As we drove in, we saw that the vegetation had taken hold and was so lush. We were excited. But the greeting when we arrived at the resort desk had changed -- we were not offered champagne and cold washcloths, and the plastic bracelet we must wear has international telephone advertising on it! What happened here??????
My intent is not to discourage you from coming here, but rather to prepare you for small problems that can create stress when arriving after a long trip or with high expectations of a 5-star resort. Making you aware will help you to deal with them more quickly and allow you to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
This time, the resort was booked to capacity – 50% large Mexican families, 25% American families, and 25% couples, with very few Europeans.
All restaurants, except for the buffet and the pizzeria, require dinner reservations. Each restaurant allows only 12 people per half hour to be seated. There are three restaurants – quick calculations show that only 1/3 of the guests can be accommodated on any given night. The reservations must be made in person starting at 8am. By 9am, there are no more reservations available. Guests start lining up at the desk by 7:15am.
No more free diving and snorkeling trips included – you must pay for them now. Snorkeling equipment can be checked out for 3 hours daily and must be returned after each use. This year one must obtain a "day pass" to go to Allegro. You no longer can make dinner reservations there either.
Only one waitress serves drinks by the pool and beach – you must stand in line at the service bar in the palapa restaurant. Shady areas at the pool and beach are spoken for by 9am.
Otherwise, the resort is more lush because the vegetation is a year older – the grounds are well landscaped and manicured. Rooms are incredibly clean. The beach is starting to replenish from the sand bags that were placed there last year after the storm. Workers are friendly – speak English in various levels of expertise. Food is good, not gourmet. Brand name liquor is available by request, but there is only one red and one white wine served free of charge.
Entertainment of some sort takes place each evening – a Mexican trio wandering through the restaurants, a duo in the lounge, a trio at the plaza with dancing and cocktails, a Mexican show, and, of course, the late night disco.
Occidental Grand is still one of the better all-inclusive resorts. We regret that it did not rise to the level of Royal Hideaway. Will it happen or did they lose their chance?? Moan and groan and you’ll spoil your vacation; learn to play by the rules and it’ll be wonderful.
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