We visited Sandos Caracol Eco resort and spa from 16th - 30th March 2013. We travelled with Thomas Cook from Manchester into Cancun (two weeks all inclusive). Transport from airport was about 50 minutes, comfortable and a straight journey all the way. Jungle covers the land in this part of Mexico - it's amazing. Try to look out of the plane when you are coming into land.
So about the hotel, we were initially worried about spending our honeymoon at Sandos Caracol because it appeared highly children oriented, not that we have a problem with kids, but we wanted a relaxing and calm honeymoon. We needn't have worried because we had upgraded to adults only select club and meant we were not bothered once by children during our stay.
We arrived and a friendly lady took us to a special check in place for select club adults only where we got a drink. There was no one else there at the private check in and check in was quick. The guy on the check in wasn't the most chatty but the woman made up for it with her friendliness. I think her name was Elma. She did try to get us to go on the timeshare tour though but I think she was also genuinely friendly.
We had also upgraded to the penthouse because it was our honeymoon and we are glad we did because our room was the equivalent of at least two of the standard select club rooms, we had tonnes of wardrobe space (we couldn't use it all!) and a living room (with sofa bed) with mini fridge filled with cans of coke, beer and lemonade and cartons of juice and packets of crisps and mini choc wafer things. We had bottles of sparkling wine, bacardi and vodka on the side and a huge water filter with all the cups and glasses you could need. There was also a function on the water filter for hot water and tea and coffee sachets.
The fridge was refilled every day, but if you wanted more, because you are select club you could just call and they would refill it for you. They were pretty good at this. All of this was included (no extra charge) because we were select club.
The bed was HUGE, I mean, MASSIVE and four poster and very comfortable. It was firm but we slept incredibly well. The bathroom had his and her sinks, a huge wet room shower and then a separate toilet. There was a safe for your belongings and air conditioning. All included.
On the balcony we had a hot tub (with taps and plug which you fill yourself when you want to use it), It was fab we used it a couple of times and enjoyed it. We overlooked the jungle bit and had sun loungers and chairs on a balcony, it was lovely.
We really loved our room. It was 7121 but I am sure there are other penthouses pretty similar. Ours was right near to the lobby which was great because we were near/between the select club pool and lobby which worked well for us. We sometimes heard the entertainment like the mayan music at night when in bed but it really went quiet early on (10/10.30pm) so this really didn't bother us, we were just so exhausted we actually went to bed very early each night. This worked well for us because we got up very early (7am) and really enjoyed the mornings on the beach.
If we had a problem in our room (once we accidentally broke a wine bottle) we called the reception and they came to fix it right away. Very good in that respect. However, there was a problem where we didn't have a cable for the ipod dock and it took them 5 days to fix it. I didn't really mind but my husband was annoyed because we asked them about 7 times to sort it out, all different staff. They said they didn't have one but we figured they could have just taken one from an empty room. Anyway, it got sorted in the end although didn't work perfectly. A very minor problem.
Oh and there was a huge TV in the room so you could watch TV in bed if you wished, it had plenty of English and other channels.
We had room service on a couple of evenings when we were too tired to go to the main buffet and didn't have a la carte booked and it was quick and tasty. I liked the cheese and ham melted wraps.
So I guess now is a good time to move onto the food. One of the main things that was leading us to take our time over which hote we chose was food. We had a 'food quality versus budget and in need of heat dilemma going on' and it took as ages to decide where to go on holiday. We read a lot of reviews on many different hotels and decided on this hotel because it sounded like it would be good. We were not disappointed and our clothes are now tight from two weeks of indulging!
Because we stayed for two weeks, we got 3 evening meals per week at the a la carte. I think it was something like 2-3 days = 1 a la carte, 3-6 days 2 a la carte and so on. So we had six. We also got a romantic meal at The Riviera (seafood restaurant near the select club beach) thrown in for free because it was our honeymoon.
A la carte options
Los Lirios - meat and seafood
Asian - Tappenyaki
Riviera - seafood
Los Lirios - visited 3 times during our stay
Our favourite above all of the a la cartes was Los Lirios. It was at the other end of the beach to the select club in a beautiful building. The restaurant had a big dance floor in the middle and turned into a disco in the evening although I don't think many people knew that because it was completely quiet when we stayed one night after our meal, I think I was the only one on the dance floor! I liked it like that though! No one could see my awful dancing.
The staff were incredibly friendly. The drinks were the best (although drinks everywhere were yum), the service at the table was the best. The food was just INCREDIBLE. I could go into details but just trust me, you won't be disappointed there.
Asian - we went to this one on our first night and we loved it, I think it is more of an entertaining dinner although the food was very good too. We only went once because we wanted to try out all of the other restaurants.
We went to this one once. It was our romantic dinner. We saved it for the second to last night before we left. We were actually disappointed because this was the worst in terms of service for the whole stay. You could choose an option to eat on the beach as they had a special table set up but it was very expensive and I'd say that wasn't worth it when it's included anyway and the restaurant is nice enough.
The reason we were disappointed was because the staff started setting up a huge table for 26 people right next to where we were sitting while we were eating our meal, it didn't look like there was any way in or out for us! They asked us to move when my husband was still eating his starter! We moved but I was really annoyed. Then the steak was really chewy and because of the huge party next to us we didn't get served drinks very efficiently. Dessert was very good though. I don't like to say anything negative about the hotel because really these things were nothing for how amazing the rest of the holiday was but I think their staff down at Riviera should learn to treat the diners with a little more care.
I wouldn't bother with this one, it's okay but nohing special. We had to try it for ourselves but compared to Los Lirios or the Brazilian or the Asian, it really wasn't anywhere near as good.
We loved the Brazilian, they brought meat round, it was a fun night. More of an entertaining night though so I'd probably only do this once if you have more choices.
And for select club, a la carte doesn't just end there. We could eat at the Brazilian a la carte for breakfast and lunch - it was amazing. Definitely recommend doing this. You feel special having lunch and breakfast here. The staff here are incredible, very friendly - some of our favourites were Insidrous and Rosa. My husband preferred breakfast here but I preferred the buffet breakfast at the Italian.
Buffets and Snacks
There is one huge international buffet - we didn't eat here for breakfast or lunch but we tried it for dinner a couple of times, their themed chinese night was good, otherwise it was just pretty standard for buffets at all inclusive. Nothing to rave about.
There is also access to the Italian for buffet breakfast, it's supposedly the same as the international buffet but it was smaller and we felt it more relaxing and enjoyable.
There is a 24 hour snack bar with burgers, hot dogs and other bits. We enjoyed a couple of burgers from here but preferred to eat at the Brazilian for breakfast/lunch and Italian buffer for breakfast.
In the select club area of the beach there were also snacks throughout the day, I loved their cream cheese and veg wraps.
Bars and Drinks
Drinks everywhere were amazing. I am not really a drinker but I did manage to drink nearly every day on holiday!
We loved mojhitos. And Frappucino's (the best were from the Lobby Elephant Bar) and we liked bailey's frappucino's and there were bottles of sparkling wine you could help yourself to in the italian breakfast and in the select club beach area.
And for non alcoholic we loved the Spa Life... yum.
And my husband enjoyed the beer - Sol - he liked that best but found he had to specify that's what he wanted.
You can have the ice and water fine, no problems. It's all from filtered water so it is perfectly safe everywhere in hotel.
There are loads of bars with a variety all over hotel but we didn't really stay up late to see if it was lively. One night we stayed up until 2pm (very late for us!) dancing at the disco at Los Lirios but it was very quiet everywhere else. They have it good because the disco is away from all hotel rooms so there is no noise disturbing people at night time.
We only used the select club adults beach area and loved it. We woke early because it was light and we were jet lagged and we managed to get the four poster beds, but the sun loungers are like sofas too. There is a waitress service all day on the beach although the select club bar isn't very far and there is a very friendly waiter there in the mornings/early afternoons. Not such a friendly bar man later in the day though. There are hammocks, and a little buffet/snack area.
And upstairs there are pool tables, computer games and a library but we didn't really use any of that.
There is also free wifi - we managed to get this in seveal places on resort.
The sea in the select club area does have the sand bags to block the waves, but there is a non rocky bit to paddle in, but be careful because there are rocks on the floor in the sea. We had sea shoes. I don't like swimming out deep so I didn't mind and swam and snorkelled and saw fish but I think my husband would have preferred to go out further but couldn't because of the sand bags. Not the most ideallic beach but it's fine for dipping in to cool off and for a snorkel.
We only used the select club adults only pool but there are tonnes of pools around, and another quiet one for adults not in adults only. The select club adults pool is huge and very quiet. Surrounded by jungle and has a waitress service. There is also a big jacuzzi area up some stairs and we enjoyed that too. It was perfect. And right next to the Brazillian so we could go and have our lunch without barely walking anywhere.
It is not as far between the select club rooms to the beach as people make out. Besides, you can just get a trolley to take you if you are really lazy or not able to walk much.
We estimated it was about a 7 minute walk from our room to the beach. It's a lovely walk through jungle paths seeing animals along the way. That reminds me, there are animals but they don't annoy you at all like I worried they might. They never came up to us once so if your nervous, no need to be. There is a slight smell by the cenote near the sports bar but nothing to worry about.
I had a reflexology foot massage with Daniel - it was bliss.
Spa massages are ridiculously expensive though. I don't know if they get much business. As a business model, I would reduce my prices and perhaps more people would be having massages and they'd actually end up making more money than trying to charge expensive prices. It appeared the massage staff weren't busy at all so worth thinking about by Sandos.
Access to gym and spa is free to adults, the jacuzzi's are lovely and it's oh so quiet sunbathing there.
Majority of staff were incredibly friendly, especially Insidrous and Rosa at Brazilian although they were always happy and smiley everywhere. If you ask them how they are - they are all, always, excellent! Must be the permanent sunshine?! We would love it if England was as happy and friendly!
Things to do
Romantic boat trip - free for adults - we loved this with sparkling wine and choc coated strawberries and seeing lots of turtles. The young guy that took us was very friendly too. Can't remember his name.
Cenote - there are many cenotes (little pools) but one big one you can swim in with fish - we loved this, Very relaxing. Friendly guy looking after it too!
Activities - there are many walks you can do and you can hire bikes for free and cycle round and see the ruins. We didn't manage to do all the activities, kayaking, exercise classes, sushi making classes - there was too much to do! I felt almost overstimulated as there were so many options for activities! You couldn't get bored.
Trips outside of the hotel
There ARE tonnes of things to do nearby but these are just a selection we did. We didn't end up going to see ruins but would do that next time.
We booked through Thomas Cook because we wanted to be safe but I am sure you could get cheaper but we wanted the safety of knowing we were booked through a legit and checked out company. Our Rep (Roxy) was fantastic, so friendly, but I know she has left for Tenerife now to work there.
We went to Xel Ha - we loved it - the largest aquarium in the world. With activities but I was a little scared of the Barracuda but they didn't attack!
We also went on a speed boat to Isla Contoy and Isla Majures. We weren't bothered about Isla Majures and were glad we didn't do the Catamaran trip that just took us there, but we LOVED Isla Contoy.
We also when to Delphinaris and swam with dolphins. It was a good experience but a once time only, we wouldn't do it again. We didn't get any photos because ridiculously priced at £50 each!
We also walked along the beach one afternoon to Playa del Carmen - definitely worth doing, lots of interesting little shops. We got a taxi back for about £6. Apparently it's got a good night life but we weren;t interested in that being on our honeymoon.
We did go on the timeshare tour but out of our own choice - you really don't have to, so do not feel bullied. I did unplug our phone in case someone tried to call us so I will never know if someone did tried to call us but I doubt they did. We only ended up going on the tour later in the week at a time that suited us because we just wanted the free stuff (2 mexican blankets and my foot massage)!!!. We pretty much told them we weren't interested before we went. The tour was a little embarrassing for poor Edgar as the room he showed us was falling apart and far inferior to our amazing penthouse room in Select club. Apart from that. the Royal Elite benefits looked good but not for us at this time.
Beautiful, a couple of cloudy days but my husband still managed to get burnt and it was still hot. Sea is warm but a little nippy when you first try to get in, like any water I suppose when you have been baking in the sun!
Staff are working around the hotel constantly - so many cleanng and doing work on it to keep it in great condition. We were very impressed by this. So many people much work there.
Our honeymoon was AMAZING. I can't even paint a picture of how great it was but I have tried to give you as much detail as possible. Feel free to email if you have any specific questions. We just got back so it's all fresh in my mind at the moment. We would certainly return as I would be safe in the knowledge that I'd have a fantastic holiday. Don't be afraid to go if you don't have kids and want a relaxing time - just upgrade to the select club to be sure. But if you have kids it looked absolutely fantastic for that too. Enjoy!
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- Also Known As:
- Caracol Beach
- Sandos Caracol Eco Hotel
- Sandos Caracol Beach Resort Spa
- Sandos Select Club
- Sandos Caracol Mexico
- Hotel Sandos Caracol Eco
- Caracol Village Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Sandos Caracol Beach & Spa Mayan Riviera
- Sandos Caracol Resort
- Sandos Caracol Riviera Maya