Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ocean Maya Royale for the 4th Time! Playa del Carmen, Mexico ~ May 7-14, 2016

I have planned countless vacations but this one was extra special. On April 29th, my mom retired from Cleveland State after 34 years and on May 9th, she celebrated her 70th birthday. With these two milestones falling within 10 days of one another, I knew I had to go above and beyond. I brought the idea to my sister and she was on board.

 It didn't take long for me to decide to bring her to one of my favorite places on earth ~ Ocean Maya Royale. Steve and I have visited OMR three times and in the end, Ocean Maya Royale has become our vacation mecca. It checks off every box on our wish list and we have found every reason to return time and time again!

Enjoy the recap of my previous trips by following these links to my July 2015 OMR, July 2014 OMR, and July 2013 OMR blogs!

My mom and sister have heard about my trips to OMR on countless occasions and I wanted to share these experiences with my them. With Mother's Day falling on May 8th, we thought it would put the icing on the cake for two of the most important women in my life to relax and unwind in Playa on Mother's Day. So, the dates were set and the planning could begin!

We departed Cleveland on a United non-stop flight and arrived at the Cancun airport at approximately 9:30 am. After customs, baggage and a quick 30 minute airport shuttle...we had arrived in paradise. 

Once you step onto the property, you immediately take notice of the layout of the resort. Rather than your typical “hotel” set-up, Ocean Maya has 320 rooms, including 33 eight-room villas and 56 rooms in the privilege building. We really love the layout and the grounds are always kept immaculate. Coaties are everywhere!


We were given two rooms in building 28, which was located conveniently in between the lobby and pool area. Crew Schur also upgraded to the privilege package and we were checked in at the exclusive air conditioned privilege office.

Although Steve and I are usually very satisfied with the food, I was a little apprehensive introducing my mom and Tracy to a new experience. I knew what I was getting myself into and they were optimistic. I am happy to report that the food at Ocean Maya exceeded their expectations and was just one of the many highlights of the trip! 

There are five restaurants at OMR, including four a-la-carte and one buffet restaurant. We ate at four of them. 

La Hacienda is the buffet restaurant which is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are so many options with many items changing daily. For breakfast we mostly ate at the Privilege lounge, but at La Hacienda a handful of times. The fruit was fantastic every day and the bread and bagels were always fresh. They also have made-to-order omelets as well as traditional breakfast fare and a fresh smoothie bar The self-serve mimosa, bloody Mary and screwdriver bar is also a nice touch! Tracy ate lunch at La Hacienda every day and enjoyed whatever fish was available at the carving stations. She was never disappointed.

Historically, La Dolce Vita has been our favorite restaurant so I was hopeful that my mom and Tracy would agree. They sure did!! Of our seven nights, we ate at La Dolce four times for dinner. We enjoyed it mostly because it offered the best variety. The menu has changed quite a bit since last year and we enjoyed several menu items, including the arugula salad, caprese salad, Valdostana style chicken breast, salmon, mahi-mahi, farfalle chicken with pesto, beef filet, mushroom risotto, lasagna, spinach and ricotta ravioli and tiramisu. I also requested fresh Parmesan with my bread and oil. I absolutely loved the arugula salad and Tracy always asked for an extra large salad, extra vegetables and fruit for dessert. You ask and you shall receive!

We alternated La Dolce with Yookoso, Blue Moon and Privilege, but decided not to eat at El Charro or La Hacienda for dinner.

Yookoso is the Japanese restaurant and only open for dinner and offers both hibachi and a-la-carte dining. We dined at Yookoso once at the hibachi table with five other people. They serve sushi in addition to the main course of fried rice, shrimp, chicken, beef and vegetables.

Blue Moon is considered the most high-end of all of the restaurants and men are required to wear long pants and close-toed shoes. For appetizers, we had the warm beef salad and carrot and ginger soup. From the entree selection, we tried the beef tenderloin, beef short rib and sea bass. Dessert consisted of creme brulee, chocolate cake with ice cream, fruit and Mexican coffee.

We decided not to eat at El Charro for dinner, but when my mom and I weren't eating tapas at Privilege we would opt for tacos from the grill outside of El Charro. Although convenient, El Charro's lunch buffet did not offer the same variety as La Hacienda nor the ambiance of the Privilege lounge.

The Privilege lounge is the final restaurant and only available to privilege guests.

We mostly ate in the Privilege lounge for breakfast. Early morning in May is perfect for outdoor dining. Privilege offers a beautiful and relaxing setting with an a-la-carte menu, while La Hacienda offers more variety and a speedier dining experience. We typically ordered mimosas and a combination of fruit, yogurt, eggs, bacon and hash browns.

For lunch my mom and I enjoyed tapas on a few occasions. The portions were small, but high-quality. We tried everything on the menu from the octopus with aioli to the Chilean sea bass stuffed piquilo pepper. The sliders and papatas bravas (spicy potatoes) were our favorite.


We enjoyed dinner together at Privilege one evening (with excellent service from Alberto!) We tried the trio of croquettes (now served with a salad), grilled scallop salad, cream of corn soup, sea bass and beef tenderloin. My mom and Tracy both ordered the sea bass and it was outstanding (Tracy wanted to go back...) and my steak was the best I had during the trip. For dessert we ordered fruit and the balsamic vinegar mousse.

Mike’s Coffee Shop opens at 4 pm every day and serves delicious coffee drinks as well as a limited number of pastries and sandwiches. If you want coffee prior to 4 pm, you can simply visit the lobby bar and they have an espresso and cappuccino machine ready.

There are two main bars at Ocean Maya in addition to a smaller bar outside of El Charro. Modelo Light and Modelo Negra are available at the main bar and the pool bar. There is a plethora of liquor available at all of the bars as well. When it came to cocktails, we all had a different approach. Tracy drank more club soda and (extra) lime than we could count. By the pool, I mostly drank Ketel One, Campari and soda and my mom drank anything that looked or sounded good. Everything from a Mexican Gatorade to a Pink Panther to a Dirty Monkey. She tried them all!

At night, Tracy was committed to her club soda or hot tea, while I drank champagne and rose wine at dinner and martinis and Manhattans after dinner. Mom just kept going down the list...Mango Tangos, Blue Margaritas, Miami Vice, etc. The list goes on :)

The pool bar is located in between the loud pool and the quiet pool, but also has a swim-up bar on the party pool side. Ana Iris was so efficient with her pool service and she took great care of us every day.

The courtyard outside of the main lobby is where we spent most nights. Yovonnetti, Tila and Anna were exceptional in their service. They work so hard, while still remaining kind and eager to please. We watched shows every night and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.

We were also invited to the Chef's Cocktail Party where all of the restaurant chefs were introduced and prepared a sampling of appetizers and desserts.

 There are two pools at Ocean Maya and most people refer to them as the quiet/relaxing (or big) and loud (or party or swim-up bar) pools.



There is also a small beach with plenty of chairs and a separate Privilege beach area. We split our time between the Privilege beach, relaxing pool and party pool. On days that were particularly hot, the breeze on the beach was nice combined with the cool water at the pool.

Manny and Margarita from the excursion team could be found near the pool area. Tracy and I decided to go parasailing. Not only did it sound fun, but we didn't have to go far from the resort (literally steps) and it wouldn't take up too much of our pool time! Mom even joined us on the boat and arrived via jet ski.

Pool chairs were a little hard to come by, so as a team we agreed that the first person up in the morning would reserve three chairs and then send a text to the other party. It was a great feeling to wake up and see a text from Tracy...and for the record, mom never was up to reserve chairs! We even had our "can't miss" team t-shirts to mark our territory

Of course we couldn't miss the foam party at the party pool! Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've gone to a foam party with your 70-year-old mother.

I also participated in a poolside sushi-making class.

Once again, the service at OMR elevated our trip to another level. Every aspect and every person went out of their way to make our trip extra special.

 My mom celebrated her 70th birthday during our stay. We enjoyed time at the pool and she was surprised with a cake waiting in the room. We also enjoyed dinner at our favorite restaurant and the staff sang happy birthday :) They even put her name in the Ocean Post!

The highlight of this resort and the #1 reason why I continue to return time and time again is the staff. From top to bottom, everyone treats you with genuine reverence and kindness and is always eager to please. Groundskeepers, housekeeping, bar staff, dining staff…I could go on forever about their seemingly genuine attempt to make every guest happy.

Although everyone went above and beyond, there were a few members of the staff who specifically impacted our trip. First, we want to extend a very special thank you to Alberto at La Dolce Vita and Privilege. He provided flawless service every night. He always had a smile on his face and accommodated every dietary request with ease and understanding. He remembered our request night after night with no problem.

Oli, Yovonnetti and Tila from the lobby bar and courtyard have always stood out and remember me from previous stays. This trip was no different. They take excellent care in ensuring we are happy and our drinks are full!

Alfredo from La Haceinda breakfast and lunch has always been a favorite of mine from previous stays. Although I didn't eat at the buffet often, I made sure to request his section when I did. Once again, he offered phenomenal service.

The entire staff at Privilege breakfast served us daily and were always a pleasure. Danielle from the entertainment crew kept us smiling and Oscar from the Privilege desk was always professional and made sure that all of our needs were met. Resort photographers, Sara and Natalie, were so kind and took great pictures that we were able to bring home as a reminder of the great times.

Finally, Denise from guest services is a great asset to the h10 and OMR companies. During the several months leading up to my stay, she was quick to respond and accommodate every question and request. She even found me during my stay to ensure all was well. I can't thank her enough for helping to make this such a memorable trip for all of us!

Overall, the staff at Ocean Maya Royale is phenomenal and should be proud of what they bring to the h10 organization. Thank you!

In the end, I can say we had an amazing vacation where we relaxed, had fun, ate well and enjoyed each others company. The three of us have never taken a vacation (of any kind!) together and I can say that it was better than I could have imagined. We're all imagining/planning our next visit! Hint: my 40th and Tracy's 50th aren't too far away :)

Lucky for me, I don't have to wait long.
Ocean Maya Royale...Steve and I will see you in July 2016!

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