Don’t wait for someone to make your dream come true. Make it happen, because you can.
Mexico, my dream vacation. It took years for me to get the courage to finally give this trip a go. Few years ago, I made a detailed itinerary to Mexico which just ended up sitting in my “travel” folder. I travel solo, that means being more cautious in where I go and in what I do. There were some uncomfortable news and events that happened in Mexico which made me decide to postpone the trip despite some people telling me that tourist destinations like Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen are a safe place to go. I put the trip on hold until few months ago when I saw a vacation package that perfectly suited me.
It’s a West Jet vacation package in an all-inclusive resort Xcaret Occidental Destination. The package includes round trip fare from Vancouver and round trip shuttle from Cancun Airport to hotel and vice-versa. The resort features 5 swimming pools (adult and kids), river formations, private bay with soft white sand and a huge ground that resembles like a jungle. The resort offers wide variety of selections when it comes to food, with 10 bars, including a beach club, and 11 restaurants. The resort is directly connected to Xcaret eco-archaeological Park which sealed this deal for me. Going back and forth to the hotel is very convenient, and I feel safe even if I have to go back late at night. I did not run out of things to do even though I did not leave the area. They have underground river cave, performances, cultural night show and other paid activities like scuba diving and snorkeling, swim with the dolphins etc. Walk with me as I show you around.
I was greeted with this huge and cozy lobby as soon as I get off the shuttle. The warm dim lights, the soft jazzy music playing in the background, and the comfortable lounge chairs made me so excited I couldn’t wait to explore the place.
The lobby bar is one of my favorite place to hangout and chill. The chairs were very comfortable and the sound of the water fountain was very relaxing. During the day, they use this area as venue for the Mexican Bar. All you can eat and make your own nachos, with variety of toppings and salsa to choose from. They serve quesadilla, mini desserts and of course shots of tequilla for those who like to drink. After all, what is Mexican Snack Bar without tequilla?
At night, they invite performers to entertain guest with music and dancing. I particularly like the jazz and violin performances. The performers were fantastic, and the music was so relaxing. Just the perfect way to end the busy day.
For any customer concerns or issue, they have staff in the center almost 24 hours. From filling a complain, flight and check-in assistance, they got you covered.
Ticket Center – Let’s go for a tour!
If you are interested to do activities outside of the resort, they have a tour center within the hotel that could assist you for that.
Boutique and Shops
They also have boutiques and shops for souvenirs or day-to-day essentials. It was not surprising to me that the prices of the items there were quite expensive.
This hotel is so huge that I cannot even begin where to start showing you around. I dedicated few hours in my days there just walking around the resort and admiring the elegant and colorful design of the building facade.
The main hotel area is the center of most of the activities. This building area holds several rooms for guests, guest services center, shops and boutiques, lobby bar, cafe bar restaurant and tour center.
I cannot get enough of this colorful guy here. They have them scattered in the hotel lobby and they never failed to capture guest attention. You can probably tell why, look at how colorful, vibrant and beautiful they are.
Everywhere I look around, I felt so connected with the nature. The water features, the wooden bridges, the wild life, the trees, they all made me feel like I was in a jungle.
I did not have high expectations when it comes to the room. I’ve read mixed reviews some were happy with it and some were complaining about moldy smell of the room because of the humidity. Others complained about the room being hot and air conditioner not working. In my case, I will be in the team “happy”. I was more than happy with the room that I got, I guess it pays not to have too high expectations. The room was clean, and it does not have moldy smell at all. The temperature of the room was quite cool when I entered, and both the air conditioner and ceiling fan were in perfect condition. The bed was comfortable and the bedding was clean.
The refrigerator was stock with drinking water and soda drinks, they replenished the supplies every 2 days. There were also microwave, coffee maker and iron board, although I did not used them. There was also a safe which was very useful for me to keep my belongings. The location of my building was great, it was central to most of the place in the resort. In front was the main pool, and few minutes from it were the 4 other pools, and it was close to restaurant as well.
The hotel have 5 swimming pools, all scattered in different location in the resort.
Big, not crowded and just the right size. The pool caters for both kids and adults. There was pool bar and plenty of pool chairs.
Ocean Water Pool
Best view ever! In terms of the view, this is the real winner, you cannot get any better view than this. The only downside, this is a very small pool and not like a regular pool with smooth bottom surface. You have to be extra careful when using this pool as there are sharp rocks at the bottom as well around the pool.
There’s quite a lot of colorful fishes in the pool. I wished I have an underwater camera to capture them.
The best feature of this pool is the small area at the end where water comes into the pool when it hits the rock. This pool also have the amazing view of the open water and the boats passing by. To fully enjoy this pool, I strongly suggest that you were an aqua shoes.
Do you see the area at the back? The back is enclosed with rock formations but the water comes in whenever it hits the rock. The water in that area is warmer, but be very careful as the rocks are sharp. I went to that area just for the sake of trying it.
They only have few pool chairs here, so you have to be early to get a good place. This was a favorite place among guest.
Private Bay Pool
Look at that view! Isn’t it stunning? I cannot get enough of this place. This is the perfect swimming pool if you are into swimming and snorkeling.
The hanging nipa-hut there is for paid massage services. Awesome view, quiet, open fresh air, I could easily snooze there.
This was the view the first time I came to this area. The photo was taken from the top on the way to the club house entrance.
The cottages are free but it is on a first come first serve basis. You have to be early to get a good spot. This area gets really crowded especially on a hot sunny day (which is most likely often unless your visit is during hurricane season).
The Club House is where they have the daily breakfast and lunch buffet. At the back of the club house is the entrance to the Ocean Pool.
The pool bar is the one located at the lower level of that big building. Unlimited drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Follow this path and you will end up in the breathtaking view of the Ocean Pool. This is also a perfect spot to have a different view of the Private Bay Pool.
Royale Place Pool
Royale Place has its own pool. Although the building is exclusive for Royale Place members, I think the pool can be use by other resort guest, just don’t get caught lol.
The best-selling point of this area are the waterfront bed cottages. Perfect spot to read book or watch sunrise.
They also have plenty of beach chairs. I never had the chance to use any of these though. Too much things to see, too little time.
Breakfast and lunch were served in this area. But for this one, it is strictly for members only. Don’t worry, the Beach House is only 5 minutes away from here, and the Club House is bigger and has more open water and private bay view. But it is still worth visiting.
Sports Center Pool
Fitness is still important even when on vacation, that is something that they did not forget to consider.
This is the biggest pool in the resort and the official sports center area. They have facilities to play basketball and volleyball in the pool. They also instructor assisted morning pool yoga.
This is considered as one big swimming pool, everything is connected so you do not need to leave to move to another pool. It is not a perfect circle pool, but it basically flow in a way that leads you from one area to another, like a loop.
5 swimming pools are more than enough option to keep me busy not to mention there’s more swimming pool inside the Xcaret Resort. All pools closes at 6:00 pm, that part is a real bummer.
Restaurant – Unlimited Food and Drinks
Let’s talk about food, shall we? I don’t mean just one dish, we’re talking “food coma” here. Seriously never-ending food and drinks all day long, anytime almost anywhere. Let’s get started!
The resort have 11 restaurants and 10 pool bars. 5 of the 11 are specialty ala carte restaurant. I tried 4 of them, 2 buffet places and 2 snack restaurant. That makes it 8!! Please dial 911! I think I went into a food coma after this vacation.
Important things to know about specialty restaurants:
- Dress Code: If you do not want to be turn away, follow their dress code. Casual attire, no shorts, no flip-flops.
- Check the schedule of the restaurant you want to go to. They are not all open at the same time.
- Some restaurant could get so busy, so plan ahead. Senora Grill for example has a long wait, pretty popular I guess.
- How it works: Separate menu for the Main Course, then salad, soup and dessert are buffet (for most of them). Los Olivos do not have buffet dessert. They have some special items for additional cost if you’re willing to pay for it.
Let me show you what I tried. I am showing this in the order that I like them, top being my first choice and bottom my last choice.
El Pescador – Seafood Restaurant
Seafood Lovers this is our place!! If I could go back to this restaurant every night, I would. Too bad, I can only eat so much. This made it as the top must restaurant in my list, for the obvious reason that I am the ultimate seafood lover.
I ordered Seafood Casserole and I am perfectly happy with it. The serving portion was huge and it was quite filling. The dish was loaded with mix of squid, shrimp, filet fish and mussels top with cheese. This dish is “really” a seafood dish, not like other seafood dish that you will only see few pieces of seafood. I love this place, I wish I had more time to try other items in the menu. Too many choices too little time.
Los Olivos – Mediterranean
This Mediterranean restaurant is very cozy and has a feel of fine dining restaurant. You can order from the selection of their main courses on top of the soup and salad bar. The meal comes with option of dessert too. If you are looking for a quite slightly formal ambiance where you can have a good conversation, this is a good choice. The service was great and the staff are professional, polite and attentive. The food was nice.
I ordered Mussels in Oil and Tomato, it was a simple dish but it was really flavourful and tasty.
For the dessert, I ordered Tiramisu which I find nice as well. I had been wanting for a good dessert and I’m glad I found it here. This place is worth visiting. If I had more days, I would surely go back to this place more than once.
La Hacienda – Mexican Restaurant
When in Mexico, try the Mexican restaurant. Although I’m not into heavy meals, I cannot skip this place. I have to try authentic Mexican dish and it cannot get anymore Mexican then this. The interior of this place is quite lovely and it really gave the authentic feel of Mexican Restaurant. A friend of mine told me about a dish with chocolate sauce called “Mole”. It was something really new to me, at the same time odd. I researched how to make it, and holy moly! The number of ingredients and type of chili used in the recipe never ends! I immediately lose hope that I can make it. Now that I am in Mexico, this is my chance to finally be able to try it, the real thing.
I ordered Mole Poblano. It’s a chicken thigh with Mole sauce served with rice and vegetables. I like it, it’s very flavorful, although it’s not spicy at all considering it uses a lot of different chili. I also don’t taste any hint of chocolate, but the sauce is very thick and tasty, the sides of rice and vegetables were perfect pair for the dish. This place goes into my must try restaurant.
Senora Grill – Steak House
Meat Lovers, they haven’t forgotten you, they got you covered in Senora Grill. This is the only restaurant that I had to wait for 20 minutes to get table. Other people waited for 50 minutes so I guess my wait is not that bad after all. So, If you want to go here, I suggest you come earlier. I am not a meat lover, but a lot of people are raving about this restaurant and is one of the “must” try according to those people. It wouldn’t hurt to have some steak from time to time, im on vacation anyway.
I ordered New York Steak with mash potato, spinach and chimichurri sauce. The steak was nice, tender and juicy. No wonder people are recommending this a must place to try. Just because I am not a meat lover, I wouldn’t have this in my top list. But I highly recommend this for steak lovers, I’m pretty sure you will be satisfied with it. Not too bad for something that you can visit as long as you like during the duration of your stay. The only downside, the wait is not the only one that is long, also the service. That’s even more reason to come early.
Pacos Tacos – Mexican
Midnight snack, covered! This place is open from 10:00 pm – 2:00 am. All you can eat nachos, tacos, quesadilla and more. Just make sure you can finish them all because you cannot have them to go. So order wisely, and don’t be tempted to order more than what you can eat. They have quite a few choices, portions are reasonable so you can order more than one item per visit. I wanted to try more of their item as they seem to look good and a lot of people like this place.
I ordered Tacos Salad, big fried taco bowl with small veggie portions. Not bad for a side dish, but you definitely have to order another item as this one is really just an appetizer. Don’t be deceived with how big the bowl is.
La Piazza Pizzaria – Italian
You definitely have to try their pizza. This pizza place is also open from 6:00 pm-2:00 am. Simple Italian quality pizza for midnight snack is not too bad at all.
Their pizza was really good. I love that it’s thin, I love that its personal size and I love that they have variations. I tried Margherita, Four Cheese, Vegetarian and Mexicana. Don’t skip it, try it at least once and I guarantee that you will love it too.
Le Buffet – Buffet
This is the main restaurant of the resort. This restaurant was open for buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m not a picky eater, as long as they have seafood, veggie and fish, I’m happy. So I could say that I was perfectly satisfied with the selection of the food.
They have almost everything reasonable and has options for everybody vegetarian or non-vegetarian. I took photos of most of the food so that you will have an idea what they have. Some of the foods are regular everyday and from time to time there are new items added per day.
Beach Club – Buffet
This place offers an amazing view of the water and the pool, best location among restaurants offering buffet breakfast. Having my breakfast here makes me feel I’m really on vacation. Breakfast with stunning view, fresh open air and sun shining makes the meal experience extra special. Yes, I’m really on vacation!
The view itself is worth the reason to go here, I would say the food is just a bonus, or you can have it the other way around too. The only thing I noticed is that this place seems to have less variation as compared to Le Buffet. But it did not bother me at all, I’m happy with yogurt and fruits and they always have it.
specializes in Asian dish. I did not try this place as I had seen quite a lot of unhappy feedback for this place. Besides I think asian dish is something that I can easily make at home, so I decided to skip it. I cannot recommend if you should try or skip it, the decision is yours to make.
This is more than enough food options for me and I couldn’t ask for more. From the hotel room, service, entertainment, amenities and food, I am pretty much satisfied and I would definitely recommend this hotel. So, when in Mexico stay at Occidental at Xcaret Destination and visit Xcaret Park.
Check out my Let’s go to Xcaret! Nature at it’s best post for more of my adventures in Mexico. Follow me!
This is it for now. This is SweetNSpicy your travel buddy!