My first FAM trip to the Occidental Grand Xcaret

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I have been asked by many of you what I thought of the Occidental Grand Xcaret and as a woman that is known to tell it how it is, here goes nothing.

First, I would like to give many thanks to the Occidental Resorts and Air Canada Vacations for inviting me to be part of their FAM trip. For those of you that don’t know, FAM is short for “Familiarization.” It was an awesome learning experience for me, as a travel advisor, to learn more about the resort and in turn, recommend the resort to the right client.  I mean it didn’t hurt that I was “working” in sunny Mexico either.

In all of my years in the travel industry, I have never been on a FAM trip and didn’t know what to expect. Typical first day of school jitters, where you start to ask yourself, “Will we all get a long? Will I fit in? Will I even like the other agents?”  Fortunately, I totally lucked out! The ladies on this trip were so welcoming, had so much industry knowledge to share and a few of us even did our due diligences and completed a quality control inspection of the disco until 2am.  I would classify this as the best “work” trip ever!

The ladies and I (I’m on the left) had dinner at the Mexican restaurant with the district manager of the Occidental Grand Xcaret Hotel chain.

The ladies and I (I’m on the left) had dinner at the Mexican restaurant with the district manager of the Occidental Hotel chain.

Now, for the review you all have been waiting for…drum roll please!

The Occidental Grand Xcaret was located 60 minutes from the airport and 5 minutes from Playa Del Carmen.  The coolest thing about this resort is that it was built in an old Mayan town. When I walked around the resort I was surrounded by trees as tall as skyscrapers; it felt as if I was in a Costa Rican jungle. I saw monkeys, deer, iguanas and so much more. This was the most interesting eco-resort I have been too.

The staff was friendly, always said “hello” or checking if you were lost to offer you direction. They definitely went above and beyond to make sure our stay was comfortable.

Occidental-Grand-Xcaret-Main-Lobby

Main Lobby

Occidenta-Grand-Xcaret-Hotel-Grounds

Hotel grounds

One of the greatest perks of staying at this resort is that, only five minutes from the main lobby, we had direct access to the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. When staying at this resort you can book the Unlimited Xcaret Experience; which offers you unlimited access to the park so you can take your time sightseeing over a few days. I explored the caves through the underground river, saw beautiful dolphins and had a relaxing experience taking a raft through the paradise river. I spent a full day and only managed to discover less than half of the park.

I would highly recommend this resort to couples and families with children older than about 7. If you are seeking a quiet resort with lots of nature activities, this is the right resort for you. The Occidental Grand Xcaret and the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park is an eco tourist’s delight!

Raft through the paradise river.

Raft through the paradise river.

Atmosphere:

The Occidental is a large quiet resort that is surrounded by beautiful lush vegetation. The resort was at 95% occupancy, but felt like there was no one there. I had no problems finding a lounge chair by the beach or pool.

The main lobby had a huge pond filled with at least a hundred fish that you could feed and stunning brightly colored parrots. The grounds were magnificent – lush trees and exotic free roaming wildlife. It was difficult not to be taking pictures every few minutes.

Rooms:

I stayed in the Deluxe Room with a balcony. I found the rooms to be spacious, clean and simple. The Deluxe room had the standard in room amenities (safe, bathroom products, mini fridge). The Upgrade to the Royal Club offers private VIP check-in and checkout, complimentary Internet, room service, premium bath amenities, an exclusive a la carte restaurant and concierge services.

Deluxe room

Deluxe room

Wi-Fi:

I know you’re supposed to disconnect on vacation, but since this was a work trip I definitely needed to test the Wi-Fi. There was amazing Wi-Fi strength throughout the entire resort. I accessed Wi-Fi in the lobby, restaurants, bars, room, pools and even the beach.

When a deluxe room is booked a guest receives one-hour free Wi-Fi per day in the lobby. The only downside is that once you sign in you must commit to the full hour. You cannot sign in and out multiple times throughout the day.

I choose to purchase the Wi-Fi and it was the best value for money. I didn’t have to be stuck in the lobby for an hour to make sure I use all my allocated Wi-Fi time. The cost is $8/hour, $50/day and $70/week. You can definitely sign in and out within that hour you purchased and your Wi-Fi will not time out. The resort offers a special rate for groups costing $35/week!

Food:

I am a big foodie and have been called “picky” sometimes. I wouldn’t say I am picky I just know what I like…DELICIOUS FOOD! At this resort, there are five a la carte restaurants and two buffets. I tried the main buffet, the beach buffet, the Italian and the Mexican restaurant. One of the highlights of this resort is that you do not have to make reservations in advance. You can show up when you’re ready for dinner and they will seat you if there is availability.

Beach Buffet

Rated: 4 out of 5

At the beach buffet, I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh fruit, delicious omelette station and variety at breakfast. Lunch offered a great selection that catered to everyone’s taste buds and had a taco station. The atmosphere was calming and you can hear the sounds of the ocean from the beach bar.

Mexican Restaurant

Rated: 4 out of 5

I was extremely pleased with the Mexican restaurant because the food was delicious and authentic. The guacamole and cheese quesadillas were to die for!

Main Buffet

Rated: 3 out of 5

In the main buffet, the food was mediocre and choices were limited. I found myself waiting for food to be replenished and some of the food appeared to be sitting out for too long.

Italian Restaurant

Rated: 2 out of 5

Now Italian is one of my favourite foods and I was so excited to try it. I was extremely disappointed and left hungry after my 3-course meal; probably because I didn’t eat much of it. The antipasto buffet was scarce, the pasta and main course were flavourless and the pasta was overcooked.

Pools/Beach:

The beach was small with soft sand and scattered seaweed. For my beach lovers, this is not the resort for you. This resort definitely caters best to the pool lovers.

The Occidental Grand Xcaret had five swimming pools. Each pool that the resort offers caters to a different traveller. The pool with the swim up bar had the liveliest crowd. They had a quiet pool for guests that want to lay back, relax and enjoy a good book. The adult swimming pool isn’t your ordinary pool, as it contains salt water and connects to the ocean where snorkelers can enter and exit. Even though the adult pool was beautiful, I did not like it because the pool was covered in algae due to there not being any tile finishing.

Beach

Beach

Adult pool

Adult pool

Wedding Ceremony

This resort can accommodate wedding ceremonies in two different locations, in a gazebo or also in front of a Mayan ruin. If you were looking for an amazing unique backdrop, I would highly recommend the Mayan ruin. On one side you have a Mayan ruin and the other side there is the ocean. It took my breath away! When I find my prince charming I want a backdrop as stunning at this.

The wedding planner at this resort is amazing and works very hard to make sure each of her couples are happy. This resort also caters to weddings for same sex couples.

Another great reason to book your wedding here is that your reception can be held at the beach bar; which is located on the opposite side of the rooms so your group can party until 1am.

Mayan Ruin Wedding Ceremony

Mayan Ruin wedding Ceremony

Mayan ruin wedding ceremony with ocean view

Mayan Ruin wedding ceremony with ocean view

I hope you found this post to be informative and it helped you decide if this resort is right for you. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or would like to see more pictures.

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