Resort Review: Occidental Grand Xcaret

Occidental Grand Xcaret is a resort conveniently located beside the Xcaret ecological park in the Mayan Riveria, Mexico. This five star resort is massive complex that boasts 11 restaurants, 10 bars and 700 rooms. The resort is surrounded by lush vegetation and natural wildlife. The resort is fairly large, and this can make walking around problematic for those with mobility concerns. The resort has an internal transportation system via a golf cart that loops around the resort every fifteen minutes or so, and even for those without mobility issues it comes in handy especially if you’re travelling here in summer. The humidity in Mexico during the summer months can feel oppressive at times, so be sure to stay near water.

One of the advantages to staying at this resort is that some packages include unlimited access to the Xcaret park, otherwise each visit will cost roughly $100 (USD) per person per day. There are some discounts, depending on the age of the guests, the amount of times you plan on visiting and how far in advance you book your ticket. Xcaret is pretty breathtaking and there’s a ton of activities like snorkelling, swimming in an underground river, access to archeological sites and live cultural productions performed nightly. It’s worth visiting once, or more if you aren’t paying for each visit. This is because much of what you want to see and do at the park, you can do for free at the resort. For snorkel lovers there’s a fantastic natural salt water pool that is connected to the ocean. Fish flow freely in and out and we managed to see a ton of yellow, blue and orange fish. The rocks outside the pool that feed into the sea act as a natural barrier, so if the sea is calm enough you can swim out of the pool and into the ocean. It’s a bit rocky, but it’s definitely worth trying if possible as you might see more fish.

We booked this resort for a large group tour and felt this resort was perfect for us! There is quiet pools, energetic pools with a swim up bar, a natural salt water pool and  a manmade beach and as mentioned above. After a few days, people tended to gravitate towards different areas of the resort and if you wanted to find someone you probably knew where to look.

Enjoying a cerveza by the manmade beach

Another issues we wanted to avoid was picking a resort with limited food options, given we wanted to make sure everyone felt satisfied on some level. I still have friends and family who bring up memories of the food we ate the resort!  We managed to stick with the buffet restaurant throughout the week, as the food was consistent and always had new offerings each day. Our group ate at three a la carte’s during our trip, Los Olivos, D’Oriental and Sonora Grill. We had one large dinner at Los Olivos, the Italian and Mediterranean restaurant and it wasn’t that spectacular, but it was nice to have 15 or so of us enjoy a meal together.  Pacos Tacos, the quick service taco joint was open from 6pm to 2am and it was our daily late night go to. They make this fried taco bowl that is wickedly divine. We perosnally didn’t get to go to Sonora Grill as it was the most popular a la carte and reservations for it were pretty scarce. One of our travelling companions managed to go one night and reported the steak was exceptional. D’Oriental was just okay, I wasn’t expecting exceptional Asian cuisine in Mexico. The drinks and quality of alcohol were all top shelf. If you wanted premium liquor you might have to specify when ordering, but all the bars had very expensive bottles available like 12 year aged Johnnie Walker Black Label. I was expecting good alcohol, but was surprised at just how extensive their selection was.

Chilling in a cabana by the sea

The beach is man made, so it’s the only downside to the entire resort. It’s not very big, but for quick dips and lounging it is more than sufficient. Some activities include archery, mini golf, table tennis, volleyball and shuffleboard. There’s Mayan ruins that are scattered throughout the resort in different areas. It’s pretty neat stumbling across them as you walk around. Wi-Fi in the rooms aren’t complimentary, but you can bring your devices to the lobby and access it there for free. The nightly shows are entertaining, and the staff do their best to put on a good show. The night club is hit or miss depending on the crowd, but the facility itself is well equipped.

I can’t stress this enough, but go to Playa Del Carmen! It’s only an $8-10 cab ride and it’s a great opportunity to break away from the resort and see a neat city with tons of entertainment, food and shopping opportunities. Going to PDC is perfect at night, especially if the night club is a bit of a miss. One question we get asked a lot about Playa Del Carmen is if it is safe, and the answer is yes! The tourist part of the city is packed with tourists from morning to late evening, so you don’t feel unsafe at all. The most popular area is 5th avenue, but if you walk around a bit and explore you’ll find some bargain deals at some local restaurants. There’s also very affordable massages all over the city including some Beach Clubs along the main strip. We recommend Mia Spa and Veronica’s Massage Gold. Both places give superb massages at discounted prices. A one hour massage will cost you around $40-50 per person, depending on if there’s a promotion or not. Prices tend to fluctuate, so you might be able to find a cheaper walk up rate. Want to read more about Playa Del Carmen? Click here!

Cenotes a must when visiting Mexico

The tours offered through the hotel are very good. We booked a 10 person private tour to go to a cenote, visit an ecological park, eat lunch, swim with sea turtles at Akumal beach and visited the ruins at Tulum. The guides provided exceptional personal service and made sure we were all engaged in the activities. The tour was by far the most memorable experience of our entire trip.

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