This was my second time doing an all-inclusive in the Riviera Maya but my first time at Secrets Maroma Beach. It was the first all-inclusive experience for my fiancé. I went into the trip with high expectations since the resort was highly recommended by my travel agent and has won numerous awards. My experience, however, was not a positive one. We stayed from November 9th to 16th and traveled in a group of 8 (4 couples).
Before arriving on November 9th, I had emailed the e-concierge and arranged for a special romantic dinner on the beach where I was planning on proposing to my girlfriend. The e-concierge was not particularly helpful and even changed the cost ($50 more) of the dinner but he did help me to arrange for a chef to come out at the end of the meal and write the words “Will You Marry Me” onto the plate. I was assured that this was confirmed and in the system and that I would not need to worry about it again. This turned out to be a big nightmare. More on that later.
The trip started out negatively immediately after registration. We were anxious to get to our rooms and enjoy the beach. But instead we were forced into an intro pitch for a timeshare presentation (they called it a membership). The resort made this APPEAR to be a required part of the registration but in fact it was not. We were shuffled from one person to the next and made to fill out forms with our ages and occupations, etc. This was very shifty and made to feel like part of the registration. It was only later that we realized that the actual registration was only the first 2-3 minutes and we were forced to listen to what turned out to be a lying salesman for an hour before getting to our rooms.
In addition, the resort had erroneously thought it was our anniversary. This was particularly awkward because my girlfriend and I were NOT married or engaged and there had been some tension over that fact between us for some time now. So to have the resort staff repeatedly congratulate us on our anniversary was a continued annoyance which occurred repeatedly over the first three days until they finally had it straightened out. I grew quite tired of explaining to staff that it was NOT our anniversary.
The salesman at registration told us that if we sat through a 40 minute presentation during breakfast the next morning that we could get the romantic dinner on the beach for free. He said it was no obligation and if we were not interested after breakfast that we could still get the dinner for free. Unfortunately we fell for this trap. The next morning we went to the breakfast with one of the other couples in our group. What we were told would be a 40 minute breakfast became a 3 hour nightmare where we were passed off from one salesman to the next and made to fill out forms where we provided the same information over and over again. When we were told the timeshare would cost $70,000 and I objected, the salesman insulted me by saying it was not a lot of money and I should be able to afford it. It was all a giant scam. And in the end, I WAS NOT given a free dinner on the beach. It wasn’t until I went into the lobby and began yelling at the staff that they finally conceded and gave us the free dinner on the beach. And then they told me that the dinner I had booked in advance could not be made free and I’d have to have a different type of food.
That night I decided to check with my building concierge (his name was Carlos and he was the savior of this trip! He was excellent!) to make sure that the resort still had the information for the romantic dinner. He said there was no notes in the system for anything about a proposal during dessert. It was infuriating because the e-concierge had told me explicitly that it was taken care of and there was nothing I needed to do once I got to the resort. So I setup the details (again) with Carlos and he assured me that he would take care of everything.
Sunday night I got a call from the front lobby telling me the dinner was canceled. I asked why and she said because of bad weather. I told her the weather forecast looked beautiful for Monday night (which was when the dinner was scheduled) and she told me that the dinner was scheduled for Sunday. After I argued with her for a while she finally admitted that she had her days confused and that I was correct, that the dinner was scheduled for Monday, and that it was NOT cancelled. What a PAIN!
The dinner was scheduled for Monday. That morning the resort lost power and it remained off for 12 hours. During this time we had no idea when power would be restored. It was also clear that the restaurants had no power because all of the lunch was being prepared outdoors on grills. As we sat on the beach we both worried about what would happen with the dinner and if it would need to be rescheduled. Thank god for Carlos. Carlos searched for me throughout the resort and found me on the beach at about 4pm. He signaled for me to come over without alerting my girlfriend and told me he was making sure everything would go as planned and that the power would not affect the dinner. He also said he’d be staying late to make sure everything went well. And, thanks to Carlos, it did. It was the first good moment we had at the resort and I truly do thank Carlos for making it happen. Because up to that point the resort had done just about everything they could to ruin the plans.
Tuesday morning I received a call from the sales people again telling me to come to the lobby to receive two free shirts as a thank you for sitting through the presentation. I said no and we went to breakfast. Mostly because I just wanted to get over that whole fiasco and enjoy the vacation. After breakfast we went back to the room to get ready for the beach and the same salesman called again. I told him to just send the shirts to the room. He said he COIULDN’T send the shirts to the room. Thankfully I was smarter this time and just told him I didn’t want the shirts and I never had to see him again for the rest of the trip. I’m sure if I had gone down there he just would have pitched me more timeshares.
The resort also has a completely ridiculous coupon system. Upon arrival we were given a coupon booklet for various services at the hotel. We were promised $400 in coupons and only given $200 in coupons, but that didn’t really matter because they were stupid anyway. This is a five diamond resort, and I was given a coupon booklet to carry around with me… And yes you had to carry it around because coupons could not be used retroactively. You had to use them at the time you bought things. It really cheapened the entire experience. Their restaurants are five star restaurants. You’d enjoy a fantastic meal with great service. You’d be pressured into buying wine as an extra charge. And then after the meal you are stuck filling out coupons in triplicate and signing paperwork to pay for the wine. It just wasn’t the type of high end experience I’d expect at a five star restaurant inside a five diamond resort. I wouldn’t even expect that at a high end restaurant in the states.
On the subject of wine, there were some problems here. We are not wine snobs, but the all-inclusive wine was terrible and only offered by the glass. To receive a bottle of wine required you to pay an up-charge. And at every restaurant you were pressured by the staff to purchase a bottle of wine. It got tiring saying no over and over. Some of the couples in our group were on their 8th or 9th all-inclusive trip and had been to plenty of resorts where bottle service was included at no charge.
Drink consistency was also a problem. It became quickly apparent which bars offered great drinks, good drinks, and decent drinks. Again this is not typical to most all-inclusive resorts where they will rotate bartenders and have rigid standards on consistency. But at this resort you had to know what sort of drinks to order based on what bar was making it. The worst case was when I asked for a Margarita. This is not a complicated drink. When ordered at the lobby it was one of the best I had ever had. From the pool bar and beach bar it was completely undrinkable. My fiancé ordered Malibu and Coke for most of the week and on several occasions she was given something entirely different than Malibu. So it’s not as if we were asking for anything overly fancy.
The food at the restaurants was extremely good. At first I felt the service was a little slow but as the week went on I came to enjoy the slow and relaxed pace of the meals. On average a dinner took approximately 2.5 hours to complete. That was nice as a patron but terrible in terms of getting seated. The dinner service is between 6pm and 10pm. Unless you get to the restaurant before 6:30, expect an hour long wait. This is because A) all of the restaurants are very tiny and B) the dinners take so long because of the relaxed pace of the service. Also, we were in a group of eight and were told on the first day that the restaurants all will only seat tables as big as six. So if you are traveling in a group, be aware of this. Carlos (our concierge) was able to make special arrangements for us to get tables of eight as long as we ate dinner at either 6pm or 9pm and gave him one day of notice. That being said, one of the restaurants that Carlos arranged for us to eat at did not have the proper reservation. It appears there were some communication issues on the resort’s end. After a brief argument with the head waiter we were able to be seated anyway.
The evening entertainment was great. We saw a comedy show, a rock cover band, a fire show, and a sexy cirque show. Unfortunately for the performers of the fire show, there were some pretty bad sound problems and the music was coming and going and playing at bad volumes. We started to feel a bit uncomfortable for the performers because you could tell it was throwing them off.
We were in a junior swim up suite. I recommend this upgrade as it is really convenient having the pool right outside your room. But I will caution you to BE CAREFUL. The floors in the rooms are completely tile with no carpet. They get incredibly slick and slippery with even the slightest bit of water. My fiancé fell one of the days and hurt herself as well as breaking our camera. After that we were in a constant battle with the maid laying down beach towels on the floor so we wouldn’t slip and the maid removing the towels every day. Also, it was VERY DIFFICULT to get and keep clean pool towels in the room. The shower towels were much smaller than the beach and pool towels. So we would either bring them back to the room our self or ask the concierge to bring some. But every day the maid would remove the clean pool towels and we’d have to go get them again before going into the pool. It was a pain in a room that has its own pool not to have any pool towels every day.
We didn’t have the best of weather but of course I do not fault the resort for that in any way. That being said, the resort did lose power for 12 hours without any explanation to the guests as to why (it wasn’t raining at the time) and without any form of compensation. Even a free bottle of wine would have been nice.
Our minibar was NEVER restocked. By the end of the week it had no more beer and all of the soda that my fiancé liked was gone. And towards the end of the trip the maid staff stopped replacing the water bottles in the room. I had to call room service to get water delivered.
Additionally, our sink and toilet leaked. There was always a puddle of water on the floor near the toilet which was disgusting. On the last day of the trip, the ceiling above the toilet begin to drip water from what I presume was a leaking toilet on the floor above me.
In terms of service problems, on occasional I would ask for a drink or food item and simply never get it. This happened on the beach, in the pool, and in the theater. You would ask for a drink and the waiter would just never come back with it. This was a problem at the restaurants as well. As the Italian restaurant I ordered meals for both myself and my fiancé. I very clearly said we would each be having the Minestrone soup. Instead it was delivered only to me and she was given no soup. In the Mexican restaurant I asked for empanadas with beef and specifically requested no shark meat (which was listed on the menu). Instead we were given empanadas with ONLY shark meat.
Overall, my fiancé and I did have a good time but it was not because of the resort – it was in spite of the resort. The resort is gorgeous and the food is excellent. And overall the staff is extremely courteous, polite, and helpful. But I think there are some major fundamental problems for a resort of this caliber. There are issues with the dishonestly surrounding the sales presentation, the tactics of the sales presentation, the coupon system, the drink consistency, sales tactics on upgrades, scheduling issues, and little problems here and there which all detract from what I’d consider to be a premier experience. If I was going to a Holiday Inn I’d expect a standard experience. But I didn’t go to a Holiday Inn. I spent $4200 and went to the highest rated all-inclusive five diamond resort in Mexico. There are certain expectations that go along with that and the resort fell very very short of them.
We will not be going back to Secrets Maroma Beach or any of the other sister resorts under the AMStar umbrella. We were told several times by representatives of AMStar that Secrets Maroma Beach was one of their premier resorts. After experiencing it firsthand, I’m content to say that it’s not an experience I want to repeat.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun is tucked away on secluded Maroma Beach, voted the World's Best Beach by the Travel Channel four years in a row. This unlimited-luxury heaven provides opulence to the most discerning traveler with a pure white sand beach, stunning ocean views stretching as far as the eye can see, elegant suites providing 24-hour room service, daily refreshed mini-bars and several of them with swim-out access to twelve smaller pools plus a shimmering infinity pool, gourmet dining options and chic lounges. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun Hotel Playa Del Carmen