Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mexico...My Little "Secret" (Part 2)

Well I am finally back to finish my review of our latest trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. As promised in the previous installment, this review will cover our stay at AMResort’s first Riviera Maya property, Secrets Capri Resort and Spa.

I must admit that for the first time in all of my travels, I went into this trip with very high expectations based on reviews I had read prior to our trip. That is in violation of my own rules about travel. I usually try to down play the overly positive and take the extreme negative with several grains of salt. But this time, I had listened too much to all of the VERY positive remarks as they related to the service at Capri. So many reviewers had mentioned that they were always greeted by name after the first day of being at the resort. So I was very excited to be able to experience what I call “Ritz Carlton service” at a non-Ritz Carlton resort. That was my mistake because I basically set the resort up for failure in that regard by possibly having unreasonable expectations based on some other’s supposed experience.

The service was good so let me get that out there right now. You will not be disappointed in the service once you arrive. The staff is very friendly and courteous. They will do what they can to help if you need assistance of any kind. You will receive a plethora of “hola’s” during your stay from every staff member that you pass along the way. So again...the service was good. But it was not near the level of great that I had read about before arriving. No one ever remembered our name after the first day. Some servers were less than good, but that does not take away from my overall opinion. Some pool bar servers were actually not good at all, but some other fantastic servers made up for their incompetence and lack of attention. You will find that variety at most resorts so I will not give Capri a bad review based on just a few bad server apples.

The same goes for some of the restaurant staff. Some servers were awesome while some others were non-existent after the first greeting, especially during breakfast in La Riviera.

Moving on...the food was good as well. The breakfast buffet was probably one of the best I have ever experienced as far as food and selection goes. One of the best omelet makers in the world works at Secrets Capri and her name is Rita. Make sure you try one of her very fluffy omelets during your stay. She is also a very warm and friendly person so say “hola” to her as you wait. We tried basically every restaurant during our stay and we enjoyed every one. There are 5 restaurants including their outside grill. All have nice ambience and some come with an awesome view of the Caribbean which always makes a meal taste better in my opinion. Some meals were better than others, but no complaints as far as overall taste and quantity. And don’t hesitate to order room service. It was always prompt and they have a nice variety offered on their room service menu.

The resort is smaller than some of the other all-inclusive resorts up and down the Riviera Maya.  It has a more intimate feel which I like.  The grounds and common areas are beautiful and the beach was fantastic.  They have added some new pool chairs which are very comfortable and we never had any issues when trying to a find nice spot by the pool or out on the beach.

The room was smaller than my previous stay at Secrets Silversands, but it was adequate and well appointed.  The bed was comfortable and the bathroom was huge and came with dual sinks, nice large shower and also a whirlpool tub.  We had an ocean view room with a balcony and the view was something that kept making me stroll out to the balcony to take it all in realizing it was not going to be my view anymore after 6 days.  The only complaint I have about the room was the furniture on the balcony.  It was very uncomfortable.  We had to stack towels on top of the chairs just to be able to sit for any length of time.  I hope management addresses that at some point.

Hastening on.  I have to mention the spa.  Probably one of the nicest spa experiences we have had.  Their facilities are beautiful and you cannot help but feel relaxed as soon as you step through the doors.  Yes the prices are high for any of their treatments, but you are on vacation for crying out loud so plan on splurging a little.  It is well worth it if you take the time to enjoy all that their spa has to offer.  Make sure you get to the spa about an hour before your appointment so you can relax in the saunas and pools. 

The one thing that I wish AMResorts would address is the tipping or gratuity policy.  They (and a lot of other resort chains do as well) advertise that their pricing also includes gratuities.  This should mean that employees at the resorts should decline gratuities when offered since their superior service is supposed to reflect the idea they have already been tipped.   But it appears that sometimes bar service is somehow on par with how much you have have tipped a particular server or bartender throughout your trip.  The resorts need to go one way or the other.  Either train their staff to refuse tips because they are already included or lower the room rates and then make it clear that your rate does NOT include gratuities.

Before I close I also want to give a shout out to AMSTAR tours.  They are on-site at Capri and they (and their drivers and tour guide) do a great job with excursions so look for them on the main level once you arrive. 

In summary, Secrets Capri Resort and Spa is a very nice resort and we had a great trip while staying with them.  Just go into your trip with reasonable expectations and you will not be disappointed.  You can view photos of the resort by clicking on this link...Secrets Capri Resort and Spa