Now that Mexico 2014 is over, I wanted to put together a review of the resort we stayed at, the Oasis Sens Cancún. I’ll preface this review with a caveat – I’ve never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before, so I have no basis for comparison. Additionally, I know service and building standards vary widely from place to place, so I’m writing this review with my previous experiences and expectations as a baseline.
Public Space (Interior) – 3/5 Stars
The Sens has a cool lobby with great views of the ocean. That was the first thing I noticed when we walked in! Of course, it helps that the ocean there is amazingly blue, so it was hard to miss. Lots of windows, a nice bar, several seating options, and a cool, if a bit odd-looking, sculpture/water feature all make for a cool intro experience to the space. It seemed as if someone was always polishing/buffing the floors, which is good from a cleanliness standpoint, but slightly annoying because we often had to walk around someone with a big buffer. We went to one of the clubs, Kinky, for a cabaret show one night and it seemed like a fine bar (though the mojitos we had there were just awful – basically water with a bit of rum and some mint), though it did get VERY hot there with so many people crammed in for the show. I recommend checking that one out on a night when there isn’t a show.
Although the lobby has lots of seating options, none of them are particularly comfortable. The seats all seemed to be rather stiff, meaning we didn’t want to spend much time in them. Not that hanging around the lobby was a top priority, but there were times when we would have liked to hang out chatting, playing games, etc. after dinner, but there wasn’t a good place to do that. There is one living room-type space with more comfortable seating and a wall of books, but there were often people already in it (probably because they didn’t want to sit in the lobby). Also, the air conditioning throughout all the interior spaces, including the lobby, rooms, and restaurants, is weak at best and non-existent at worst. Most of the time, that doesn’t matter because you’re laying by the pool all day, but when you come in, it would be nice to have great A/C. Lastly, the lobby is VERY poorly lit in the evening. Outside of the living room area and the reception desk, you could see just enough to get around and that was about it. One of my friends was reading in the living room later in the evening and he said what little light was in the lobby was totally shut off around 1130p. Why that is, I have no idea, but it’s worth noting in case you’re going through there late.
Public Space (Exterior) – 4/5 Stars
Overall, I really liked the exterior spaces of the hotel. The pools and beach all had lots of seating options, but remember to get up EARLY each day to get your seats. Since we were traveling in such a large group (seven people), we rotated chair duty, with someone from the group getting up around 5a each day to place towels on our chairs and then going back to bed. People were very respectful of the “towel rule” and they never took our chairs once we had stuff on them, aside from one couple who had just arrived and didn’t understand the towels meant the chairs were held. If you’re on your own or just with one other person, you won’t have to get up that early to get chairs. The pools were mostly clean (I don’t expect perfection on that) and I saw someone doing various cleaning tasks on the pools a number of times over our week-long stay. Both the Italian and Mexican restaurants as well as the daytime snack areas all had outdoor seating areas, which is great in the evenings because you get a nice ocean breeze.
Despite the fact that the daytime snack places (Mr. Wimpy and Happy Chicken) have outdoor seating, it’s nowhere near enough. Mr. Wimpy has five small, hightop tables (seating for 3-4 at each table) and Happy Chicken has six picnic tables (seating for 6-8 at each table). The resort technically doesn’t allow you to take food out of those areas (though I saw several people do it), so it would be nice if the seating areas were larger. The seating area for the Mexican restaurant (Muerdeme Mucho) was nice, but also small (4-5 tables with seating for no more than four at each table). The Italian restaurant (Moonlight) had the best outdoor seating, with at least ten tables with seating for up to four people and one table that could seat seven (we used that one every time). My only other complaint is that the pools aren’t very deep. The one we laid by as well as the one with the swim-up bar, don’t go any deeper than maybe five feet. The back pool (VIP, but anyone can use it) goes to about 7.5 feet deep though, so we made some trips back there several times to use it.
Food & Drink – 4/5 Stars
The food at the Oasis Sens was actually pretty damn good! Although the service left a lot to be desired (more on that shortly), the food they gave us was pretty flavorful. I didn’t expect anything amazing, especially since all the food was included, but they do a good job of providing a nice variety. The chicken at Happy Chicken was really tasty, as were their fries (stay away from their nuggets though – stick with any of the other options). The burgers and hot dogs at Mr. Wimpy are decent, concession-stand quality as is the ice cream next door to it. Although I enjoyed the ice cream, a few of my friends didn’t because it tasted a bit more like ice milk than ice cream sometimes, so your mileage may vary. Both Muerdeme Mucho and Moonlight had great food – we went to both multiple times! I especially liked the guacamole at Muerdeme and the light/dark chocolate mousse at Moonlight. Remember that they often use goat cheese or other cheeses we aren’t as used to in the US (read – they don’t use Kraft singles), so if that’s an issue for you, be cautious when eating dishes with cheese. We went to the buffet for breakfast every day and I can highly recommend the waffles and French toast as they were great! There were a good variety of breads, eggs, meats, cheeses, juices, and even salad and a couple of savory dishes, so there should be something for everyone there. The dinner buffet wasn’t as good, but it still wasn’t bad. Definitely a serviceable option for the two times we went. We also paid a visit to the Moroccan restaurant, Al Sur, which required a reservation with the concierge. Be sure to make it at least a day in advance if you’re in a larger group! The meal was a seven-course tasting menu – all of it very good! There was also two other restaurants that required reservations – The Box and Benazuza. We didn’t go to either because the menu at The Box didn’t wow us (tapas with a seafood slant) and Benazuza actually costs additional money on top of the all-inclusive benefit and it has a formal dress code. There was also one other casual/snack place to visit during the day. It’s a sushi place that a few people from our group went to twice. I don’t eat sushi myself, but the folks that did go said it was good!
From a drink standpoint, I wasn’t expecting amazing things because the alcohol was included as part of the all-inclusive, so I didn’t think they would be that great. While not always that strong, they were certainly tasty. We went to the swim-up bar most often, where we quickly learned that a $5+ tip in US dollars to the bartender got us stronger drinks with better booze, so be sure to bring some cash for that! They also had a server circulating through the pools, so we didn’t always have to even get up for our drinks (be sure to tip him a few bucks too, though).
As mentioned above, there wasn’t much negative about the food in my opinion! A word of caution on the breakfast buffet though – the maple syrup was great for most of the trip, but it was TERRIBLE the last two days, which ruined the delicious waffles and French toast. I don’t know if they watered it down or what, but it was really runny and tasted off. On the dinner buffet, you won’t find some very typically Mexican things like salsa and guacamole. These weren’t huge issues, but were definitely annoying.
Service – 2/5 Stars
Service is definitely NOT the strongpoint of this resort! Although the staff were generally nice, everything always took forever. I will say that our swim-up bar bartender, Mauro, and the server we had two out of three times at Moonlight (his name escapes me) were both awesome. They were also quick to get whatever we needed and always had smiles. I wish the rest of the service had been as good and prompt!
As I said, the staff members were generally nice, but the pinnacle of bad service (for me, at least) happened right after we got there. Scott and I had confirmed a king bed for our room, so that’s what we expected when we went to our room. Nope. We got a two-double room. We walked back to reception and specifically waited for the girl who had helped us check in because she had been so nice. Unfortunately, she said she knew that we were supposed to have a king room, but that we weren’t given one because none were available. Now, had she told us that from the beginning and said she would make sure we got one as soon as possible, I would have been fine. However, leaving us to figure it out on our own and then telling us there was nothing to be done about it when we asked was completely ridiculous. What’s more, she told us we would be added to the “waiting list” to get a king room and, despite following up with reception both in person and over the phone for two days after that, we were never moved and we finally gave up because we figured it wasn’t going to happen anyway. We were always told we should talk to a supervisor (which we did once) or come back at a different time (which we did multiple times), so we just gave up. Needless to say, we weren’t impressed in this arena at all!
Rooms – 1.5/5 Stars
I wish I had lots of positive things to say about the rooms, but sadly, I don’t. Aside from the fact that they were mostly clean and had good water pressure, there isn’t much else to note. I will say that I really appreciated the water pressure though as that can be very hard to find outside the US. Kudos on that, at least!
The rooms really aren’t that great, so don’t expect a five-star one. 🙂 I realize my opinion may be tarnished a bit by the negative experience I had as soon as we got there, but the reality is that there were some major issues with the rooms. Of the four rooms we had in our group of seven people, two rooms had cockroaches spotted in them. It was only a total of two bugs, but you know where you see two, there are many more you can’t see. I’m glad we never saw any in our room! Then there was the air conditioning. All rooms did have it and, to be fair, ours worked pretty well. However, it made such a ridiculous amount of noise that it literally woke me up and prevented me from getting back to sleep one night. Of the other three rooms, one had a fine experience – not much noise and decent cooling effect. But she was also in the room with the balcony, so that probably helped with air flow. Of the two remaining rooms, the unit in one was quiet, but did almost nothing to cool the room and the other was loud (though not as loud at ours) and still didn’t do a good job of cooling the room. On top of that, there was one occasion when our room wasn’t cleaned at all and another when it wasn’t cleaned until at least 7p (and it only happened that second time because I had a conversation with one of the housekeeping staff to get more towels). In our room, we also experienced issues with the TV. There were some damaged pixels on the left side of it that affected the picture and we also didn’t seem to have the same satellite signal as our friends’ rooms because we didn’t get all the same channels. I don’t care much about TV on vacation, so those aren’t big issues on their own, but they are indicative of the larger issues we experienced. At the end of the day, I realize the rooms is basically a place to shower and sleep, but I still don’t expect to deal with issues like this.
Overall Rating – 2.5/5 Stars (3/5 if push came to shove)
I don’t regret this trip at all and I’d say my overall impression of the Sens was “okay” at best. I was with great people, so of course I had a great time, regardless of any other issues. The nice outdoor space and tasty food helped to counterbalance the slow service, room issues, and other problems, but they didn’t overshadow them completely. I will also say the fact that this resort is adults-only and LGBT-friendly (though it didn’t feel like a “gay resort” at all) was a big plus! Although I would be happy to do more all-inclusive trips in the future, I don’t plan to turn to this particular resort.