Food is mediocre, and quality varies between restaurants
Guests may be asked to participate in time-share meetings
El Dorado Royale, a sprawling 450-acre oceanfront property, is an adults-only all-inclusive resort with a dizzying array of amenities. With 13 gorgeous pools, seven restaurant options, a handful of bars, an incredible spa, and activities like yoga, snorkeling, and kayaking, guests will never be bored, or hungry, during their stay. Rooms have nice features like fully stocked mini-bars and large balconies, but don’t feel as luxurious as they could be for the price and four-and-a-half pearl rating. With unsightly sand bags and a rocky ocean floor, the beach is not the prettiest, nor is it the best for swimming. Like many other all-inclusives, the food is mediocre, and quality varies between restaurants. Guests looking for something a bit more intimate with better rooms should check out El Dorado Casitas Royale, which is located on the same property as El Dorado Royale, and shares its restaurants and amenities.
Make no mistake, El Dorado Royale is huge resort complex. Golf carts are an ever present sight, and are constantly whizzing around the property carrying guests to different pools, bars, or restaurants. Alternatively, many guests choose to walk along the beachfront stone walkway to get from point A to point B. While the hotel certainly gets crowded (and noisy) during peak seasons, its massive size means there are always some secluded spots and pools that remain quiet. There can be some aggressive pool chair saving, so guests looking to sleep past six am might want to consider a swim-up suite, which includes a private pool area and two lounge chairs just steps from the room’s terrace. Inside, the lobby makes an elaborate first impression with gleaming white surfaces, a huge water fountain, and a tiered silver chandelier hanging in the center of the room. Manicured grounds are well tended with green lawns, palm trees, and ocean views. The hotel’s main clientele are young 30-something couples, including Americans, Canadians, and Europeans.
About halfway between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, El Dorado Royale is actually closer to the tiny town of Puerto Morelos than either of the two tourist hubs. There isn’t much to do or see in the immediate area surrounding the hotel, and most guests come to enjoy the property rather than the local culture. The hotel is about a 25 minute drive both from Cancun International Airport and the tourist-friendly strip of Fifth Avenue in Playa Del Carmen.
Colorful, with some nice amenities, but lacking a feeling of true luxury
Rooms at El Dorado Royale are nice, but they’re not particularly luxurious. Considering the price, rooms are sort of a let down, and lack a “wow” factor. Despite a bright orange accent wall, cheap white tile floors, and an array of colorful pillows displayed across the king-size bed, rooms still manage to feel dark. There’s a lot of natural light, thanks to the sliding glass door that leads to the balcony or terrace, but there aren’t many lamps or light fixtures to make the room bright at night. There’s a flat-screen TV, a small dining table with two chairs, and a child size ottoman in the corner -- a funny feature considering this is an adults-only hotel. The fully stocked and free mini-bar includes beer, soda, bottled water, and assorted candy and snacks. Depending on guests, the open bathroom is either sexy or completely lacking in privacy. There is no door to separate the bedroom and bathroom, only a clear glass divider between the hot tub and the rest of the room. Bathrooms have marble counters, double sinks, and walk-in showers, but also feel dark like the bedrooms.
A dizzying array of on-site activities, restaurants, and pools, and an incredible spa
It’s hard to be bored at El Dorado Royale, where there always seems to be something going on. During the day, most guests can be found at one of the hotels 13 pools. La Isla, the main pool, tends to get crowded, and sometimes a bit rowdy. Luckily, guests looking for a quieter spot have 12 other pools to choose from. The beach, while not the best for swimming, is usually buzzing with activity. Whether it’s a beach volleyball game or a morning yoga session, many guests congregate on the hotel’s sandy shore. El Dorado Royale also offers free non-motorized watersports like kayaking and snorkeling. There are seven different restaurants and snack shops at El Dorado Royale, and almost too many bars to count, including multiple swim-up bars. Restaurants range from the classic buffet to a la carte options serving Italian, Mexican, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. The a la carte restaurants require reservations, and have varying dress codes. The food tends to air on the side of mediocrity, and quality and freshness varies between restaurants. Naay Spa offers a wide array of treatments including beachfront massages and reflexology and detoxification sessions. Though it’s located on the El Dorado Casitas side of the property, El Dorado Royale guests still have access to it. The spa has a designated bridal floor, with massage rooms, pedicure chairs, and a full hair and makeup salon specifically designed for brides getting married at the hotel. There is also an outdoor Mayan treatment center where guests can take part in traditional Mayan healing rituals. Of course, there are a few small glitches in the resort’s otherwise fabulous amenities. Wi-Fi is not part of the all-inclusive plan, and the daily rate is scarily expensive. Also, guests may be repeatedly asked to participate in time-share meetings.