Scuba dive training, tennis, volleyball, and a spa
Kids' club, teens' club, and a water park with several slides
Nightly themed dinners at the buffet
Room service available for a small fee
Beach's riptides often make water too dangerous for swimming
Beach palapas get snagged early; pools can also get crowded
Annoying time-share pitches
Some balconies are pretty cramped and have lackluster views
Room cleanliness and food quality could be improved
Fee for Wi-Fi, per device
The 390-room, mid-range Royal Solaris is an affordable all-inclusive option on the beach geared toward families. This attractive time-share property (beware of sales pitches) has ample amenities, including four pools, four bars, and four restaurants, two of which are a la carte (though food, overall, is not a highlight). Rooms have traditional furnishings, mini-fridges stocked with free beer and water, and balconies -- though some are tiny. Daily activities keep the masses occupied, and while the beautiful beach is typically not swimmable, it offers tons of sandy space and loungers under thatched umbrellas. Thanks to a kids' and teens' club, nightly entertainment, dance classes, and a water park, families are the norm -- but couples can relax at the spa or adult-only pool. Compare rates with the Barcelo Grand Faros, which has slightly more modern rooms.
Simple, easygoing time-share property popular with families
Situated on Hotel Row, this large Spanish-style property has an inviting pink-hued exterior surrounded by palms and colorful bougainvillea. Inside the palatial lobby, check-in involves receiving a slew of resort information along with all-inclusive bracelets that allow access to bars and restaurants. The entire structure wraps around a large pool area that faces the beach -- this is where the majority of guests spend the day. Solaris' animation team sticks by the pools too, keeping guests engaged with games and contests. At night, most head to the buffet (dinner is served in a separate space from breakfast and lunch) where there are changing nightly themes, or one of two a la carte restaurants. Entertainment is provided in the theater, while the lobby bar and dance floor is available for nightcaps and occasional live music. Since this is a family resort, however, the party scene is pretty low-key, usually wrapping up around midnight.
Guest will likely be invited to join what is called the owner's club, which includes access to additional amenities and events (those who join wear a different bracelet and receive more upgrades and perks). If not interested in a long-term relationship with Solaris, it's best to state this early on to avoid being hassled.
A prime beach spot in San Jose del Cabo, but unfortunately the sea is not very swimmable
Royal Solaris is located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Sur. The town of San Jose del Cabo is the second of two major hubs that make up Los Cabos -- the other is the more lively Cabo San Lucas. Most of the resorts in this eastern part of the coast sit along a stretch of beach that fronts the Sea of Cortez, commonly called Hotel Row. This tourist hub has some shops and restaurants on the opposite side of the street, though they stay pretty quiet since most of the hotels are all-inclusive.
The Los Cabos International Airport is a 20-minute drive away and there's free parking at the hotel for travelers with cars. The colonial downtown area of San Jose del Cabo is a 10-minute drive from the hotel; this lovely historic section has charming restaurants, bars, and art galleries, which are often featured in chic travel magazines. The Flora Farm in the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, a destination in itself with a 10-acre organic farm and restaurant, is about 14 minutes away by car. There are several golf courses and excursions such as whale watching and diving nearby as well. The bumping nightlife of Cabo San Lucas is 20 minutes away, but be forewarned that taxi fares from the hotel are quite high.
The simple room decor received a slight makeover in 2014, but furnishings still show some signs of age.
The resort has 390 rooms in three sections wrapping around the large pool area. This is not a small property by any means, and reaching rooms -- especially those closer to the beach -- will require quite a stroll to and from the lobby. Guests have several categories to choose from but all rooms have a similar traditional (albeit a bit bland) decor: pale tile floors, white linens, dark wood headboards, and a hint of Mexican-inspired orange and red accents. They have tables for two, work desks, flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers, as well as furnished balconies -- though many are tiny. Mini-fridges are stocked daily with Tecate beer, bottled water, and a few sodas, which is something neighboring resorts don't offer. Bathrooms have counter space, enclosed toilets, and walk-in showers, plus basic toiletries.
Deluxe Rooms (the lowest category) have city or garden views, though there are upgrades in this category to Partial View (overlooking the garden or pools, sometimes with a glimpse of ocean), Ocean View, and Ocean Front, for a direct view of the Sea of Cortez. There's also an upgrade to a Deluxe Room with a jetted tub. The Deluxe Ocean Front Rooms are the highest tier, and feature a huge orchid print above the bed, more modern wood furnishings, and a Murphy bed for families (these rooms sleep up to four, though there are also some Family Rooms available sleeping five).
Four distinct pools -- one of which includes a mini water park
The resort's beach is a huge stretch of beige sand with beautiful views of the Sea of Cortez (look out for whale sightings from December to April). Near the beach entrance are rows of lounge chairs and palapas set up for shade -- and yes, the shady spots get snagged early in the morning. Guests are strongly advised not to swim along this section of the ocean (this applies to guests at neighboring resorts as well) as the current is dangerous. Vendors along on the beach offer souvenirs or horseback riding.
As guests typically can't swim in the ocean, the four pools are a major highlight here. Three are near the beach, surrounded by bright-blue loungers and blue umbrellas upon request. The main activity pool has several sections, including a wading areas for toddlers, as well as a volleyball net and a swim-up bar. A smaller adult-only pool is more peaceful and overlooks the water. Another small pool near the pizza shack is dedicated to scuba diving training, but that requires a fee.
A great kids' club for ages 4 and up is available for free, and it includes a pool with a series of waterslides, giant animals, and fountains. Inside there are video game consoles, arts and crafts, and other supervised activities. A room for teens is outfitted with a pool table and arcade games. For more activities, there are a tennis court with faux grass and a basketball court. Guests can also use a modest, windowless gym with cardio and strength-training machines and free weights. The spa offers typical massage, skin, and nail treatments, plus a hot tub. Additionally, a comfortable hospitality room with showers is available for early check-ins and late check-outs.
Meeting facilities and a business center are also available. Wi-Fi incurs a fee.
Two a la carte restaurants and nightly themed buffets, but food in general is not a highlight
All guests at Royal Solaris are on an all-inclusive package which gives them access to food and drink outlets (four of each) around the resort. A large breakfast buffet is served in a covered open-air space by the beach. From the time this closes, a snack bar -- offering burgers, hot dogs, french fries, chips and salsa -- and pizza shack open, both of which are easily accessible from the pools and beach. A lunch buffet is served under a separate palapa as well.
Dinner is available at two a la carte restaurants -- Panchos for Mexican, and Marco Polo for Italian (this one is more romantic with its pretty outdoor terrace) -- though hours vary depending on occupancy. Menus are posted daily and guests have to call to make reservations. Men must wear pants and a collared shirt. For everyone else, dinner buffets take place near the lobby and have changing themes. Room service is available for a fee. Dinners are followed by typical family entertainment in the theater, such as karaoke or the Mexican Show.
Tea time in the lobby lounge occurs daily in the early evening. This elegant spot is open throughout the day, and as it's the only bar that stays open late, guests tend to congregate here for post-dinner cocktails and music.
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