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Resort Review: Sandos Caracol Eco Resort

A truly unique resort in the heart of the Mayan jungle!

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Sandos Caracol Eco Resort stands apart from the myriad of resorts lining the beautiful beaches of Riviera Maya. What sets it apart? They didn’t clear land to build this resort, they built around cenotes, mangroves, Mayan ruins. It is literally built in the jungle.

All about the experiences!

This family friendly resort in Playacar boasts 40+ activities that you won’t find anywhere else by simply walking out of your resort room. Eco tours across suspension bridges where you learn about the wildlife and trees of the jungle around you. Snorkling in a beautiful large  cenote, a river through a mangrove with various fun experiences, sensory experiences offered by the spa, exploring Mayan ruins, a waterpark,  a lovely beach with all the usual water sports, tennis courts and several pools of course. The main pool has a swim up bar and another pool in the family section has entertainment and music during the day and the adult only section has a large quiet pool.

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse 
of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

Wildlife!

The mission of this resort and the entire hotel chain is about preserving nature and the culture of the locations their resorts sit in. They built this resort in the jungle and the animals that called the jungle home, still do. In addition to the animals native to the land, spider monkeys, iguanas, birds, coatis, turtles and more… the resort rescues animals that are in danger. They have donkeys, pigs and other rescues. Helping the caretakers feed the animals is one of the activities kids can partake in.

Nature!

My favorite experience at this resort was swimming in the cenote. We took and snorkel tour then were able to just lounge in the cool water. This water is refreshing! The resort boasts 7 cenotes, but only 4 are considered swimmable.  Honestly, you’ll want to stick with the main cenote off the lobby, it’s large and maintained to keep the water circulating. A sacred cenote is off towards the ruins and hidden away, the spa uses it, but we did find people in it one day. A cenote in the Select Club section by building 60 is also swimmable.

Culture!

The resort has entertainment nightly and is focused on the Mayan culture. You can watch fire shows and ceremonies and participate in a survival game too. It’s great for the whole family. For something romantic, couples can take a private boat ride in the Jade river or enjoy a couples massage surrounded by the jungle.

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Accommodations!

You’ll find the best of both worlds at this resort with a family section and their adult only section called Select Club. On my trip, my room was in the Select Club close to the adult only pool and restaurant. There is also a Select Club area on the beach with some special amenities.

Newly renovated Eco superior and family rooms feature bunk beds and are very nicely appointed.

Royal Elite is family friendly, but offering perks as well with their own beach area and private pool and restaurant.

Time to Eat!

There are plenty of options for food at Sandos Caracol. The usual buffets, an Italian restaurant, Teppanyaki, Brazilian, Mediterranean, and a Steak & Fish restaurant. Of course the usual snack bars and options. A favorite of mine was the restaurant catering to the Select Club, great breakfast here too, mix of buffet or a la carte.

A special feature of this resort that is unique is their vegan restaurant. I am not vegan, nor will I ever be and normally would never have chosen to eat here, but I have to say, it was really good. It a great choice for something different and of course, it’s all-inclusive so you have nothing to lose. Don’t feel full, go somewhere else and eat more! I will say, this was a meal I did feel full from, more so than any other. It was surprisingly delicious. Give it a try!

Kid Friendly!

There is plenty for the kids to keep them entertained. A massive waterpark, all the animals and fun eco activities, a kid’s club, pools, beach… By the center of the resort, you walk through another great spot for kids to get to the main pool and beach. Here you’ll find a bar and pool tables, ping pong, tv’s with sporting events, etc… and while the kids are having the time of their lives…you can hit the spa!

Sandos Caracol Eco Resort is a truly unique resort where you can swim in a cenote, explore Mayan ruins and culture, view wildlife in the wild and still enjoy the usual all-inclusive resort benefits of the pools and beach and kid’s club, etc…It’s the best of both worlds! I am looking forward to bringing my kids here as I know they will love it.

 

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Flight of Passage

The latest greatest attraction in Orlando since the opening of Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is in my opinion, Flight of Passage.

 

The lines are long with this one!

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Flight of Passage is a thrilling ride (with a 44″ height requirement) on the back of an animatronic banshee wearing 3D glasses. It’s far from just another simulator ride though. The experience starts in the queue itself. It meanders through rock formations, past waterfalls, interesting landscapes and into what appears from the outside to be a gigantic rock. Inside it’s nice a cool and continues its meandering ways. There is plenty to look at and makes the long wait, not quite so bad really.

 

The two pre-ride videos explain that the conflict between the humans and the Na’Vi aliens has ended and now humans can experience this amazing thrill that is a rite of passage for the Na’Vi. The ride is a flight simulator perched in front of a 65-foot wide, 90-foot tall 3D screen. As you enter the flight room, after you’ve been matched with your banshee, you get your first glimpse of the motorcycle like contraction you’ll be riding. But this isn’t a motorcycle, it’s a living breathing banshee! Put on your 3D glasses and FLY!

The thrills are strong with this one!

You’ll fly through forests, past waterfalls avoiding animals and a tsunami! The wind blowing, the sights, and sounds. It truly is an incredible attraction.

It’s Soarin on Steroids!

I managed to ride this 3 times in one day on a busy September day. Arriving at park opening with the crowds all heading there, the line started right about where the sign is telling you what the wait time is. It said 2 hours. But the crowds were still filing in, filling in the queue and we pretty much walked steadily, slowly without stopping. It took about 45 minutes to get to the first pre-ride movie. The second time was with a Fastpass, took about 30 minutes even with the Fastpass. The 3rd time we just waited. The sign said it was a 90-minute wait and we had some time to kill. It took 60 minutes. But this time we got to see the entire queue which we skipped the first 2 times through.

Flight of Passage is definitely the best use of a Fastpass at Animal Kingdom, but even without one, with a little planning and some patience, it’s well worth the wait.

Whirlwind Sandals Resorts Fam Trip

I recently had the incredible opportunity to attend a 4-night exclusive FAM (familiarization trip ) with my agency to Jamaica. We were invited by Sandals Resorts to learn about their fabulous product and become Certified Sandals Specialists.

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Over the next few weeks, I will review and recap the Sandals and Beaches Resorts that we visited while on our trip.

  1.  Sandals Whitehouse European Village (stayed 2 nights here)
  2.  Sandals Negril Resort and Spa
  3. Beaches Negril Resort and Spa
  4. Sandals Montego Bay (just a rest stop)
  5. Sandals OCHI (formerly Grande Riviera)(stayed 2 night here)
  6. Sandals Royal Plantation
  7. Beaches Ocho Rios Resort and Spa
  8. Sandals Golf & Country Club (not a resort )

Yes! That is a lot of touring…this was definitely a working trip, including a 4-hour workshop to become a Certified Sandals Specialist, lead by the incredible (seriously, didn’t feel like 4 hours, went by very quickly) Iesha Hibbert.

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I absolutely fell in love with Jamaica. The people are so welcoming and friendly everywhere and Sandals Resorts are unparalleled. Luxury Included is the truth. Each Sandals Resort has its own unique vibe and there is a perfect resort for everyone.

I cannot wait to go back with my own family to Beaches, it’s moved to the top of our travel bucket list. And I cannot wait to help my clients plan their wonderful memory making trips, whether they be family trips to Beaches, a nice change from the theme parks. Or a romantic getaway for mom and dad for a complete change of pace.

Stay tuned for the reviews and see photo tours on my Facebook Page.

Contact me if you would like more information on planning your own visit to paradise. 🙂  barbara@atimetotreasuretravel.com

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