El Dorado Royale and Casitas
A picture paints a thousand words, so photos first, reviews later. Back to Mexican Resorts.
El Dorado Royale and Casitas: El Dorado Royale and its sister property El Dorado Casitas are adults-only beachfront resorts located about thirty minutes south of the Cancun International Airport. Playa del Carmen sits about twenty-five minutes further south of the resort as well, so day trips to either Cancun or Playa are easily done. El Dorado Royale and the Casitas are part of the Karisma chain of properties that offer romantic, “gourmet inclusive” vacations. They are both lovely, with the “Casitas” offering a “couples only” exclusive getaway. We have had the opportunity to stay at this resort twice in the past two years, both times for about three nights each. Here are a few of our thoughts on these two sister properties.
Size: The Royale is the larger of the two, offering just under 500 suites . While rather large, both times we were on this property, we never felt crowded, as there is plenty of room to move around, hang out, etc. That said, it is a large property, so be prepared to walk, unless you want to catch a golf cart.
Star Level: In terms of service and the overall property, we would rate this resort 4 Stars. Most of the staff was friendly and accommodating with a few small exceptions here and there. For dining, we have mixed feelings. The first time we stayed, we would have rated the dining with 4.5 stars but this time around we were a bit disappointed with some selections, and would probably rate it 3.5 Stars. Maybe it was a fluke? I don’t know. Try it and let us know what you think.
Category: The Royale is large, active, and fun while the Casitas are quite a bit more private, intimate, and laid back. If you stay at the Casitas, however, it’s an easy walk over to the Royale, so you can have the best of both worlds. Be prepared to pay for that convenience, though.
Beach: Both resorts are set on the same long, sandy beach. Keep in mind, however, that the beach is not really the soft, powdery white sandy beach made for romantic moon-lit strolls. It’s quite a bit more rugged and rocky, but pretty, nonetheless. If you’re looking for a more intimate resort with powdery white sand, try El Dorado Maroma or other Playacar Beach resorts instead. More on those later.
Room: With 478 suites available, there are several room categories you can choose from, starting with the standard garden view jacuzzi suite and then offering beach views, swim up rooms, and even a two-bedroom Presidential Suite. (Hmmm…I wonder how much that one costs?) The rooms are very comfortable, and decorated quite nicely. It was easy to relax in our rooms although I must say, I was much more excited with our beach view stay last year than the more recent garden view stay we just had. There’s just something about being able to see and hear the ocean from our room that makes the stay that much more special, but then, that’s just us. Add a hammock and some coffee and cuisine to that ocean view, and we were very tempted to stay! Each suite offers in-room jacuzzis, air conditioning, and most of the typical room amenities expected in an upscale resort. An added bonus are their robes, which are becoming less and less common in resorts these days, as well as hammocks on the deck.
Activities: The El Dorado Royale is very active. There are different classes, shows, demonstrations, etc. going on throughout the day. You can also enjoy non-motorized water sports, try out a scuba clinic, ride bikes, and play tennis. You can just relax on the beach or by one of their gorgeous pools. And yes, I do mean gorgeous. This resort has some very pretty pools. If you are a “pool” person versus a “beach” person, it’s a great choice.
Nightlife: There is nightlife at the resorts, with music, shows, entertainers, etc. We typically enjoy quiet nights, so we have not spent a lot of time enjoying the active nightlife. That said, it is possible to have quiet, intimate evenings, if that’s what you prefer. You could also catch a taxi (or colectivo) to nearby Playa del Carmen or Cancun for the evening, exploring the many dining and entertainment choices of either. It would be a shame to come all this way and not get to experience a little of the culture around you.
Dining: As I mentioned above, the Karisma Resort chain touts its “Gourmet All-Inclusive” theme. Additionally, in 2009, they celebrated the first harvest of their very own Greenhouse, the first ever in their region. Their 70,000 square foot Greenhouse now produces organic herbs and vegetables not only for their resort, but for all of the Karisma and Azul properties in the area. And if there is leftover produce, they sell it to their employees for pennies on the dollar. We think it’s an excellent concept and we hope it catches on in the area.
We dined at Cocotal for breakfast. They had a great buffet selection with tons of fruit, yogurts, smoothies, and many of your typical American as well as Mexican breakfast foods. We were also able to order a la carte, and have our breakfast made to order, which is what we enjoyed doing. Delicious. The Eggs Benedict with bacon was especially tasty and filling. It was a great way to start the day.
Kampai. We enjoyed the Asian food at Kampai. Everything we sampled was delicious. There was a great selection of food choices, and each meal we ordered was seasoned perfectly. Our entrees were spicy and flavorful.
D’Italia: The dining here was excellent and the presentation outstanding. See below for a few photos! However, it was also an interesting dining experience. I am an advocate for all-inclusive restaurants offering smaller servings of each course. I think it’s a great idea, because there is just too much waste. Well, this restaurant did not disappoint. Each course was tiny, which allowed us to be hungry when the main entree arrived. Unfortunately, the main entree was also tiny! We actually left an all-inclusive dining experience wondering where we could go to complete dinner. We chose JoJo’s.
JoJo’s: The best thing about this restaurant was the view. It is set right on the beach, so you can enjoy ocean views and refreshing evening breezes. The food and service, however, were mediocre. We ordered fish and beef; both were overcooked. The service was extremely slow, despite the fact that there weren’t many people there, and while courteous, the staff didn’t seem too friendly or genuine. Again, this was just one experience out of many, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
Service: As you’ve seen from above, the service was a bit hit and miss, but really most of the staff bent over backwards to make us feel warm and welcome. There were only a handful that may not have been pleasant or might have made us feel like an inconvenience. But despite this, I would recommend this resort in a heartbeat.
Overall: The El Dorado Royale and Casitas are excellent properties. The resorts are lush and beautiful, the meandering pools refreshing, the staff pleasant and accommodating, and the restaurants offer some great choices. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway and like a large, active resort with gorgeous pools, decent dining, and courteous staff, this would be high on our list of choices. If, however, a powdery white, soft sandy beach is top on your list of “must-haves”, I would lean in a different direction.