I must start by saying that it wasn’t a bad experience at all; in fact my boyfriend and I had a great, relaxing time. It all started with both of us desperately needing to get away, but having very little vacation time (and pretty limited funds). My favorite vacation spot in the world is a Greek Island called Antiparos (you can read my sister’s ngurevic review of it). But, one really needs a minimum of three weeks to make the trip all the way from the States worthwhile. Still I wanted to be on the beach; to me a summer vacation is synonymous with beach. So we surfed the web and came up with Cozumel.
We chose a vacation package through “Apple Vacations” and contacted a local agency to book the trip. So far so good, we were really excited. We looked at the list of resorts (it was highly recommended to us to do the “all inclusive” deal) most places were these HUGE hotels built right on the beach. This didn’t appeal to us at all. Then we saw two Hotels that were set up as bungalows. One was called “Allegro Hotel” and the other “Reef Club”. Allegro was rated 5 stars, Reef Club had a rating of 4 starts.
Hmm, we were on a budget, so we carefully compared the lists of “inclusive items” for each hotel, trying to decide which was the better deal. It seemed like for the most part they were identical, I think Allegro had one more restaurant to choose from, but Reef Club had horse back riding, and was a bit cheaper (not by much, $75 overall per person for 7 days). Horse back riding!! The choice was clear. First, let me mention the good things:
The rooms were clean and comfortable
The service was really good and friendly
The food selection was plentiful and excellent
The beach was kept very clean
The layout of the resort was cozy and tropical
As a whole we believed we got a good value. Our biggest complaint was the quality of drinks. I envisioned sipping FRESH, exotic fruity drinks from hollowed out pineapples, so the first thing I did was order a fruit juice. To my dismay I watched the bartender mix orange juice from a carton with some pineapple juice from a carton and add a bit of grenadine to it. THAT was it? My boyfriend ordered Whiskey, he got it, but it was some cheap unknown brand. Now, as far as I was concerned, the "all you can eat and drink" feature of the “all inclusive” resort was the reason to do it. In fact the drinks more than the food, because eating out in Mexico is fairly inexpensive anyways. As far as beer there was only one selection, served on tap, tasted watered down to me…but I’m not much of a beer lover.
The other part that annoyed me a bit was that there was always some kind of activity planned around the general pool/cafeteria area. And if there wasn’t an activity there was loud generic techno blasting on the speakers…the same selection of bad songs every day!
Which brings me to my other big disappointment about the whole experience: There was nothing “Mexican” about the place, the atmosphere was created for Americans, so it really felt like we were trapped in a perpetual “Frat Party” with Spanish speaking hosts. The resort promised nightly entertainment and disco dancing. The entertainment turned out to be pretty lame (this was a “family” resort and I think it was mainly aimed at kids). The disco? We walked in on our first night, dressed in our clubby cloths ready to dance the night away. To our dismay all we found was a bored Bartender, and the same loud obnoxious generic techno blaring through the speakers.
We were told of a place in the village called Charlie’s something, this was supposed to be the party central of Cozumel. We took a look and ran away. If college sports bars are your thing, I guess it’s the place to be. But we could have done that anywhere in Chicago. I was also really disappointed that no one bothered to get “dressed up” for going out at night. I don’t know why, but to me that is all part of the experience, maybe becaue you spend the whole day in nothing but a swimsuit.
So, maybe I am a bit too harsh. After all, Mexico caters to American tourists. I just wish they didn’t aim for the lowest common denominator as far as entertainment goes. I am biased, and spoiled by my summers in Greece. But the best parts of a summer vacation in Greece like meeting cool people from all over Europe and Australia, a relaxed lazy atmosphere during the day and the wild night life, great local food and drinks AND most importantly being in a culture that is different that home, all these things were sorely lacking.
The horse back riding by the way turned out to be pretty disappointing as well. First of all you had to sign up a couple of days in advance, which to me, being on vacation seemed to contradict the basic premise of being on vacation (I hate schedules). The ride itself was OK, the horses were sweet (I think mine was named Tequila), and the trail was pretty short through some bushes at first and then down a dusty ugly road. I found the experience to be less than pleasant because it was so humid and hot and it felt really uncomfortable to be wearing jeans and shoes at that hour of the day.
So what was good? I loved all the vegetation, the different plants and trees, all the little lizards darting around, there were wild iguanas living in the trees, which I found EXTREMLY cool as well as hermit crabs in the sand. There were tons of birds and they actually "sang"! I mean it was a real pleasure to hear the birds! Also, there were very few bugs! And especially NO mosquitos! The weather was very tropical, hot and humid, rained for a bit pretty much every day. But that was nice, our room was air-conditioned and the water was refreshing. The food was plentiful, great selection, different choices every meal, lots of chocolate cakes too! We ate well, we slept well, we relaxed and enjoyed the beach (did some snorkling) and we enjoyed each other’s company. If we go again, we will probably go in the winter and stay at Allegro Hotel.
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