CANCUN — Sandos may not have the same level of brand recognition in Canada as some other all-inclusives – at least not yet. But after a visit to three of the company’s four Mexico properties, there is little doubt that Sandos’ reputation will become increasingly well-known.
Sandos has four properties in Mexico, including two in the Riviera Maya (Sandos Caracol Eco Resort and Sandos Playacar), one in Cancun and Sandos Finisterra in Los Cabos. Each has their own distinct personality and clientele, but all stand out for their value and scope of experiences on offer.
“What makes this property unique is its nature and underwater system that includes seven cenotes,” said Alvaro Barp, sales manager. As if on cue, a spider monkey made an appearance, chattering and swinging on a branch right in front of our eyes. It almost seemed to pose for the flurry of photos and videos before disappearing up the treetop.
About 70% of the property is undeveloped and in its natural state, and the walking paths are surrounded with tropical flowers and lush vegetation. Besides monkeys, wildlife includes birds, butterflies, tejons (an animal in the raccoon family) and agoutis (rodents that look like large guinea pigs).
Though the resort has 955 rooms, it doesn’t feel crowded because of its size and settings. Kids are in their element at the resort with outdoor pools and a massive waterpark with 29 slides and the Kids Club. For adults, there’s the exclusive Select Club Adults-Only Ocean-Front Clubhouse with a pool table, premium liquor bar and lounge area.
There are eight restaurants, seven bars and a theatre with nightly entertainment. The beach has natural shade with numerous palm trees and a coral reef not far from the shore.
However, what really sets this resort apart are its cultural and natural experiences. For no additional cost, guests can learn about Mayan culture on a guided tour, take part in an animal keeper program at their rescue facility, boat on a romantic river ride and even snorkel in a cenote. These underwater springs hold a special place in the hearts of Mexicans and it’s easy to understand this affection once experiencing them for yourself. The clear turquoise water is refreshing and floating with the current among the mangroves feels like a natural lazy river.
“Before I sold this property on price point,” said Heather Kearns, a travel consultant at Latitude Concierge Travels, “but now I would sell it based on its experiences.”
Unlike Caracol, you won’t find many kids at this ocean-front property in Cancun. “Children are welcome here,” said Elisa Martinez, sales manager, but explained that the hotel doesn’t have any activities, promotions or amenities geared to them. What you will find is a classy adult-orientated property with excellent food, wellness amenities and ocean views of a gorgeous stretch of the white-sand beach Cancun is known for.
All 213 rooms and suites have at least partial views of the Caribbean and Nichupté Lagoon. Amenities include a spa with water therapies and expert massages that incorporate reiki and relaxation techniques as well as a full gym.
Of the five restaurants, only one, the Italian Frattini’s, requires a reservation. Also popular is St. Trop with its panoramic views and tasty casual menu with items like wood-oven seafood pizzas and spicy wings that were notches above snack foods often served up at all-inclusives.
Entertainment is lower key here, but each night features an event like live music or a silent disco in a different location of the hotel. And, of course, guests are close to the Cancun club scene if they’re craving more excitement.
Like the other Sandos locations, weddings are popular, but here they are limited to one a day to focus exclusively on the party.
“I can definitely sell this resort,” said Teresa Spruyt, a travel agent based in St. Thomas, as we relaxed in the infinity pool that looked out at the ocean. “It’s ideal for a girls’ weekend or couples looking for an easy getaway.”
What makes this resort special?
“Number one is definitely the beach,” said Leslie Lopez, sales manager.
With almost three miles of white sand, the longest stretch of private beach in the area, it is truly exceptional with plenty of space for both the children’s and adult sections. There’s no shortage of lounge chairs either.
Whereas Sandos Caracol is orientated more to families with kids and Sandos Cancun to adults, Sandos Playacar strikes a happy medium between the two and is equally suitable for family and adult-only groups. The sprawling property has nearly 300 rooms in its adult section and 400 in the family area. The latter features spacious suites with bunk beds, balconies and jacuzzi tubs. Rooms to accommodate families with three children are also available. Haciendas are a more upscale option for larger families and groups with semi-private pools and hot tubs.
Despite the number of units, the resort didn’t feel crowded even though it was at 95% capacity during our visit. Like Caracol, it was situated in the midst of a jungle and we were surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and the presence of wildlife, including howler monkeys.
Catland, a rescue shelter for strays on the property, contains houses and play structures for its feline guests and there are feeding stations throughout the grounds. The resort’s on-call vet ensures the cats are spayed and neutered and that animals both wild and domestic are taken care of.
Nine restaurants mean there are lots of dining choices, including the popular Mexican grill, Chayite, and the Italian, Il Piemonte (reservations should be made as early as possible). Cupcakes is a popular venue both for its namesake desserts and cappuccinos and lattes. At the Gran Plaza, an outdoor stage and seating area, guests can enjoy quality shows under the stars.
Like the beach, the spa is exceptional with 22 treatment rooms and a water circuit with saunas, jacuzzis, Turkish baths and thermal areas.
Mike Gatenby, a travel consultant at Plan-It Travel with MJ, was impressed, calling it “an outstanding property”because of its gracious staff, tropical landscaping and spacious rooms. He also appreciated its commitment to sustainability.
Large water jugs in rooms replacing the use of water bottles is just one of many initiatives to minimize the resort’s eco-footprint. The company’s commitment to the environment is yet another reason to keep the name Sandos in mind when booking an all-inclusive Mexican resort.
For more details see Sandos.com.