I have just got back off holiday!
Just thought I will start off with a hotel review of Secrets The Vine. I will be following up with other reviews, images and videos of my happenings in Mexico but I know I haven’t been around for 2 weeks so heres a quick one to get you started!
My partner and I stayed at Secrets The Vine for 2 weeks (25th August – 8th September).
Just to give you a bit of an overview – we booked with TUI and was only able to select the deluxe ocean view room, this is the most basic room you can get. We were able to upgrade to a Preferred Ocean view Junior Suite which was incredible. We had budgeted for this and was able to get a good deal as we left it up to the very last minute.
This was our second stay in Cancun, we previously stopped the same 2 weeks last year at the Beach Palace. I am hoping to cover everything possible and things I would have liked to know before booking this hotel. There are lots of pros and a few cons but it is dependant on what you are actually looking for in a hotel.
First of all looking at the location of the hotel. It is located between Sandos Hotel and the Hard Rock Hotel on the Cancun hotel strip. It is set back to the road so please do be prepared that there is pretty much no curb appeal whatsoever.
In comparison to our previous hotel (Beach Palace), Secrets is in the middle of nowhere. When you leave the hotel if you turn left (walking towards the Hard Rock) you can walk to a few restaurants including Freds House and Cancun Crab House. If you continue walking you will pass a garage and also a Mc Donald’s. Please note – we had McDonalds from here one day and we did get a upset stomach from it. Then finally if you continue to walk there is AquaWorld. This is a great place to book excursions and activities. We did the Speedboat Jungle Tour which was amazing, it included driving speedboats through the lagoon and out to the ocean where you are able to stop and snorkel around a protected coral reef. I will follow up with a more in-depth review of this.
If you turn right outside of the hotel there are again some restaurants one that we went to was called Puerto Madero which was a seafood restaurant. It was nice but I am not sure if it was worth the money, again I will follow up with a more in-depth review. Further up on the right (I would suggest via bus) there is Luxury Avenue Shopping Mall which has various Designer stores. Shortly after that there is La Isla Shopping Village which again has designer shops but also includes cheaper trinket shops (look out of Playa la Fiesta stores). Further down there is Playa Totogas which is a ferrty port which takes you to various islands. We used this to go to Isla Mujeres (much cheaper to do on your own). The buses in Cancun are really easy to use, the buses cost $12 Pesos per person one way. The bus stops for this hotel are located outside the Hard Rock Hotel and for the other side of the road opposite Hard Rock but slightly more to the left.
Secrets The Vine can be described as a modern adult’s only all-inclusive resort. As mentioned the hotel doesn’t have much curb appeal but as soon as you walk through the doors you will be faced with high rise ceiling and beautiful décor in the lobby. We were greeted by a member of staff with a glass of sparkling wine, we were then led to reception where we checked in and processed an upgrade for our room.
The hotel is pretty easy to navigate; there are 2 sets of elevators which take you up to your rooms. There is a preferred Guests elevator which takes you to floors ‘Lobby, 12, 21 and above. The other elevators take you to Lobby, 12, 20 and below.
The hotel has good security, if you ever leave the hotel you will be asked for your room number on exit and entry. There are a good selection of pools, if you enjoy peace and quiet the best place for you is the preferred pool on the 21st floor. The other pools outside on lobby level are quite loud. The beach is beautiful, not as beautiful as the one at Beach Palace. There are lots of sellers on the beach which you have to continually say ‘No’ to.
Air Con is not very cold
Our room was stunning we stayed in 2205 which was on the 22nd floor 3 rooms back from the beach front. We had an amazing view of the Sea as well as a clear beautiful view of the Lagoon. We were able to see the sunset from this room. We were facing the Hard Rock and there wasn’t too much noise, noise could only be heard when there was entertainment on in the pool below which usually ended before 110/11. I would advise anyone staying at Secrets to book a room on Hard Rock side. Sandos Hotel side seems to have generators and fans which are VERY loud (if you go to the preferred bar for a drink and sit on the balcony you will see what I mean).
Our room was impeccable, we had a daily clean and a daily turn down service. The room was cleaned to a very good standard – our maid was Angela. We accidentally left money and phones out one evening and nothing went missing which again is a big plus in my eyes.
We had the preffered junior suite which had 2 large spacious closets as soon as you walk in, his and hers sinks with additional amenities including toothpaste and shaving cream etc. A huge walk in shower with rainfall shower head and a secondary smaller shower head. The only downside tothis was the water pressure for the shower. It was near impossible to get the right temperature especially if you wanted to change the heat of one shower the other would also change. The shower and the WC is not see through, You can see your feet and head but you cannot see through as it is frosted glass. We had a tablet in the room which could be used to order room service, browse the net, find out about restaurants and also entertainment.
There is also a lounge chair and some seating outside on the balcony.
The Balcony was not very private – the ‘wall separating the balconys from room to room were not soild (which in a positive way made the balcony feel bigger) this means if you sit on your balcony your neighbour and see and hear everything you are doing a little awkward.
The mini bar is restocked daily with glass bottled drinks, if you are in preferred club you can ask the butler to customise your mini bar to your taste.
Maid Service – Clean & Turn down
Preferred club – additional snacks
Glass bottles of soft drinks
Large Room with lots of storage
The Mini Bar was stocked daily with bottles
No IPod docking station
Not very cold air con
Could do with an updated hair dryer
When we booked we questioned if preferred club was worth the extra money. We have come to the conclusion it depends on what type of holiday you are after. We loved preferred due to the higher room which means a quieter room with a better view. We also loved it because it gives you access to the 21st floor private pool which is a very quiet pool away from all the hustle and bustle of party people. We also liked that we had someone to go to if there was any problems, I found the butler service not overly helpful. It was a nice thought but it depends who is on and if you needed help enough. I didn’t really – so it felt a little waste of money. The additional amenities in the room such as soaps etc we didn’t use them but we did love the packet of Pringles and M&Ms we got on a daily basis.
Preferred guests also get access to an additional restaurant called Olio. We unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to go here! There is a premium drinks bar on level 21 – We used to grab our premium sprits from here such as grey goose etc
The service was not bad at this hotel, some areas of the hotel were exceptional and others very disappointing. After visiting Beach Palace we expected it to be at least on par possibly better but sadly we were left disappointed and this is where the hotel let us down.
Let me start with the good: at the preferred pool there is a umbrella man I believe his name is Miguel? He is absolutely lovely, really hard working, a joy to speak to and couldn’t do enough for you. The waiters/waitresses around the preffered pool were consistently good. Replenishing drinks, asking if we were OK and if there was anything we needed etc.
The receptionist who did out room upgrade was great, we were however told we would be treated to a ‘romantic breakfast’ but this never did materialise which was a shame.
Other good service includes Raoul who works on the bars. He always mad my partner and I laugh – he also does fantastic martinis which were amazing!
The restaurant staff let us down on a few occasions, especially a certain waiter in the Bluewater Grill. We were left waiting for a very long time with no drinks or anything. The problem seems to be if you do not want to order wine (which comes at an extra cost) they are not overly fussed about you. Sadly my partner and I do not drink wine, at all… So we never did experience exceptional service in any of the restaurants. We did receive decent service in Dragons the first evening we ever ate there.
I also feel that some of the staff expects to be tipped. Now I come from the UK where we don’t usually tip unless the service is exceptional. The only people I found worthy of a tip were the above and our maids.
You can tell who loves their jobs
Some staff go over and above
Expectation of tips
Slow service or poor service in restaurants
Push on wine
Some days felt invisible
Very robotic response to any praise – ‘It’s a pleasure’
There are a large selection of restaurants so there will be something at least for everyone. The biggest grip for my partner is that you must wear sleeved tops and trousers. With it being so warm it is a big pain for my partner. We had to go out to eat, go back to the room and get changed and then go back out. Not at all convenient.
Let me cover room service first of all –
Mediocre – usually we always have at least 1 thing ordered wrong. They use a under table oven to keep things warm but it doesn’t always work – everything is luke warm at best. One thing I do like is that all the condiments come packed up in little jars that be pull tabs (so completely fresh). The wait time for room services is always at least 60 minutes.
The restaurants – You either need to eat early if you want a decent meal with OK service.
If you arrive at 7ish – be prepared to be given a buzzer and be sent on your way for 45 minutes to wait until the buzzer goes off. Or you can eat late and not have a very tasty meal. Bluewater Grill I believe is the busiest of all of the restaurants. You will notice that it has the most consistent food.
Just a quick run down of the resturants we visited (there are more but we didn’t go to all)
Bluewater Grill –
This is always quite busy, the cuts of meat are good but the portion sizes of the side dishes are quite small. On a few occasions my partner and I had the beef tenderloin with Potatoe croquets, mushrooms and rice. Very plan and simple, cooked well.
Out favourite desert of the whole hotel was the Orange crepes from here.
Dragons Oriental –
This was always slightly quieter they had a mixed fusion menu some Chinese, come Korean as well as sushi. From here we ordered a few different things… Chicken Rice was alright – not great. The Spring Rolls were really tasty. I had the spider roll – this was tasty but there was not much meat.
This place is hit and miss dependant on the chef. Better service in this restaurant thiough.
Market Café –
Only ever been here for breakfast – probably the best meal of the day – there is an omelette station. The lady who works on here doing eveyones eggs is lovely – does great omelettes. There is a nice selection of fruit and again the service is a little hit and miss here. Seem to always be trying to flag someone down for some coffee!
Nebillio Italian –
Not the kind of quality food I would have been expecting. Certainly, not for us. We barely ate anything here. Service was fine but food was not good enough standard.
Sea Salt Grill –
We had lunch here early on in the holiday I did not enjoy the food but my partner didn’t mind it!
Barefoot Grill –
We went to have a look what they were serving midday and looked like paella, however it was difficult to see beneth all of the crows (birds) nibbling out of the serving bowl. After seeing that I was glad I never tried anything from there.
Vine Bazzar Café –
I love love love this place. There is a lovely lady who makes my Mocha in the morning, very sweat lovely lady I wish I could remember her name! Rest of the staff are OK but not very pleasant.
They do muffins and cakes. Love a muffin in the morning or last thing at night as a treat!
Overall for the restaurants the service was poor in comparison to our previous experience at Beach Palace but the food quality was a little higher. I would not say this is gourmet dining.
We ate out on a few occasions visiting the steak house across the road as well as traveling to Bubba Gump Shrimp and Outback for a change.
There are a selection of bars you can visit but we didn’t go to all of them.
As mentioned the small premium bar on 21st floor has premium spirts for preffered guests.
The lobby bar can get quite busy but it’s a good place if you want a quick drink if you are waiting for a spot at one of the resturants.
Half Time sports bar – great place to go if you like sports, pool and cocktails. A cheeky tip is that this bar does food after 4/5 as its delicious. Things like burgers etc but its so much better than anywhere else!
As any all-inclusive the entertainment is not our bag. Light shows and things are not for us so where ever the shows are… we are not!
The best entertainment over the whole 2 weeks was a wedding function and the DJ was playing amazing songs. We stood on the balcony and enjoyed some actual decent music!!
We ended up going to the Spa for a 50minute Wine Therapy massage. The prices are absolutely extortionate. Please ensure you get yourself a deal! We went the day before we were leaving and found the whole experience amazing. It was an amazing massage and we were so relaxed we didn’t want to leave. We tried to by some of the wine therapy oil but the champagne version we wanted they had ran out of! I would suggest using the facilities maybe a day or so before the massage.
While we were here on our last night there was 8.1 Magnitude earthquake and the whole building swayed. There was no evacuation, no one was advising us what to do… at gone midnight we were standing on the street outside the hotel with no idea what was going on. We were not told any more than ‘its safe to go inside’ the lack of evacuation (or lack of) was very very very poor.
Thanks for reading my loves!
Sorry about the short and snappy blog but thought it best to get something out there as soon as possible on this!
Is anyone going on holiday soon?