We stayed at Club El Mandarin from 05/29/04-06/02/04. Overall, we enjoyed our trip. But there were a few hiccups along the way. This is going to be a pretty long review since I'm going to try to comment on things that I think other potential visitors should be aware of before deciding where to stay:
Let me just start with the fact that the sevice was very good. Everyone was very cordial and polite. We tipped particularly the maids and waiters whenever we thought appropriate, which was quite frequent. It's obvious that they work very hard.
As most other reviews have commented on, the beach was more than lackluster. It was full of seaweed. I had been checking the weather starting the week before we left and did not see any evidence of rain or storms to account for the murkiness, which remained this way the entire trip. (FYI... the beaches in Playa de Carmen, just south of the El Mandarin Hotel, was absolutely beautiful.)
So with a disappointing beach, guests are left with the swimming pool which is not very deep (good for little kids) and feels quite slimy. There is not swim-up-bar, but the bar is poolside. The animation team (at poolside, they're the ones in the red swimsuits) work extremely hard to keep guests entertained. At night, they put on shows which were good and entertaining. There are 2 tennis courts (located close to the entry of the premise) which were clean and playable (there were lights but we didn't play late enough to see if they worked). There is a small work out area in the corner of the lobby (close to the buffet dining hall); I actually didn't use the facility myself but looking from the door, the equipment looked adequate.
The landscaping was very beautiful. The rooms are tiled and are large and spacious and most importantly- well air conditoned. Each room has an airconditioner which is remote controlled. We never had a problem with the AC. Each room has a small refrigerator (which is not cold at all, but enough to keep the contents cool). On arrival, there were only 2 bottles of water. So whenever we walked through the lobby, we would go to the bar and pick up extra bottles of water, which we tool on our excursions. There is a safety deposit box in each room. But guests need to pay $2.50 USD/day for a lock to that box.
If you are traveling with a large family, you may want to verify beforehand that you are all staying close together. We had 4 different rooms- 2 rooms were in the same bungalo, 1 was in the bungalo next door, but the other couple had to stay way on the opposite end of the premise. Also, just be aware that check-in time is not until 3:00 PM. But during the interim, they have any area where you can change to go swimming or you can go eat until your room is ready.
A problem that we all had was the running water. Often times we did not have hot water. They would try to fix it as quickly as possible but it beame a recurring problem. Furthermore, the 1st night that we were there, our tub was not draining well, but the maintence ppl came and fixed it relatively quickly. The tap water is salty but tolerable. We didn't do this- but future guests may want to use the bottled water to brush your teeth, etc.
Be ready to endure the heat. One of my biggest complaint is that other areas of the hotel is not well air conditioned at all! There are no ceiling fans anywhere. The lobby area is an open area and is hot with some relief when there is a cool breeze. The buffet dining hall is HOT, HOT, HOT. Sometimes, they'll open the side doors to the outside, so try to sit next to these areas if these doors are open. Future visitors may want to bring one of those small portable fans.
The food is safe to eat. The buffets themselves are plentiful and offer a wide variety with lots of fresh fruit. Breakfast starts at 7:00AM, lunch at 12:30PM, dinner at 7:00 PM. The breakfast buffet was great- the best of the buffets. The smoothies are very good. The lunch buffet was so-so. They have a very wide selection for dinner. There are 2 a la carte restaurants where guests can eat at, but reservations are required the day before (there is a desk in the lobby area where guests go to make reservations). The sevice at both places was very good. The Mexican restaurant (during the day, it's the poolside grill) was okay. The best dish is probably the speciality, the "El MAndarin.." (its shrimp stuffed in a plantain). The international/goumet restaurant (located in the upstairs lobby area) is better. Again the main entree was okay, but the desert that I had (chocolate cake and ice cream) was delicious.
We rented 2 cars to go on our excursions. When fillin gas, there is gas station attendant who will fill up your gas tank. Remember to check and make sure that the pump has been zeroed before they start pumping the gas- unfortunately, we had this happen to us.
We went to Xel Ha and Tulum on our excursions. The entry to price to Tulum was $4 USD/visitor. You could pay $30 USD for a tour guide. The ruins are roped off but it was still an amazing site. There are beautiful views of the shoreline and beach. Just be sure to be ready to endure the heat. Xel Ha is closeby to Tulum. People can swim with dolphins (it'll cost you >$100 USD to do this). We went snorkeling here, which was very fun. If you don't have your own gear, you can rent all the gear for $10 USD to use the whole day. However, one of my traveling companions, who had been here before, was very disappointed at the lack of corals and fish.
For those who want to purchase souveniers, I would recommend checking out the souvenier shop (not the gift shop) in the lobby; it's open from 9:30AM to 10PM. The prices are set but reasonable. We had gone to the stands located just outside the hotel and other shopping areas in Cancun and realized that these outside vendors really try to rip you off.
Would I go back? Only if the beach clears up and ceiling fans are installed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- All-inclusive luxury in an intimate Caribbean setting, in the heart of the Riviera Maya. Ocean Maya Royale is a luxury all-inclusive beachfront resort in Riviera Maya, in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean. Offering intimate settings and lush tropical landscapes, this Caribbean gem is very close to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel and Cancun. Relax and enjoy our Despacio Spa, two swimming pools, exclusive south beach section featuring Balinese sun beds, Dive It! Watersports center and our a la carte restaurants, where you can taste the best International cuisine, including our new beachfront La Dolce Vita restaurant. Ocean Maya Royale is exclusively an Adults Only resort, a perfect retreat for couples, honeymooners and any one over the age of 18 looking for a more relaxing and sofisticated Caribbean experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ocean Maya Royale Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Ocean Maya Hotel
- Ocean Maya Playa Del Carmen
- Hacienda Maya
- Ocean Maya Royale Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico