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El Dorado Royale, by Karisma
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10,428 - 10,433 of 11,138 reviews
Reviewed February 21, 2005

We stayed at the EDR January 21-28 with 3 couples (all between 36 and 40). We had a great time and found that this resort is above average in most areas. I agree with most of the reviews that I have read so I will just highlight what we thought we would have liked to know before we went. We have been to a few other places so we have a bit of an idea what to expect.

Rooms and pool: We had a casita in the swim up section (2 couples) and 1 couple in the oceanfront section. We could not have been farther from the restaurants and entertainment area. We also couldn't have been farther from each other. This resort is big. It was a 12 minute walk from our room to one of the other couples with us. We don't mind walking and didn't mind having a quiet pool area. Quite often we were the only 6 people at our pool with our own bartender. Not bad! Julio was the bartender at our pool bar. He is great! He will play music if you bring it down to him. I wish we had burned a few CD's to leave for the bartender. If you hear Julio playing Boston at the Colibri bar, that's from us! There is no food available at the Casita pools. There is a cart that comes by occasionally with hamburgers and hotdogs. You can order room service and have it delivered. Great club sandwiches and ceasar salad. Also, we ordered breakfast quite often with the card they leave in your room. Put it out by 1:00am and your breakfast will be delivered at whatever time you specify. We loved having breakfast on our balcony. The rooms are all beautiful. The casitas are larger and have the outdoor shower(loved that), but I thought the other rooms were just as nice. I would not spend extra on an oceanview room because you can't really see the ocean from them. So, go with gardenview for a good price, or get the ocean front or casita.

Beach: If you love walking the beach and going in the ocean, you probably will be disappointed, as we were with this beach. There are rocks and coral everywhere. There are very few palm trees. However, the sand is beautiful and soft, and the beach huts are very nice. The water was very warm, much warmer than the pool. There are sections that are better, but overall this is not the place to go if you love the beach. We did enjoy snorkeling at the resort and seeing the fish. That was great. We also did think that the sand bags were quite ugly, but that's just our opinion.

Food: We ate at all of the restaurants and enjoyed some meals more than others. The presentation of food was great . We enjoyed the Italian restaurant the most. The Japanese was excellent too, especially if you like sushi. We found JoJo's and the Mexican to be just ok. We would probably have liked the option of a buffet at night just because it is hard to plan 3 days in advance what time you would like to eat. We have been to other resorts where you don't need reservations and found that to be a better system. We had no problem getting reservations because we stayed in the casita section, but others we met did find it difficult to get a good reservation time. We didn't eat alot of lunches because we found it too far to walk (how lazy!), but again, when we did, we enjoyed it. The beach grill that serves pizza and burgers etc. was great and JoJo's was very good for lunch.

Drinks: Excellent! All types of alcohol, all premium brands. They have an excellent selection at each bar. Just remember to ask for the premium brand by name or you'll get the cheaper stuff. We really enjoyed the wine as well. The martini bar is fantastic. Excellent cosmos and chocolate martinis. Very nice atmosphere as well.

Service: Every single person we met that works at this resort was friendly and accomodating. They were awesome! Our room was always spotless and our minibar always refilled. Lots of bottled water provided each day. We did bring money for tips and it seemed very much appreciated, but definitely not always necessary.

Entertainment: Basically, in the casita section you make your own entertainment. We were fine with that because there were 6 of us. We met some great people by our pool, too. It was just very quiet. There must be activity by the main pool but we didn't see any when we went by. We also didn't see alot of the nightly entertainment, because we ate dinner late, but what we did see was again, just ok. There is a nightly band which was pretty good. Afterwards the DJ would play music. Each night was very repetitive, so sorry to those of you who had to witness my brother and I dancing to "I will survive" every night. We don't get out much.

Excursions: We took the shuttle in to Playa del Carment one night. It is a fun town. We did some shopping, but I actually found better deals at the airport! We did a snorkeling excursion (half day) at Playa Marmora and booked it in the front lobby ($50US per person). We thought it was well worth the money. Bring along your own underwater camera. As others have said the gift shop charges $27 US! I bought one in Playa del Carmen for $14 US.

All in all, we thought it was a beautiful resort. We met alot of people from Canada (Mike and Tanya) and the US, especially from Batavia (Hi Patrick, Peggy, Kris, Dawn, Russ and Kelly!) and Darien (Peggy and Bruce). I have read tons of reviews and the best advice I have read is this, go with a good attitude. Be nice to people and they'll be nice to you. Enjoy your trip!

If you have questions, please feel free to email me!

  • Stayed: January 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
23  Thank Marlene H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2005

We were lucky enough to spend our honeymoon at El Dorado Royale from February 14 to 21. We had been to Playa del Carmen once before, staying at the wonderful Playa Maya, but for maximum relaxation we decided on an all inclusive. I could go on for hours about EDR, but instead I'll try to make it brief.

Our arrival was just as advertised. We walked into the stunningly gorgeous lobby and were offered champagne, then were whisked away to the martini bar to be briefed by the Lomas rep. It was so nice-- we didn't even have to be checked in! Very good system.

CASITA: We stayed in the 2500 block of casitas, in a second floor room. It was so beautiful it took our breath away--vaulted ceilings, marble floors, mosquito netting on the bed, HUGE jacuzzi tub, large balcony/porch with a hammock and chairs, DVD player. It was spotlessly clean and incredibly spacious. Those who say that a casita isn't worth it, well--I don't mean to sound snotty but clearly they haven't stayed in one. The view of the ocean was a little obscured by the pool bar's palapa roof but it was still beautiful. My only quibble with the casita would be that the much vaunted "romantic" outdoor shower had only cold water. Yeah, that's romantic. The bed was firm but not too hard. The concierges in the casita section, especially Carlota and Nadika, were very helpful.

The talked-about "sewer smell" of the mangrove swamp was a non-issue for us. We could smell it very faintly at the back of the casita but couldn't smell it at all from the inside or out on the balcony.

MAID SERVICE: This was the only area where we had major problems. On the first day we came back from the beach around 3:30 p.m., tired and hot, and found that our room hadn't been cleaned yet. It didn't get done until 5 p.m. which was unreasonably late, in my opinion. I talked to the concierge about it and she promised that they'd come around 11 a.m. after that. A few days later, we again came back from the beach and you guessed it-- the room hadn't been cleaned again. My husband went off to the concierge again and things were better after that. Also, we had a struggle getting clean beach towels that was also frustrating.

RESTAURANTS: In general, the food at EDR is great. My only complaint would be that quite a lot of the food seems dumbed-down for American palates. The waiters, for the most part, were extremely friendly and helpful.

Breakfast at La Isla and Cocotel were amazing buffets (and menu service). We adored the pastries, the egg dishes, and the do it yourself Bloody Marys. Lunch was a little weaker. I would have liked to see more Authentic Mexican items for lunch, such as tortas or real tacos. Or perhaps Kampai could serve sushi for lunch. We ate at both La Isla and JoJos for lunch. I recommend the seafood cocktail at La Isla and the club sandwich is good, too. My only major complaint was that there seemed to be too many managers standing around during breakfast and lunch and the waiters doing all the hard work and having too many tables to wait on. Perhaps Karisma should consider hiring more waiters and dumping some of the useless managers. We also enjoyed the pizza at the beachside pizza/burger place.

We had no trouble getting dinner reservations where we wanted to, since concierge guests get preferential treatment with reservations. Our favorites were D'Italia and Kampai. D'Italia was so good it was unreal. Swordfish carpaccio to die for, excellent wild mushroom risotto, tender rack of lamb, and fantastic service. Kampai's Asian food could have been spicier, but the sushi was quite tasty and our entrees were delicious. We also had a great meal at La Isla, which becomes quite romantic at night. La Carreta, the Mexican restaurant, was more problematic. The ceviche was tasty but after that the meal went downhill, with a soup that reeked of beef broth crystals and completely uninteresting shrimp brochettes. We have great Mexican food in our hometown that's authentic and, believe me, this wasn't it. Good thing we took the shuttle one night to Playa to eat at Yaxche, our favorite restaurant with amazing Mayan-inspired food.

We also had the "romantic" beach candlelight dinner. Yikes. While the setting was pretty and our waiter was wonderful, it was pretty laughable. The food was pretty bad (another freakishly salty soup, langostas that didn't seem too fresh and a dull fondue) but even worse was the saxophonist who traveled from table to table, playing to backing tapes that sounded like muzak. We had a hard time not laughing as he stood in front of us playing "New York, New York." It would be much cooler if a flamenco or other Mexican style of music guitarist performed. This was just silly.

BARS: In general, we liked all of the bars. It would have been cool, though, if the resort had the beach bars play some Mexican music. Too much Jimmy Buffet for our tastes. We loved the atmosphere at the martini bar and the caipirinhas there. The bartenders/waiters at the casita pool bars were wonderful, simply wonderful. My hat's off to Ariel and Gabriel, two very hardworking and pleasant guys. They also came out to the beach to take orders, which was nice. I'm guessing that in general the drinks were made pretty weak, because we seemed to be able to drink a LOT of them, but it was good to be paced a little. The house wine served at dinner is Chilean and actually quite nice.

SPA: With the honeymoon package we got a free couples massage lesson. I thought it would be really stupid, but it turned out to be GREAT. Not only did we each get a nice (if quick) massage but we actually learned a lot, too. The spa is really nice.

TIPPING: I was shocked at how few other guests seemed to tip bartenders and waiters. I understand that it's an all-inclusive but come on, people. Did you see how hard the waiters and bartenders actually work? Do you think the resort is paying them a fortune? Would it KILL you to give the staff a dollar every few rounds? I got rather disgusted with crowds of drunken and obnoxious guests at the casita pool bar ordering round after round of complicated blender drinks and never tipping. Generally speaking, we tipped $1 per round or so and $3-5 at dinner, depending on the service. We also tipped the maid about $2-3 per day and couple bucks for the mini bar guy every few days. Like I said, the staff work like crazy and seemed very appreciative for a tip.

BEACH: I've heard a number of complaints about the beach and I thought it was very nice. Yes, the "beached whales" are there but they didn't bother me or ruin my view and they were kind of fun to climb on. The water was very clear, a little bit cold at this time of time, and lots to fun to swim in. The loungers were generally comfy and the palapas were nice for getting some shade. The beach is nicest in front of the casitas but you do need to go out around 7 a.m. or so to reserve chairs and a palapa (or a beach bed, which looked nice but weren't our thing).

All in all, we had a great time at El Dorado Royale and would consider returning again. If they could just straighten up issues with housekeeping (like maybe hiring more maids) and perhaps work on some aspects of the food (really, some Americans LIKE spicy food!), it would be a truly world-class resort.

  • Stayed: February 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
26  Thank Dasha K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Boston, MA
19
Reviewed February 21, 2005

Just returned from a week at the El Dorado Royale. The resort and grounds are absolutely beautiful and the quality of food and rooms are both good. However, they just don't get the importance of the "little things" at this resort and that really bothered me for a place that claims 5 stars. We litterally had to beg for everything that was not provided but should have been in our room. There was an ironing board, but no iron? There was a coffee maker, but no coffee? There were plenty of clean towels and wash clothes, but no soap? There was a resort directory binder, but no information inside the binder? And the list basically goes on. When we inquired at guest services for the above items and others, it took about 2 full days to actually get some items, others we didn't get at all. Also, the bathrobes in the room were taken away 2 full days prior to the completion of our stay and we never saw them again despite asking for them. If you go, bring plenty of soap and be prepared to BEG! It's a shame, because the place is absolutely stunning, particularly the pool area, the martini bar, and the italian and oriental restaurants. The bartenders and bar servers also provided high quality and attentive service.

9  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Houston, Texas
130
Reviewed February 19, 2005

My husband and I spent our honeymoon at EDR in late January. It was an amazing vacation! Better than we could have ever imagined! I'll break my review into categories to keep it simple.

Food- Never ate anything bad. Breakfasts were our favorite. The Mexican was our least favorite- but we are from Texas and are used to really good Mexican food, so it may just be a preference thing. Portions were adequate! Definitely do the dinner on the beach- food was excellent & very romantic!

Room- We stayed in a Casita - swim up- well worth the money! Clean,
good houskeeping everyday, outside shower was a nice touch.

Service- Excellent- even if the service was a little slow some times, the staff was so friendly it didn't matter. Be patient- your on vacation. Drink service by the casita pool was outstanding! They will see you getting low & bring you another, you dont even have to ask. We thought all the staff throughout the entire resort were friendly and accomidating.

Entertainment- This is definitely a resort for relaxing- not big on the night life- which was fine for us. The singing we saw was good enough- The bars are all nice & fun to sit at and have a drink & chat with people.

Spa- get a back massage. It was great! Very relaxing! Yoga class was ok. Gym is adequate & never too crowded.

The Smell- There is a sulpher smell sometimes when the wind blows- it is not that bad though. No big deal, nothing that will ruin your vacation.

Bad Reviews- Dont believe the few bad reviews on here. These are probably the same people we saw wasting their vacation complaining in the lobby over some small detail rather than enjoying the resort. I can not think of one complaint on here that we saw to be true on our visit.

30  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2005

Just got back from EDR. Were there Feb 11 - 18th. We absolutely loved it. I read the bad review from person Feb 14th. We were there same time. Had none of those problems at all.

I had read reviews before going and hoped it was going to be half as good as I'd been reading. It was awesome. The food was out of this world. Most all are served in courses. You can not possibly go hungry. In fact, we were lucky if we were able to eat more than twice a day as we were so full, and then of course, there are the beers, etc. Even if you are ever hungry-- call room service. They will bring you food, beer/water for refrigerator, etc. if you ever run out.

Rooms were spacious and very clean. Only wish they were cleaned earlier in the day. Ours was usually done late in afternoon (after 3 p.m.) when we were coming in to get ready for our evening dinner. Everything is done on "Mexican time", no real hurry to anything.

My only real gripe is that I think that tipping at an all-incllusive should never have been started. I don't mind at end of trip tipping people I feel have done a good job. Seemed that they were expecting tips now. I don't care for that at all. I paid good money for the vacation and don't think I should have "felt" the need to tip.

As with other resorts people would come down and put their towells on chairs by 7 a.m. and you would not see them for 1/2 the day and would not have a chair to sit on. I wish management or hotel staff would let people know that if they "mark" a spot for themselves they must use it at least within two hours. But, the sand was so sugar fine and the sun so nice and hot I just dealt with it. I was always up by 6 a.m. and managed to get a nice chair/location only once.

Was a very relaxing and enjoyable trip. Would go again in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed: January 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
22  Thank miestake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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