With the expansion of eco-tourism, an influx of eco-resorts have made their way to the Caribbean shores. With so many options, finding the right one is key. Enter the all-inclusive Sandos Caracol; a jungle-meets beach Mayan hideaway perfect for travellers with green sensibilities who still enjoy elements of a traditional all-inclusive holiday. Thankfully, at Sandos Caracol going green no longer means roughing it!
When I first arrived at Sandos Caracol I felt I had arrived at any other all-inclusive property where a welcome cocktail, friendly staff and Caribbean-like décor awaited me; until I checked-in and made my way towards the Elephant Bar to relax with my cocktail. The lounge looks out onto a beautiful cenote surrounded by lush tropical foliage. In that moment, I knew I had arrived somewhere special. Cenotes are natural wells with crystal clear water that connect to the underground rivers of the Yucatan peninsula. There is a certain magic they exude in their beauty and Sandos Caracol is home to five of them, and guests can even swim in one of them!
The property is nestled on the edge of a lush jungle bursting with mangroves, cenotes and coral reefs on the white-sands of Mexico’s fabled Riviera Maya steps from Playa del Carmen. There are 956 rooms in 11 styles and 3 categories: Sanditos Family Section, Select Club (adults-only) and Royal Elite Ocean Front, which are spread across 78 buildings. My eco room was located in building 11 and offered ocean and pool views. It featured a queen size bed, a living room, two full ensuite bathrooms and a lovely terrace. The décor was simple, in keeping with the eco philosophy, though my room did not lack in any of the comforts or amenities I am accustomed to. I was part of the Select Club which came with direct access to a private beach area with loungers, private bar and snack area.
What stood out most to me about Sandos Caracol was their ability to provide ALL guests with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Mayan culture and their connection to these lands by offering informative and entertaining activities and events. Mayan pottery, Mayan astronomy, eco tours, underground Mayan cooking classes, birdwatching, sensory experiences, tree planting, survival classes, river adventures, nighttime ceremonies held by the sacred cenote, sun and fire tributes, and traditional Mexican games are only a few of the things that make up the Xcalacoco experience. Each day gifted me with a new and fun learning experience in ancient Mayan traditions.
This wonderful property caters to both couples and families. Here, guests can enjoy a true outdoor experience with plenty of activities like snorkelling on the reef, swimming in a cenote, outdoor yoga, bike tours, Zumba, water volleyball, beach volleyball, water polo, soccer and tennis. And what better way to end a fun filled day, then with a relaxing spa treatment at Spa Sandos. May I suggest a relaxing beachside massage, I loved it!
Kids will especially love this property! It houses an Aquapark with big slides and a Kids Club. But, what makes this resort truly unique for children is its ability to provide fun and interactive ways for them to acquire newfound knowledge and appreciation for plants, wildlife and ecosystems. The property is also home to many trails that can be explored on foot or on one of the many bicycles available free to all guests. Be sure to keep your camera handy though, because you never know when you will cross paths with a group of monkeys and other local wildlife that live freely and happily on the hotel grounds. The hotel employs a team of eco specialists, biologists and veterinarians who care for the surroundings, abundant animal life and the hotel’s onsite animal rescue.
Sandos Caracol is an eco-resort and has implemented many programs and standards to care for the land and ensure guests experience a true eco vacation. There are no water bottles or disposable plastic cups anywhere on the resort. There’s an onsite vegetable garden and compost system fuelled by the organic leftovers from the hotel restaurants; seven in total, including a vegan and a teppanyaki restaurant, which also provided my favourite meal. I must give honorable mention to La Riviera, where I dined amid the jungle and beach. There are also six bars, two poolside bars and a nightclub. In the evenings, enjoy a cocktail while listening to a live band.
The entire time I was there with my younger sister, who accompanied me on this trip, I wished my niece and nephew were there also because I know how much they would have loved Sandos Caracol and all the incredible experiences offered to guests both young and old. Visit www.sunwingvacations.com to book your stay!