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“It was a decent hotel.....”
Review of Ocean Maya Royale

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Ocean Maya Royale
Ranked #47 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 2, 2004

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.

11  Thank Vacation72017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,267 - 5,273 of 6,663 reviews

Reviewed May 18, 2004

I really have to wonder what some of these people are expecting when they travel!! I'm glad I didn't get a chance to read these reviews before my husband and I vacationed at Club El Mandarin. My husband bought our tickets and gave mine to me for X-mas. (What a surprise) We left on Jan. 10, 2004 for one week. We had such a good time! We both came home talking about going back as soon as we can. There is still so much that we want to do there! We went to Playa De Carmen one afternoon to shop. Didn't have much time to see everything so want to go back there again. We went on 2 tours which took up 2 more days. We spent the rest of the time sitting by the pool and plain old relaxing, glad that we weren't back in cold Canada. How can this not be great? Our room was right beside the lobby, which we ended up thinking it couldn't be more conveniant. The time spent in the lobby (restaurant/bar) or reading a book out of the sun was right next door to our room. Our own washroom was handy. Why use the public one? The pool and the beach was only a five minute walk, and it was nice because the lawns, bushes, flowers were so beautifully maintained. The occasional smell that came from the swamp wasn't that bad!!
The food was great. Such a big buffet. No problem finding something you liked and a lot of it. The only thing I didn't care for was the coffee. It seemed bitter, but the banana milkshakes made up for it! The house wine was good. The outside restaurant/bar was also nice. You could get out of the sun and have a hamburger, hotdog, fries, nachos, fish, etc. They had slushie drinks that were so good in the heat.
The animation team were awesome to say the least. They were all friendly, and always so busy! They spent their day entertaining the guests, giving spanish lessons, dance lessons, playing water and beach volleyball with whatever guests were interested in that activity. Football soccer was also also played. I don't really know the rules to it, I didn't go watch it. There was water arobics every morning. This seemed to attract the older visitors. Then in the the evening the same people put on outstanding shows in the theatre. Considering they weren't professional actors I thought they were very entertaining.
All in all, it was a very good holiday, and worth the dollars spent.

  • Stayed: January 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank bigred57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 14, 2004

My wife and I stayed at El Mandarin from 5/9-5/14/04. We booked a package online through Expedia. The cost of the hotel for two of us, excluding airfare, was $500. Not bad for an all-inclusive. I did a lot of research regarding this resort and like most I was excited, yet a little skeptical. Overall, it ended up being a decent vacation.

DAY 1 - We arrived at El Mandarin on Sunday 5/14 at around 4PM. We were given a room in the efficiency building which I was not aware that they even had. Room was of a nice size and was clean. Air worked ok. One problem was that our bath tub did not drain very well which I cannot stand. Also, the resort was extremely crowded and therefore the efficiency building was very loud. We later learned that it was Mother's Day in Mexico on Monday so the resort was really crowded with families and tons of kids. After we settled in we went straight to the beach. I was dying to check out the water, one of the main things I was looking forward to. All the reviews I read said the water was murky, but I just couldn't believe it. After seeing the water for myself I was sadly disappointed. It was very murky and full of seaweed. It was windy while we were there, but I can assure you the wind had nothing to do with the color of the water. It is just the location of the hotel. After a while we went to get a couple drinks. It took forever. The bar at the pool was crowded and there was only one bar tender. They even ran out of beer later on in the afternoon. I couldn't believe it! Later on that evening we requested to switch rooms and to be moved to one of the bungalows. By the end of the first day I couldn't wait to get home and was quite disappointed.

Day 2 - We woke up to find a room change notice under our door. I was glad because I thought we'd need to constantly ask them to move us. It rained for most part of the second day so we did not do much as far as sitting at the beach. All the families and little kids were checking out. From here on out the resort became nice and peaceful. We made reservations for the free shuttle into town for the following day. We moved into our new room around 4PM. New room was very nice. AC kept the room like an icebox. Shower worked good, and our bungalow was very close to the beach in building 9.

DAY 3,4,5 - Vacation turned around from this point. We took the shuttle on the third day into town. It drops off right near 5th Avenue. We went straight to the beach which is like a 5 min walk from where the shuttle drops off. Now I was happy. The water was absolutely beautiful. It was the aqua blue water you picture in the Carribean. We took the shuttle into town 3 days in a row and sat on the beach there and played in the water. There are also a couple really neat bars we went to there. The one we like was El Pirata (the Pirate I believe). The thing that was cool was instead of bar stools there were swings at the bar that you could swing in while you drink. Was nice and relaxing.

The Rooms - The room that we were in at El Mandarin after we moved was nice. Couch, fridge, great AC. Very clean. Make sure you request a room in the bungalow.

The Beach - Like I said the water is very murky, even black at some points with all the dirt and seaweed. However, the sand itself is clean for the most part. There is a beach boy constantly raking the seawide that washes up on the shore. There are plenty of beach chairs and palapas. We never had a problem getting one. The dive shop is right there if you want to check out kayaks, catamarans, snorkel stuff, or rent jet skis. If all you want to do is sit at the beach and tan then the beach here will suit you just fine.

The Food - Overall the food was very good. The buffet had a different theme everynight. Lots of variety. I really enjoyed the spicy Mexican salsa and all the guacamole. Lots of fresh seafood. Fresh omelettes filled with what you like for breakfast. There are two specialty restaurants which require reservations. They can only be made the day of. I prefered this because when we have been to other All-inclusives you could make reservation days in advance and they would always fill up. The specialty restaurants were good, nothing spectacular. There is the international restaurant, El Quetzal upstairs in the lobby. It was the restaurant where you needed to look nice, no shorts etc. The food was good for the most part. One night I had the fish in esparagus sauce which was really good. Another night I had the lamb chops which weren't that good. The other restaurant is El Mandarin Mexican restaurant which they have at the pool snack bar. I think I had the fried chicked tacos for the main course which werent that great. However, the appetizers the had set out were really great. Tostadas, tomales, etc. Between the 2 restaurants and the buffet the food was overall pretty good.

The Bars - Lobby Bar and Beach Bar. Both were fine. I drank lots of Corona and Bananna Mamas. Didnt have to wait long at all (with the exception of that first day)

The Pool - We didn't spend any time in the pool. The pool was kinda small, but big enough for the size of the resort. Don't think it was very deep. Maybe 4 ft at deepest. No swim up bar. Had activities like water polo and pool volleyball.

Hotel Shuttle - This is what saved our vacation. We took the free shuttle to and from town 3 days in a row. It is about 15 min into town. Shuttle drops off right near 5th avenue. 5 min from awesome beach. You can only sign up one day prior. I believe Alex arrives at the desk around 8AM so sign up early. However, one day we even managed to sign up for the free shuttle a couple hours prior. The shuttle runs every hour starting at noon. Only the 12PM and 1PM shuttle leaving the hotel are free, otherwise its 3USD per person.
Coming back the free shuttle is 430PM and 530PM

Staff & Service - Overall the service was really great. Alex, the guy at the tours desk that does the shuttle reservations is very helpful. Remembered our name during our stay. The activities guys and gals were really cool. Always had something going on. They would talk to you and ask you to participate, but would never pressure you. Staff was very friendly. Bartenders were great. Very friendly and remembered your name and always made great drinks.

Entertainment - At around 830PM there would be a live band on the patio area by the main lobby. They would play oldies and rock. A lot of the older crowd seemed to enjoy it. We did not see any of the other shows they did later at night.

Grounds - The grounds of the resort were beautiful. They were very clean and very well maintained. Always someone doing gardening or making some sort of improvements.

Overall, our stay at El Mandarin was a nice one. For the price it would be hard to find better quality, especially for an all-inclusive. If you find a good deal, I wouldn't pass it up!

5  Thank sandstorm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Chicago, IL
Reviewed May 12, 2004

I just got back Sat. from a great week at the El Mandarin. The only 2 negative points were the beach (it's probably the only beach without the sparkling blue water Cancun is known for all the way from Cancun to Honduras) and that the power went out for short whiles on the first evening. The food was the best I've had at an all-inclusive Mexican resort and the booze was first-rate also. The staff was great. The rooms were kept spotless and the grounds are gorgeous. The villas that the rooms are in (8 rooms in 2-story villsa) make it especially enjoyable, better than staying in some tower block. There were lots of excursions offered at reasonable prices. All-in-all an wonderful week.

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Indianapolis, IN
Reviewed May 10, 2004

My parnter and I just returned home from a week at the Club El Mandarin. We had a very relaxing week.
First the lows - 1.) the beach wasn't that great, but props should be given to the staff for trying to maintain it by keeping it as clean as possible - must be an environmental issue?? 2.) too long of a distance from the main building to the pool; but that can't be helped now that the property is already built - hehe
Lastly the highs - 1.) the Animation Staff was amazing - fun gals and guys that kept the guests going till the wee hours of the morning. Their hospitiality was 2nd to none. 2.) the resort grounds were beautiful - pretty flowers, budding trees, grass that was taken care of and green and plenty of neat local animal life. 3.) the pool - was awesome - big enough for all and we had a great time playing water volleyball. 4.) the all-inclusive way is the way to go - all the booze and food you could ever need or want for the week. 5.) take the tour to Tulum for the Mayan ruins and to Akumal for the snorkeling!! FUN!!
Middle of the road - 1.) the staff was ok - not incredibly personable, but easy to work with non the less. 2.) the food was ok - buffet style does ware on you after a few days. Go into Playa and eat at La Parilla - a fantastic restaurant!!! 3.) the power went out maybe 10 times on Sat and Sun - very annoying but it stopped and as far as we could tell never went out again. We had no problems with our a/c - but it seemed to be a hit or miss thing. Some of our friends had issues, while we did not. 4.) the bugs - there are bugs in Mexico, but again it was hit or miss - some rooms had issues, while others did not.
**Not sure we'll go back to this resort, it won't be next year at least! But, Playa is a fun town and there really is no need to go up to Cancun! Have fun!

  • Stayed: May 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed May 9, 2004

This place is just fine the water is murky but so what ,I was able to walk 4hrs towards playa without bumping into more than 10 people.The staff was very informative if you find someone that speaks english which they do.Definitaly not much night life but 10 bucks gets you to playa ,and everything you want is there!! As far as the entertainment all I could say is they try hard and those ladies can dance.WouldI go back?probably not,would I suggest it to someone else,absolutely!

1  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 9, 2004

We recently stayed a week at the Club El Mandarin. We were part of an Atlantis Events week there. Overall we had a very good time. the grounds are well kept, and the food was good overall. I would say though that we wouldn't go back to this particular resort as there are so many others to choose from, that offer better accomodations, food, and beach. The beach itself was well kept and has a new pier you can walk out on. However, the water was the real downside. The water was full of seedweed all week and was a dirty brown color. No one went near it. As we walked down and up the beach we saw that other areas had water that was quite clear and clean. So it appears to be a localized problem at this resort. The rooms are somewhat plain, and we did have an ant probem in our room. We also had a problem with the a/c and the electricy the first couple of days. Drinks and food were plentiful and as I said earlier quite good. I would rate this resort as a 3.5 star resort, not a 4 or 5 star as I have seen mentioned in other commercial reviews.

Thank drtwnbysMinneapolis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ocean Maya Royale

Address: Carretera Federal Chetumal, km. 299, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#26 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#33 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#33 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#34 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#36 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#51 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $164 - $562 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Ocean Maya Royale 4*
Number of rooms: 320
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

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