We made last minute plans to vacation at the Occidental Grand Cozumel and then got really concerned reading the negative reviews. I am so thankful to all who take the time to post because at least we knew going in what to expect and who to avoid. As soon as they check you in they attempt to hand you off to the next desk in order to receive a map and a “welcome tour” of the grounds. It is such a smooth transition that unless you know it’s coming you fall right into it. Fortunately, I had read the previous reviews and I knew this was a trap. We refused to sit and I said we were really hungry and just wanted to be shown which restaurant was open. I was told we needed to sit and it would only take five minutes to show us. I told them it only takes two seconds to point but they were adamant that we weren’t going to get a map until we took a seat. We refused and then who shows up to calm things down but the infamous Jaime who wanted to be our friend. He played the role of good guy, pointed us in the right direction and then said to be sure to come see him after dinner and he would take care of us. The resort is totally complicit in all of this and has it all set up to where you have to walk right by the timeshare desk each day in order to get to the breakfast buffet in the morning and dinner at two of the specialty restaurants in the evening. The timeshare people hang out like vultures and swoop down on the unsuspecting hungry guests just trying to get something to eat. They are relentless at trying to get you to attend their “vacation club (timeshare)” pitch. We never did.
The onsite dive shop, Palancar Divers, was outstanding. The boat crews were very professional and attentive. They made the whole trip worthwhile. They offer a valet service of loading and unloading all of your equipment on each dive and that made things easy and enjoyable. According to several employees the resort is going with a lower bidder at the end of the year and has plans to bring in a cheaper European dive company which will put about fifty local Palancar employees out of work. That’s a shame because I would actually consider returning and dodging the timeshare vultures just to dive with Palancar Divers.
If you like to hit the beach early be advised there are no refreshment stands open in that area until 10:00 a.m. If you want water, you’ll have to walk all of the way back to the front of the resort to the breakfast area (about 250 yards). Same goes if you get hungry because the beach club buffet restaurant doesn’t open until noon.
The food quality is about what you would expect from almost any of the all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. We’ve stayed at several so our expectations aren’t very high. There was no bacon or sausage offered at breakfast and the lunch buffet didn’t offer a lot of choices. If you can live on an omelet for breakfast and a hamburger for lunch, then you’ll be fine. We tried two of the specialty restaurants, La Posada (steaks) and Los Olivas (Mediterranean cuisine). At both of these, the food was very good, in abundance, and the staff attentive and friendly.
Overall, the hotel is nice and has potential but the timeshare people make a person not want to return. I did talk to some of the vacation club guests and they said they had noticed the food quality and service had started to decline over the past couple of years. They had also heard about Palancar Divers and said they felt this was another attempt for the resort to cut corners.
P.S. If you're not a diver (or swimmer) take the snorkel tour through the dive shop. It's like being in an aquarium. You'll see lots of starfish, turtles, and rays. It is well worth your time.
- 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