Yes Lisa, that was me! Here is my TA review...
Here comes a long review~! Stayed at the Royal Club in a junior suite from April 10-17th with my husband and our 2 small children (4 years and 16 mos old). Overall, we had a very nice week but I will admit that there were a few disappointments along the way. Prior to booking, I read all of the 400+ TA reviews, and was nervous about my decision to book this resort, but in the end I am glad we did. I only wish I hadn't worried so much about some of the negative comments in the other reviews, as they stressed me out before our vacation. My review will give you some comments that may be perceived as negative too, but simply take them as a few pieces of advice.
BOOKING/ARRIVAL: I was nervous about the overbooking complaints, so we booked directly with Occidental and had no problems. The resort WAS overbooked though, and there were signs all over the place asking people to move to another resort. We were never asked to move. We booked a Royal Club Junior Suite and asked for an ocean view (which is not guaranteed). I was disappointed upon arrival that all of the 8 junior suites with ocean views were taken, but we did get one with a partial view, and at least we could hear the ocean from there. We also booked our transfers with Occidental (Maritur tours). Unfortunately, there was no record of our transfers with Maritur, but they took us to the hotel anyway. It's about a 45 minute drive. I highly recommend skipping booking any transfers with anyone and just hop into a cab. It's about $500 pesos (I know that because our transfer never showed up at the hotel to take us back to the airport and we were forced to just take a cab).
Once we arrived, we were escorted through the lobby to a "golf cart" (shuttle) that took us directly to the Royal Club for our private check-in. We checked in at around 2:00 but had to wait for our room so we had lunch in the Royal Club restaurant. More on the food later.
RESORT: This is a beautiful resort! The attention to detail on the property is breathtaking. The landscaping and flora is amazing. You really feel like you are in a "jungle" at times with the wildlife roaming the property (ok, not really "wild" but iguanas, geckos, mexican racoons (forgot the name), flamingos, howler monkeys, tucans, macaaws, etc...). This is a huge resort though and if you don't want to do a lot of walking, you can catch one of the many shuttles. There are about 10 shuttle stops and we never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a ride. Not a big deal, although many were complaining. You are on vacation, just relax!
One of my biggest negatives about the resort itself are the many, many areas I thought were unsafe for children under 6 to walk around in. None of the pathways (and some of the "bridges" had) had railings or guards preventing small children from going over the edge. The biggest areas of concern were in the lobby where the river runs through, and at the Royal club where some of the pathways boasted a 15 foot drop! As a result, both my kids had to stay in their strollers EVERYWHERE we went. Not easy to keep them harnassed, especially the 4 year old.
Another negative is the lobby itself, I found it a pain to navigate around and if you have strollers or a wheelchair, be prepared that there are many areas that are NOT stroller or wheelchair friendly. In fact, our room was on the 2nd floor and we had to drag our strollers up and down the stairs everyday, several times a day. Ugh!
ROYAL CLUB/ROOM: We had a BEAUTIFUL junior suite in the royal club! Two seperate rooms, one with a couch, dining room table, TV, and the other with the king sized bed. The bathroom had a full jacuzzi tob for 4! The minibar was always stocked with water, beer, pop everyday - I am sure the $10 tip to our maid upon arrival helped as they are not required to stock everyday.
We had 2 balconies, one with a hammock and one with 2 chairs and a table. Great for late night drinks or quiet reading during the day
It helped to have room service too as sometimes getting the 4 of us our the door was a big pain. Room service is only available in the royal club though. Everything from shrimp cocktail to peanut butter and jelly...you want it? No problem!
The private pool in the Royal Club area was fantasitc! Butler service all day long...margaritas, hamburgers, steak, shrimp, whatever you want. ALL-Day-Long!
Other Royal Club perks included DVD and CD player in the room, champagne, top shelf liquor, beers and wines, internet access, private check in and conceirge (Erika even babysat for us one night!), and just plain old pampering
FOOD: Overall, the food was OK. I expected this though, and have stayed at other All Inclusives so I wasn't really disappointed. While we ate mostly at the Royal Club, we did try 3 of the "reservation only" restaurants. My favorite was D'Oriental (get the Teppan Yaki), followed by El Pescadore then Los Olivos (which was actually just plain AWFUL - mushy shrimp).
The buffets are plentiful with a ton of average-tasting food to choose from. Breakfast buffet at the Beach Grill was the best with all of your traditional breakfast items (eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, waffles, fruit, etc...) along with an omelet station and some mexican dishes. The main buffet (Le Buffet) was ok, I liked the pasta and pizza the best. The red meat just seemed "Rank and Gamey" to me, but my husband liked the skirt steak and the rib eye he had.
If the quality of food is very important to you, don't book here. It's really just average AI type food. Edible, but average. Not just my opinion, but pretty much the consensus of every guest we talked to and very consistent with past reviews.
POOLS/ACTIVITIES: There are so many pools here it's nuts! We ventured over to the main pools a few times and had a blast. There are zero-edged places to swim for the little ones, which is good. There is always something going on at the Fun Club pool whether it be "tequila volleyball", "he-man contests", or water aerobics. The swim up pool bar is under a waterfall and very relaxing. One bar has swings you can sit on, or hammocks to lay on.
KIDS CLUB: Big complaint here...we found the staff at the kids club to be very unfriendly and unengaged. The first time we went, I took my 4 year old and 3 staff members were off in the corner talking and didn't approach us for over 15 minutes. I finally asked them what the program was all about and got a half-hearted explanation. I felt uncomfortable leaving my 4 year old there, but he insisted on staying so I left for an hour. When I came back he was very upset saying that he kept saying "excuse me, excuse me" to the kids club staff, but no one would talk to him or play with him. When I complained to the Royal Club about this, they said that the kids club staff is overworked and it's a hard job. Excuse me, but my son was the ONLY kid there! How hard could it be to entertain ONE kid? I am sorry, but the kids club here is BS. I heard a lot of parents complaining. Lucky that we didn't bring him here for that sole reason. If this is important to you, don't book here. Go to a Beaches Resort where they specialize in this kind of thing!
SERVICE: The staff here works very hard and is very, very friendly. We didn't see many people tipping, but we brought $150 in singles and used it all up and then some. Overall, the service was impecable.
MISC: We all had a little montezuma's while there, but nothing that hampered our vacation. Just drink a lot of bottled water and be sure to bring some immodium or pepto. My 16 month old ran a high fever for 2 days and he went to the clinic where the doc was very nice and prescribed some medication for him. They made a scarey experience very comfortable and reassuring for us.
Wear plenty of sunscreen! I wore spf 60 then 45 and still came home with a nice little tan and avoided burning.
Bring snacks from home as a bag of chips in the store is about $8 US
We ran out of diapers and baby food at one point so Guest Services had some delivered right to our room (from a store in PDC) for $5 US! What great service!
XCARET: What can I say, we loved it! Major safety issues here with the kids, but keep them in the strollers and you are ok. A ton of walking here though, as there are no shuttles. Be sure to check out the aquarium and the turtles. Very cool. Bring your bathing suit, nice beach there for snorkeling.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN: Going into playa twice was the highlight of our trip. Next time, we are staying right in PDC! Great little shops, bars, restaurants, and a beautiful beach! Eat at Dr. Taco's if you go - - a little DIVE taco stand with the best tacos. We also enjoyed Babe's Noodle Bar (unique Thai food). We also spent lots of time on the beach at the Blue Parrot beach club.
OVERALL: A very nice resort. I don't think I would consider coming back to this particular resort though as we like to see other places, and spend more time right in PDC. But I will book again through Occidental/Allegro and go Royal Club. Once you go RC, you can never go back!
Please feel free to email me with more questions: firstname.lastname@example.org