'Oasis Loves U' but verify the AC
Before I discuss our hotel, let me first lend a bit of advice on getting yourself from the airport these days to the corridor where the hotels are. Vans and taxis are the primary means of escape from Cancun's only airport, and over the years, we have usually taken a van ride rather than a cab, because it was fairly cheap and not too much trouble. Van service has declined severely, we discovered this time around. The price of $15 per person hasn't changed, but now the vans have been redesigned to pack more people into the same space, which meant we had to wait about forty-five minutes for the driver to fish for about ten more people after my wife and I got on. By the time the van was packed, we finally pulled out of the airport like a sardine can full of sweaty chumps. We will never do a van again, even if a cab costs more. Uber and Lyft have not yet established themselves in Cancun. My wife and I have been to Cancun several times over the years, but we've done all-inclusive only twice so far, including our 2017 trip this past summer. We found the Grand Oasis in a search on Priceline, and booked a late-July trip. When we got to the airport, we discovered there are three hotels with the Oasis name, so you must be sure to call this one the Grand Pyramid. Their slogan is "Oasis 'heart' U" and you can see this everywhere on the property, even on the map, if you pull it up. It is a massive hotel with a distinctive pink tower in the center of five separate guest buildings that mimic the shape of the pyramid in Chichen Itza, Yucatan. It covers a huge stretch of land, which we found to improve the roominess of the grounds where you can always find a secluded, shady spot. Being strongly opposed to noisy, kid environments, my wife and I remarked several times during our stay that the kids weren't as annoying as other places because we could always get away from them in this park-sized place. We paid extra to enjoy an ocean view, and when we got to the room, we saw what we wanted--a big glass door revealing that multi-layered beach of blue and turquoise that blends into a perfect sky. We didn't really notice how warm the room was until that night when the AC seemed to be running on low, even though we adjusted the thermostat. My wife complained the first evening, then again each day with similar run-around each time. This went on for four uncomfortable nights until my wife woke up absolutely pissed on day five. She had been walking upstairs each time to the office where the hotel's employees enjoyed a crispy-cool work environment, proving proper cooling existed in parts of the building. They kept telling my wife some story about capacity and the difficulty to change our room, but they would try to move us. It became clear they intended to politely put us off each day until our vacation ran out, but we had a nine-day stay, and we demanded service. They finally moved us to the fifth floor where we got a new room with great AC. In both rooms, the mini-fridge was almost room temperature, so the small beer stock they put in it was always warm. This had nothing to do with it being July. If you know some Cancun history, you are aware that this sprawl of hotels down the island shot up in an incredible construction boom in the '70s and early '80s, which means the oldest ones are starting to need big upgrades. This is obvious at Grand Pyramid, but they seem to be improving things here and there. The age in these old guest buildings is obvious, in spite of the fresh paint. Most travelers who've done all-inclusive understand there will be few if any name brands in the food and drink you will partake of. Everything we saw was a knock-off brand we'd never heard of. The one name I knew was Dos Equis, but this was always served as a tepid drought in little cups with just a hint of carbonation. In July, it's understandably tough to keep a cold drink longer than five minutes. Still, there was always a challenge to enjoy a "cold" drink. The room-temperature red wine tasted just right, though. We had very mixed impressions of the service at the many restaurants that operate around the clock at Grand Pyramid. Sometimes it was prompt, and other times it took forever, either because the kitchen was too slow, or some other invisible reason. Even so, the food was always very good. All meals are served in lunch portions, and there is no such thing as a doggy bag to go. The tricky part was finding a place you want to go that is open when you want to eat there. Every place had its own shift to serve guests, and you have to rely heavily on the staggered schedule they give you when you check in. Although this gets confusing and annoying at times, the wide variety of food options was impressive. I was particularly peeved by the dress code they enforce in some dining rooms. I had spent the day in a sleeveless shirt, and when I was sat for dinner in that shirt, a hostess instructed me I had to leave and go change, which meant I had to walk half a mile to my room to get a short-sleeve shirt for dinner. Remember, it's hot and humid as heck outside. Aside from this single episode, we thought the attitude and hospitality of the entire staff was excellent and consistent. It was also evident that everyone knew basic English. There isn't much alert given to it when you check in, but there are a few upgrade spots that are luxury exclusives. Everybody at this hotel is walking around with their wealth status represented on their wrist bands, I came to realize. Some standout locations I have to give a shout out to include the steak house and the live bar. I forgot the steak house's name, but it was Brazilian style, and it was fantastic. We waited in line for it, and that line was long by the time they opened the doors. The Coyote Bar had cool bands every night, and pole dancers were doing a great job while the music played. One of the bars by the beach is the Sands, which I frequented quite a bit, because the bartenders are fast and friendly. It was also a perfect spot to watch the ocean and take in that constant breeze to beat the heat. There are two coffee shops on either end of the property, and we hung out there every day, before and after lunch. The barista always knew what we wanted and how we liked our coffee made. In fact, there is a good balance of duality across the property. You can find entertainment and basic services on opposite ends of the premises. We spent most of our time in our 'neighborhood' near the hotel room. The Grand Pyramid touts itself as The Entertainment Hotel, and that is no lie. There are stages and theaters everywhere, some tiny, some huge, and there is always something going on. There are big shows in The Arena where several famous names tour through all year. There also seemed to be an army of dancers and performers on staff, entertaining somewhere all the time, especially after dark. I was also amazed to see the big, two-story casino they had, but I was a not amused that they were charging me for drinks during the evening hours. A memorable icon of the hotel was the dozen or so peacocks that roam the lawns and bushes throughout. I never saw them down by the beach, but they were frequently perched atop various buildings, often calling out in their high voices. I was very pleased to find a strip of little shops directly across the street from the hotel where I could find some American products, but they were pretty pricey, which reminds you that the Yucatan is an isolated place where everything costs extra to bring in. The only time you're not getting gouged by the tourist industry is when you ride the bus, because regular working stiffs use it mostly. If you don't already know, the bus system in Cancun is pretty reliable. Mexicans do public transit like a free-for-all, so you've got buses cruising up and down the hotel corridor every few seconds. You can go all the way north into the non-tourism area and enjoy the local scene where the prices aren't ridiculous, but just stay in populated, open areas, because the outskirts of town are not as safe. Grand Pyramid gives you seven days of wifi, but it gets expensive after that. Aside from the air-conditioning fail, I would give this hotel an A-. Once we got a cool room, everything flowed very nicely each day, in spite of the heat. Grand Pyramid tries very hard to give its guests a huge array of options, and comes pretty close to pleasing just about everybody around the clock.