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Home > Destinations > Mexico > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Mexico - Trip Reports

Grand Flamingo Xcaret, Riviera Maya

30 June - 8 July 2005

Summary: This Apple vacation was not our best, and may have been the worst. The devil is in the details, but a large part of the story is that I got Montezuma's revenge on the 2nd day and the wife got it the 3rd. Needless to say, this put a damper on the whole week.

Transportation: Amazingly, transportation was good. Our last two Apple vacations used Ryan International and it was nice, but could not get us home on time. This time they gave us USA3000 and everything was fine. They even called us to let us know they would take off late going to Cancun. This was fine, since we got to sleep a couple of extra hours. Going and coming were on time and as good as it could be.

Transfer (airport to resort and back). As always, it is a bit of a pain getting out of the airport, but they were courteous and efficient. They could have sold water and cokes on the bus to make it a better 1.5 hour trip. The trip back was also okay, even if it was an early start and the bus arrived about 20 minutes late.

Greeting and Departure: This was the worst we have ever encountered. We arrived at the resort and they simply pointed us towards building 21 (which turned out to be at least a 300 meters walk). Every other resort we have been to greeted us with drinks and wet towels. This resort did not. We tried to catch the shuttle but it didn't show after 20 minutes. My wife has a bad hip and had to gimp the distance to the building. Then, when we got there, the Apple representative was off escorting some other arrivals so we waited again for almost 20 minutes (no air conditioning). They then tried to put us in building 21 on the 3rd floor, despite the fact that we emphasized my wife's disability and the need to be close to restaurants and other activities when we booked the vacation. Fortunately, they found a room as close as they could to the restaurants.

Resort: Being in one of the closest building to the restaurants was better than not, but the closest restaurant (the buffet) was still quite a hike. In fact, the resort was quite large and, while beautiful, not very convenient for anything. They had one huge pool that was divided into 4 large pools. One pool had a swim up bar, the others had one pool-side bar each. They did have two gold/silver sections that were off limits for us common folk, and these special areas had Jacuzzis and separate pools There were lots of stores, a huge lobby with ocean water running into it via a channel to form a man-made fish pond. The theater was large and fairly comfortable. The beach was what surrounded a man-made lagoon cut into the land because the real ocean was too rough and all rocks. They also had a small and under-used interesting salt water pool for adults only. A small jungle refuge separated the main facility from the beach (lagoon) and supposedly had monkeys and other native animals gamboling about. We saw some of the local raccoons and some caged deer, but not much else. The channel cut to form the fish pond went directly to the Xcaret Park and you could walk the short distance to get into the park. A one day pass came with the Apple vacation, but otherwise it probably cost about $45 each. This is a family resort and there were lots of kids, but they were generally well behaved. Despite the number of guests, the only place we encountered lines was at the bars.

Room: We didn't splurge, so got a standard room. Apple called it a deluxe suite, but it was typical Holiday Inn. This room had the worst sound-proofing of any other resorts where we have stayed. The maids kept it clean, but the toilet seat fell off and the shower drain was slow so we were always wading in shower water. They did fix the toilet seat right away, but could not get the shower drain fixed.

Pools: The pools were large and nice. The cleanest pools we have ever seen were at the Secrets Excellence in Punta Cana, and, rating those as a 10, the Xcaret pools rate a score of about 6. There were a lot of people, and the pools never really got crowded.

Lagoon/Beach: The beach around the lagoon was clean and well kept with lots of lounges and lots of people. The actual lagoon was okay, but hardly any fish were in it so snorkeling around was lame.

Bars: Most of the time, it seemed like they had only one bartender at a bar. These poor guys worked there butts off and did as well as anyone could expect. However, this was not very good sometimes. Drink quality was only okay; and sometimes not even that.

Restaurants: They had 5 or 6 restaurants. Because we felt poorly, we made reservation only once at the Oriental. The food was fine, though not great. The buffet was really pretty good, though, with homemade Italian dressing that was the best in the world. We got the "romantic" package from Apple and it included one dinner at the Royal House (gold building), which turned out to be fabulous. They really did a great job and the food was excellent. We didn't hear much about the other restaurants, though a few people told us the Pescadore (seafood) was only okay.

Activities: This was a big disappointment. While they did have water volleyball almost every day, it was family fun and tended to be overcrowded. Beach volleyball was too far away and only scheduled a few times. Pool side activities included some ping pong and maybe some other things that were mostly kid oriented. Tennis was also available, but every time I looked the courts were occupied. The one-day pass to Xcaret Park was promising, and we expected a repeat of a nice day we had several years ago when we visited the park. However, this was the day I got sick and we had to abandon the fun about noon since I was polluting the park with breakfast going the wrong way. All other activities were excursions that, of course, cost considerably. We did the half-day Paradise Snorkeling trip and enjoyed it. It was not, however, the best snorkeling we have done and I would recommend it only for novices. We talked to a couple that went on the Mayan snorkel trip and they said they really enjoyed it. We were going to do that trip, but the wife didn't feel up to it.

Conclusion: We did not drink the water, and were therefore suspicious that we got food poisoning. It may have been the ice or the vegetables that they wash in regular water. A fair number of people got sick and, in fact, one gentleman passed out on the tarmac as he was walking to the plane because he was so dehydrated from being sick. I'm guessing that all of the Apple resorts (the whole plane was Apple) cater food from a few sources and some of it was getting washed with unclean water. Only a guess. The resort did not try too hard to be amenable. Drinks were difficult to get, greeting and departure were inhospitable, and generally it just didn't seem as nice or as much fun a many other resorts we have been to. Each building had a host and their job was to take care of you, first, and second sell as many excursions as they could. They also pushed the day pass to another resort where you could listen to the vacation package sales pitch. This is where they sell you a week (kind of like a time share) and then you can use it at any of the resort they own. This is a considerable number (I forget the company, but they bought Allegro). We passed on it. It might be a good deal, but I suspect they sell more weeks that they have vacation weeks, so getting a week when and where you want each year is probably as easy (ha!) as swapping your time-share with RCI when and where you want it.

Thanks to Chris for this trip report ...
July 2005

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