Monday, August 21, 2017

Ocean Maya Royale for the 7th Time! Playa del Carmen, Mexico ~ July 8-22, 2017

Birthdays and anniversaries. I consider them both excellent opportunities for a massive celebration, especially when it’s MY birthday and OUR anniversary J Seriously, I don’t ask for much! In July 2017, we had the opportunity to celebrate my 38th birthday and 11-year wedding anniversary in one fell swoop.

 Everyone knows I have planned countless vacations. Not only is it one of my favorite things to do, but I’m also pretty good at it. Best of all, we get so much happiness out of the end result and they’re always some of the highlights of our life. Two-weeks in July has been a tradition of ours for six years (and counting…) As we have fine-tuned our lifestyle, we've realized we absolutely love vacation and it's an integral part of our overall enjoyment of life. We have very specific needs/wants and Ocean Maya Royale continues to check every box on that list. OMR affords us the opportunity to enjoy this lavish lifestyle on a budget, while also offering a relaxing, fun, comfortable, all-inclusive and adults-only experience. I’d call that perfection.  

We have visited OMR seven times and four times within the past two years. We’ve recently had several different friends visit based on our recommendation and they have all returned with the same experience. Love it. Date night every night is the best part of the trip and we are treated like royalty. Pure vacation bliss.

To see the recap of all of my previous trips, following these links to January 2017 OMR,
July 2016 OMRMay 2016 OMRJuly 2015 OMRJuly 2014 OMR and July 2013 OMR blogs!

Once again, we were joined by our friends Jean and Ron from New Jersey for ALL 14 DAYS! We met them on vacation five years ago and we have continued with the same theme. I've said it before and I'll say it again, in this big world, vacation seems to bring everyone together with a common goal…Have fun, relax and enjoy!

We started our trip on a United non-stop flight from Cleveland and arrived at the Cancun airport at approximately 9:15 am. Since it was my birthday, we found it only appropriate to book first-class seats. We have officially become first class snobs. Yes, we’re those people…

After customs, baggage and a quick 30 minute airport shuttle...we had arrived in paradise. Although we weren’t able to check into our room, we were able to enjoy the amenities, including a drink at the lobby bar.

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. The wildlife is everywhere!

After six visits, it’s easy to figure out the perfect building. Building 9 is in a stellar location with a slight ocean view. It’s close enough to the pool for a quick walk, but far enough away so we don’t hear the noise during our afternoon nap. Room 903 is pretty ideal. Ron and Jean were in 803, so we’d meet for drinks and pistachios before dinner every night.


Mr. and Mrs. Schur and Mr. and Mr. Walsh were also upgraded to the privilege package and we were checked in at the exclusive air conditioned privilege office.

 When we entered our room, they had it beautifully decorated for my birthday with gifts!

 There are five restaurants at OMR, including three a-la-carte, one hibachi and one buffet restaurant. We have always been very satisfied with the food at OMR and this trip was no different. Everything was excellent and the food overall has improved since our previous stays. Although we tried almost everything on every menu (two weeks will do that!), there were a few dishes that we couldn’t wait to try again.

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 Steve and I always ate in the Privilege lounge, but Ron and Jean decided on 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! None of us ate at La Hacienda for lunch or dinner simply because we don’t really enjoy buffets.

Historically, La Dolce Vita has been our favorite restaurant and this visit was no different. We visited every other day. Manager Jorge literally knew to expect us at promptly 8 pm every other night. He always had our table waiting J In addition to the food variety, the atmosphere at La Dolce is what sets it above the rest. It's in open air and right on the water which allows for a nice breeze in a comfortable setting. We always request fresh Parmesan with our bread and oil. We lost count of how many times we ate dinner at La Dolce and we did a pretty good job of ordering almost every item on the menu. Our favorite items were the arugula salad, beef Carpaccio, chicken, salmon and lasagna.



 Jean even brought us freshly cracked salt and pepper! Score.

 We alternated dinner at La Dolce with Yookoso, Blue Moon, Privilege and El Charro.

Yokooso is the Japanese restaurant and only open for hibachi-style dinner. We dined at Yokooso once where they served sushi in addition to the main course of fried rice, shrimp, chicken, beef, salmon and vegetables.

Blue Moon is only open for dinner and is considered the most high-end of all of the restaurants. The food at Blue Moon was considerably better than we remembered. The steak was the best steak at the resort and the clam chowder was quite good. The desserts…well, the desserts were amazing. Men are no longer required to wear long pants, but it’s still a nicer environment that’s relatively quiet and romantic.



  El Charro is open as a small buffet for lunch and a-la-carte for dinner. There is also a large outdoor grill located outside of El Charro near the quiet pool that opens at 11 am for several hours. We enjoyed a snack from the outdoor grill several times before lunch. The pizza was better than it’s been in the past, particularly when it’s made with the herbed focaccia bread! The addition of the larger grill is a nice improvement within the past year and the variation of food has improved tremendously. Although convenient, El Charro's lunch buffet did not offer the same variety as La Hacienda nor the ambiance of the Privilege lounge. Despite the occasional snack at El Charro, we ate lunch at Privilege every single day. No kidding.

 In years past, we have shied away from El Charro because we didn’t consider the food authentic Mexican. The menu has changed a great deal since last year so we decided to eat at El Charro once for dinner. We were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the ceviche a lot!

 The Privilege lounge is the final restaurant and only available to privilege guests. Steve and I ate breakfast in the Privilege lounge every day. Privilege offers a beautiful and relaxing setting with an a-la-carte menu. We always ordered mimosas and fruit, in addition to a few other items on the menu. I typically ordered two adorable ham and cheese croissants with two eggs on the side to make sandwiches. They were little and tasty.


 We enjoyed lunch at privilege EVERY SINGLE DAY. Manuel was our server for breakfast and lunch and he was exceptional. Manuel knows us from previous stays and always brought Quattro champagne with a cup of ice. He sure knows the way to our hearts. For lunch there was a snacks menu that started at 11 am and a tapas menu that started at 12:30. We literally tried everything from both menus. We ordered the chicken fingers (almost) every time with extra chipotle sauce. OMG. That sauce. I could drink it. The guacamole, burrito, quesadilla, slider and club sandwich were other favorites.


 We enjoyed dinner at Privilege twice. One option we took advantage of was the opportunity to order from the La Dolce menu while dining in Privilege. They share the same kitchen, so the menu was presented to us every night. I ordered the arugula salad because I considered it the perfect start to my meal. We also really enjoyed the salad with tuna.

 We didn't order room service during this visit, but have in the past. The food is adequate and it's convenient when you're hungry and don't really feel like getting ready to eat elsewhere. The menu offers basic breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Breakfast is only available to Privilege guests, but lunch and dinner are available to everyone.

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.

 The romantic dinner on the beach is always a nice setting. We enjoy dinner for four together simply because it's a fun experience. We ordered three steaks and a lobster. All were served with a soup, salad and dessert!

There are two main bars at Ocean Maya in addition to a smaller bar outside of El Charro (also a smoothie bar). Dos Equis and Dos Equis Amber are available at the main bar and the pool bar. There is a plethora of liquor available at all of the bars as well.

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. Miguel and Ignacio were both phenomenal at the pool bar. They were efficient, kind and funny.

I also packed a FULL CASE of sugar free Red Bull and Jean brought her own fair share. Steve and I started every day with a Red Bull and Ketel. It made the decision making process a lot easier! We also had the occasional Mexican Gatorade, mudslide, dirty banana, pina colana, Bahama mama, purple rain, mojito and margarita.

 At dinner, we usually drank rose or sparkling wine. The courtyard outside of the main lobby is where we spent every night. Eber, Yovonnetti and Tila were exceptional in their service. They work so hard, while still remaining kind, eager to please and always remembered our drinks from previous nights. They all remembered us from past visits and seemed genuinely happy to see us again.

We watched the outdoor performances and enjoyed cocktails such as Ketel One martinis, Manhattans, 1800 Anejo, black Russians and Lemoncello, among other things!


Steve provided us with our own entertainment during a few nights of karaoke.

Beginning at 11 pm at the main lobby bar, the kitchen brought out a display of hot dogs, nachos, fries and all of the fixin's. This seemed to be well received by the bar patrons. Perfect drinking snacks!

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..

Occasionally, 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 two chairs and then send a text to the other party. I will say, Ron did not get up for chairs once. Not once. We even had our "can't miss" t-shirts to mark our territory. GO CAVS!!

Of course we couldn't miss the foam parties and white parties at the party pool! It was a lot of fun and Jean and I made great use of our waterproof cameras.

The entertainment team hosts several other activities throughout the days including a paella-making competition, sushi-making, sangria-making, guacamole-making, cards, water polo, volleyball, water aerobics, etc. etc.

There is also a small beach with plenty of chairs and a separate Privilege beach area.



 Also during this trip, Steve and I celebrated our 11-year anniversary and Ron and Jean celebrated their five-year anniversary. The staff at OMR went over the top to help us celebrate. Rose petals, sparkling wine and room decorations, but the three tenors serenading us at dinner put it over the top!

Although we didn’t have a drop of rain during our entire stay, we decided to call our OMR Uber! A.k.a. the hotel golf cart. We hopped in (champagne in hand!) and were dropped off at the restaurant doorstep. A+ service!

 The highlight of this resort and the #1 reason why we 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 Manuel in Privilege breakfast and lunch. He was efficient, kind and personable. He provided stellar service and made sure all of our needs were met.

 Jorge from La Dolce was awesome. He was kind, professional and always had a table waiting for us at dinner.

 Yovonnetti from the lobby bar and courtyard has always stood out and remembers us from previous stays. This trip was no different. She takes excellent care in ensuring we are happy and our drinks are full and perfect!

Finally, Miguel from guest services is a great asset to the h10 and OMR companies. He was so accommodating and kind before and during our stay. I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing him again in January!

 Overall, the staff at Ocean Maya Royale is phenomenal and should be proud of what they bring to the h10 organization. Manuel, Victor, Yovanetti, Tila, Eber, Miguel, Carolina, Oscar and Jorge. ALL truly made our trip memorable and an outstanding experience. This was our 7th visit to Ocean Maya and the staff always exceeds our expectations. We ready to book our 8th stay at OMR in January 2018. Thank you!

It's just so hard to say good-bye!

We returned on two first class tickets home just in time to celebrate our nephew Louie’s 4th birthday! We were actually at OMR when we was born J


Once again, we recognize how much we appreciate, need and enjoy these vacations. They truly are part of who we have become as Steve and Shannon Schur. We have a great time with our friends where we create memories to last a lifetime. Most importantly, we have the opportunity to spend this time together doing absolutely nothing but enjoy each other’s company. It is a time that is healthy and nurturing for our marriage and our friendship. We've been married 11 years and we continue to live the dream.