As mentioned in my previous post, right before the world turned upside from Covid-19, Randy and I jetted off for a small getaway to El Dorado Casitas Royale , an all inclusive, adults-only resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This was my first time to Mexico, but not for Randy. He had been several times before and was very excited to take me. While I was very excited to add another stamp to my passport, I was also nervous. Not because of where we were going necessarily but I knew little to nothing about the area or really where we were staying. I knew it wasn't far from Cancun, which I had heard some questionable stories about. But Randy has got the reputation of being... ummm... boujee. So I knew wherever we were going had to be 1. safe and 2. nice. We had a not so great trip to Miami a few years before and I knew he wouldn't be down to replicate that any time soon.
A quick 3 hour plane ride and we arrived in Cancun to sunny skies and warm breezes. We headed out and quickly found our shuttle that we had booked ahead of time. One word of advice that I will give you on that subject is to definitely do your homework on your shuttle service ahead of time and have all your information. Once you have grabbed your luggage and make your way out to the shuttle area, there is a corridor of shuttle companies that will HOUND you to use them. It's actually a bit overwhelming. We used Lomas Travel and I would highly recommend them again and again.
We hopped on our shuttle and a mere 35 minutes later, we arrived at El Dorado resort. Now the resort itself actually has two parts. There's the main resort which is called El Dorado Royale, which takes up the majority of the property and then there's El Dorado Casitas Royale. The casitas are a smaller part of the resort with bigger rooms, more private pools and several private restaurants. When I say private restaurants, I mean that you have to be staying at the Casitas to be able to dine in them. Although a major bonus is that if you stay in them, you have access to all the restaurants on property, both at El Dorado and the Casitas as well as all the activities and amenities.
Other folks on our shuttle got dropped off at the Main Lobby for El Dorado Royale, but we were transferred to a golf cart and taken to the lobby for the Casitas, which was a ways away. We zipped through the property as our driver pointed out different restaurants and amenities on the way. It was enormous and absolutely stunning! We were right on the ocean and our options of things to do and places to eat seemed endless. The sun was shining and the breeze was gorgeous. Every single employee that we passed greeted us with an "Hola!" and a big smile. I was already at home and couldn't wait to explore.
Soon we arrived at a much smaller building then the main lobby which was where we were checking in for the Casitas. A friendly man greeted us with warm towels, champagne and spa water. After checking in, we headed to one of their many restaurants on property, Kampai. I didn't really think that my first meal in Mexico would be Asian influenced but we were starving and it was convenient. I'm here to tell you... I still think about the Pork Curry that Randy had there. It. Was. INCREDIBLE.
There are many restaurants on the property ranging in authentic Mexican cuisine options to Italian to American and more. On Tuesday nights, the entire property takes part in a Fiesta, which is open to all guests. I wish I had taken photos of this but honestly, I didn't because I knew they couldn't do it justice. It was buffet style, with endless amounts of authentic Mexican cuisine options. Tacos, rice dishes, many salad options, tamales, arepas, ceviches and a dessert station that could stun the biggest sweet tooth, complete with made to order churros. They also had performers including mariachis, dancers and fire throwers. The only down side to this was that we didn't get there early enough and seating was first come first serve. So we didn't have a marked area to sit which made plate balancing a little tough. They also had local artisans lined up next to the pavilion selling goods of all kinds including clothing, dishware and art amongst other things.
We only had four nights to play in the restaurants and some of them are only open for dinner. We tried Rincon Mexicano, the Fiesta, Fuentes and D'Italia Casitas. Each of these restaurants were so different and so amazing in their own right. Rincon Mexicano was traditional mexican cuisine that was the perfect first night meal to kick off our getaway.
Now Fuentes was hands down the most amazing dining experience we had during our trip. It's a culinary amphitheater where you have a five course meal while chefs demo each course right in front of you. For an additional monetary amount, you can do a wine pairing with each course which in my opinion was completely worth it. It added an extra layer of flavor and elegance to each course. We LOVED every single course we had and really enjoyed the live music as well. Honestly I can't recommend this experience enough. We would have done another night there if the menu wasn't the same as the night before.
Let's get back to the resort itself. There's a ton of activities to do on site that are included in your stay. Everything ranging from archery to biking to tequila tastings and more. Additional amenities feature 13 swimming pools, a fitness center, 24 hour room service, non-motored water sports including kayaking and scuba and shuttles all around the property. Their featured spa is the Naay Spa and there are actually multiple locations on the property. Unfortunately, I did not get to partake in their services during this trip although they had many to choose from. But the facilities looked beautiful and it just gives another reason to go back right?
The casitas themselves were broken up into 8 U shaped areas and every U shaped area had their own private pool with swim up bar and lounge area. I was a big fan of this as I am not one for crowds. It was perfect as the most people that was at our pool at any one given time was 10.
The lower level suites have the swim up pool area outside their rooms but I personally liked the second level rooms because we had a great ocean view. Every balcony also had a full sized lounge bed as well as a small table which we enjoyed breakfast at every morning. There is an area of the Casitas that has plunge pools on the second level for additional cost. Definitely want to give those a try next time. We had a king sized bed in our room as well as a beautiful outdoor shower, indoor walk in shower and a jacuzzi tub. It was large, air-conditioned and wonderfully relaxing as well as perfectly matched with our Mexican environment.
All over the property are private lounging cabanas that are up for grabs with no additional payment. They are cleaned daily and available at the pools, grass areas and of course on their beaches. We claimed one each day we were there and loved being able to alternate between enjoying the lounge chairs on the sand in front of our cabana or being shaded comfortably. For an additional fee and levels, you can have a cabana with drink service and meals brought to you. We did partake in this one day and it was the perfect splurge for a luxury upgrade to our trip. Our morning started off with yogurt, champagne, orange juice and even a magazine for me to enjoy. Our server Paty, couldn't have been more accommodating, bringing us drinks throughout the day and checking in. In the afternoon, lunch was brought over that we got to select from a menu of various options. Refreshing ceviche, deliciously made fresh wraps and seasonally ingredient packed salads were the perfect meal on the beach.
The ocean in front of our area did have a fair amount of rocks in it and thanks to an amazing wind that was constant during our stay, the water was too rough to swim in. This didn't deter us though as one of my absolute favorite features was the salt water beach front pool that we visited several times. The water is pumped in directly from the ocean and we even spotted a few fun, brightly colored little fish near the rocks lining the water. There was even a lovely sandbar that I loved lounging on that allowed me to be half in and half out of the water.
Additionally, there are excursions that you can take to one of Karisma's other properties for water sports and other excursions to see local sights as well. We didn't partake in any of these during this trip because the name of the game was relaxation this time around. But yet again, another reason to go back and explore more of what this resort has to offer. Even the details around the property made it so enjoyable. The decor, the planters and even a few little friends we spotted really made it stand out.
Do I realize that this isn't a completely realistic picture of what Mexico is? Yes I do. I know Mexico has so much more to offer then a picture perfect resort catering to guests. I know it has some of the most hard working people in this world that I have been lucky enough to work with at several different locations. I know their food is made from the heart, their traditions and culture is deeply seeded and their history is littered with heartbreaks and stories of trials and tribulations. All this lead to the experience that we had with so many Mexican employees here that were warm, welcoming and anxious to show us Americans what they had to offer, not just at the resort but as a Country. I can't tell you how many times I've said in the past hectic months that we've had "Can we just go back to Mexico?". It was the escape we needed at the time and the perfect break before the hell that has since followed with quarantines, restrictions and the sadness of Covid-19. It's what we are hoping bookends the end of this situation as Randy and I are both dying to go back to this oasis of leisure. Many couples we talked to while their make it an annual escape, traveling everywhere from Winnipeg to Washington. We hope to join their ranks and if you need as escape to Mexico, do yourself a favor and go to El Dorado Casitas Royale. I know I'm there once a week at least in my mind. Hopefully, I'll see you there.
Mexico City is cool, vibrant, and eclectic. Oaxaca is beautiful, colourful, and laid-back. We LOVE both! Join us on this trip and allow us to show you why! Be prepared to fully immerse. See, listen, taste and smell while we walk through Mexico’s streets and markets, connect with its people, and try lots of mouth-watering food (and drinks)!
You will cook authentic Mexican dishes in a beautiful set up surrounded by a knowledgeable, English speaking Mexican chef. You will have a Brief overview of a local food market, located only one block away from the place where the cooking class will be performing.