To Know Before You Go
Day 1 – So far so Good!Arrival: Check in is at 3pm but no worries for early arrivals. They provide a hospitality area with changing rooms, showers and a lounge with television. All the food, drink, and pool services are available for early arrivals.This resort sooo reminds me of a cruise ship; the shape of the building, the layout of the restaurant’s, buffet and bar and the food. The FOOD!!! Exceptional so far. The Magnus is the buffet stye food court, available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lots of options. Several different ethnicities represented. Everything delicious! Dinner at the Mexican restaurant; Maguey. NOT like any Mexican Restaurant in the states. So good. 5 star quality. This said, you may wonder at the other reviews. I have thought about it some and can only conclude that many people prefer comfort style foods to 5 star gourmet food. I haven’t tried everything yet but I have noticed that “fast food” /”junk food” here does not offer the same experience as in the States. The food here is best suited to the adventurous or epicurean.Approximately ¾ of guests are Latino. So the music, food and programming are catered to their tastes. For example, there is a soccer field with scheduled games and you will find frijol, rice and flan on the breakfast buffet. This is GREAT by me as I enjoy experiencing the cultures of the places I visit.Poolside activities – The large, family pool is beach side with expansive views and a refreshing breeze. It is a loud, activity filled area. The term that comes to mind is raucous. But if I had kids with me the term I would use would be fun-filled. There are activities for all ages like inflatable bouncers on the beach or Tequila pool volley ball for the adults. The adult’s only pool opens at 10am and closes at 6pm. It is very quiet with music played very low. There are 2 massive hot tubs and one small pool with refreshingly cool water. The large beachside all ages pools are tepid and not much use for cooling off.Rooms- If you will be using your balcony or you care about the view, ask for an odd numbered room. All of these rooms have a view of the ocean and are adjacent to an undeveloped natural lot.The rooms are spacious, well designed and well lite. They include a couch, 2 chairs with small coffee table a large dresser, flat screen TV and a mini fridge that doesn’t get very cold but will keep the chill on your drinks. The bathrooms are huge with a small separate toilet room, single sink with large vanity; a regular size tub/shower combo with an extra large interior ledge for wet swim suites or bath/shower toiletries. There is a very large closet space with room for handing clothes and many shelves large enough to store our suitcases plus all our belongings. The room would benefit from a desk/writing space. The beds are super firm. Too firm for me. The balcony with it gorgeous views (if on the odd # side) has 2 patio chairs and 1 small coffee table.Beach: Cordoned off area with Life guard to help keep an eye on the kids or the adults with a few too many margaritas! Large white sand beach with lots and lots of loungers and thatched-roof umbrellas.Drinks: Lots of Bars and generous with the alcohol. Just express your desires, a little or a lot, and they will accommodate. I have found that if you care about the quality of the alcohol in your drink (which I don’t but my DH does) then just ask. They keep the better stuff under the shelf. Caveat- there are some brands that would require an upcharge. I have found the quality of the complimentary, under the shelf, drinks to be much more then acceptable.Potential Improvements: Wish the rooms would be cooler. Also wish the Buffet was cooler. The enclosed restaurants however are air conditioned nicely as are the elevators.Swim up bar closed for renovations. Sad for me, but good for future guests.Age/Maintanence: The staff keeps the place very clean but the building does show it’s age. Management is aware and they are in the process of renovations. This is likely why the prices here are so good at the moment. I am glad I was aware of the conditions before I arrived so I knew what to expect. Amenities: Mini golf, shops, spa, gym, shows, adults only area, large white sand beach, karaoke, massages, arts and crafts, bouncy inflatablesDay 2 – Day 4Portofino Seafood Italian – There is a buffet in addition to the Chef’s inspired entrees. The food is very nice but this restaurant is totally open to the lobby area so the is a lack of A/C. For those accustomed to cooler temperatures this can be a problem.Nice surprise- Next door to Portofino Italian restaurant is a little café open from 6pm to 8pm serving wine and cheese plates. Very nice selection of soft cheeses.Water bottles – There are water bottle re-fill fountains in the center of every other floor opposite the ice machines.Notes:Bring a large cup w lid. Regulars at all-inclusives seem to know this already. I am learning. It is true what many reviewers say about the little plastic drink glasses. They are small unattractive cafeteria style glasses and sometimes you will get one that still has a lemony soap taste. I’ve been here 4 days now and have had this happen twice. I just pour my drink into a different glass. My DH has also had 2 bad glasses and her asks for a new drink.WIFI – There really is no complimentary Wi-Fi in the room. The lobby has a strong signal and the booths in the center have multiple charging ports and plugs. If you book a VIP room you will get the Wi-Fi in the room. Otherwise it is a $10 per day charge.TV – The majority of the channels are in Spanish. There are some English news and sports channels, 1 English cartoon channel and 1 or maybe 2 misc. English ones.Temp – Temperature is resort remains my biggest issue. Although the thermostat in the room was set to 18.5 Celsius (65.3 Fahrenheit) It doesn’t cool below what feels like 73 or 74. Same issue in the Buffet area and the restaurants that open to the center court.French – OMG – This place was fabulous. Exquisite! I was greeted at the door with a glass of champagne and had a crisp white linen napkin draped in my lap with dainty silver tongs. Great start. I started with the puff pastry pear salad with balsamic reduction and blue cheese on greens. My main was fillet of beef with peppers accompanied by mashed potatoes volovan and asparagus. The beef was exceptionally tender and flavorful. I finished with chocolate cake. YES! Finally I get some chocolate. My DH was as pleases with hos meal as I was with mine and finished his meal with the best crème brulee he has ever had, and he’s had a lot! Japanese – I had dinner at the Samurai making sure to be seated in the interior space and a great dinner of Niguiris, sashimi, soup and rolls. I was tempted to try the dessert when I heard chocolate cake mentioned. It was beautiful but not really cake and was served chilled which ruined the chocolate layers. Show – I didn’t stay for the entire show but these are nightly at 9pm. Popcorn and fruity beverage are provided in the theater lobby. These are very family oriented events. The night I went they started with volunteers from the audience (all kids) and conducted some competitions while audience cheered them on. Then adult volunteers where brought up and the competitions continued. I really think they eventually get to music and dancing numbers but I have not been too tired to stay up for this. Maybe tonight….Timeshare - We were offered breakfast in the exclusive members only area and it was very very good. 10th floor views overlooking the ocean. The presentation started over breakfast and then was to take 1 hour after breakfast. A total of three hours later we said no. We were given a $500 voucher that I may or may not be able to use for future travel somewhere. I haven’t figured this out yet. Game room – There is a cool game room near the water park with Xbox, pool tables , air hockey, darts, and arcade games.Day 5-6Dinner at Big Ben was not as expected. It is a steak house with, I thought, a British theme. There is a large replica of London’s Tower of Big Ben just outside the restaurant. As it turns out there is no theme here nor any additional effort to create a steak house feel at least not as I know it. There was a Mariachi band playing throughout dinner, going from table to table acknowledging special occasions. The appetizer brought to each table was guacamole, quesadillas and a bean sauce. Tasty just not expected. Although there were various steak options on the menu (Rib Eye, New York, Flank) I went with smoked ribs as I was curious how they would pull this off. My DH selected 5 spices Singapore Ribs. The sauces on both were good but the meat was tough and seemed to have been boiled not smoked or grilled. I heard from other guests who ordered the Prime Rib that they were pleased but recommended ordering the meat 1 level less cooked then normal as over cooking was an issue. Had I known this was a Mexican Style steak house, I would have ordered differently and I’m sure I would have experienced a more satisfying meal.Spa- I heard about the spa having a cool cenote feel so I went to check it out. It is below ground and it has a glass walkway over a pond to access it along with the gym. It is other-worldly. As soon as I opened the door to the spa I was smitten. The smells, sounds and textures all combine to envelope you and make you want to melt into the nearest chair. In my case the nearest massage table. I did a massage, exfoliate, Jacuzzi combo. IT was the most relaxing 2 hours of my life.