My husband and I travelled to SMB on 5th August for 14nights and stayed in a non-preferred Swim out suite- room number 1514 (having requested building 15 based on extensive research by myself on trip advisor and facebook). While we were there the hotel was at 65% capacity. The majority of hotel guests are honeymooners or couples celebrating anniversaries.
Our flight was with Thompson and fantastic- we upgraded to premium and it was well worth the extra money, the transfer took longer than expected but this is nothing to do with the hotel. The approach to the hotel is a bit bumpy and security is tight.
Another thing the hotel could not control was the mosquitoes, though I was not really troubled by them- a few nights at the outdoor Sugar Reef bar I got a couple of bites. I only used repellent three times and this was after being bitten at the bar. My husband was eaten alive, despite using 50% DEET every night- I guess they will get you if they like your blood. He said it would not prevent him from returning though.
The Hotel and Grounds
I personally thought the communal areas of the hotel and the grounds were very tastefully decorated, spotlessly clean and gorgeous. We were greeted at reception with a very welcome cold towel and glass of champagne, checked in without any hassle and told the time share people we were not interested.
Now to the first negative- I have only heard this mentioned on here a couple of times but what on earth is going on with the smell in the Lobby/Martini bar? They burn some citrus oil or something in burners throughout the room and it is disgusting, absolutely vile! This alone would prevent me from returning to this resort. Every time I walked in it slapped me across the face like a big citrus scented fish! I can see people rolling eyes in disbelief but I assure you this stunk to high heaven and was the source of many headaches for me. On the days the smell was not as pungent I managed to get used to it but Secrets really need to get their act together and source some alternative- I love Citrus but this was really something unique. OK rant over!
Our room was lovely, the twin sinks were great, the Jacuzzi bath was huge and we had no problems with water as others have had. The shower was big enough for two but our shower head would only move a little bit. The marble everywhere was beautiful but remember to put down extra towels/mats to avoid slipping. The bed was firm but comfortable- I loved it. Air con was perfect- too cool at times if anything!
The infamous glass door on the toilet was perfectly fine (stylish in fact) at the beginning- we are a married couple after all. However, while indulging in a foreign country many of us are prone to upset stomachs and perhaps would not wish to share that with our spouse, in this case a door would have been a better idea.
The swim up could benefit from some beach towels being provided as standard, we used bath towels, of which four are provided daily. Again there is marble on the porch area so put down something to prevent slipping. We used the complimentary slippers straight from the swim up to walk into the room to prevent accidents.
We only had maid service every other day and it was adequate- no towel art but we didn’t lose any sleep! We also didn’t get a honeymoon banner but decided not to chase this up because we didn’t care. I think we only had the turn down once- it seemed a little pointless to us and we heard that this was the typical time the bugs got into your room when the maids left the door open. We frequently left the do not disturb light on and a couple of times received a call to check we really did not want a turn down/ room cleaned. This was quite annoying, one night I was in bed, feeling quite ill and was rudely awoken. SMB take note- do not disturb means DO NOT DISTURB!
Toiletries included conditioning shampoo, shower gel and lotion. There was a sewing kit, cotton buds/balls and soap in the bathroom with an incense burner and stick. The TV had plenty of English channels for lazy times and Channel 14 was the Playboy channel!
Our concierge was present throughout our stay and nothing was too much trouble (extra towels, hibachi reservation etc).
Pool and beach
The pools were beautiful and the main pool with the swim up bar was the busiest, sometimes a bit noisy. We loved the fact you can sit in the water while drinking in the shade. Many shots were consumed here! The infinity pool was quieter and both pools had an adequate number of floats.
The beach was stunning, the sand was white and the water was turquoise and warm but I hated the fact the angel fish swam up around you so once in the water was enough for me I’m afraid. You can hire beach cabanas for $40 with a waiter service or just get a regular bed for free (there is beach waiter service until 5pm).
The swing beach bar was so cool- loved hanging out here sipping a cold drink looking at the amazing beach.
Food and drink
OK so food is always going to be subjective but I should point out that I think that anyone who classes the food at SMB as five star has little understanding of what five star dining is all about. The food at SMB is trying very hard to be five star but it doesn’t quite get there.
Room service is very convenient and 24 hour- you will wait no longer than 40 minutes and if you need to leave early in the morning you can pre order breakfast. The standard of dishes varied greatly, breakfast was the best and lunch was just OK. If you can drag yourself out of your room it will be a better dining experience. Room service was great for having extra beer delivered. The Secrets Box should be standard in all hotel rooms- perfect for leaving room service in if you don’t want to be disturbed or if you’re not dressed.
Breakfast is what SMB does best, a huge, fresh buffet with cooking stations making crepes, amazing omelettes and waffles. English Breakfast tea is pretty dire so bring your own if that is your thing.
Lunch can be eaten in one of the restaurants but we never bothered to get dressed to try it. We ate from the barefoot grill most days and the BBQ meat (burgers, ribs and fish) was excellent, there was a good selection of salad and fries/veg etc. The coco cafe serve sandwiches and teas/coffees which were very nice.
My favourite lunches were when the chefs came around the pool handing out a range of delightful nibbles including pizza, lobstertail, veggie and meat kebabs, fruit etc etc etc- totally amazing. There was a taco cart that came round the pool everyday and once a week the chefs get in the pool and hand out the food from a kayak. Lunch is cooked on the beach too but we never tried it, friends said the Paella is great.
Dinner ranged from not good to great. We tried every restaurant at least once and our favourite was Portifino the Italian, our least favourite was the Mexican- ironically. We had a great meal in Oceana too. The hibachi table at Himitsu was great fun and the starters and dessert were fab. Im not going to say much more about the restaurants individually except that all the food comes out of two kitchens and no matter where we ate there was always a ‘Secrets’ taste. I can’t explain it but you will know what I mean when you experience it. Most of the food was good but I personally think if they stopped trying to get the WOW factor and did simple food well they would be on to a winner. The menus were confusing and trying too hard to be five stars. People rave about the food but I thought it was just OK most of the time and too rich. Accompaniments such as veg and potatoes tended to be too rich and oily.
* Disclaimer* My husband is not as fussy as me and raved about the food- he says I’m too fussy for my own good, I say he’s easily pleased!
The Mexican night was great and the food lovely, the same goes for the fire show and the food there. The food at the themed nights was great on the whole.
Drinks were great, there was a wide selection in every bar- just ask if you don’t see it. The frozen drinks were great and most welcome in the hot sun. They can get sickly and they are not very strong but I was not drinking at 10am to get drunk. If you want them stronger ask for an extra shot- it will be their pleasure. I loved the mojitos made with Bacardi Negro. The only premium alcohol I would have liked was Bombay Sapphire in non preferred.
The martini bar was lovely at night (once I got used to the smell), the toasted almond martini was a favourite of my husband while I enjoyed them all (pomegranate in particular). Some nights the lobby bar was too hot. Wine is available by the glass and is basic but drinkable (I had Sav blanc and Merlot). Wine is also available by the bottle for a charge but is hugely overpriced (A Marlborough sav blanc was four times the price I would expect to pay). If you have a favourite drink just ask for it- I had them make baby Guinness and choc pops which they had never heard of.
We loved the outdoor Sugar Reef bar too, Angel the bartender here was our favourite member of staff. The mosquitoes could be annoying here late at night but all bars have wipes if you need them. We loved sitting on the chairs here with our feet in the water at night. There is table tennis and darts and chess here.
The night club is a bit rubbish- we went here a few times with people we met but there really isn’t much atmosphere in an all couples resort like this. We went with a group one night and it was more fun.
Service and Entertainment
Service was, on the whole, exceptional. Staff looked like they enjoyed working and were always cheerful and polite. We had one waiter in Oceana who was the least friendly of the whole stay, he barely spoke but the food was great. When he spotted my husband getting the tip out he couldn’t be friendlier, but that was a one off. We tipped regularly during our stay but it was not expected and we made friends with lots of people who never tipped at all.
We missed most of the entertainment but the Carribean show was dire. The rock show was amazing- do not miss- the band they get in are great and the atmosphere is fantastic. We did pool bingo and had so much fun, but again, though we intended to do so much more, all we ended up doing was very little! There is a lot to do if you want, bike rides, volleyball, football, Spanish lessons and more. They have sailboats they will take you out in if you want or you can sail yourself.
Internet is provided on 5 computers in the business room, they say 15 minutes but so long as there is no one waiting you are fine to stay for longer- it gets hot here at night with no air con.
We didnt manage to fit in a visit to the spa but everyone we met raved about it. You can do romantic dinners by the pool or on the beach
Overall we had an amazing two weeks here, the resort is first class and we only left twice. We had intended to do so much more but literally couldn’t tear ourselves away. We were completely spoiled for two weeks and very sad to leave. The only things I didn’t like about the resort was the awful smell in the lobby/martini bar and the food could have been better. I am very hard to please food wise, it was good but I think they need to simplify things and leave out the oil occasionally. We both got bad stomachs and put it down to over indulging- however it took more than a week after our return to get back to normal.
I don’t think I will return to this resort because the world is a big place and I want to try new things, but I would highly recommend it to couples wanting to get away for some quality time together and being spoiled rotten. It is not a party resort at all so if you want that look elsewhere. I would like to have given this resort 4 ½ stars as I feel 4 is a little harsh but it is definitely not a 5.
-Bring a cheap float if you have a swim out- you can buy them at the hotel shop for about £6 but they are worth £2
-Bring DEET based repellent
-Bring strong sunscreen
-Bring Pesos if you have to exchange money- dollars are fine if you already have them.
-Surf and turf in Bordeaux has the most amazing lobster tail!
-Avoid doing shots of JD unless you want to get very drunk
-Don’t wear flip flops if you go to Coba
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun is tucked away on secluded Maroma Beach, voted the World's Best Beach by the Travel Channel four years in a row. This unlimited-luxury heaven provides opulence to the most discerning traveler with a pure white sand beach, stunning ocean views stretching as far as the eye can see, elegant suites providing 24-hour room service, daily refreshed mini-bars and several of them with swim-out access to twelve smaller pools plus a shimmering infinity pool, gourmet dining options and chic lounges. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun Hotel Playa Del Carmen