This post is a lot overdue…mainly because I forgot how much time and effort goes into putting together a travel post. I like to put a lot of detail and photos into my travel blogs so I guess I have no one to blame but myself. If you appreciate detail, be prepared for an extra-long post. If you just want the coles notes version, you can scroll to the bottom and read my bullet list of the pro’s, con’s and in-betweens. Enjoy!
A little over a week ago we returned from a one week stay at Secrets Maroma Beach (SMB); this was our third time staying at a Secrets Resort. Last year we stayed at Secrets Playa Mujeres (SPM) in Mexico and quite a few years before that, at Secrets St. James in Jamaica. If you read my review, you’re aware that I was not impressed with SPM so I wasn’t too keen to visit another Secrets resort, especially not long after our poor experience. However, when we started looking at resorts a few months ago, we found a great deal via Expedia on SMB and because this is a resort we’ve wanted to visit for a while, we couldn’t resist booking it.
We flew out early on Saturday morning via WestJet and our flight was uneventful. Unfortunately we arrived 20 minutes behind schedule and multiple other flights had just landed as well. Which meant we spent 40 minutes in the immigration line; it was hot and humid with what felt like zero air conditioning. The joys of traveling! Eventually we did make it through the line and out to the transportation area.
We had pre-booked private transportation with Canada Transfers prior to our trip; when we arrived, a representative was standing with our names on a sign and directed us to our vehicle, which was a Chevy Suburban. They provided us each with a bottle of water and then we were on our way. Our driver was fine – not the friendliest and he pulled out his cell phone a few times while driving which always rubs me the wrong way. On the way back our driver was much more personable and friendly. At the end of the day they got us from point A to B and back safely and comfortably so it worked.
We arrived at the resort, were greeted by name and began the check in process in the front desk area. Similar to other Secrets resorts, we were offered cool towels and glasses of champagne. The lobby was really pretty – it had a large sculptural water fountain in the centre and large wall foundations that flanked the check-in and concierge areas. Check-in was fairly simple but I knew what was coming – the Secrets Vacation Club (aka “timeshare pitch). Last time, we sat through it begrudgingly, but this time I wasn’t going to let that happen. We had just spent almost our entire day traveling and I had zero patience spending another 1/2 hour of my time listening to sales pitch for something a) I’m not remotely interested in, and b) cannot afford (I’ve heard rumours that this program costs up to $80K). So when our check-in agent introduced us to our “VIP Concierge”, I somewhat bluntly and firmly stated that we had gone through the timeshare pitch last year and were not interested, and just wanted to get to our room. I think I caught the agent off guard a bit (he made sure to correct me that this was not a timeshare program….ok?) and stated that we had to sign off on not wanting to participate in the “pitch”. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but we did it anyway and we left to find out room. Secrets really needs to remove this as part of their check-in process!
Rating: Poor (based on timeshare pitch)
We were in building 14 which was a short 5 minute walk from the main building (which housed most of the restaurants, a lobby bar, night club, etc.) When we booked, a swimout suite was the only room type available. We had always wanted to give a swim-out suite a try so we were excited to see what it was like.
Our room was beautiful! The bathroom consisted of a separate shower, jacuzzi tub, water closet and vanity with two sinks. Further inside was a stocked mini bar (stocked with pop and Coronas), a four-poster King bed, armoire with a flat screen tv, and beyond that, a desk and chair and small, built-in sofa and coffee table. A set of patio doors led to a small patio area with another built-in sofa and lounge chair and a long pool that was shared with approximately 11 other guest rooms. We were very impressed with the room. It was very clean, well-appointed and luxurious.
Our concierge stopped by and quickly showed us the various features of the room. We noticed that our safe was locked from the previous guest so he stated he would arrange to have someone come by and fix that for us asap. We waited for 20 minutes after he left, but no one showed up so we called the front desk. Thankfully within 5 minutes we had someone at our room who was able to fix this for us. Phew, now vacation could officially begin!
Food in Mexico can really be hit and miss but you can’t go expecting 5 star gourmet meals every night. However, I must say that their buffet breakfast is fantastic and contains pretty much everything and anything you could ever want, including an omelette bar, crepe bar, smoothie and juice bar, fresh fruit, cereal, pastries, pancakes, waffles, hashbrowns, etc. If you can’t find something to eat there, you won’t be happy anywhere. I was very impressed with their breakfast, especially compared to SPM’s last year.
For lunch there were a few options including the buffet, the Seaside Grill which offered pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and the like, and the pool grill which featured a different cuisine every day. Sometimes it was Italian with pizzas and pastas, other times it was BBQ with burgers and hotdogs. It was nice to have more than one option for lunch for sure. We ate mostly at the pool grill, just because it was was most convenient to the beach. We both had some decent burgers at the Seaside Grill and really enjoyed the nachos at the pool grill. We ate at the buffet once and it was good as well but it was a bit of a hike across the resort to it and we were lazy so we stuck the options that were closer to the beach.
The restaurants that stood out the most for dinner were the French, Mexican and Asian Teppanyaki. We shared a delicious cheese fondue at the French restaurant and I really enjoyed my beef tenderloin. Service was a bit slow but it’s not like we had anywhere to go, so no big deal. At the Mexican restaurant we were very impressed with our chicken enchiladas and fajitas and the service was fantastic – prompt and so friendly. The Italian restaurant wasn’t so great – both my tagliatalle pasta and D’s chicken parmesan lacked flavour. We also made a decision to eat outside which I wouldn’t recommend as the mosquitos were really bad in that particular area. Thankfully they had cans of mosquito repellent available for use.
We were able to get reservations for the Teppanyaki option at the Asian restaurant on our last night. We sat at a table with 5 other couples and enjoyed a 4 course meal, with the main course cooked in front of us by a dedicated Tepanyaki chef. The food was good, although it was more about the experience as there’s lots of theatrics involved with the cooking process. We also visited the non-Teppanyaki side of the Asian restaurant and the food there was decent as well, although not our favourite.
We found that the alcoholic drinks were slightly watered down, although nowhere near the levels that we experienced at SPM. The problem with the high levels of humidity is that any frozen drinks or ice in drinks began melting in a matter of minutes, so drinks were diluted pretty quickly. At the end of the day it did take quite a few more drinks before D or I started feeling any affects from them, so I think there’s probably something going on here.
As mentioned, we spent the majority of our days lounging by the beach, reading books and relaxing. The beach itself was one of the best we’ve ever been on – powder soft white sand with brilliant blue, super clear water that was literally the temperature of bathwater. During the first part of our trip, there was a bit of seaweed that washed up on the sand that was raked up quickly by hotel staff; on the last few days, the seaweed was much worse, to the point where going in the water freaked me out a bit. I felt we were pretty lucky to have clear water for the majority of our trip, as I’ve read other’s reviews that state they had the seaweed highly present in the water for their entire stay.
We never had problems finding chairs at the beach as we were there early in the morning. There were attendants at the beach that would actually come by and lay our towels for us which was a nice touch for sure! They were also great in finding chairs for guests that came along later in the day when the beach was more populated. Drink service at the beach was usually pretty good, although on our last day it was a little slow (again, not a big deal)
There were two decent sized pools at SMB; an infinity pool that overlooked the beach and a second that contained the swim-up bar. The second pool was more lively and was where activities like pool volleyball, bingo, etc. would take place. One day they actually had a foam party there, accompanied by a DJ. People seemed to really enjoy it – at least until the novelty wore off. Not really our thing so we watched from afar (too much like a large bubble bath with strangers for me). So there was definitely no shortage of activities for those who wanted to participate but you could find a quiet spaces if you wanted to too. I felt like the pools were a bit smaller than other resorts we had visited previously and while it didn’t feel packed while we were there, I don’t know what capacity was at during our trip.
Rating: Very Good
We really enjoyed the layout of this resort; as mentioned the main building at the back of the property was where several restaurants, the nightclub, front desk/conceirge, and lobby bar were located. The middle of the resort consisted of the Sugar Reef Bar which was kind of like a sports-bar with tv’s, a pool and pingpong table. They had these cool swings around the bar that were fun to sit at (although not so much with a drink in your hand). They also had a pingpong table out in a shallow pool which was refreshing to play in given the heat. I question their judgement in painting the bottom of the shallow pools beige/brown though – not really the best look. The mini golf course was next to the Sugar Reef bar. Further on were the pools, 2 more restaurants, another bar and then the beach. There were plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas and beach beds around the pool and at the beach, and we never had problems finding a place to sit.
Rating: Very Good
Our daily routine:
I’ll spare you the play-by-play of what each day consisted of but here’s a quick summary of our daily routine; we’d get up, head to breakfast and then make our way to the beach. We’d sit at the beach until about mid-afternoon, after which we’d head up to the pool and hang out there for an hour or two. Then we’d engage in a competitive round of mini-golf and/or ping-pong (for the record, I lost every game! #zeroathleticability). Following that we’d pick up a few drinks and go back to our room and enjoy our swim-out suite. Late afternoon was the perfect time to do so as the sun was already past our building but with temperatures in the low to mid 30’s (celcius), it was still plenty warm. A few hours later we’d get ready and head out for dinner. Then it was a drink or two in the lobby lounge and then time for bed. Repeat x 6.
We weren’t interested in going on any excursions outside of the resort as we just wanted to sit, relax and not do anything but read books at the beach, so that was what we did and it was great. 🙂 I do kind of regret that we never attended any of the nightly shows or at least see what the nightclub was like, but we were just so tired at the end of the night that we just didn’t have the energy.
Some unwanted visitors…
A bit of an amusing story to share – on our last night, we decided to just order room service and enjoy our swim-out suite to the fullest. Our food arrived pretty quick and I thought it’d be a brilliant idea to eat our meals outside. A few minutes later we had a visit from a pretty bold and hungry racoon. The thing was not afraid of people and at one point was literally two feet away from me, on it’s hind legs and I swore it was going to catapult itself at me for my plate of carbonara. That’s when we decided to finish our meal inside. Then the next morning D discovered a sizeable, albeit dead cockroach on the floor of our room, near the patio doors. I have no idea where it came from and I kind of don’t want to think about it. At least it was dead? I was very happy that it was our last day in that room – I would have struggled to sleep in there after that. I get that bugs are a given in a tropical climate, but finding one in our room freaked me out a bit.
- We received service with a smile 99.9% of the time; all of the staff were very friendly and helpful
- We greatly enjoyed our swimout suite
- The beach is one of the nicest we’ve seen (pre-seaweed)
- Pools were a good size and offered options for those who like to be social and those who prefer peace and quiet
- Lots of activities available including those arranged by their entertainment crew (beach and pool volleyball, dart tournaments, etc.) in addition to a mini golf course, ping pong tables, badminton and other lawn games
- Great layout of the resort meant it never felt crowded
- Buffet breakfast was extensive, fresh and delicious
- Lunch and dinner at the restaurants varied from good to poor
- Alcoholic drinks still seemed slightly watered down at times
- Timeshare pitch needs to be scrapped
- Wifi was spotty at best
- Uninvited guests in/near our room
Overall rating: Very Good
We really enjoyed our stay at SMB and had a lovely, relaxing time. I would definitely recommend this resort if you’re looking for a couples-only all-inclusive resort in Mexico. That said, I’m kind of feeling Secreted-out. I’d like to try a different area of Mexico (Cabo potentially?) and most definitely another hotel brand next time we decide to visit an all-inclusive.
Where’s the best all-inclusive resort you’ve stayed at?