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The Occidental Grand Xcaret is a beautiful hotel nestled among lush jungle, rocky paths and the blue Caribbean sea. Majestic and controversial, the hotel is anything but blah, but if you’ll love it or hate it, it will be based on your previous experiences with other hotels and obviously on how things work out for you at the Occidental Grand Xcaret. Personally we hated this hotel.

Our first and last impression, which happened at the hotel front desk, were really bad. We had reserved the junior suite and even called the hotel in advance to make sure it would accommodate 2 adults and 1 child. To our surprise upon arriving to the hotel the front desk employees did not know what to do with our 6 year old son. After a 35 minute wait, the front desk manager approached us and told us that there was nothing to worry about, that kids ARE allowed in the junior suites for free anyway! This was only the first of our mishaps at the Occidental Grand Xcaret resort in Riviera Maya, which concluded with yet another issue at check-out time, when one of the employees insisted we had informed him we were going to check out a day earlier but failed to do so (we were paid in full for 5 days).

But let’s go back to the actual hotel and what it offers its visitors. We would like to mention the beautiful pools and gardens that it features… With the rooms being located in separate buildings (each with its own concierge and waiting area), there is a pool for every 2 or 3 buildings. Sadly there is not a bar, restaurant or cafeteria anexed to those buildings or pools. For an all inclusive hotel this is a problem. Or should we say it is a problem for the hotel guests while it is an advantage for the hotel owners who end up spending less on food and drinks?

The pools are fairly clean but there are no bathrooms next to them, which means lots of people will resort to peeing in the pool instead of having to walk all the way to their building and room. While the pools water appeared to be clean (they must have some very powerful filters!), the paths around them are littered with cigarettes. During our stay there were even people smoking inside the pools and throwing the ashes in the water without the hotel employees doing anything about this. For people who smoke this is not a problem but it certainly is for those who don’t. Other than that the common areas were fairly clean.

There are 6 theme restaurants, 1 buffet and 1 snack-restaurant in this resort. The food is really good and the Sonora Grill steakhouse is actually great. The only issue at the restaurants other than the buffet is that you can only order 1 main course per person, something that does not match the all inclusive model.

The rooms are beautiful and very clean. With solid wood furniture, a spacious marble shower, flat screen TV, private balcony and good quality linens, the rooms are something to write home about. We loved our junior suite and are sure even the most demanding travelers would too. The air conditioner worked to a charm, the minibar was free and re-stocked daily and the mattress and pillows were soft and comfortable.

The Occidental Grand Xcaret resort has an intricate architecture that adds to the area’s natural beauty. They even have their own Mayan Ruins, a small shopping village, live animals and a huge fish pond complete with fish food so you can feed the fish yourself. There is plenty to do on the grounds, and the bars and restaurants are open fairly late. Still, we can’t get over the idiocy at the front desk and the unbelievable amount of cigarette butts everywhere. For this and despite its 4-star facilities, the Occidental Grand Xcaret only earned a 2.5 star rating from us.