Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. For myself, it was everything I expected and more. Malin is slightly more critical of the food than I was, but still quite happy with our hosts – El Dorado Seaside Suites.
We spent most of our time just chilling on the beach; 7 days is just too short to fit in all the ruins, tours and day-trips that present themselves while at the Riviera Maya.
The snorkeling was excellent for entry and intermediate snorkelers. I stopped keeping count how often we went out with our fins, however, the one dive was with an American couple that knew where to go. We tagged along with the Americans and saw an octopus, many different fish species, and even a sea turtle. Very incredible experience! Too bad I didn’t bring along an underwater camera!
Playa del Carmen – Shopping
We ventured off the one day to do a little shopping in Playa del Carmen. While it gave us a little of a true Mexican experience, Playa del Carmen is heavily influenced by tourism and thus it’s fairly commercial. Heck, they even have a Walmart, McDonalds, and Burger King! 5th Avenue is known for shopping, and it lived up to it’s name.
Aside from the many shops that stock manufactured goods from India and China, you can always find good ol’ mexican-made stuff. And there is no shortage of shops and shop owners, each enticing you to “come see my shop”.
A few hours and many many shops later, Malin and I haggled our way into some excellent deals, often paying around half the original asking price.
Lunch was at a place called “Karens” which had excellent food, and did a good job balancing a traditional Mexican experience with a commercial atmosphere. The local band was a great touch!
There was lots to see here, essentially a park and zoo in one with sea turtles, an underground river, ruins, dolphins, aquarium and much much more. Overall our experience was a good one. We had high expectations for the underground river, only to find out that it’s more for the kids – not a lot to see but “human hazards” as one group put it. I would go back, the snorkeling was great and seeing the hundreds of turtles, from egg to full-grown was very cool.
Volleyball, Ping Pong, Kayaking, Dance lessons, etc
The animation crew did an excellent job keeping us active and having fun. Ricardo, Bamboo, Diana, Nachos and the gang were amazing. These guys arrived at 7am and hung around late into the night each day. 16-18hrs a day on their feet, upbeat and spreading fun; this crew worked hard and had a lot of fun. 14 days on, 1 day off; these guys deserve a raise.
Ricardo’s “7 rules” of water volleyball, Bamboo’s goofy behavior, Diana’s calm and fun attitude, and Nachos kind and entertaining demeanor all contributed to a great all-round experience.
Beach beds, bars, sand and sun
Enough can not be said about the beach beds. Want a great way to unwind, relax and catch some rays on the beach? Get a beach bed, but make sure you are up early, these get spoken for fast and early. Getting up at 6am was both essential to get your bed, but also a great way to see the sunrise every morning.
The bars were conveniently placed and offered any kind of drink you could imagine. The bartenders were helpful, not only in providing fluids, but also some spanish lessons. Muchos gracias senior.
While some days were partly overcast, some days we saw some scattered showers and others just pure blue skies; one thing is constant and that is the rays. The rain never lasted more than a few minutes at a time and was actually a nice mix to cool it down a little. Same with the scattered clouds and blue sky. I’m not sure if I could handle the direct sun and heat they get in their hot season.
With 4 restaurants (Asian, International, Italian, and Mexican) to choose from, each with 4-5 courses on the menu, the food was excellent. The Asian and Italian was our favourite, the Mexican was very good and the International never disappointed. I’m sure glad Malin did her research and found a place with great food, and not one with just a buffet every night.
Room service was 24hrs, breakfast started at 6am with a continental, and 7am with a sit-down buffet and/or menu. Lunch was a great mix as well. Overall, I didn’t gain any weight on this all-inclusive, but I never went hungry.
Being a smaller resort, and adult-only, the nightlife was entertaining and more personal. From the game shows, casino nights, fire dancers and a more interactive ‘couple’ game show; we were entertained and had a great time.
For those that have been to mexico, you know what this “mexican time” is all about. It’s essentially the time you want to be on while on vacation. Things happen when they happen, there is no real need for a watch or a clock (heck, there wasn’t even a clock in the airport if you can imagine that!).
When there was a clock, it was often not set to the right time. I’m still not sure if that was intentional or just lack of necessity.
Instead of working fast and to a clock, it seems the mexican approach is to always make sure there is plenty of help, workers and people; things will happen at their own pace and all will be fine.
And fine it was!
Mexico and the experience
So, we’re very happy with our experience at Mexico, El Dorado Seaside and our first All-Inclusive. From the bus ride (and cervesas) to the resort, the food, towel art, activities, all the way to the beach beds; our experience was excellent.
We’re going back!