Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Ocean Maya Royale for Christmas and New Year's! Our 13th Visit to our Second Home

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. We have been going to Ocean Maya Royale since July 2013. We fell in love with the place and the people and we just keep going back. 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 vacation often and 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.

This was our 13th visit to the resort, including the 3rd time in 2019 and 6th time in two years!  We continue to recommend it to family and friends and they have all returned with the same experience. I was flattered to meet several people on this trip who had read this blog and said it helped make their decision to choose OMR. So cool! In the end, (almost) everyone loves it. Of course you’ll have your naysayers, but it’s truly impossible to make everyone happy. I’m not sure what’s not to love about date night every night, total relaxation, and being treated like family. Sounds like pure vacation bliss. 

To see the recap of all of my previous trips to OMR, following these links to July 2019, May 2019, July 2018, May 2018, January 2018, July 2017, January 2017, July 2016 OMRMay 2016 OMRJuly 2015 OMRJuly 2014 OMR and July 2013

We were joined by our friends Darcy and Tanya from London, Ontario, Canada for the first 7 days of our trip. We met them at OMR five years ago after Darcy read my blog. This was their 8th visit. 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!

After a painless flight from CLE, we boarded a quick 30-40 minute airport shuttle and arrived in paradise. Soon enough, Darcy and Tanya arrived and it was time to get the party started. 

We really love the layout and the grounds are always kept immaculate. The wildlife is everywhere! Rather than your typical “hotel” set-up, Ocean Maya has 320 rooms, including 33 eight-room villas and 56 rooms in the privilege building. 

 After 12 visits, it’s easy to figure out the perfect building. Building 9 is in a great 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 908 is pretty ideal. 

This was our first time visiting OMR over Christmas and New Year’s, so I’ll start with those highlights. 

Mexican tradition celebrates on Christmas Eve, so they had a big seafood buffet and pictures with Santa. Not too big of a deal. We all wanted to eat dinner at La Dolce that night, which included a special Christmas Eve menu. My favorite was the charcuterie and cheese spread. As you can see, I was like a kid in the candy store :)

New Year’s Eve was a spectacle. We were joined by our friends Rob & Sue on December 30th as they were getting their trip underway. Rob & Sue are from Penzance, England and this would be their 18th stay at OMR (actually, no one really knows many times they’ve visited! Not even them…lol) We do know they come about 3x per year and stay for 3 weeks at a time. Talk about living the dream! We reserved a table for Rob, Sue and ourselves for the night. In order to reserve the table, we had to purchase one bottle of sparkling wine per couple. No big deal since we would be buying a few bottles anyway.

A few, she says...

There was a massive seafood buffet, entertainment, dancing, and lots and lots of champagne. We were joined by several members of the staff. 

First bottle of our beloved Moët & Chandon Rosé!

Bottle #2!

Bottles #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7! 
We're breaking records...and we're not done yet.



Lucky #10! Yes, we had 10 bottles of the amazing Moët & Chandon Rosé to ring in 2020. We were so happy to share it with so many :)

 On to the rest of the trip… 

There are seven restaurants at OMR, including five a-la-carte, one buffet and the sports bar. We have always been satisfied with the food at OMR and this trip was no different. Having been so many times, we wish the menus would change annually, but we know what we like and tend to eat the same dishes.

 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 altered between La Hacienda and Privilege. The fruit was fantastic and the bread and bagels were always fresh. We enjoying making bagel sandwiches with cream cheese and veggies and/or eggs and bacon. 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! 

We ventured to La Hacienda most days for lunch where we enjoyed a plethora of items, including sandwiches on freshly baked bread, pasta, French fries, among other things. We prefer a-la-carte dining, so did not eat at La Hacienda for dinner (except for NYE when it was our only option).

La Dolce Vita has always been our favorite restaurant and this visit was no different. We made every attempt to visit every other day. 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 and red pepper flakes with our dinner. Our favorite items were the arugula salad, beef carpaccio, salmon, ravioli, steak and chicken. Alberto was our server every night. He was efficient, kind and personable. He and host/manager Javier provided stellar service and made sure all of our needs were met. 

Yokooso is the Japanese restaurant and open for a-la-carte and hibachi-style dinner. We stopped in at Yokooso once for a sushi appetizer. We’ve had hibachi here countless times and it’s exactly as you’d expect…meat, veggies and rice! 

Blue Moon is only open for dinner and is considered the most high-end of all of the restaurants. The clam chowder and shrimp & pasta with saffron sauce are excellent and the desserts are pretty awesome. Men are no longer required to wear long pants at dinner and nice sandals are accepted, but it’s still a nicer environment that’s relatively quiet and romantic, so appropriate attire is expected. Blue Moon holds a special place in our hearts because we’re basically famous and our picture is on the wall alongside several other celebrities. The picture was taken with Darcy, Tanya, Ron, Jean and ourselves in July 2018 and it's still there :)

El Charro is open as a small buffet for lunch and a-la-carte for dinner. There is also a large outdoor grill located near the quiet pool that opens at 11 am for several hours.  

Although convenient, El Charro's lunch buffet did not offer the same variety as it has in the past and La Hacienda has more to choose from. We were most disappointed that El Charro no longer has the fresh fruit water inside. We used to drink these all afternoon! We were also sorely disappointed that they changed their pickles…albeit silly, they were the best pickles I've ever had! Maybe it’s because we ate too many :) Hmmm...

 We typically don’t eat at El Charro for dinner, but we did visit twice for appetizers. We really love their ceviche. Small and just perfect. Highly recommend.

The Privilege lounge is the final a-la-carte restaurant and only available to Privilege guests. Steve and I ate breakfast in Privilege a few times. Privilege offers a beautiful and relaxing setting. We typically ordered the ham and cheese croissant with eggs, bacon and hash browns. The egg and bacon on the sandwich made for a hearty breakfast. Manny and Victor are two of the best! 

In the past, we typically eat lunch at Privilege, but January isn’t too hot, so it was easy and faster to walk to La Hacienda. For lunch there was a snacks menu that started at 11 am and a tapas menu that started at 12:30. We have tried everything from both menus, but the chicken fingers with extra chipotle sauce, plate to share and fish tacos are our favorites. Even the resident cat's name is "Privilege" :)

We enjoyed a pre-dinner appetizer at Privilege once during our stay. We don’t love the main course offerings, so walked to La Dolce for our main course. The French onion soup and Caesar salad were excellent. When you’re eating at Privilege you can order from the La Dolce menu (not vice versa) since they share the same kitchen. 

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 not feeling well or don't really feel like getting ready to eat elsewhere. The menu offers basic breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Room service is available 24/7 for Privilege guests. If you’re not staying in the Privilege building, just let them know you’re Privilege and they’ll look up your reservation. Non-Privilege guests can order room service from 11 am-11 pm. 

One night we had a special dinner arranged by management. Since Rob, Sue, Steve and I have been so many times, it's nice to get a meal that's "off the menu" and not found anywhere on the resort. Very special, very delicious and much appreciated!

The Sports Bar is one of our favorite places on the resort, mostly because you can get their wings and rings anytime between 4 pm and 7 am...and boy did we get wings! These wings saved me when I skipped lunch and was starving before dinner, or picked at my dinner and was starving at 10 pm. We also watched Sunday football games here. It took some time, but they do have the NFL Sunday Ticket (and other sports packages) and Arturo came to our rescue. Miguel was our server/bartender and we had a great time.

We also love the ice cream shop. Perfect on a hot afternoon with a little Bailey's on top!

Mike’s Coffee Shop is located in the lobby and serves delicious coffee drinks as well as a limited number of pastries and sandwiches.

 There are three main bars (main, pool, sports) at OMR in addition to a smaller bar outside of El Charro (also a smoothie bar). Dos Equis and Dos Equis Amber are available on tap. 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, Jony and Eber are phenomenal at the pool bar. They are efficient, kind and funny. 

The main lobby is where we spent every night. Tiger, Yovonnetti, Tila, Anna and the rest of the bartenders were exceptional in their service. They work so hard, while still remaining kind, eager to please and always remembered our drinks from previous nights. Of course they all remember us from past visits and seemed genuinely happy to see us again.

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

There are two pools at OMR and most people refer to them as the quiet/relaxing and party/swim-up bar pools.

During this time of year, we had no problem getting chairs around the pool. If you’ve read my previous posts, then you know that’s not always the case. I think there were a lot more guests reserving beach chairs during this time of year. Not only were the beaches gorgeous, but the pool water was a little cool.

Margarita can be found by the pool 364 days a year selling excursions. She's the best!

Of course we couldn't miss the foam parties at the party pool!  Every Wednesday and Sunday, the entertainment team hosts a foam party in the party pool. It’s entertaining, but I like to keep my distance :) They host several other activities throughout the week including sushi-making, guacamole-making, crafts, water polo, volleyball, yoga, water aerobics, etc. Arturo (a.k.a. Sexy Papi) is pretty amazing and always has us laughing.

There are two small beaches with plenty of chairs and two separate Privilege beach areas. I will say we have seen OMR beaches at their best and at their worst (May 2019) this year and I am happy to report that in December 2019, the beaches were the BEST that I have ever seen them. The water was perfectly calm most days. We walked up and down the beach in either direction and it was beautiful. We know the region takes a huge hit from EVERYONE when the beaches are bad. This time they were perfect. 

I woke up early almost every day to watch the sunrise. The water, beaches...everything was gorgeous. On two occasions Steve even joined me :)

We took a lot of walks on the beach, including the 15-20 minute walk to the lagoon. It's a nice and safe walk with beautiful water. 

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. 

Overall, the staff at Ocean Maya Royale is phenomenal and should be proud of what they bring to the H10 organization. Denise, Rodrigo, Jorge, Mario, Arturo, Manny, Victor, Yovannetti, Tila, Anna, Eber, Tiger, Alberto and Carolina ALL truly made our trip memorable and an outstanding experience. This was our 13th visit to Ocean Maya and the staff always exceeds our expectations. We’ve already booked our 14th and 15th stays at OMR in May and September of 2020. Thank you! 

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 13 years and we continue to live our best life. 


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