El Dorado Seaside Suites by Karisma – Mexico

My first post detailed my experience of Mexico and just how much I liked it, so i thought it would be a good idea to talk about the hotel I stayed in, the El Dorado Seaside Suites by Karisma.

Prior to our arrival (myself and the wife of two days!) there where a few uncertainties  that I had read on the website and holiday brochures, they were:

  • Dress code, specifically for men
  • Tips

I’ll cover these two topics in some detail because i know they are common questions when it comes to staying at the resort. This post however won’t just be about those things, I’ll be giving the place a thorough review and for anyone who is wondering on whether to go or not, I can honestly say that myself and the wife had an amazing time there and would recommend it to any couple. Now allow me to tell you why!

El Dorado Seaside Suites – Why Go there?

Mr and Mrs Ord

So if you are reading this, you will have probably seen or heard of the resort before hand. To my knowledge this resort is exclusive to Thomsons so there is a good chance you’ve seen it mentioned in their brochure.

The hotel / resort is rated as 5 stars and I’d agree that this is well deserved! Some of the defining features of this hotel are as follows:

  • 24 Hour room service
  • Fully all inclusive – If you ask for it and they have it, you can have as much of it as you like! No restrictions
  • 6 À la carte restaurants  (Thai, Italian, Mexican, Grill, World Cuisine and Gourmet pub)
  • 2 Snack bars – Sandwicherie and the beach grill
  • Swim up rooms and Premium suites

24 hour room service

As you’ve guessed it really is 24 hours, you can come back from a night out at Playa del Carmen at 4am, ring them up using your room phone and order a burger or a pizza or whatever you like!

Inside your room there will be a guide book which has a room service section. The hotel offers a good range of food, including a breakfast and snacks menu. If you can’t find anything you like the look of, you can just ask them to make it for you (within reason of course!) and they will be more than happy to oblige.

All Inclusive package

Next i’ll tell you about the fully all inclusive package at the El Dorado Seaside Suites. A good way to describe this is to compare it to other hotels. Other hotels might advertise an all inclusive package however the hotel will impose restrictions on what you can get. A lot of hotels don’t include premium alcohol, which means if you want a branded drink, you will either have to make do with a non branded alternative or pay to get it. At the El Dorado Seaside Suites this is different, if they have it, you can ask for it and there are no restrictions on what you can have or how much of it, so enjoy yourselves!

À la carte restaurants

As mentioned above there are 6 restaurants for you to choose from. I’ll briefly describe each one below.

All of the restaurants have dress code policies which i’ll go into more detail below. If this is something you are worried about (especially the men) don’t worry it’s a lot more relaxed than the hotel and the brochure make it out to be.

Top Tip: If you are feeling hungry or like a particular dish, ask for a larger portion next time round. The staff will be more than willing to accommodate your food needs. If you feel slightly embarrassed about asking, my advice is to just do it. While I was there, quite a few people did this and they got more of what they liked. Be adventurous, you are on holiday after all!

Klay Talay – Thai Cuisine

Serving up dishes of mouthwatering thai food and sushi, the Klay Talay was tied 1st place as my favourite restaurant, the other being the Italian. The restaurant is a mix of authentic thai decor with a modern twist. The food server here is lovely and if you like Chinese / Thai / Japanese cuisine, then I can’t recommend this place enough! My favourite dish was the yellow curry, make sure you try it!

Mia Casa – Italian Cuisine

Out of all the restaurants I would say Mia Casa was the ‘poshest’ and by this I mean, the majority of people made more of an effort with the dress code. The diners were dressed quite smart and I think the decor and the atmosphere of the restaurant reflected this. Don’t let this put you off, it’s still a great place to eat, my joint favourite with the Thai infact!

The restaurant serves up classic Italian dishes. we visited the Italian 3 times during our stay and fell in love with the tomato soup, lasagna and spaghetti carbonara – not very fancy dishes i know, but beautiful none the less!

Vida Garden Grill – Latin Fusion Cuisine

Before staying at the El Dorado Seaside Suites, I had never tried ‘Latin Fusion’ cuisine, so I was slightly apprehensive as what to expect. However I can happily say that the food here was lovely. The menu is quite varied, it included seafood, pasta, meat and vegetarian based meals. It was in the Garden Grill that I got my first double portion, which just happened to be a very large serving of BBQ pork ribs, needles to say, i finished it and would recommend this dish!

The Grill is also open for lunch, we found ourselves frequenting this restaurant and the Sandwicherie quite often as the food and the menu were very good!

Arrecifes –  International Cuisine

We only visited the Arrecifes restaurant once during our two week stay as it only appeared to be open for 2 nights during the second week – not sure why this was! I didn’t really have much of an opportunity to try most of the dishes on the menu. From what I can recall, there was a large selection of bruschetta’s and a separate pizza menu, which in comparison to the pizza available from the Sandwicherie, were bigger and a deeper crust. Overall a nice place to eat, shame we didn’t have the chance to try the rest of the menu!

La Carretta – Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Those looking for authentic Mexican food should definitely try this restaurant out. It’s a far cry from the Old El Paso dinner kits you can get at home. Things to try are the tortilla soup and the mixed fajitas, don’t give the taco’s a miss either! You will also be given an appetiser try of tortilla chips with several dips to choose from. All in all a great restaurant with great food.

Gourmet Pub –  A Mix of everything!

This restaurant is fairly new, upon our arrival it had only been open for a week previously and you had to book a table via your personal concierge. This may or may not be the case when you arrive, so just a heads up.

The name of this restaurant describes what the food is like, think pub food with a 5* twist! This was the first restaurant where we had a 4 course meal and by the end of the meal we found it hard to move from being so full! The menu is varied and has many recognisable dishes, such as mini burgers, chicken (literally a full chicken), chips and much more. Overall well worth the reservation!

 Snack bar and buffets

There are two places where you can go for lunch and snacks, the Sandwicherie and the beach grill. (A few of the restaurants are open for lunch also).

The sandwicherie was our main port of call when it came to lunch, they served quite possibly the nicest burgers I had ever eaten as well as thin and crispy pizzas and a selection of salads and burritos. You are sat outside by the main swing bar, positioned under palm trees and you will probably spot the occasional cheeky bird looking for some leftovers!

Moving on to the beach grill, this as the name states was a self service grill by the beach. The food there was beautiful and as a result of this, it was always busy, so make sure you go early to secure a seat! They have a selection of meats and salads and you can just help yourself. The tasty burgers from the Sandwicherie also make an appearance here, so be sure to grab one!

Swim up rooms and Premium Suites

We stayed at the El Dorado Seaside Suites as part of our honeymoon, so we upgraded to one of the swim up rooms which basically from your balcony (ground floor) merges into a lazy river with its very own swim up bar. This was a very nice touch and one I would recommend to anyone thinking of staying here. The image below should give you a good idea of what you can expect!

El Dorado Seaside Suites - Swim up room

The swim up rooms are available as an optional upgrade and the wife and I thought they were 100% worth it!

Further down from the swim up rooms are the Premium suites, whilst they don’t come with swim up rooms, they have there own private pool, pool bar and the rooms are also much bigger than the standard ones (The standard rooms are spacious enough, so don’t think that they are small!) Since we didn’t stay in the premium suites, I can’t really write much more about them. It’s something to consider.

Dress Code

The dress code comes up a lot on travel forums especially when it concerns the men’s apparel. Having been there I was also in the same boat as what to pack in my suitcase.

So to clear things up, in the À la carte restaurants only, you need to follow a specific dress code.

Women

Don’t worry about it, you can basically wear whatever you want – nice and easy!

Men – what’s accepted:

  • Long and short sleeved shirts
  • Polo shirts – I.e. a T-shirt with a collar
  • Smart jeans
  • Smart dress trousers
  • Smart knee length shorts
  • Smart sandals
  • Smart shoes (the ones you’d wear to work or on a night out)

If you want to dress up any smarter, feel free it won’t affect your chances of getting a seat

Men – Things you can’t wear:

  • Plain T-shirts – ones without a collar (you might be able to get away with a really smart t-shirt however!)
  • Vests
  • Trainers
  • Flip flops
  • Jeans with tears in them
  • Shorts (shorter than knee length)
  • Any sort of swimwear

I only ever saw one man get refused entry and he was wearing a t-shirt that you’d wear to do some painting, really quite scruffy. He was told about the dress code and told to change and them come back.

So hopefully that will clear things up with regards to the dress code!

Tips

Being quite a tight arse, the last thing I wanted to do was bring lots of spending money to tip the staff, but we brought some anyway!

There are a few things to make clear first and they are:

  • In Mexico, tipping is a way of life. People use tips to top up their wages
  • Outside of your resort, expect to leave a tip when leaving a restaurant or something that provides a service to you
  • The standard tip amount is 20 – 50 Mexican pesos, which works out at just over £1
  • At El Dorado Seaside Suites, tipping is not expected from you.

On our second day, the Thomson staff held a welcome meeting where they specifically said the hotel staff do not expect tips, as a percentage of the money you have paid for the holiday, goes to them directly. How true this may be, I just don’t know.

We decided to tip the room service staff and we also left a tip of 100 pesos each to a bar man called Lorenzo (great guy and even better cocktail maker!) and our cleaner, who left us amazing towel art every day!

Swan towel art

Final verdict

There is so much more I could write about, but I have gone over 2000 words already, so without a doubt El Dorado Seaside Suites is definitely a place I would recommend to any couple, especially those celebrating their honeymoon or anniversary.

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