We decided to go on our honeymoon at an all inclusive resort. Jef has heard about Xcaret for awhile now and thought it would be fun to go somewhere relaxing, but where there were options to do fun things. Xcaret (esh-car-et) is a company with three hotels and seven parks. If you stay at the hotel, you get free admission to all the parks. The hotels are Mexico, Arte (adults only), and Casa de los Artistas. We stayed in Arte, which opened in July. The stay includes a shuttle ride from the airport. They even have a lounge for you to wait in, where they offer you cold drinks, and it has a separate bathroom and AC. The bus was huge and there were only four of us on it. They offered us cold drinks for the drive. We left around 10 and it took two hours to get to the hotel because of all the traffic.
When we arrived at the hotel, they gave us our own personal concierge who gave us an overview of the hotel and made sure we had all the reservations we needed. We actually made reservations a couple of weeks before we left because we read that things sell out quickly. We only made reservations for the parks because Jef is a super picky eater and none of the restaurants would suit him. The concierge also asked us to attend a time share meeting. We had the option of receiving two free massages, a four night stay at the hotel for a later date, or $175 toward anything in the gift shops at the hotels or the parks. We chose a time (it was only supposed to take an hour an a half) and the money. Since we were there at noon, our rooms were not ready yet. However, they gave us our bracelets, which we were to wear all the time (they were waterproof) and allowed us to use the facilities.
There are nine restaurants at Hotel Xcaret Arte. Four of those restaurants need reservations. We tried to eat at the buffet, but it closes between 12 and 1. We chose the restaurant Cayuco by the pool. It is described as Mediterrean-Mexican. It was a buffet for lunch, but they had pizza and pasta. It was ok. Jef had them make him pasta with garlic and butter. He was not impressed. We found some chairs by the pool under an umbrella and hung out until our room was prepared.
Our room was a river view. It was not really a river. We had a view of the Forum (which was the outdoor theater) and a bar with a pool. We loved being in front of the Forum because we could lay out in our hammocks on the patio and watch the shows at night. They had something happening every night. My favorite was about the animals and the gods. The costumes and props were incredible. We often watched dress rehearsals for future shows after the first show.
The bed was very comfortable. We had a fully stocked fridge with lots of bottled water. There was a rain shower and large jacuzzi tub. The toilet had a separate room and you could push a button to see out the window or obscure it. That was interesting. The only issue we had with the room was that the temperature would not go below 70 degrees and whenever someone came in to clean they would raise the temperature to 72. That was annnoying.
We explored the hotel a bit on the first day. It is massive. It was also confusing because you could easily go into the Mexico area or even the Casa de los Artistas (which is actually a private area). We were allowed to explore anything in Mexico and could eat at any of the restaurants. However, only adults could come into the Arte area. The decorations at Hotel del Arte were wonderful. There were musical instruments, furniture made from tree roots, weavings, and lots of traditional Mexican art. The hotel itself is beautiful. You have to cross hanging bridges between floors (which Jef loved to jump on and make me nervous). There is a beach, but also a section with ocean water blocked off from the beach so there are no waves or wind, but you enjoy the sand and ocean water with some fish. They have a rooftop bar on every building with rooms and at least three pools with bars to sit at in the water. In the middle of everything is the pyramid which has a chapel at the top and inside offices for the time share business. You can get a ride on a golf cart to the top.
This hotel caters to Mexicans. We were not aware of that when we arrived. We found out quickly that my Spanish speaking was needed for most things. Jef had me ordering his omelets and whatever other food he desired when we were in the buffets. There were quite a few people there that could speak English, but not as well as they should if they want to have people from the U.S. stay there with more frequency.
Food was also catered to Mexicans. All the restaurants are a variation on Mexican food: Chinese-Mexican, Japanese-Mexican, Mediterranean-Mexican…you get the idea. The one place that we could both find good food to eat was at the Mercado. It was an enormous buffet. They always had fresh tortillas and you could have quesadillas or tacos made. In the morning they had an omelet bar and in the afternoon and evening there was a pasta and seafood bar. There was salad, cheese, sliced meats, pizza, fresh meats, and a dizzying array of local dishes. I fell in love with Agua de Mango (Mango water) and asked for it everywhere we went. You could get any drink you wanted and there was a station to have tequila and mezcal shots at dinner. We tried the restaurant Arenal, in which Jef had a hamburger that he did not like and my chicken breast was rather boring there as well.
We also ate twice at Las Cuevas in the Hotel Mexico. It was a super cool atmosphere. It is styled like a Brazilian steakhouse. There were several buffet stations such as salad, cheese slices, pasta, sides, and a outside grill. They brought meat to the table and sliced pieces for you. It was delicious. We ate way too much food when were went there. The second time I discovered the outside grill in which I got some roasted chicken and some vegetables that they roasted for me as well. It was so good. My favorite of the sliced meat was the turkey wrapped in bacon. The steaks had some amazing seasonings as well.
The time share meeting took an hour longer than they told us it would. It was an interesting concept, but not something we felt was worth the money. They told us they were going to take us to Las Cuevas for breakfast and they did not. They told us they were going to show us the new hotel area and they showed us a picture. It was just us and the presenter, so that was strange as well. It was worth going for the cash gift. We used it in the parks and in the hotel and just charged everything to our room. On the last night, we paid our room charges with the coupons they gave us. We did it that way because they will not give you change, so if you have a $20 coupon, you have to use all $20. We used $171 out of the $175, so we did pretty well.
The hotel offered classes in pottery, weaving, painting, and dancing on various days at different times. You could just show up. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take any of them. There were also bikes that you could use, but we never saw them. When we spent the day at the man made beach we borrowed some life jackets and floated over to the Mexico side and were able to use a kayak. They also had paddle boards. The issue was that you needed a reservation, but no one told us that. The last area that we visited that was pretty neat was a speakeasy. They had a cool bar hidden in this warehouse area. They had top shelf alcohol and played live music.
I do not have much experience with all inclusive hotels. This is the second one that I visited. The first was the Hard Rock in the Dominican Republic for my brother’s wedding. It’s difficult to compare because this was a totally different type of hotel. I thought the hotel itself was beautiful and had a lot to offer. I was happy with the food at the buffet, but I would have liked more variety in terms of cuisines. The drinks were good, but they were not very strong. The only place they were strong were if you sat right at the bar.
My biggest problem with the hotel was lack of communication. We had no idea what was playing at the Forum at night. We had no idea that we had to rent kayaks and paddle boards. We had to clarify that we were able to eat and use the facilities at the Mexico side of the hotel. They did not explain what we could and could not access at the parks well. They scheduled a reservation at a park on a day that the park was not open. I called to ask about it and they rescheduled it. However, you had to be at the park at a certain time and on our schedule it just said the bus left every twenty minutes. If I had not done some research on my own, we would not have been able to go to that park. It was frustrating. I’m sure we missed some cool things. I wish that our TV, which had a screen with a calendar actually had events listed on the calendar so we knew what was happening.
I would also highly suggest that someone in your group speak Spanish. I’m sure you could blunder through your vacation without it, but it was much smoother because I could communicate with everyone. If you love Mexican culture and food and like to keep busy on your vacation, this definitely should be a place you consider.