Occidental at Xcaret Destination- Mexico All Inclusive Vacation Review
Booking the Trip-
This trip was in the works for a long time. We planned to go on a friends trip in August for quite a while so I had plenty of time to research the best rates and availability. My old tried and true place to book these all inclusive vacation trips is CheapCaribbean.com. This is my favorite place to book as I find it the easiest to navigate and the most complete booking. It is clear when you book what you can expect for accommodations, flights, and shuttle service to/from the airport. Knowing what you want as far as number of nights and approximate destination is helpful going into this site. What I find not helpful for finding the best deal is picking dates and then trying to make your trip happen then. Of course that is not always possible but I find the best most affordable prices when I go in with a couple weeks time frame in mind and see whats available different dates.
We ended up going for 5 nights, 6 days and flew direct Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to Cancun (CUN). Flying direct is so much easier than having a layover.
You can always book through other sites like Southwest Vacations, Expedia, Apple Vacations, or FunJet Vacations but my absolute favorite is CheapCaribbean.com.
The Resort Grounds-
Barcelo resorts are usually decently nice. We stayed at this exact resort once prior, just Keith and I so we knew the ground here were luxurious. The resort is a bit on the larger scale but absolutely stunning and has a shuttle that runs throughout the resort if you'd like to hop on. It is an ecologically reserved space so it is very natural yet also groomed. They also have a lot of animals throughout the resort in both dedicated areas and free range if you will. Some of the animals at the resort include but are not limited to monkeys, flamingos, deer, iguanas, parrots, and more! Even more stunning is that there are Mayan ruins scattered throughout the resort and they are amazingly beautiful!
They have several different spaces on the resort as well as far as member specific areas, restaurant spaces, dedicated beach space, shopping areas. There are several buildings that are all 3 floors each with rooms. The one thing to note about this resort is that there are no standard oceanfront rooms. You have to be a member ("timeshare" owner). Speaking of... one of my only drawbacks to this resort is that each building has concierge members. While this sounds great as they are there to help, they sometimes are overbearing as you come and go from your rooms and they ask that you attend a "meeting" to explain to you all that being a "member" offers. Since we had been here before we knew ahead of time to prep for this and explain we are not interested in talking since we had been here before. 🙂
The pool is HUGE and is spread throughout the entire resort. There are several different areas though that have different vibes. The spot where the swim-up bar is is also the activity pool so there is always loud noise and activity happening there. There is a walk in area that seemed to be more quiet but also family friendly with a lot of kiddos. There are several other nooks and areas to spread out in the pool in and you never feel like there people crowding you. Since the pool is so large, this also means that there are plenty of chairs around it.
The beach at this resort is man made and set back off of the main coastline. I really appreciate this though as the weeds were not a problem and there were never any major rocks or shells to worry about. The sand was soft and clean. The beach is also set up in multiple levels so there are tons of chairs to choose from, beach beds, and hammocks. There is also a restaurant/buffet on one side with a beautiful deck overlooking the main coastline. Further, there is of course another beach side bar with the funnest bartenders!
If that is not enough, there is an ocean fed salt water pool that is adults only that is beautiful and a nice little escape if you would like to get away from kids. There is another very small sandy area over there as well with more chairs and places to sit.
Even more- this resort is on the same grounds as the Xcaret Mexico park. You can walk in through a gate near the beach OR there is a moody river that flows through the main area/lobby of the resort that has a shuttle boat that takes you over. It is just dreamy even if you don't choose to go to the resort. It adds so much visual appeal and sets the scene the minute you walk into the resort.
This resort is without a doubt gorgeous and one of a kind. I give the grounds and resort overall a 5/5!
The room accommodations are nice but pretty standard. There is nothing WOW about the rooms here but I never prioritize my stay around the rooms as we spend 99% of our time outside of our room. There is a standard bathroom with a large and nice walk-in shower. Each room also offers a nice wall of closets which includes a safe, a small fridge stocked with drinks daily, and a comfortable king sized bed. The rooms were spacious and clean and kept up nicely. We were on the first floor during our stay and had a nice little porch. Each room has a porch but. I would imagine the higher you are the better the views.
Another thing we found very useful this time around, given Hurricane Grace blew in, was that each room had umbrellas! We definitely needed those the day after the hurricane to walk about the resort! Rooms get a rating of a 4/5.
When you choose an all inclusive resort, you do not choose it for the food. I always remind myself that going into it. With that being said there can be resorts with food that is better than others. The food at this resort is pretty good. They have 3 buffet restaurants that were always both fresh and delicious with rotating options. Each day there is a different lunch themed station from tacos, to pasta, to asian food. I was never disappointed with an of my selections at the buffets.
Beyond that, there are several restaurants. We were able to get into all of them but 2 I think! The variety among them is great! There is an Oriental restaurant, a Steakhouse restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, a Seafood Restaurant (there was last time we went but I think it was closed down this time due to COVID and staffing), and an Italian restaurant. Each restaurant offers multiple courses including salads, soups, main entrees, and desserts.
There are also a two less formal outdoor dining restaurants/areas that are nice if you want to get something quickly and casually. These include a pizza place and taco place, both of which are delicious. They are right next door to each other and share the same outdoor space to eat at which means that you can actually order from both at the same table!
While the restaurants do not require a reservation, it was a bit challenging to get into the restaurants each night. This was very different from our last experience here. We found that if you wanted to get in you had to be there at opening or before OR be very persistent in asking the host every 15 minutes or so when your table would be ready. This was a small drawback for us as we loved staying out in the beach/pool as long as possible before going to dinner.
Regardless of the struggle sometimes to get into the restaurants and room service NOT being included in your all inclusive rates...The drinks were GOOD and plentiful. They flowed all day and most servers or staff encouraged you to drink a lot of "Mexican water" aka tequila. On our first day there Leo, our favorite server brought us shots of tequila and said "oh oops... you didn't order these. oh well... enjoy!" Our favorite drink discoveries of this trip were Blue Hawaiians and a Miami Vice (1/2 Pina Colada, 1/2 Strawberry Daiquiri) with mango!
I still give this a 4/5 overall for food and beverages!
The service was excellent! Check in was the worst part, slow and just busy but it usually is since a lot of times waves of people arrive and depart at the same time. The people and staff were all very nice and helpful though regardless. The restaurant staff was clearly short staffed (I assume given COVID) but you can tell they were all doing their very best to make sure everyone was served and serviced well! The bartenders were all amazingly friendly and fun too.
Following hurricane grace, there were staff people EVERYWHERE cleaning, drying, clearing pathways, doing debris clean up, and tryin to make everyone feel as safe and secure as possible. The bartender the night prior (the hurricane came in the middle of the night) said that it would just be "a little rain and nothing big". I will say I have never seen anything like it or been a part of anything like it but for us Midwestern folks I would imagine its similar to our tornados (plus water) and so to them it really was just a little rain. Regardless people were accommodating and helpful putting everyone at ease.
Service rating 5/5!
There are similar restrictions in place here as anywhere in the world right now. Masks were required indoors and when ordering drinks at the bars (except the beach bar and swim up bar). They have changed from having paper menus at the restaurants to having QR codes to scan and look at on your phones. Additionally they take your temperatures upon entry at each restaurant. Beyond this there were more hand sanitizer stations and folks were cleaning. I think the hotel was operating at full capacity as it was pretty busy but I do not know that for certain. I felt very safe though at the resort the entire time. As the US requires a negative COVID test for entry back into the country, the hotel provided those for a small additional charge- only $18 per person.
The other sort of bummer was that most of the shows and night life at the hotel were canceled due to COVID. The bars were still open and most nights they had either a Mayan show or an individual playing live music. It wasn't like there was nothing happening, but it would have been nice to have some shows/entertainment in the evenings.
The airports were extremely busy but masks are required in the airports and planes. People were relatively respectful of space (as much as can be while traveling). Covid test documents were checked at the airport ticketing counters and it wasn't anything "extra". This was not my first time traveling during the pandemic so I knew what to expect.
This resort is the only all inclusive resort we have ever gone back to... let that sink in. We have never traveled multiple times to the exact same place (other than Charleston where my Dad has a place). So- that should say it all! While we love to explore new places and do new things, the price was right and we knew we loved it here. I would without a doubt return here again too! The beauty, the service, the uniqueness of the resort with the animals and Mayan ruins, the beautiful beach and fun environment.. its just AMAZING. I would give this resort a 4.75/5 star review!
Everything linked above under each picture. Shop all outfit details and links on my LTK account here. More looks and swim wear from this trip linked on my account!
Let me know if you have any questions!
Items on this page may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission for purchases you make through my links at no additional cost to you.