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My husband and I are both Jamaicaphiles but had taken two pricey trips to Jamaica this year. We needed a place that was cheap, all inclusive, adults only and direct flight (gotten burned with American Airlines over spring break). So we chose El Dorado Royale in the Playa Del Carmen area south of Cancun.
I won't go into details about the flight but it was a typical flight from Houston to Cancun...long line in customs/immigration...we swear we will get passports but haven't yet. (?) Hot and miserable in the line and lots of little kids--now I love children and work closely with them daily but would never torture myself by traveling with them especially internationally! To each his own.
We traveled in July which was different from our previous trips to Jamaica that year in that we were going from hot to hotter! (Mexico was unbelievably hot & humid and that's saying a lot in comparison to Houston Texas!) Before we had travelled in November and March so the change in temperature was exciting. This minor detail took some of the pleasure out of the trip--we won't go Caribbean in July again (maybe Vancouver?)
We had a very nice a/c bus ride to the resort. The streets are very modern--no goats or cows to avoid--only about 20 minutes. We were greeted with champagne and warm welcomes in an elegant, air conditioned lobby.
I am going to take a minute to share that before our trip (after booking it) I had read several negative trip reports about EDR saying that people had gotten very sick from the food and water and that management had done nothing to help them. I must say that I have a very sensitive stomach and did not even experience heartburn or any kind of sickness while there! The trip reports complained about the smell of raw sewage. Well I have been to Mexico 3 times now and you must realize that the smell of raw sewage is just part of the environment like the smell of burning whatever they burn. Don't mean to be gross but their sewage systems are just not as advanced as ours--anywhere--and I have stayed at world class resorts in Cancun. That's it for that topic.
A very nice man loaded our baggage onto a golf cart and took us on a tour of the resort. It was dark by then so we couldn't see much but I was impressed by his thoughtfulness and courtesy.
When we got in our room, I was so excited because we had requested the run of the mill garden room and they had upgraded us to beachfront, 2nd floor with a gorgeous view and the sound of crashing surf. There was a hammock outside on the balcony. A roman garden tub was on a stand next to the sliding glass door which we enjoyed very much (go easy on the bubble bath).
TV, refrigerator (water only), safe, and very nice bathroom. Lovely comfortable bed. That is really all(if not more) than I require in a room since the beach is where I want to be.
We quickly went back down to the main open air restaurant which is an incredibly complex palapa with a very high point at the top. We were starving!! We wished we had showered first though because with our travel grime, we were very hot! We had the first of many lovely meals at the terrace restaurant. It is open for a la carte 24 hours a day! The only complaint I had was that it would have been nice if it were closer to the water a la Grand Lido Braco or Couples
Negril. However, the availability of menu dining(+ a nice buffet of fruits, breads, juices, etc...) even at breakfast made up for that little inconvenience. For convenience sake, I will now categorize areas of the resort so not to ramble aimlessly.
The main restaurant is open 24 hours with full a la cart dining even at breakfast. We loved the crepes and french toast. If you aren't full, they will bring you what you ask for until you are satisfied. Lunch menu consists of things like fajitas, fresh grilled fish, steak or chicken or more casual things like burgers (Yummy) and shoestring fries. I usually chose the grilled fish for calorie reasons and it was consistently good with wonderful rice. They will bring you nachos or other stuff to your pool chair. Most people tipped when they did that but it was not required. Their dinner menu was great--don't get the calimari though unless you want to chew on rubber! Several courses--very elegant and nice. Wed. & Saturday lobster. My husband loved an entree called "Sweet Duck"--still raves about it.
There was a mexican restaurant that was great! (A/C tho the open air rest. usually had a seabreeze that made it okay) We had a very nice meal there. Also an italian rest. which was nice but my entree was very salty and so was my husband's.
Overall the food was great, very tasty--never ever got sick and enjoyed not having to cook it! It was presented very well and the service was excellent. The waiters and waitresses love to have fun with you and get a kick out of trying to teach you spanish!
Oh, I forgot to mention 24 hour room service for meals!
Okay, let me say up front that I grew up in Alabama and our vacations were taken in the Redneck Riviera--in other words the most beautiful, sugar white sand beaches on God's green earth--including the Caribbean islands. Gulf Shores and Fort Walton/Destin have beaches beyond compare. If you can show me better, I will eat my words. The point of this is that I am spoiled to beach quality and may not be a good reference. I WILL point out that rocky beaches have better snorkeling because they attract more fish.
The beach in front of the resort is most disappointing--very rocky and you must wear water shoes to even attempt to walk in the water. There is a man made reef which protects from rough surf. I snorkeled there and did not see much of interest.
However, my husband and I wandered pretty far down to the left (I guess North?) of the EDR property--past the palapa suites and even farther. The beach quality didn't improve (lots of trash!) but the snorkeling was very nice--lots of blue sargeant majors and other beautiful tropical fish very close to the beach...especially on the other side of some rocks close to shore.
I saw a very colorful flounder which was neat compared to our drab camouflaged game fish flounder in texas (which I love to catch!). Nothing exciting like octopi or manta rays but very lovely snorkeling--better than Jamaica. I am sure that the trips you can purchase provide even better snorkel opportunities.
Overall, the beach was disappointing--be sure to wear some protection when you walk down there.
You can sail or kayak but we were too lazy. To kayak you had to wear a life vest and it was sooo hot! There is a dock you can walk down which is nice.
My husband and I were very intrigued with the iguanas that were everywhere.
There was nothing wrong at all with the resort--just something missing. If you are a honeymooner and starry eyed over your new mate you probably wouldn't notice--or with a big group of people. We were just disappointed that the crowd was so typical white American from Texas which was different than the diversity we are used to. We prefer a more cosmopolitan atmosphere and enjoy talking to people who are different from us...this was more of a southwestern honeymoon or couples scene.
Everyone was very nice and we had fun, though, and we would not hesitate to recommend this resort to anyone. It is an elegant resort with wonderful service, great food, and great snorkeling! I am very surprised by the negative trip reports I have heard and want to assure you that we had a wonderful time!
Thanks to Marybeth for this trip report ...