The El Dorado Casitas Royale is truly a five-star experience. Along the Mayan Riviera hotel strip, this all-inclusive resort holds true to their namesake. Your experience here will be royal, with every detail perfectly planned and thought out. One of our tripcentral.ca managers visited in early 2017 and had this to say:
The grounds at this property are mature and impeccable. I cannot imagine how much they spend on gardeners.
The property stretches along a long ribbon of narrow beach as opposed to most new properties having a short width beach with buildings and public rooms set back a long distance from it. The casitas consist of seven clusters of two story suites arranged in a semi-circle around their own pool and swim-up bar. All units are a short walk from the beach, where lovely shaded beach beds are available on a first come-first serve basis. There are no fights for deck chairs in the pool area or along the beach.
The spacious casitas themselves are well equipped with an in-room whirlpool and a bathroom with a spacious indoor and outdoor shower. The spacious indoor shower features modern design and lighting. The outdoor shower is an outstanding luxury. The water height allows for a relaxing, almost therapeutic water massage. The tile work and ceramics in the bathroom and outdoor shower convey a warm luxury feel to your home away from home.
First floor casitas have a patio and swim-out area. This looks fantastic, but in practice, few use the private pool area. Most venture over to the larger pool with swim up bar. The second story units have a view but obviously lack the swim out capability. After using the swimout once, the novelty wore off.
The resort is run by Karisma Hotels and Resorts, who have positioned themselves to be a Gourmet Inclusive choice in the all-inclusive market. This positioning is well deserved. Cooking for many at once is always a challenge. It is hard to compare “banquet food” in a five star hotel compared to the individual orders of a fine independent restaurant. Karisma does a fine job of reaching the quality of an independent restaurant, particularly by offering choices that can be delivered more easily en masse. This is achieved by having tasty flavours, spices, and sauces served with more “timing forgiving” meats, seafood, and fish. They also invest heavily in staff both on the serving and preparation side of the meal equation. This is why some five stars are more expensive than others.
The service is attentive and readily available. One visit to the reception area for the casitas section resulted in a call to lost and found for some missing prescription sunglasses and a delivery to the room minutes later. A call for more snacks in the room was heeded in minutes! Our concierge had our a la carte reservations booked for our full stay on day one.
Pushing the limits of all-inclusive fare, Karisma offered a show cooking theatre for a special dinner in the Fuentes restaurant. A chef and sommelier offered commentary and demonstration on each course. There was no bad seat in the house with four massive screens televising the event, including close up shots common on cooking shows. These experiences stretch the expectations of Karisma’s guests.
While we are not wine snobs, we enjoy decent wine served properly. The choice of additional wines beyond the usual all inclusive offering was extensive. Even the included wines were not terrible – and this is a compliment since most all-inclusive resorts have TERRIBLE included wine. If I have one criticism common to many hotels and restaurants, particularly in warm destinations, it’s the wine temperature. Red wine should be served from a “cellar temperature” – around 15 degrees C. When one pays a premium for better wine, it should be served from a wine fridge or cellar at lower than room temperature. There is nothing more disappointing than paying double for what you’d pay at the liquor store at home, only to have it served warm. If the ambient temperature is 25 C, this ruins the wine experience.
The staff at El Dorado were fabulous. We asked that our wine be slightly chilled before serving and every waiter was more than accommodating and happy to meet our seemingly “snobby” insistence. I have to say, I’ve been far less accommodated by serving staff at Toronto hotels in the summer serving red wine at “sunny room temperature.” No scowl here; happy to oblige.
The combined resorts are a good size, offering many choices for dinner, bars, and limited entertainment. There is entertainment nightly, but I would not call this a party palace. Most of the guests here are looking for quality rest and relaxation. The resort is spread out nicely to feel as though there are very few guests. No crowds or excessive noise at all.
The beach is a typical Mayan Riviera experience. In some areas there is enough beach to wade into the water on a rare yellow or green flag day. In some areas it is obstructed by rock and reef. The beach is nice to look at, especially from the shaded or sunny beach chair and beach cabana vantage point. The sound of the surf is intoxicating.
There are for sure, way better swimming beaches in other destinations. If swimming in the ocean or a wide soft sandy beach is your number one priority, you’re probably better off elsewhere. But if you like looking at the ocean, but swimming in the pool, this place is still a ten.
In an attempt to restore the ecology just off the beach, Karisma has created a man-made reef. These concrete blocks are made to obstruct the water flow so plant and aquatic life can thrive. Once one understands that these blocks are not part of a world war two harbor, their appearance is less bothersome in the context of vacation scenery.
The El Dorado Royale and Casitas are an excellent five star all inclusive vacation for those seeking quiet relaxation, good food, quality fixtures, and attentive service.