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Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa 3.5

Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Gorgeous beachfront location on the Gulf of Mexico overlooking Cozumel Island
  • Property has adults-only rooms and features, along with family-friendly facilities
  • Rooms have private furnished balconies and free filtered water
  • Two large outdoor swimming pools; one has a swim-up bar
  • Fun outdoor water park for kids
  • All-inclusive drinks and meals at several restaurants and bars; tips included in rates
  • White sandy beach includes an adults-only area and water sports activities
  • Spa Sandos offers beauty treatments, massages, and a modern fitness center
  • On-site cenote for snorkeling and swimming in crystal clear water; a natural river cruise can also be arranged
  • Kids' club has a rock climbing wall and a movie theater
  • Free Wi-Fi in public areas and free parking

Cons

  • Complaints of odors and dampness in the rooms
  • Division between adults-only and family-friendly sections of the property can be confusing
  • Numerous restrictions and reservation requirements at restaurants and bars
  • Rooms are generic and could use a refresh
  • Charge to use the in-room safes
  • Some rooms don't have Wi-Fi access

Bottom Line

Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa does a lot of things differently from its upper-middle-range, beachfront, all-inclusive competitors. The property is divided into adults-only and family-friendly sections, meaning that some rooms and restaurants, and a pool, are free of kids. The grounds are jungle-like: there's a natural cenote (crystal clear for snorkeling) and guided rowboat river cruise. Animals, like donkeys and coatis, roam free. For kids under six, the on-site water park is lots of fun, as is the kids' club. There's room for improvement though: rooms have awkward layouts and past guests have complained about odors and mold. There are restrictions on the all-inclusive restaurants, the beach is rocky, and the pools get crowded. Overall, however, this property is a solid choice with some fun perks and generally budget-friendly rates.

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Scene

Sprawling jungle-like grounds on the beach

The lobby of this sprawling jungle property sees a steady stream of travelers, mostly families and couples (largely separated into different parts of the property)

This property does a bang-up job combining what makes Mexico special: a natural cenote, Mayan history, jungle grounds with roaming animals, and a white sand beach, with the comfort and style that travelers seek on vacation. The grounds are spread out, but golf carts are on hand to make traversing the property faster. Indoors, the lobby's centerpiece is an elephant statue presented on a bed of sand. Worn wicker furniture and blue cushions add places to sit and use the free (but spotty) Wi-Fi. The ceiling is made of traditional thatch and decorated with enormous metal chandeliers. Due to Sandos Caracol's massive size, the public spaces are often bustling, though there are separate parts of the property for families and couples. For adults who want a truly kid-free space, check rates at The Royal Playa del Carmen.

Location

On Playa del Carmen Beach

Map of Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa

Sandos Caracol is located right on the beach in Playa del Carmen, and the large grounds add an air of seclusion and isolation. There isn't much within walking distance other than neighboring resorts -- the Viceroy Riviera Maya and Hotel Paradisus Plaza Playa del Carmen La Perla flank the property. Expect a 45-minute drive to Cancun International Airport. Parking at the hotel is free.

Rooms

A variety of options but basic decor -- some rooms are adults-only

The Select Adult Only Superior Room incorporates basic decor that fails to inspire

There are 738 rooms and suites spread out among 46 three-story buildings at Sandos Caracol. Three categories of rooms -- Superior, Deluxe, and Penthouse -- only allow couples without kids. Families can choose from six remaining room categories ranging from Standard to a Royal Elite Penthouse. The most expensive rooms include whirlpool tubs and ocean views. Air-conditioning, satellite flat-screen TVs, and minibars with free water, soda, and beer that's replenished every two days come standard in all rooms. There's an extra charge to use the in-room safes, and some rooms won't pick up the free Wi-Fi signal.

Decor includes tile floors, white walls, and brown wicker headboards. Some rooms include small gray couches that face large mirrors. Some bathrooms include whirlpool tubs, double sinks, and private water closets. A brown shuttered window in each bathroom can be opened or closed for privacy. There's also a small, furnished private patio or balcony attached to each room. Past guests have complained about odors, dampness, and being too far from the pool in some rooms.

Features

Lots to do outdoors

Outdoor activities include snorkeling at the on-site cenote

For active families and couples, it doesn't get much better than the features at Sandos Caracol. The on-site spa offers beauty treatments, body treatments, an outdoor hot tub complex, and a sauna. This is also where the spacious and bright fitness center is located. The space is complete with LifeFitness cardio equipment and strength-training machines. Yoga is available.

For little kids, the expansive water park includes 17 different waterslides and a fun variety of shallow water play areas. Kids over the age of six probably won't be interested though. There's a super fun kids' club with everything from a movie screening room, to video games, to a small rock climbing wall. Staff organizes nightly shows to rave reviews, and also schedules family-friendly activities like guided walks, dance classes, and beach activities throughout the day. Guests can use the well-maintained tennis courts throughout the day and night, with free balls and rackets, though the proper shoes and attire they require aren't provided.

The on-site cenote is an excellent spot for snorkeling and learning about Maya culture. There's a deck with patio furniture where guests can relax facing the clear water. Another cool feature is a guided rowboat river cruise, where guests (it's mostly couples who choose to partake) can take photos of monkeys in the trees and hear about the ancient way of life in Mexico.

Beach

White sand and clear water (so you can see the rocks)

The white sand public beach has clear calm water that exposes the jagged rocks beyond (guests should wear water shoes and be careful)

Guests at Sandos Caracol Beach have private access to the white sand public beach. The water is blue, clear, and calm -- excellent for snorkeling with the colorful fish, but jagged rocks demand water shoes and extra caution. Staff provides free boogie boards, sailboats, kayaks, and windsurfing equipment, though lessons cost extra. Scuba diving and jet ski rentals can be arranged for an added cost. On the sand, there are plenty of white beds in the sun, as well as blue sun loungers under umbrellas. There's a separate area just for adults.

Food

Restricted all-inclusive

A la carte dining options on-site include Salvia, which serves a vegetarian menu

There are nine restaurants at Sandos Caracol; six of them are a la carte and three offer buffets. However, guests are restricted to how many times they can visit the a la carte restaurants depending on how many nights they've booked. Further, these restaurants require reservations one day in advance. La Laguna does an international buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until late. La Toscana serves an Italian-style buffet for breakfast and lunch, while Las Mascaras does a casual Mexican buffet for dinner only. The six a la carte options do dinner only and range from Japanese (sushi gets good marks), to Brazilian, to Mediterranean.

Nine different bars serve mostly free alcohol, though there are extra charges for premium booze and wine. The snack bar, El Nido, serves drinks 24/7, and there's a nightclub open late for those over 18. Two pool bars and a beach bar don't stay open past six.

Pool

Two outdoor pools

Two outdoor swimming pools include one with a sprawling free-form design

There are two swimming pools at Sandos Caracol, but one of them is only for adults who booked adults-only rooms. It's definitely quiet and calm. This freeform pool has a dark blue sun design on the bottom and is surrounded by thatch umbrellas and blue sun loungers. There's a nearby bar, but not the swim-up kind.

The second pool is available to everyone staying at the resort, and it gets crowded with kids and staff members who organize (occasionally rowdy) activities like volleyball and water polo. This pool has a swim-up bar and blue sun loungers under thatch umbrellas. Towels are free at both pools and the water is shallow.

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Address

Carretera Chetumal Pto Juarez Km 295, Solidaridad, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico

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