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“Paradise - almost”

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El Dorado Royale, by Karisma
Ranked #3 of 11 Hotels in Playa Paraiso
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed April 28, 2004

We spent our 2 week honeymoon at the resort from 6 April to 20 April and, on the whole, were very impressed.
After an horrendously long wait in Cancun airport we were overawed when we arrived in the lobby but when we were shown to our Garden view suite we were less than impressed. There were somebody elses suitcases in the room and the first thing to hit us was the smell of damp - the cases were spirited away and we later suspected that our room had been rejected by someone else. We went back to reception to complain about the damp smell in the room and the fact that we could see black mould on the ceiling but came up against a very unhelpful member of staff who said he would send someone to our room to check the Aircon - they never showed up so we complained again and they said they would sort something the next day; needless to say we were told again the next day "sorry, try again tomorrow"
We also failed to receive our honeymoon package that had been booked through our tour operator Tradewinds and we were snootily told by the guest services rep that this was due to us only being in a Garden view suite and that the hotel had stopped doing the honeymoon packages for people staying in these rooms. Our tour rep said he would try to get this sorted but never did so we just decided to put it behind us and try to make the best of our stay.
Apart from the damp room and the lack of honeymoon package we still had a great time - the grounds are stunning and the Italian, Oriental, La Isla and Cocotel restaurants are all really good and we didn't find the booking system too difficult. The bars are great, especially the beach bar and the Martini bar where the bar staff are great fun - though we did get a bit bored with having the same one-man band in there every night - a bit like Groundhog day! The Tucanes pool and bar was our favourite daytime haunt as it was away from the main pool where 'Sexy' Fernando tries hard to keep the ladies entertained but, like the Martini bar, there was a kind of Groundhog day feel to his repetitive antics.
Being English we did feel a bit out-numbered by Americans and found that a percentage of them were disrespectful to the hotel staff who, outside of the lobby staff, were extremely hard-working and great fun if you take the time to get to know them. If you get the chance to go on a tour through some of the Mayan villages you will immediately respect these lovely folk when you see how they live - We felt very humbled and it put our complaints into perspective. A 'por favour' here and a 'gracias' there goes a long way to making these people feel better about serving you! If you take the time to learn a little Spanish we guarantee that the staff will be impressed and, along with the odd tip, will enhance your experience.
We were slightly disappointed with the beach - the sandbags, while necessary, are a bit of an eyesore but the sand is lovely and there are always plenty of loungers even if the shady palapas are a little harder to come by! Also, during our stay we found
the wind whipping across the beach quite uncomfortable and retreated back to the more sheltered pools.
If you're planning trips we would highly recommend Xcaret - we went to Xcaret and Xel-ha and thought that Xcaret was the best by far. Tulum is lovely - we thought Tulum was better than the long day out to Chichen Itza. Playa del Carmen is definitely worth a visit in the evening - we fell in love with the Bohemian feel to the place; just choose your restaurant wisely if you plan to eat! We decided to give Cancun itself a miss but could see that it would appeal to the party-going crowd. On the whole, we had a relaxed fun honeymoon and we left with a high opinion of the people and the area in general. However, our stay could have been made more comfortable if the lobby staff had shown us a bit more respect rather than turning their noses up at our 'cheap' room.

4  Thank Jody C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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A TripAdvisor Member
23
Reviewed April 28, 2004

I have just returned from a one week stay at the EDR from 4/21 to 4/28 and found the experience to be an overall pleasant one. I believe there are some glitches that need to be remedied. The resort is very large and if you do not have advance
knowledge of the resort you are at their mercy regarding room placement. Unfortunately I was not pleased with the room that I had received and was unable to change it due to EDR being full. I was in building 11 which is the furthest from the beach,pools, and activities. The services rendered by the maid service was spotty at best, for example, one day no washclothes despite several calls regarding same to the front desk and then the next day not enough towels. In times of need you become very conscious of the language barrier and it can be frustrating. I, unfortunately, came down with the travelers curse despite eating only at the resort and drinking only bottled water and was unable to get the assistance I needed. Room service did a wonderful job. All the waiters and other staff I interacted with were very pleasant and did make up for the shortcomings of the resort somewhat. The peacocks and their shrieks at 5am need to stop. These birds do become very territorial and are often found on someones balcony or patio. There is no direct path to anything on the resort and when the humidity is 80% and the temperature is about 90 it would help to have some benches placed in shady areas so that a person could rest a minute. The massages were terrific and I recommend them for all. I ate only at the Cocotel restaurant because of the reservation system and not wanting to get stressed by dealing with it. The menu is different every night and the food was good to excellent. On Tuesdays and Saturdays lobster is served but don't get too excited as I never saw a lobster tail only small portions of the meat in various recipes. For those, like myself, who have a little difficulty getting around don't be afraid to ask the bellhops for a ride in one of the golf carts to where ever you need to go. To get to the lobby there is a 32 step climb up a beautiful marble stairway that does get slippery with the humidity and the rain. There is no elevator. Would I return again...I'm not sure but if I did I would certainly go for an ocean front room instead. Have fun.

1  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
18
Reviewed April 28, 2004

Let me start out by saying that for the past two years my husband and I have stayed at the RIU Palace in Playa del Carmen and would have gone again this trip except it was booked solid.

As much as we love the RIU Palace, the El Dorado Royale has several things that surpass the Palace in terms of service and amenities. I’m going to compare and contrast the RIU Palace and the EDR.

In regards to the lobby and main buildings, for overall aesthetics the RIU Palace is much more opulent and stunning . The Palace abounds with marble, mahogany, wrought iron, lace curtains, paintings, fountains, and exudes an overall old world, elegant feel. The theatre is air conditioned with plush seats and all the evening waiters are formally attired

The EDR also has an enclosed air conditioned lobby with a large fountain as its centerpiece, and an overall rather austere feel – white walls, marble floors, glass tables– minimal modern furnishings with cool, clean lines (i.e. great to look at but not comfortable for hanging out) and new age music playing. A really nice touch was that the lobby (in addition to many of the restaurants) was a non-smoking area. Off the lobby was the Martini Bar, also air conditioned with very modern furnishings.

The EDR sits on a secluded long stretch of beach and has at least 200 suites and/or casitas that are oceanfront, many of which have fabulous views. On the other hand, there are literally only about 6 –8 room at the entire RIU Palace that have an ocean view and none are beachfront.

At EDR we booked an oceanfront room (casitas were sold out) and we rejected the room we were first given as it had absolutely NO oceanview and only overlooked palm trees across from La Isla restaurant. The front desk clerk attempted to tell me the building itself was considered oceanfront (and some rooms in this building did, in fact, have an ocean view) but the room we were assigned #1712 could only be considered oceanfront on a technicality. As we had first arrived at 8:30am and were made to wait until 3:00pm to check into a room, I strongly requested (i.e. demanded ) a true oceanfront room. We were switched to room 1814 which had a fantastic view and met with my expectations of what we should have received in the first place.

The rooms we’ve had at the RIU Palace have been quite spacious with a king sized bed (two doubles pushed together), a sunken living room with a sofa and coffee table. The mini bar was stocked daily with tonic water, sodas, beer, water and above it was a liquor dispenser containing rum, vodka, tequila, and gin. The bathroom had a small tub/shower, large vanity area, toilet and bidet. (One year we were fortunate enough to have one of the few ocean view rooms which made for a perfect holiday)

The room at EDR was also very good sized and some of the amenities were nicer than at the RIU Palace. At EDR the bathroom had a huge shower for two and lots of big, soft bath sheets. (I got a kick out of the phone in the bathroom.) EDR had a true kingsized bed. Although all beds in Mexico tend to be quite firm, this bed was very comfortable and the pillows were abundant and fluffy. In the corner of the room was a deep jaquzzi tub that overlooked the ocean and they even provided a candle on the tub’s ledge. The his and her bathrobes were a great touch. EDR provides an In room coffeemaker, blow dryer, iron, TV, clock-radio. Mini fridge had soda, water, and Tecate filled daily. The only downsides of this room were that you could hear the disco at night and the jets of our jacquzzi tub were not working. Neither of these issues was worth changing rooms again and giving up our view.

The beach and layout of the two resorts are quite different. The RIU is situated back on a deep property on the lovely stretch of beach along Playacar. The RIU has a grove containing a few hundred palm trees and there is never an issue finding a chair at any time of day in the shade.. There is no waiter service at the beach nor do I recall wait service offered to sunbathers lounging by the pool. There is one swim up bar and the beach pool tends to get crowded and populated in the afternoons. The beach at RIU Palace is very smooth – few rocks in the water in front of the resort. RIU is a few blocks from shops in Playacar and about a mile from Playa del Carmen.

EDR sits on a great stretch of beach and at this point in time, there are no other resorts close by..maybe that is why this is the first AI we’ve been to that did not require wristbands or towel cards. The beach itself is relatively narrow and very rocky. Watershoes are a MUST. Sandbags off shore act as breakfronts to protect the beach from further erosion and provide a calmer area for swimming. There are no palm trees on the beach however they have a fair number of palapas. There was always someone walking up and down the beach taking drink orders. Many beachfront palapas were steps away from the rest rooms, snack bar, pool, beach bar and restaurant. Several palapas near the casitas area have mattresses on raised platforms with curtains to help block the wind. If you like hanging by the beach and require shade, it is necessary to get up early and stake claim to a palapa.

EDR hsa several swimming pools and several swim up bars. Despite what an earlier reviewer may have stated, I do not believe the swim up bars and pools in front of the casitas are for the exclusive use of people in the casitas. Activities are minimal. Best thing is this is an adults only resort…NO KIDS on the grounds, dining room, pool, or beach. Bliss. The RIU Palace had a few kids but it’s not a resort that seems to cater to families.

In regards to food, the major difference is that all the restaurants at EDR are ala carte..i.e. menu service. There is a small breakfast buffet and omelet station in the main dining room in addition to menu service. Otherwise, sit back, relax, be waited on, and be prepared to wait…service is slow. Meals were all good and menu selections varied. We knocked out reservations for 4 nights when we checked in…no problem getting them at the times we wanted. EDR offers 24/7 room service. At RIU Palace, only room service is a continental breakfast. Otherwise breakfast and lunch consists of buffets (all delicious). There are specialty restaurants at RIU Palace however dining at Don Julian’s had ala carte service in addition to their grand buffet. (Dinner at Don Julian was assigned seating)

The EDR is the 8th all-inclusive resort we’ve been to and, although there are others we would still like try, we definitely go back.

8  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 27, 2004

300 rooms 10 pools 7 swim up bars 24 hour room service. THE PALACE HOTELS 1200-1500 rooms 1 or 2 pools THINK ABOUT IT !!

the food has a EUROPEAN FLAIR, not a steak & potato place GREAT BREAKFAST BUFFET

THEY ARE CONSTANTLY CLEANING.

anyone who complains is either talking about the Eldorado resort not (THE ROYALE) OR THEY CAN'T BE HAPPY ANYWHERE

2  Thank Art G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Cincinnati, OH
16
Reviewed April 27, 2004

We just returned from El Dorado Royale after an eight-day stay, and felt the need to write a brief report based on the wonderful time we had and the mixed nature of some of the past reviews. Even before we left, we got the impression that the resort had been steadily improving since Karisma took over in 2002. However, our experiences were even better than we expected, and any doubts we may have had after initially making our reservations were quickly dispelled.

We arrived at about 11:00am for our eight-day stay in a casita suite (with the free anniversary package; don’t forget to bring a copy of your marriage certificate!). Despite the early hour, they had a room ready for us within 10 minutes. For those who have visited before, the new lobby replaces the old lobby, which was near the spa. The new lobby contains a reincarnation of the Italian restaurant (was La Fontana, is now D'Italia). It also contains a new restaurant (El Cocotal), a martini bar, gift shop, jewelry store, and small art gallery. Both the new restaurants are beautiful. We felt D'Italia was a best place for dinner in the resort, and El Cocotal was the best place for breakfast (well, except for maybe room service on your own patio).

We were then whisked off to our casita by golf cart, with a brief tour of the resort sprinkled in. While my wife promptly got changed into her suit for some beach time, I went to the casita concierge to make dinner reservations....

FOOD
The casitas have a separate casita concierge that handles all their dinner reservations. From a quick peek at her reservation book, it seems that there are about six slots for every half hour for the casitas at every single restaurant. We were able to get reservations for within 30 minutes of our ideal time for every single night we were at the resort. Keep in mind that El Cocotal does not take reservations, and Jo Jo's only recommends them. Plus, there’s always the 24-hour room service. We took advantage of that for several breakfasts, and a late dinner after our day trip to Xel-Ha and Tulum. It was always good, and always arrived within 30 minutes of us ordering. We received a beach side dinner with our free anniversary package. It was very romantic, despite the decent breeze off the water and 80's ballads they had playing in the background. Overall, the food quality was very good, and much better than we expected. I am a vegetarian, although my wife eats seafood, and I was never without a good selection of menu items to choose from. All the dishes used very fresh and sometimes unusual ingredients (mmmmmm, cactus), not what I expected from a resort trying to feed several hundred people every night. Yes, the portion sizes are smaller than what you will get in your typical american casual dining chain restaurant. But you can always get appetizers, salads, and soups, and even multiple entrees if you wish. The only buffets we ever saw were at breakfast, and even then you could order items a la carte. The only time I was hungry was when we first arrived. After that, I just kept eating because the food was that good. For the beer snobs among you, the in-room fridge is stocked with Tecate, Dos Equis is on tap at all the bars, and some bars and restaurants also have Dos Equis Amber. They also had a house white and red wine at all the bars and restaurants. I never got a good look at the labels, but I assume they were mexican. The white tasted similar to a pinot grigio, and the red similar to a merlot. They also have a selection of “fine wines” that you can purchase to have with your meal at any of the restaurants, although we never took advantage of it. Finally, as another note for repeat visitors, they no longer shut down most of the restaurants on Fiesta Night (Wednesdays), although they do still have the vendor market and show that night.

THE SUITE
Spacious and nicely decorated. The limestone tile floors are a nice touch, as is the mosquito netting over the bed. The bed was a bit firm (the way we like it) and very comfortable. Ours did have an egg crate on it, maybe due to past feedback. Each casita has its own patio with hammock, two hammock-like recliner chairs, and a small table with two chairs. Our bathroom had a very large shower tub and two sinks. In addition, we had an outdoor shower and jacuzzi. There was a 21" TV with about 30 channels by satellite, including CNN, DW, and BBC America for all you news junkies. We also had a DVD player, and there are lots of movies available to borrow at the casita concierge.

The new casita section is now indeed open. Personally, I would prefer to not be in the new section, but only because all the landscaping is very new and not quite lush just yet. They do not seem to be doing any construction anywhere on the resort at the moment, although my wife heard that they are planning to build a similar resort targeted to families just to the north of the existing El Dorado Royale.

SPA
Both of us took advantage of the spa. My wife got a manicure, pedicure, and facial, while I got a full-body massage on the first day (what a great way to slip into vacation mode!).

BEACH AND GROUNDS
Given that there always seemed to be dozens of people bustling around tidying up the beach and grounds, I wasn’t surprised that they were immaculate. Yes, there were red flags out for the duration on our trip, but I went out into the water several times without any problems. Just be sure to stay behind the protective sand bags. And there's plenty of lounge chairs to soak up the sun and shaded beach beds for when you're burned to a crisp. Maybe it's because we were there during off season, but we never had any problems getting chairs or a bed, regardless of the time. Just keep an eye out for the roaming quesadilla cart at lunch time - much better than a boring old hamburger or hot dog from the grill near the main pool. But if you must, they also have a nice wood-burning pizza oven with the grill at the main pool now.

ACTIVITIES
What activities? You're here to relax! Seriously though, we did do one day trip to Xel-Ha and Tulum, but other than that were very content to merely sit on the beach. There is a free shuttle to both Play Del Carmen (evening) and Cancun (daylight hours), as well as evening trips to various clubs in Cancun (at extra cost), but I'd advise against coming here if you’re looking for a wild nightlife. Most nights, we were very happy to simply hang out in the quieter casita sections, whether it be at one of the various pools, on the beach, or on our patio.

In short, we found the El Dorado Royale to be a wonderful place to spend our vacation. It is, by far, the most pampered we’ve ever felt on a vacation, and certainly was one of the most beautiful locations we’ve ever visited. I don't think we've ever stayed somewhere where upgrading to a nicer "room" also entitled you to such a higher level of service. Of course, we did tip waiters, bartenders, etc. that we felt provided good service. While this isn't by any means necessary, we do feel that they we received better service after doing so, they are paid so very little in the first place, and are only there to make our vacation better. I think it is the smaller size and higher level of service that distinguish El Dorado Royale from similar resorts in the vicinity. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want additional information.

6  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2004

We are the people who wrote on 4/1 -- sorry, I didn't leave my e-mail - that was an accident. I can't believe the next reviewer slammed me, and pretty much all people from Minnesota! Thanks to you other guys for telling me the review was helpful. I thought I did give the hotel high marks - maybe we (my husband & I, not everyone in MN!) are in the minority of people who are a little more casual. To me, the extra money spent for the fancy dinners, spa facilities, etc. just were kind of wasted on us -- maybe we are "Roseanne" kind of people who should just stay home and go bowling! Ha ha, see, I can laugh at myself. Truth is, I don't disagree with anyone who did love this place - the food was good (so I liked the hamburgers too, sue me! My Canadian "friend" probably won't be surprised that we ate at McDonalds while we were in Cozumel too! We also ate at a fun little taco place later - we just thought it would be fun to see what the McDonalds in MX was like. No worries, it was exactly the same. Big Mac's were great, and it was fun sitting on the outside balcony, overlooking the ocean front) it was a beautiful hotel, we stayed in the casitas, and those were awesome. Now I'm going to be honest, and tell everyone why I probably wasn't so impressed with this hotel - and that is because my only other time in Mexico, we stayed at the Blue Bay Getaway, another all-adults, all inclusive, in Cancun. Overall, Cancun appeals less to me than south of Cancun, especially Playa del Carmen, but my husband and I totally loved Blue Bay, and hope to go back again someday. (And it has nothing to do with tableclothes, which I don't recall mentioning anyway. I did mention cloth napkins, although I don't think I had a problem with the fact that they were cloth, merely the fact that the host/hostess insisted on placing the napkin on my lap for me - each and every time, in every single restaurant) The next few vacations, however, will be taken with our 10 year old son, so we'll be looking more into the family hotels in Playa -- so far, I'm leaning toward the Iberostar Tucan. If anyone has stayed there, I'd love to hear about it! Thanks, and Enjoy! Vacations are all good. They are like sex - all good, some are just better than others!!!

1  Thank hamlakemn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2004

I will keep this brief because I agree with the past few reviews. This place is an excellent escape for those who need relaxation. We spent the week of 4/10-4/17 doing no more than laying out in the sun and drinking pina colata's (too relaxed to know how to spell it) anyways, we too experienced a few days of no reservations for restaurants only to be disappointed to have them required again. When I am on vacation I can't plan when to eat. Other than that we loved the beautiful grounds. All the wait staff were so friendly and gave you whatever you asked for. Room service was excellent. The only other complaint I have is having to get up at 7am to reserve a beach/pool chair with a towel everyday. Not a huge issue, just irritated with people who "saved" the beach beds or other beach areas and you never saw anyone on them....overall, I would definitely recommend this resort. After five days me & my husband were so relaxed we couldn't hardly find any more energy to relax!!!! How often does that happen? This is a quiet place, and a great place to get married or spend an anniversary. Do not hesitate to stay at this resort....I spent two months reading reviews before we left only to have one of the best vacations ever!!!

2  Thank lotsasun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Dorado Royale, by Karisma

Address: Carretera Cancun - Tulum Km. 45, Playa Paraiso, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico (Formerly El Dorado Royale)
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen > Playa Paraiso
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#2 Spa Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#2 Luxury Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#3 Romantic Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Playa Paraiso
Price Range: $311 - $996 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — El Dorado Royale, by Karisma 4.5*
Number of rooms: 639
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A Conde Nast Traveler Readers’Top 100 Hotels in the world and a AAA Four Diamond Resort, El Dorado Royale is an adults-only destination that provides the ultimate in service in the ultimate setting.With more than a mile of sandy beach in Mexico's Riviera Maya, El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort, by Karisma offers an escape which no other destination can match. All the luxuries you can dream of, combined with an emphasis on personal attention to your every whim, make this an ideal location for a getaway. Travelers join us from around the world for romantic outdoor beach weddings or ceremonies in our intimate beachfront chapel, relaxing honeymoons, anniversary celebrations, or just much needed time off. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Dorado Royale Hotel Riviera Maya
El Dorado Royale Mexico
El Dorado Royale Cancun
El Dorado Royale Spa Resort
El Dorado Royale Resort
Eldorado Royale
El Dorado Royale, By Karisma Playa Paraiso, Riviera Maya, Mexico

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