The moment you step into the lobby at the Occidental at Xcaret Destination in Riviera Maya, Mexico, you can tell this is an enormous resort. But just how enormous doesn’t become clear until you take a few more steps into this gorgeous haven in Playa del Carmen.
The cavernous lobby–draped with hanging plants and tropical vines–opens around a manmade river that flows through the property. In the mornings, the river carries guests to the nearby private entrance of the Xcaret ecopark. In the evenings, it ferries in elaborately-dressed Mayan characters for the nightly show. Once outside, walkways wind past hotel rooms, beside pools, around groups of monkeys and birds, carrying you past restaurants in the direction of the beach. Occidental at Xcaret Destination is massive and tropical and relaxation at its best.
The true beauty of an all-inclusive resort like the Occidental Xcaret Mexico is that it requires almost nothing of you. The biggest decisions of the day are whether to visit the pool or the beach and where you want to have dinner. This type of low-maintenance vacation was a new and welcome surprise for us, since we’re usually doing more involved travel in Mexico like scuba diving in Cozumel or snorkeling with sea turtles in Akumal.
At the Occidental Riviera Maya, the day is yours. You can sleep in, enjoy brunch, and have a cocktail at the beach. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can take part in any of the hotel’s activities, venture out to a nature park like Xel-Ha, or tour the cenotes.
Occidental at Xcaret Destination Review
Formerly known as the Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort, the all-inclusive complex is located just six miles south of Playa del Carmen, adjacent to Xcaret and a stone’s throw from Xplor adventure park. Its 700 rooms are perched in an eco-friendly setting on the coast where you have the feeling of being far away from everything but the convenience of being close to the parks and the city.
There are 11 restaurants at the resort. Two buffets are open for breakfast and lunch, serving standard buffet fare. In the mornings, there is a wide assortment of fruits, pastries, breakfast meats, and an omelet station. In the afternoons, you can find everything from pizza to burgers to salad and quesadillas.
The main buffet opens again for dinner, and the buffet at the Beach Club becomes the a la carte seafood restaurant El Pescador in the evenings. In addition to El Pescador, there are specialty restaurants focusing on Mexican, Asian, and Italian food, along with a grill restaurant that serves a little of everything.
At the Occidental Riviera Maya, the a la carte restaurants are definitely the way to go when you have the option. The service was prompt and attentive, the cuts of meat were higher quality, and the flavors were more refined. Even the margaritas at the Mexican restaurant were far superior to those made in the rest of the hotel. I visited in low season, so making reservations was not a concern, but if you’re visiting Mexico during a busier period, make sure to get reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as you arrive.
The hotel posts representatives at each building and at Guest Services to assist guests in booking local tours or diving excursions.
With nine bars at the Occidental Xcaret resort, you’ll never lack for a place to relax or grab a drink. Among others, there is a swim-up bar, a beach bar, a sports bar, and a lobby bar. It’s all-inclusive, so you can drink to your heart’s content from the extensive menus pretty much anywhere. It’s also possible to upgrade alcohol choices for an additional fee depending on the product.
Oh, the pools. They seem to stretch forever, winding through the massive resort, passing under bridges, and ending in swim-up bars. It’s hard to count them (the website says there are five) because they really do seem endless. And extremely awesome.
Built into the rocky coastline on the south side of the Occidental Grand Xcaret resort is a small man-made beach that is absolutely perfect. It is constructed as an extension of the ocean, but its positioning means there’s great water and pretty fish to watch without having big waves or steep drop-offs.
Guests with small children seemed to absolutely love the beach because it was calm and easy for families to play without any real risk. Heck, I absolutely loved it, too. It would be easy to spend the whole day here–there are great lounge chairs and cabanas, a beach bar, and a restaurant within just a few steps.
The spa, located in the heart of the resort near the lobby building, offers a variety of treatments and massages.
The Sports Facilities
Tennis, mini-golf, archery, and other activities are available for adults and children.
Buildings (10-22) at the Occidental Mexico are spread across the resort. I was on the second floor of building 21 near the quiet and selective Royal Club in a standard double room overlooking an area populated by deer.
The room featured a large armoire that was home to the minibar, which was refilled daily with water, beer, and soft drinks. There was also a very large closet, desk, chair, and a small balcony with two chairs. Outlets are limited, so bring a power strip if you have multiple devices to charge.
One thing to note: while the guests were not loud or disruptive, there were a few noises. The doors can be a bit loud when closing, and I could hear my neighbor’s phone ringing. Also, wildlife sometimes makes noise, and I was awakened a couple of times by birds outside my window. Overall, not terribly disturbing, and nothing that can’t be fixed with a cheap pair of earplugs.
Bed: With ample pillows and a soft duvet, the bed was quite comfortable.
Wifi: High-quality WiFi is available at the Occidental at Xcaret Destination. Unfortunately, guests only get 60 minutes free daily in the hotel lobby. WiFi is available in the rooms for $17 for every 24 hours.
Television: Each room is equipped with a flat screen TV. English channels are limited.
Safe: I had no safety concerns at the hotel, but each room has a safe for valuables, if needed.
The spacious bathroom featured a large, tiled shower.
Bathroom amenities: Eliminating the small bottles that can lead to lots of waste, shower gel and shampoo were kept in dispensers on the wall of the shower. Conditioner and lotion are not provided, so bring those with you if you need them as antidotes against the sun and seawater (I was glad I had brought my own). A shoeshine kit is also available.
The Final Verdict
I was sad to leave the Occidental at Xcaret resort. From the awesome beach area to the delicious Mexican food, there was everything to love about this property.
Staying at Occidental at Xcaret Destination
Rates vary significantly depending on the season and number of guests since the fees include not only the room but all food and drinks (including alcohol). In low season, a standard room for 2 adults runs about $190/night, and a junior suite is $210/night. In high season, those prices can be nearly double. Fees for the Royal Club are also higher.
The Occidental Riviera Maya is about an hour south of the Cancun International Airport and about 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. It could not be more convenient to the Xcaret eco-archaeological park (there are two entrances just for hotel guests) and Xplor adventure park.
How to Get to the Hotel
A cab from the Cancun airport will run approximately $50. Since the resort is all-inclusive, most other transportation will be via a mini-van included with any tours you might book.
Visiting the Xcaret Parks
Many people select the Occidental at Xcaret Destination because it is close to several of the Xcaret theme parks. We have been fortunate to visit all of them and have written in detail about our experiences.
If you’re still trying to decide what parks to visit or are just interested in more information, you may find these reviews helpful.
I were the guests of the Occidental at Xcaret Destination all-inclusive. Opinions of the comfortable and relaxing are our own.
Have you been to an all-inclusive? What was your experience like?