved/closed, while another 5 or 6 were under renovations. There are pushy sales reps all over the place. In each of the first 3 days, I was approached 5-10 times a day. I think the reps stop asking after you say no at least 3 times, or if you tell them off! Again, while I respect people trying to make a buck, these sales 'vultures' -- both the local ones, and the American reps, are really annoying. They shouldn't be allowed to harrass guests in the way that they do! *One person in our group attended what was supposed to be a 90-minute information session, and wound up being held captive for over 4 hours!
- Lastly, one of the biggest issues we had was that this place was a total ghost town. Some nights, we were the only people in the disco, and/or the hotel lobby bar. The beach was empty, as was the pool. There was very little animation. Dinner winds down around 9, the nightly shows wrap around 10, and the bar closes at 1:30. Because the resort is so far from the town, we felt very isolated. In my experience, other resorts that have discos on-site, are party places. This was not the case here.
I'll close by saying, that while the resort has a lot of good points, the bad points are really bad. This is not what I was expecting out of a 4-star resort, in a decent tourist area. Given the same circumstances, I would not return; not even for less money.
Thank goodness for making great memories, with great friends...that's what I'll remember from this trip.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Only the Caribbean’s most famous reef system could match the beauty and splendor of the Occidental Grand Cozumel, which is exactly why the two exist side-by-side. Located on Cozumel’s gorgeous San Francisco beach, just above the bottomless blue paradise of the Palancar Reef system, you’ll find an authentic-style state that delivers all the luxuries of a private oceanside hacienda. Gourmet dining, bright and airy rooms, nightly music and entertainment, daily sports and beach activities and an on-site spa and salon make the Occidental grand Cozumel the jewel of any Caribbean experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Occidental Grand Cozumel Hotel Cozumel
- Occidental Grand Hotel Cozumel
- Grand Cozumel
- Grand Occidental Cozumel