I am going to torture you a little bit today…I know that cold weather has arrived in most of the country but I’ve got a warm weather resort review to warm you up!
Most of you probably remember that I went on a quick long weekend getaway to Mexico in late September. If there is one thing in life I love, it’s a beach vacation. I love all vacations but getting away to a tropical beach feels like such an escape where you can really be present in moment, soak up the sunshine and breathe easier. I always get these travel deals in my inbox from companies like Travelzoo, Kayak and Cheap Caribbean. I always browse through them and dream but in mid-September I decided to book a last-minute getaway. I used Cheap Caribbean and purchased a deal for a three-night trip to Puerto Moreles, Mexico. The trip included flight and three nights stay in an all-inclusive resort. The total for the trip (flight + resort) was just over $600 per person. Given that I you can hardly find a flight to the Caribbean or Mexico for that amount, it was a great deal.
The resort was the Ocean Coral & Turquesa in Puerto Moreles. It’s just a quick 25 minute transfer from the Cancun International Airport. The flight left Charlotte at 9:30 a.m. and landed in Cancun by 11:30 a.m. thanks to gaining an hour. I set up ground transportation through Olympus Tours before the trip and it was a breeze to get through customs and to transportation. I arrived at the resort just before 1 p.m. Such an easy day of travel and a whole day at the beach ahead!
This was my first time booking a vacation through Cheap Caribbean and I was impressed by their service. They sent me a packet with all of my travel docs after I booked the trip and then followed up with me via email and a phone call the week before the trip to make sure that I had everything I needed.
I did tons of reading on the resort before I arrived so I felt well-informed with expectations in check. I was totally expecting it to be a big resort (590+ rooms) with your typical all-inclusive drinks and food. I was right. I’ll get more into detail on that soon. Checking in took about 20 minutes. The room wasn’t ready but I also asked for an upgrade to ocean view so I changed from my originally assigned room. I went and grabbed lunch and the room was ready after.
I’ll take you through my experience with the resort…room, grounds, food, etc.
The rooms are housed in several different buildings with three floors. The hallways are open, bright and breezy.
The overall design of the Ocean Coral & Turquesa is contemporary. The lobby feels like a W lounge and the rooms are simple with clean lines and bright pops of color.
The room had a sitting area and a nice-sized balcony. I had read ahead of time that this area of Mexico is extremely humid but a dehumidifier (provided by the resort) in the room totally remedied that. No musty smells or anything. It was crazy how much water that thing soaked up!
The bathrooms were clean and modern with a separate walk in shower and tub with jets.
It was lovely to walk around the resort. The grounds were well-maintained and beautiful.
Beaches & Pools
The resort features it’s own strip of private beach. It was never a problem to find a lounge chair and towel service was managed through cards that you exchanged for towels each day. I knew beforehand that this area of beach has heavy seaweed and the water is a little more green than turquoise. Regardless, it was still beautiful. The water was calm and I did plenty of ocean swimming.
There are four pools on the resort. I visited two of them but spent the majority of time at the beach. The pools were louder with music playing, games going, kids, etc. I prefer the serenity of the beach and hearing ocean waves.
The swim up bar stayed pretty crowded, especially in the afternoons.
Turtle Release Program
The most unique thing about my stay at Ocean Coral & Turquesa was their turtle release program. Apparently, sea turtles come and build nests on the beach in front of the resort. The resort sections off the area and protects it and releases the sea turtles as they hatch. I just happened to be there at the time of year that they were hatching.
It was a pretty amazing thing to see and participate in. They do a nightly release of whatever hatchlings they have from the day and a big crowd gathers on the beach to watch the turtles swim off to sea. I was so lucky on the last day that I was there to be laying out in front of the nest area when they came to check the nests for the day. The guy fished around in the nest checking for babies. It was so sweet when he pulled out a writhing little guy ready to go swim and said, “hola!” I got to hold the baby turtle!
The food was very average. Again, I was totally expecting this so it was fine. I was able to put together decent meals but a lot of stuff was pretty bland, flavorless and repetitive. The resort features almost 10 restaurants, although they’re not all open daily for breakfast/lunch/dinner. They have a lot of theme restaurants…Japanese Steakhouse, Italian, Mexican, Steakhouse, Creperie, All-American, Buffet, etc. I had breakfast and lunch at the buffet and then dinner in the restaurants. I am so grateful for a day trip to Zoetry to break up having to eat all my meals here! One thing I did really appreciate was a huge selection of fresh juices every morning at breakfast. Also, there was always salad stuff on hand for lunch/dinner.
The mixed drinks were good. You could specify what brand of liquor you wanted and they had pretty mainstream stuff like Jose Cuervo, Stoli, etc. The wine left much to be desired. It was undrinkable and we decided to upgrade to ordering off the a la carte wine menu at night instead. One tip I picked up from other vacationers was to bring your own insulated cup (like a Tervis Tumbler). These glasses were tiny and the ice melted quickly. The bar service at the pool was slow and the beach service even slower. The bartenders were happy to work with you on special drink requests and mastered a pretty delicious version of a skinny margarita for us.
The resort offered a paid upgrade to the Privileged Level. This included access to a special restaurant, premium liquor (but no upgrade in wine), preferred seating in restaurants and their own beach/pool area. I did not do the upgrade. Wasn’t worth the added expense for such a short trip.
I really enjoyed the Ocean Coral & Turquesa for a quick weekend getaway. I would return again for a similar short trip but I would stop on the way from the airport to the hotel for in-room snacks and nice wine. I have definitely stayed at many other resorts with better food, wine, beaches, service, etc. but this one is pretty great for a budget trip. It exceeded my expectations in the areas of grounds, overall layout and design, lobby feel and ambiance and rooms.
Here’s a quick pro/con list:
– Budget friendly
– Beautiful grounds
– Contemporary design
– Comfortable rooms
– Good standard brand liquor
– Plenty of restaurants to accommodate guests
– Big pools
– Adequate ocean seating
– Swimmable ocean
– Sea Turtle Release program
– On-site activities such as tennis, scuba diving, snorkeling, etc
– Lots of upselling
– You have to wear a wristband at all times (hate this)
– Food is not great
– Wine is terrible (includes champagne)
– A good amount of children
– Loud pool with loudspeakers, games, music, etc
– Not enough bars
– No “snack bar” options for mid-day or evening snacks/casual food
– No room service breakfast
– Fitness center is gross
*I did not try any of the spa services.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to answer them. I’ll be writing a review of Zoetry Punta Cana in the coming weeks and that should give you an idea of how greatly all-inclusive experiences can vary.
Have you ever stayed in an all-inclusive? If so, where and how was your experience?