Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Client Review: El Dorado Seaside Suites

Chris and Tracy visited El Dorado Seaside Suites and shared their review. 




In December 2018, we traveled to El Dorado Seaside Suites in Riviera Maya. The hour and twenty minute drive was quickly erased from our memories when we arrived on the site of this gorgeous resort. We were greeted with champagne and were welcomed to check in. After a quick stop at the lobby to get registered, we were taken to our room by the bellhop. The room was spectacular and better than we imagined. We couldn't wait to better get acquainted with this resort. But first....food. After a long travel day, we were famished. Here's where it is helpful to know about the layout of the resort.

The resort is divided into three sections: the lobby, the older section (Sensimar), and the newer section (Seaside). There is actually a fourth au-natural section, but most visitors don't have access to that section. There are shuttles that arrive approximately every 10 minutes that can take you to each section as the resort is rather spread out.

The lobby contains the registration desk, a gift shop, a mezcal bar (Mezcalitos), and three restaurants:
1) Seaside Market--buffet, open for 3 meals per day, 
2) Klay Talay--Asian reservation-required, open for dinner only
3) Mia Casa Dorado--Italian, open for dinner only
There is live music at Mezcalitos on Fridays and Saturdays, but typically the lobby section of the resort is quieter. 

The older section (Sensimar) is extensive and includes the majority of the resort's features. The guest rooms are divided amongst many buildings and some have private pools. In addition to the private pools, there is one main pool. There are some activities (pool volleyball, bingo, trivia, etc.) during the day that happen at the main pool. There are also many Bali beds around the pool and near the pool on the beach. The beach is relatively small but does have a couple dozen lounge chairs, a volleyball/soccer court, and is the location for some of the daily activities. There are many restaurants in this section:
1) La Carreta--Mexican, open for dinner only
2) Mia Casa Sensimar--Italian, open for dinner only
3) The Culinarium--Latin Fusion, open for 3 meals per day
4) Gourmet Pub--World Cuisine, open for dinner only
5) Arrecifes--International, open for 3 meals per day
6) Beach Barbeque--buffet, open for breakfast and lunch
7) Sandwicherie--burgers, pizza, salads, open for breakfast and lunch
On the Sensimar side, there are a few bars, including a swim up bar from Arrecifes to the main pool. One of the bars (Guacamayas) is open until 2am and is the host of some late night activities including a "white party". There is also a performance area called the Picadilly Circus that hosts some of the evening shows.

Finally, the newer section (Seaside) has only one building and all rooms have pool balconies (like seriously pools on the balconies) and overlook the large pool for that side of the resort. There is a swim up bar and a restaurant: 
1) Driftwood (like 2 restaurants in one, a buffet and a table service, but is only open for lunch)
There are activities that take place near the pool/restaurant area of this side of the resort. There is sand and a view of the water, but no access to swim in the ocean from the Seaside section of the resort. There are plenty of pool area chairs and some Bali beach beds, but the beds were always occupied. There is a bar (Kanaloa) on the 4th floor of the resort where there is a pool table, live music, and other activities. On the Seaside side of the resort, there is a recreation area called "Plaza de las Palmeras" that includes a bocce court, hammocks, and is occasionally set up for evening shows.

This takes me back to our opinions and specifically the original topic....food. We stayed on the Seaside section of the resort and found it a bit frustrating that there were no restaurants open for breakfast or dinner on that side. As many of the restaurants are only open for a short time at dinner, we also found there to be a relatively long (45 minute) wait when we went at peak dinner time--any time after 7pm. We would probably recommend that if you arrive hungry, you either a) order room service and then unpack a bit or b) take a shuttle to the Seaside Market--buffet. Overall, we would say that the food was tasty, but not always convenient for when/where we wanted to eat. After we figured things out a bit, it became much more enjoyable. We appreciated that the resort is very eco-friendly and accommodating to people with food allergies/aversions.

Other than the food aspect, here are some of our thoughts. The shows were impressive (we saw the fire show and the circus) and the special evenings are spectacular. (The Mexican night was very elaborate and they had different foods to try, a mariachi performance, and local vendors selling homemade items.) The shuttles which come "every 10 minutes" were not always as prompt as we Midwesterners would have liked. We had a room with a pool balcony and found that it was waaay too cold to swim in that pool. There was no sun that reached the pool balcony, so it was much better to just go to the main pool. We only saw 3 or 4 couples enjoying their pool balconies the entire week we were there, to give you an idea. The spa seemed nice, although we chose not to partake other than a quick trip to the doctor who is stationed there. He seemed very competent, if you're a klutz like me and need to know these things. Finally, we felt a bit nickeled and dimed at this resort. We don't have a lot of experience at all-inclusives, so maybe it was just us, but we felt like we were constantly being asked to pay for upgrades to our trip even though we had already paid a good deal of money. If you want certain craft beers, wines, special dinners, high end meals, or even seats for some of their evening events, you need to pay extra. In addition, there is a timeshare part of this resort so presentation attendance will likely be offered to you and members will have access to invite-only events and locales. Both extra payments and the special treatment of members were sources of frustration for us. Again, after figuring out how the resort is arranged and how it works, we had a much more enjoyable time and honestly spent our final few days at Sensimar where there seemed to be more action and access to restaurants.

When your final day arrives, you should call a bellhop to come pick up you and your luggage and take you to the lobby. Our checkout consisted of paying 20 pesos per night (although if you pay in US dollars it was about $1.50 per night...much higher than the exchange rate) and completing a short survey.

The shortened version of our impression of the resort:
1) Resort is gorgeous, eco-friendly, and accommodating to those with dietary needs.
2) Seaside room is gorgeous, but pool balcony is basically useless. (We have a differing opinion on this. The balcony pool is one of my favorite things about this resort. - Angie) 
3) Resort is spread out with the majority of the restaurants on the Sensimar side. Shuttles somewhat regularly will take you between the sections of the resort.
4) Some extra expenses and special treatments for members should be anticipated.
5) Restaurants are busy between 7-9pm, so plan to visit during off-peak times unless you are okay with a wait.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay at El Dorado Seaside Suites, but wish we would have known some of the info that we listed here in this review prior to our visit. That would have allowed us to start enjoying the resort right away, as opposed to getting acclimated to the setup during the first few days.


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