After spending five nights at The Royal for our destination wedding on February 5th, my husband, Dale and I switched resorts and spent our honeymoon at the all-inclusive Secrets Maroma Beach in Playa Del Carmen. The resort was only about 20 minutes from The Royal Playa Del Carmen (just down the coast, closer to the Cancun airport), but it felt much more private and secluded than The Royal had, deeming it an ideal place for the two of us to unwind after the wedding. We stayed at Secrets Maroma Beach from Monday, February 7th to Saturday, February 12th.
Before I get into the review of our honeymoon stay, I think it's important that I mention that we had originally planned on having our wedding at Secrets Maroma Beach. However, we changed our plans after hearing that there was a possibility that children may attend our wedding. Secrets had a very strict policy against having children on the property at any time, whereas The Royal would allow children at the resort specially for wedding events only. Upon arriving at Secrets, my husband and I knew almost immediately that it wouldn't have been the right location for our wedding, and we were very happy that we switched to The Royal. Secrets was a great honeymoon spot - peaceful, quiet and sophisticated - but it didn't have the same social vibe that The Royal did, and it was hard to imagine having a big group of people there all together.
We were very impressed with our check-in experience at Secrets Maroma. We didn't even have to tell anyone who we were when we arrived at the resort! (Although I'm sure our shuttle driver did upon arrival). Once our shuttle pulled up to the front lobby, the bellhop took care of our bags, and we were whisked away in a golf cart to the Preferred Club check-in on the other side of the resort. We received glasses of champagne and cool, moist towels upon arriving at the Preferred Club, and the woman who checked us in was absolutely lovely. Once our business was taken care of, we had a drink at the bar (which is just beside the check-in area) and waited for our concierge to come meet us. We only waited about five minutes before the concierge assigned to our building, Yannik, arrived to give us a personal tour of the resort and escort us to our ocean front room.
Our room was located in Building 17, which is one of only two buildings with "Ocean Front" suites, in room 1724 on the second, or middle, floor. There was a bottle of champagne chilling on ice in our room for us to enjoy when we arrived, which always wins us over! We immediately noticed the amazing bathroom in the room, which was on the right upon entering the suite. It really cannot be beat - spacious, marble floors and countertops and some great extra luxuries. There were "his" and "hers" sinks (which we got way too excited about, I'll admit), a large shower and an amazing Jacuzzi tub. The tub was probably the most impressive element of the room, for me...my husband would say it was the balcony. Anyway, this amazing tub was placed right in between the bathroom and the bedroom, so you could be sitting in the tub watching the TV in the bedroom. The bathroom even had built-in wall speakersso you could hear the television really well while relaxing in the tub! I also noticed that the tub's faucet was remarkably quiet when you turned it on, which only added to the suite's peaceful ambiance (although it took forever to fill up the large tub with water).
The room was equipped with a HD television and a DVD player (although there were no DVDs to be found), a beautiful king-sized canopy bed with a nice little seating area, and a sliding door that opened to the balcony right beside it. The balcony was spacious; it even had a little banquette seating area, which was really nice compared to the standard outdoor furniture we were used to having at hotels. My husband ended up taking a nap out there almost every day! Opposite the balcony seating area was yet another large bathtub (without any jets). We only ended up using that tub once during our trip, though. Initially, I was worried that the tub outdoors would get dirty, but the housekeeper was great about keeping it clean for us each and every day.
Wireless internet service was provided by Secrets Maroma; however, it was only free because we had booked a Preferred Club suite. I don't think that the other non-Preferred Club rooms were provided with the same courtesy. The internet service wasn't the easiest to use, either...we were given a login username and password to use when we checked in, and had to login every time we wanted to access the internet from our iPhones. Further, no one ever told us that only one device could be logged in at a time.
My biggest complaint about Secrets Maroma Beach was the issue of our "Ocean Front" suite, as they call it. The room wasn't really "Ocean Front" at all, since there was a large strip of palm trees and greenery, in addition to the swim up pool spanning the length of the building, separating us and blocking our entire view of the beach (see labeled photo on right). We had a very small view of the ocean just on the horizon, but I thought that calling it an "Ocean Front" room was a bit deceitful on the resort's part. More like an "Ocean View", and that is even pushing it a little! We thoroughly enjoyed listening to the ocean from our balcony, but the lower room categories behind our building could probably hear the ocean, as well.
Beach, Pool & Recreation
The beach was absolutely amazing at Secrets Maroma, and it was definitely the highlight of our trip. We spent most of our honeymoon on the beach instead of the pool, because it always seemed much less crowded and we could always find open chairs in the sun. The beach was very clean, with clear blue water and powdery white sand, and the water was definitely warm enough for swimming. There were a couple of bars right on the beach, and the servers took very good care of us (as long as we tipped them regularly).
The pool area at Maroma was decent. I say "decent," because it was very difficult to find any open lounge chairs near the pool unless we wanted to wake up and go down there early in the morning to reserve them. In addition to the standard chairs, the resort also offered a handful of canopy-style beds where guests could really stretch out. We were never able to snag one, but we saw a lot of couples taking naps on them throughout the day! The resort had a good variety of pools - one pool was on the warmer side, and clearly heated for cooler days, another was not heated for the warmer days and another was very shallow so you could sit and lounge in the chairs placed right in the water. We never went in the Jacuzzi; it was pretty small, and separated from the rest of the pools. Overall though, it was a very calm, relaxing and quiet pool area.
Secrets also offered a great schedule of entertainment and activities; significantly better than The Royal's. We figured this was probably because most of the guests at Secrets Maroma stay on the resort at night since there isn't anything else nearby, rather than venturing downtown like guests at The Royal often did. Secrets had some cute shows each night in their indoor/outdoor theatre, and you could tell that all of the performers on staff tried really hard to make sure that everyone was having a great time. The performance of Grease was all lip synching, and that was okay. The best show that we saw during our stay was definitely The Rock Show. The performers actually sang the songs, and we recognized almost all of them. The highlight of that particular show was the really cool acrobatic performance! During the day, we attended a "How to make your own guacamole" class and a tequila tasting; both of which were fun to do in the late afternoon when we had some spare time after going to the beach and before we began getting ready for dinner.
Food & Service
The service at Secrets Maroma Beach was great. Although if I had to compare it to our experience at The Royal, I would say that the staff at The Royal was a bit friendlier. But, in my opinion, they were pretty much impossible to beat! The service at The Royal was unbelievable and nearly flawless; you didn't pass a single person who didn't smile and say, "hello". The staff at Secrets wasn't quite as vigilant in that way, but we still received high quality service.
The food at Secrets Maroma Beach was delicious. We ate at most of the restaurants on the property and enjoyed them all. Our favorite dinner was at the Pan-Asian restaurant, Himitsu, the lunch was great at Oceana and we loved having breakfast each morning at the World Cafe. None of the restaurants take reservations, except for Himitsu because part of the restaurant is made up of group-style seating (Benihana style), for which you were required to have a reservation.
We had more trouble getting a table in the restaurants Thursday through Sunday evenings. On Thursday evening, we tried to have dinner at the steakhouse, Portofino, but we didn't want to have to wait an hour for a table. We then tried a couple of the other restaurants, and they all had at least a 45 minute wait (for which they put you on a list and give you a buzzer), so we ended up just getting room service that night. The room service was pretty delicious! We ordered chips and guacamole almost every day, and loved the Tres Leches cake for dessert. The next day, we tried going to eat dinner earlier (about 6:00 p.m. instead of 7:30-8 p.m.), and were fortunately able to get seated at Portofino right away. The food there was good, but I didn't think it was much better than any of the other restaurants on the resort property. The food offered at Secrets was absolutely delicious, but keep in mind that the restaurants were much, much quieter and less crowded Monday through Wednesday evenings.
As part of our Honeymoon package, we were given a champagne breakfast in bed one morning. It will be an inside joke between my husband and I for years to come, because it consisted merely of two plates of sliced fruit, coffee, orange juice and two weak mimosas. We ended up calling room service to get some actual food, and asked for more champagne, as well (it was called a "Champagne Breakfast" after all!). We were surprised to hear that a full bottle of champagne would cost us $20! The Royal sent multiple bottles of champagne up to our room upon request, no questions asked! To be fair though, I complained to our concierge, Yannik, about the lack of champagne included in the "Champagne Breakfast" later that day, and he sent us a bottle of champagne to make up for it on the last night of our honeymoon.
Overall, we had a great time at Secrets Maroma Beach, but I think when we go back to Playa Del Carmen next year (hopefully!), we'll stay at The Royal again instead. While both resorts were around the same price per night, we thought that The Royal was just the tiniest bit nicer, and we preferred the ambiance and centralized location of The Royal to Secrets Maroma Beach.