I’ve already been home from Mexico for two weeks. How did that happen?? I guess time soldiers on, as it always does, so now it’s spring (hooray!), the weather has improved at home (though it is snowing as I write this post), and I’ve already been thinking about more trips. No surprise there! However, before I jump into future travel plans (I’ll talk more about them soon though as I have four upcoming trips on the books right now), I wanted to do a side-step into review territory and write up a review of the resort we stayed in this year, the GR Solaris Cancún. I did this for last year’s resort and thought it was a great way to remind me (and you, my loyal readers) of the good and the bad aspects for future trips. So, onwards!
Public Space (Interior) – 4/5 Stars
The GR Solaris Cancún has nice interior public spaces. The lobby has lots of marble, very high ceilings, and opens out onto a patio at the back (opposite the main entrance) that looks over the great pools. The lobby bar (which is, not surprisingly, immediately adjacent to the lobby) is fairly nice, with a good amount of seating, both at standard tables and at a variety of big chairs and sofas. There’s also a pool table and a foosball table, so it’s a good place to keep yourself entertained after spending a day at the pool and/or beach. Since it’s next to the lobby, it also opens out onto the patio, which offers more seating (handy for people who smoke) and easy access to the little souvenir market that was open most nights we were there. I was also pleased with the restaurants and other public spaces in the hotel – they felt clean, open, and inviting.
Honestly, I didn’t find a lot of fault in the interior public spaces. I didn’t give it a perfect 5/5 because I didn’t find it to be completely amazing, but it was still comfortable and welcoming overall. The only thing that comes to mind is that some of the space, especially the lobby bar, felt a little bit dated. Also, though I appreciated the fact that there were comfortable seating options in the bar, having big, soft cloth sofas and chairs isn’t necessarily the best decision in a high-humidity environment. Not that they looked dirty or anything, but they did have a vaguely damp feeling to them. Also, the music in the bar is EXCESSIVELY loud – probably five times louder than it needs to be. Our room was on the first floor (right above the lobby) and we could easily hear the music from the lobby.
Public Space (Exterior) – 4.5/5 Stars
Like the Oasis Sens, the GR Solaris has some amazing outdoor space. There are three separate pools (the upper/lower pool are more or less connected, but you do have to get out of one pool to walk to the other and the adults-only pool is just around the corner) as well as the patio space off the lobby mentioned above. The pools are very nice and seem to be well-maintained and there are lots of chairs around them. We did get up early (by 6a) to reserve the chairs we wanted, but because there were seven people in our group, that was more important. If you were there with just one or two other people, that may not be necessary as there were multiple times when I saw open chairs after we were already laying by the pool around 10a. I loved the snack area by the pools as well! It was open all day (I think from 11-6p) and had a great offering of food, including burgers, fries, nachos, chicken tenders, fajitas, and more. Be sure to try the guacamole – it’s delicious! The best part is that it was a grab-and-go setup, so we could just grab what we wanted when we wanted it. One of my biggest complaints about the Sens last year was that there was no way to just grab food if you wanted it – you always had to wait in a line. Not having to deal with that this year was a huge win for me.
Again, not a lot of negative stuff to say here. I can see how some people may not appreciate the noise around the pool with all the activities driven by the entertainment staff (volleyball, fashion shows, water aerobics, etc.), but I think that’s just part of being at an all-inclusive resort. The staff were all super nice and did a great job of getting people involved with the activities when they wanted to be and leaving them alone when they didn’t. Although not a negative during the week I was there, I do want to point out that this resort is NOT adults-only. I didn’t notice many kids around and the ones that were there weren’t bothersome or loud at all. Keep in mind that we were there just before the craziness of spring break (first week of March), but I can’t imagine things being much different at any other time of year.
Food & Drink – 4/5 Stars
Both the food and the service at the GR Solaris are very good. I have limited experience at all-inclusive resorts (last year’s trip was my first time doing this kind of vacation), but I feel like, unless you’re paying a large amount of money or choosing a resort that specifically touts their amazing food, you probably won’t see much variance from resort to resort. As we did at the Sens, we indulged in the breakfast buffet every day at the GR Solaris. I really enjoyed all the food on the buffet, as did my friends. Some favorites included the waffles, baked cinnamon toast, and chilaquiles. There’s a great selection every morning! Our lunches were always from the snack shack by the pool and were always good. We went to a few places for dinner and all were okay, but none were amazing. Look for the big signs past the lobby and just before the elevators as they tell you what’s happening in each of the dinner spaces that night. We ate at Marco Polo, the restaurant that requires a reservation, only one time on their Caribbean night, which was okay, but not amazing. We also dined on Mexican, Italian, and Brazilian buffets, all of which were good, but again, not amazing. But I wasn’t expecting amazing food, so what we good met and occasionally exceeded expectations, hence the 4/5 rating.
As a side note about the alcohol (included in the all-inclusive package), it was very comparable to the Sens. There are tons of fruity drink options (my favorite was probably the hurricane) as well as a couple of beer options, but none are particularly strong. I wasn’t looking to get drunk every day, but I rarely even felt any kind of buzz. I’m not a beer drinker, but my friends said the beer was good, so if you’re looking for a buzz, go for the beer. 🙂
The lack of negative feedback continues, which is a reflection of the great service at the GR Solaris! Again, I didn’t go in expecting five-star food, so the bar was a bit low to begin with. Meeting and sometimes exceeding that bar was great! The only negative thing I can think of is on the room service side. We only ordered it once, on our last day, and it was tasty, but took awhile to reach our room (longer than the person on the phone said it would take). In the scope of eating on the resort for a week though, I think that’s pretty small potatoes (no pun intended).
Service – 5/5 Stars
I tend to be pretty critical of service anywhere because I feel strongly that, if you work in the service industry, you should make giving great service your #1 priority. I arrived at the GR Solaris expecting similar service to what we got at the Sens (read – not very good), so I was VERY happy when the service was way better. Every staff member I interacted with was positive and did whatever they could to help. From the front desk, to the cleaning staff, to the restaurant servers, to the entertainment staff at the pool, everyone was great! I especially loved the fact that there were servers constantly walking around the pools. It sounds like a small thing, but we didn’t get that at the Sens last year (there was one server circulating on occasion, but definitely not every day), so it was great to experience it this year. And they did an amazing job of balancing a full try of empty glasses in one hand while carry three or four large drink mugs (that people brought with them and just filled at the bar) in the other hand. I have to give a special shout-out to our favorite bartender, Hamilton, and to Angelo on the entertainment staff. Both were always super nice and engaging!
Truly, I can’t come up with anything negative for this one. The staff members at the GR Solaris are all great!
Rooms – 4.5/5 Stars
I really loved our room! After last year’s less-than-stellar room (and the even more pitiful way the staff handled us being booked into the wrong type of room), I was beyond excited to step into the great room we had at the GR Solaris. We had opted to pay a little extra for an ocean-view room and we definitely got that, but we also got free wifi and a bottle of champagne. It was almost like they were trying to make up for our experience at the Sens. 🙂 On top of that, the AC worked really well (almost too well, in fact – it got pretty cold in our room!) and the water pressure was great. The bed was definitely on the harder side, but I don’t feel like that affected my sleep in any way (and I’m sure some people prefer a firm bed). Our balcony offered a great view of both the pools and the ocean and our friends also had great views (the other guys were on the second floor and had a nice view of the lagoon and the girls were on the sixth floor with an even better view of the whole resort and ocean). I also LOVED the fact that the rooms were always cleaned right away in the morning. Each day, we would go down to breakfast, stop up at the room for a few, and then head to the pool. I always put the “please clean this room” tag on the door right before heading to the pool and the room was always cleaned within an hour. At the Sens, there were days when the room wasn’t cleaned until dinnertime, so this was a very pleasant change!
Again, pretty much nothing to say on the negative side! Not that our room at the Sens last year was terrible, but our room at the GR Solaris was so great by comparison that it really put last year’s experience into perspective. The only issue I can think of is what I mentioned earlier – the noise from the lobby coming up to us on the first floor. Not a dealbreaker, but enough of a problem to keep me from giving the room a perfect 5/5 rating.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5 Stars
I had a great time at the GR Solaris! I came into this trip with a little bit of negative baggage from my experience at the Sens, so I didn’t have the highest hopes or expectations. Despite that, the GR Solaris did a great job of offering great service, good food, and comfortable spaces. I had a great time and as I think about it more in-depth now that I’m a couple of weeks removed from the trip, I have a hard time coming up with anything negative. I would absolutely recommend the GR Solaris Cancun to anyone looking for some fun in the sun in Mexico. You won’t regret it!