This review aims to provide a balanced view of the hotel and resort, highlighting the good points but also flagging any problems that we encountered.
Overall we had a very positive experience at the El Dorado Seaside apartments, with the hotel surpassing our expectations on accommodation, service, food, cleanliness, facilities and entertainment. This is so important because the hotel is situated some miles from the nearest resort. Playa De Carman is decent taxi ride away, while the heavily Americanised Cancun lays well over an hour away, even by the local Speedy Gonzales taxis.
This was the mother of all inclusive deals, including free mini bar, 24 hour room service, breakfast, lunch and dinner (dinner is waiter served in one of 7 themed restaurants). All inclusive holidays can be highly variable in quality, but this was definitely at the top end. Guest’s on arrival are “welcomed to paradise” by one of the army of hotel officials and employees. Well it is not quite paradise, but tries very hard to be, even if some of the staff uniforms are reminiscent of Japanese WW II prison guard attire – we kept thinking “Tenko”. Teams of inspectors continually monitor standards at the hotel, which seems to be largely staffed by indigenous Mayan peoples.
The hotel is located on the Rivera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, closer to Belize than Mexico City. It has its own Sandy beach front, fringed with numerous and continuously managed palm trees. Here the guests can lounge in the hotels sunbeds, hammocks or the shadier four poster beds that line the sea front. While there are plenty of these to go around, if you want a good pitch closest to the waterside, in our experience you needed to arrive early. The sea is warm and very shallow, skimmed by the occasional pelican, tamed by artificial reefs, full of angel fish and some of their bigger brothers, but nothing nasty. Security seems to be tight, so we saw no human pests, or hawkers. At the back of the hotel there is some kind of jungle and swap. When the sun goes down frogs, crickets and God knows what else get pretty noisy and … a bit smelly – but hey this is more or less tropical. We saw a Racoon one night and in the day time saw the tiniest humming birds, lizards and some kind of dog sized rodent. None of it is threatening or particularly come close.
Our room was on the first floor and was truly impressive. However, it was not the room we had been expecting from the tour operator, which we took issue with in the resort and back in the UK. For its part the hotel did its best to resolve the issue, but not to our satisfaction. Ground floor rooms come with their own swim up pools and that is what we thought we were getting, so despite the impressive layout and furnishing of our room we were very disappointed on what for us, was a very important occasion. On the positive side the room had powerful air conditioning, a big four poster bed, giant shower cubicle, clean, modern bathroom, Jacuzzi adjacent to the bed, safe at no extra charge and a balcony. The cleaning was scrupulous. In summary then, the rooms in our experience were of a very high standard in every department. However, if you have travelled for 14 hours to get there, then you do want to make sure that you are in the room you were expecting.
There are approximately 7 restaurants at the hotel, although most nights one or more of these were closed. With the hotel so isolated, the nearest restaurant off resort is a good cab ride away, it was particularly good news to discover how well the El Dorado does in this department. The restaurants are themed and with the exception of an outdoor pizza restaurant, they all offered well prepared and presented dinners, with mostly impeccable service. The best of them are of course more popular and if there are no tables, they will give you a bleeper, to let you know when your table is free. We thought the restaurant closest to reception had the most ambiance, a kind of air conditioned jungle hideout - which I think was called “Vida”. The Mexican “La Carreta” which was delightful and offered the best service and the one almost adjacent to that, which I think was “Mia Casa”, together with “Vida”were the “run-away” winners. The oriental (Klay Talay) which offered somewhat bland meals and the “international - Arrecifes” restaurants were not bad, but neither were they outstanding. None of the portions were huge, but we do not like that anyway and when hotel food is this good, size does not matter. Some guests seemed to compensate by ordering multiple starters and there were a handful of guests here, who seemed disappointed that the hotel was not more like Cleethorpes or Blackpool. Breakfast is either served in the open air “Sandwicherie” or at the beach barbecue; we thought that the “Sandwicherie” was the better of the two.
The Naay Spa was a very enjoyable experience and not overly expensive. One of the little golf buggies that run constantly around the extensive hotel grounds will take you there. Guests are welcomed at the air-conditioned reception with a drink and then escorted to the plush changing rooms and personal lockers, where you will find a robe, towels and slippers. Our experience commenced in the large treatment pool with powerful therapeutic water jets, then into the hot room filled with herbal essences, the cool room and then finally to the tables. Here we chose a Mayan hot stones massage that was very relaxing indeed and we would recommend it.
Because the El Dorado is so far from the nearest big town, entertainment within the hotel is so important, as honeymoon sports can only provide so much entertainment. These days every hotel in every corner of the globe, seems to have an animation team, but at the El Dorado they push the boat out by promoting some unusual acts. The Rocksimus Maxximus Rock Circus is very entertaining, providing you don’t mind rock music and American heavy metal. The band is very proficient indeed and is supported by male and female acrobats, two hot dancers, a guy on stilts and a singer who was also good with hula hoops. Other acts again employed acrobats and dancers which were very watchable and one of these offered some very proficient miming and impersonation of music stars. One night the hotel laid on a mini roulette wheel and card table. In addition various bands play on into the night including one reggae band on the beach.
Guests are allocated a personal concierge (not 24 hours) and their offices are dotted along the main path at the hotel. Amongst other things, you can exchange your used beach towels for fresh ones each day at these offices. They are friendly and helpful enough, but if we have one complaint at the hotel, it was that we felt tricked into attending a sales meeting by our concierge. We were invited to meet the concierge as the hotel realised it was our honeymoon and wanted to give us a gift. As the conversation continued we got more and more doubtful and I began to suspect this was about time share or something similar. Perhaps foolishly we followed the concierge to the site of a “breakfast” presentation. Then I thought this is 90 minutes of our honeymoon, doing something we do not want to do when we could be at the beach, so we walked out and they were not happy at all. We complained because we just wanted to be left alone on our honeymoon. In fairness to the hotel we received an apology and bottle of Champaign. However that did not stop the leaflets arriving at our door inviting us to meet the concierge once again.
Mexico is a huge, interesting and awe inspiring country, but we thought the tours on offer from our tour company were bland and low quality. The hotel also offers a range of experiences and day trips which were more or less in the same ball park. In addition the operator’s claim that its tours are all inclusive - “once you’ve paid you won’t need to dig into your pocket again” is a moot point.
Fat Cat Catamaran
To start on a positive, of the three tours we took, this was by far the best organised and most enjoyable, starting with a fairly relaxed and short coach ride, to the boat pick up. There is a good half a day on the catamaran, with a fun but unobtrusive crew, plenty of drinks – but in a civilised, adult way and even a little lunch bag. You sit back and enjoy the scenery, the sun and the music, as the boat takes you along the coast, where braver guests can enjoy the ocean spray and sunshine in the netting or on the bow. There are swimming stops too, first out to a reef for supervised snorkel (or stay on the boat as per ones taste) and then other relaxed swimming opportunities.
The romantic candlelit dinner
Our tour operator claimed “you will feel like the only two people in the world” but in our view it was nothing like the intimate experience promised. In reality the boat was a packed “pirate” boat which was far from intimate. Couples sat opposite and shoulder to shoulder with other couples and there were no candles above deck. The boat chugged out half a mile into Cancun’s bay and anchored for a tasteless but harmless meal, before chugging back. Our advice to prospective guests will be to make your own arrangements and not waste their time here.
The taxi pick up was way too early, the driving too fast and dangerous and we were left with other couples for over an hour at a baking hot, dockside fast food outlet. A welcome drink was provided, but only if you drank alcohol, nothing of an un-alcoholic nature was offered.
After sweating it out for over an hour, we were not in the mood for romance or the pre-trip photograph, but a cold shower and some decent drinks. The food was ok, but nothing special, dry steak and lobster. Several non-alcoholic drinks were provided for me, but I wish I hadn’t bothered, because I was ill before I got off the boat and only recovered back in England.
The taxi back was terrifying/excillerating depending on your taste, with the driver continuously on his mobile phone while driving at speeds of 90km per hour or faster, tearing through late night Cancun, undertaking, tail gating etc.
It was described as a “huge park” but it is nothing of the sort and half a day maximum is all that you need to see anything of interest here and there is not much of interest, unless you are interested in or wish to pay for additional activities. Nowhere in the park is there any refuge from the oppressive heat, not even in the restaurants or surprisingly the stadium where the evening show is held. Of course you expect heat in Mexico but the facilities in this place are dire. We felt trapped here and thoroughly miserable, it is an ordeal, not a day out. The showers and changing facilities were basic with no privacy and the open showers operated by pull chain. We never saw the towels either, although these were supposed to be provided. By the end of the day there was no water flowing through the showers anyway and the park was packed to the gills, so it all had a rather unsavoury feel about it, we felt minging.
At no time were we advised in advance of the trip that, if you had any kind of minor medical condition you should not participate in the river swim – one of the park’s main features and also one of the few places you could escape the sun and cool off. The Mexican, show which was truly impressive, is really the only thing of any note at Excerat, but after a day frying and bored rigid you cannot really enjoy it. It was such a pity because the show that starts with a Mayan Indian performance and a kind of sanitised history of Mexico and then goes on to celebrate Mexican music and dance was a genuine spectacle. However there are thousands of people packed in here, many still in their swim suits. The best seats go very, very early, it is oppressively hot and the view is very restricted in places.
It would have been better to have made our own arrangements, go by taxi, just for the show, or early in the morning.
Our flights were less than satisfactory, having paid to reserve and select our seats, we found that there were only two seats available right by the toilets. On the night flight home, the crew refused to turn off the cabin lights for fear of upsetting a single passenger. Young children ran about and screamed continuously, the crew disappeared for many hours, leaving passengers thirsty in the oppressive heat. The in-flight entertainment on both in and outbound flights were faulty and continuously rebooted. The cabin was also poorly maintained and in my view should not have been assigned to transatlantic duties.
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- Also Known As:
- El Dorado Seaside Hotel
- El Dorado Seaside Suites Mexico
- El Dorado Resort Spa
- Hotel El Dorado Seaside
- El Dorado Seaside Resort
- El Dorado Spa
- El Dorado Seaside Mexico
- Eldorado Seaside Suites
- Eldorado Resort
- El Dorado Sensimar Riviera Maya Puerto Aventuras, Mexico