Sunscape Akumal Review & International Travel During COVID
This whole trip was exactly what my soul needed. I was feeling defeated, burnt out, and like I wasn't able to be a good person to myself, my husband, or my kids. I was drained and fatigued from this last year being home with the kiddos full time all while not leaving the house much. The daily Covid lifestyle wore me down and I finally admitted to myself and everyone that I needed a break. I wanted to take a trip with my hubby or family just as a change of scenery, but he has not been at his job quite a year yet and so it just wasn't in the cards.
One day I was talking with my mom and she mentioned how she wanted to go to Mexico with some other family and within seconds we both said why don't we go together. After a long waited passport renewal, vaccine appointments, etc we were able to book something and it just worked out that it was over Mother's Day weekend. We took what we later decided to be our first annual mother/daughter trip. It was refreshing and so perfect for me in so many ways. Thanks Mama!
Booking the Trip-
As mentioned above the first mention of this trip was probably about 3 months before we actually went. In those thee months I looked everywhere for deals and packages that fit what we wanted for this trip. We knew we wanted at least 3 but preferably 4 nights at the resort in either Mexico or The Dominican Republic, close to the airport, and with good ratings and reviews. While this seems easy the resorts and deals are all over the place. I found several deals that fit our criteria but we just couldn't book as we were still waiting for a passport and for other details to be ironed out.
The passport was finally in hand and of course at that point in the process we had decided on dates of travel and the rates and good really affordable deals were all over with (isn't that always the way it goes 🤪). One of my biggest money saving tips to booking an all inclusive trip like this is to not set dates and try to find a trip to fit it: but to find a deal you can work with and flights that you like and then book based on availability/pricing. You can save yourself a couple hundred dollars per person that way usually.
We opened our search a little bit and decided we would be okay staying a bit further from the airport. My mom in her research found some good deals through Southwest travel, which I had never booked through before but they were really easy to book with, friendly, and included all of the things I have gotten when booking at other online sites. These things included round trip flights, the hotel with an all inclusive package, and round trip non stop ground transportation to and from the airport. We ended up flying out of our local smaller airport (Milwaukee) and connected to our flight to Cancun in Denver. This made it super easy coming and going as it is much closer than flying out of Chicago ORD like we usually do.
I thought the booking and research process was easy and I was very happy booking through Southwest Vacations. If you have not booked an all inclusive trip before you are truly missing out. It is one of my absolute favorite ways to vacation. We ended up booking at Sunscape Akumal which was just outside of Tulum, Mexico (about 1.5 hours away from CUN airport).
The Resort Grounds-
I'll start by saying that the Sunscape resorts are not top of the line. They are by no means trashy but there are so many other chains that are more elite if you will. With that being said, the grounds at the resort were beautiful. They had tropical vegetation that was well maintained well kept up. There were lots of fountains throughout the resort and the walkways through out the resort were nice and clearly marked. There was minor wear on some of the buildings exteriors and little areas around the resort where you could tell it was a little tired. But so many of the resorts in Mexico are just reopening and probably have not been highly maintained throughout the last year. You could tell they were starting to work on some of these things.
The resort had 6 pools which all had different vibes (kids pool, adults only pool, the entertainment pool, and a handful of pools that were for certain buildings of the resort only). All of them were lovely and had plenty of seating around them. The main pool and the adults only pool both had swim up bars too
The beach was long and sprawled the entire length of the resort. It was perfect to have so much space. They had tiki huts with chairs, sun beds with some canopies, and flat beds without any shade. They also had several chairs out on the beach. The sand was nice and the water was clear and beautiful. There were some larger rocks but not tons and you can tell they had kept it up nicely. There was a huge storm that had just blown through so there was a lot of seagrass that was washing up but the resort staff was out their frequently cleaning it up so it was never really an issue for us.
There were several bars located throughout the resort but the main one was the lobby bar which was inside and very nice. There were several different buildings which housed the rooms. There were several that had ocean front rooms and several with pool views. There were 7 building with rooms. We stayed in building E and were on the first floor. This building had its own swim out pool for those staying on the first floor only so there were a handful of rooms that shared this pool just steps outside of our door.
I would give the grounds overall a 4/5 star rating.
Our room was just okay to be honest. I can not speak for the entire resort but our room specifically felt a bit tired. The beds were very comfortable and everything was functioning including the shower, tub, mini fridge, safe, and most importantly the air conditioning. It was also extremely clean which was wonderful. Overall it was nothing spectacular and I'm sure there are other buildings/rooms that are upgraded rooms that were nicer. There was nothing wrong with it, I just wasn't wowed or overly impressed with it.
When we arrived we upgraded our amenities to be a part of the resorts Sun Club but the upgraded rooms were sold out. They offered to move us the next day but we honestly just didn't feel like moving. Part of that was our fault as I'm sure the rooms would have been nicer. The swim out room we did stay in (see below) was a nice perk though and for only $35 more a night we got that room and all the other amenities of the Sun Club.
Overall I would say our room was a 3/5 stars.
I have found over the years that the food at all inclusive resorts is all over the place. Some of them have been amazing while others not so great. I would say generally speaking the food is good but nothing over the top and you certainly do not book these trips to enjoy lavish food. They all generally have a buffet and then some variety of other restaurants. Sunscape Akumal had 5 restaurants (2 Italian, 1 Mediterranean, 1 Mexican, and a buffet), a pool side grille, and a darling little cafe that served delicious coffee and snacks. In addition they had 8 bars plus the rooftop Sun Club bar totaling 9. We visited all of them with the exception of one restaurant as everyone we talked to said it was not great so we just decided to skip it.
The nice thing about this resort was that it was all a first come first serve basis and there were no reservations required for dinner. The food was all pretty good but our favorite was the Mediterranean restaurant. We also learned that they always will sit you inside to eat unless you specifically ask to be outside. They all had patios overlooking the ocean which was wonderful as well.
The morning time was limited for food the cafe and buffet were the only available restaurants. For us since we upgraded to the Sun Club we had access to free room service as well as another breakfast restaurant. This was much nicer than going to the buffet and things here were made to order.
One of my favorite parts of the resort was the Sun Club bar. It was a rooftop lounge and bar with private pools, beds, and chairs. They had top shelf liquor here too which was wonderful. You could use these amenities any time of day but we visited the roof nightly. It was so beautiful to be able to look at the stars from the roof while overlooking the beach too. (see below)
I was pleasantly surprised by the food here and overall would rate the food 4/5 stars.
The service at this resort was incredible. I feel like this is a given at so many of the resorts and they mostly all do great with this. Everyone was friendly and welcoming from the minute we checked in. The bellman/bag service was great and got our bags to/from the room upon arrival and departure. The restaurant and bar staff was great and all very quick in serving food and drinks. Since this resort was smaller I feel like the people remembered you and knew what you ordered and liked based on your past orders. We saw many of the same bartenders and waiters during our stay there.
The one thing I was slightly disappointed by (but I'm sure it had to do with COVID and only operating at a maximum of 50% capacity) was there were very few drink servers at the pool and on the beach. Once while we were in the pool we had a server bring us drinks and one day at the beach there was a server. I didn't overly mind it as there were so many bars only steps away from all of the pools and beaches but that is usually one really nice thing about these types of resorts. I would give the service 5/5 stars!
COVID Travel & Hotel Precautions-
This was not my first trip during the COVID pandemic but it was my first trip where the airports and planes were full and extremely busy. The airports did a great job with sanitizing and cleaning and they had signage everywhere to social distance. Masks were required in all of the airports and on flights. The drink service on all of the Southwest flights was limited to 3 soda options or water. I didn't mind this but if you like an alcoholic drink while you travel you are out of luck there.
The ground transportation was a little more lax in my opinion. We were supposed to wear a mask but after 8 hours of travel I was pretty over it and we were the only people in our van so I opted to go without and no one said anything. They did however require us to hand sanitize before entry and sprayed the exterior of our luggage down with sanitizer as well.
Once we got to the hotel we were required to sanitize again and once more they cleaned and sanitized our luggage. They also required a temperature check upon arrival so I felt very safe right from the beginning. During our stay you were required to wear a mask when ordering drinks (with the exceptions of the swim up bars) and you had to wear a mask anytime you were inside a building including in the restaurants. Once you were at your table and seated you could remove it. While outside on the grounds you were not required to wear one. They also had temperature checks every time you went into a restaurant.
Further at the resort, they had big fogger machines they used to spray down all of the pool and beach chairs in the early mornings. In our rooms everything was sealed in a bag with a "this has been sanitized" sticker on it so I knew that things were clean. All of the employees were always masked too for more peace of mind and like the airport there were signs everywhere indicating to social distance and stickers spaced 6 ft apart to show you where to wait for drinks, etc.
Overall I would rate this a 3.75/5 stars. Again this is not a top of the portfolio resort but I don't always need top of the top when I travel. The beach and pools were great, the service was excellent, and the food was good. The only thing I wish I could change about the resort would be the rooms and some small maintenance and upkeep of the grounds. For me the rooms at these places do not need to be lavish and over the top though as we usually only sleep in them and spend the rest of the days outside. I think this resort was perfect for what my mom and I needed and I would definitely recommend it to friends and family.
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