Monday, January 25, 2016

Reviewing SECRETS SILVERSANDS, Puerto Morelos in Mexico's Riviera Maya - April 2013

This is a belated review ... I thought I had already written a review for Secrets Silversands, but either I did and somehow deleted it, or just forgot completely! Lots of real life stuff has distracted me from this blog for ages, but I'm set to try to catch up again now...

We decided to try Secrets Silversands for our 25th wedding Anniversary (the "silver" anniversary - so I thought it would be appropriate) - April 2013 The decor looked so modern and different compared to where we had been before (Royal Beach and Capri), and I was really curious to see what it was like.

There was no issues with the flight or check-in. The lobby is gorgeous...all mirrors and silver fish
with seating along one side.

There are shops down the hallways left and right of the main lobby area where you can buy souvenirs or snacks, sunscreen, etc.

Across from the entry doors on the other side of the lobby, there's a winding metal staircase that goes down to the lobby bar area - very mod decor, with Coco Cafe and most of the restaurants on this level.

Directly outside the doors off the lobby bar is another bar with seating:

We turned to the left and passed the wedding gazebo, which is very close to the lobby and outside bar and just to the side of the main walkway, which I thought was kind of a strange place for it.
Not very private and kind of noisy with the bar and outdoor seating area right there, but it's a very pretty gazebo when all lit up at night. We saw a lot of weddings the week we were there - I'll post some pics further down that show them decorating the chairs as they got ready for some weddings.

We were shown to our room and we had a banner on the door saying Happy Anniversary
and the room was decorated with rose petals! It was such a nice surprise! 

And there was also a chilled bottle of champagne, some fresh flowers and some fruit, alongwith a nice letter welcoming us to the resort and congratulating us on our anniversary.

We had decided to try a swimup room. We chose non-Preferred Club and ended up in a nice quiet spot across from the side of the Spa which was just fine with me. We like quiet and relaxing, so being farther away from all the noise and activity of the main pool and restaurants was just fine with us!

Unlike some of the swimouts I've seen, this one had grass between the room and the pool, and there was no steps down into the pool from our back patio. That did make getting in and out a little difficult if you didn't feel like swimming down to some steps that were further away a few units down from us.

We absolutely loved the swimout, especially as the beach wasn't really swimmable (too rocky, even with water shoes). The water was refreshing and Mercedes, who was our regular (and wonderful) server, would bring drinks or snacks (like chips and pica de gallo and guacamole) right to our patio! This is our our swimout pool looking towards the right and left, with the Spa directly across.

The grounds are gorgeous and well landscaped. There are many little rivers for the swimouts in various units, as well as a main pool and an infinity pool that looks out to the ocean. The rooms are very large (largest room we've ever had at any resort), with a luxurious whirlpool tub and marble shower and bathroom, as well as all the usual amenities. The bed is super comfortable and we had no trouble getting Wi-fi in the room.
A lot of the hallways between sections are open with thatched roofs, like this one:

I loved our room. Here are some pictures of the room without all the rose petals for distraction...

 The whirlpool tub... the shower

The above photo is looking back towards our room which is around the curve following the river...our room is on the right hand side. The Spa is the lower building on the left side of the picture. This is walking from our room back towards the main lobby. 

 The white balls you see everywhere are lights that are lit up at night with various colours. It's very pretty.

On the way to see the beach...past the infinity pool swimouts,
and past the main pool on the left with Oceana and Seaside Grill sitting overtop of the pool (the white roof in the lower picture), one restaurant per side. It was very pretty but if the pool was full of loud, drunk people, it could be extremely noisy trying to eat your lunch if you were seated right next to the pool. 

And finally...the beach!! 

  The beach itself was pretty
, but the sandbag in the water to try to prevent erosion (I assume) was rather unsightly
, although it did give the birds a place to this Anhinga 
who spent quite a bit of time sitting on it, drying it's feathers out (it is a bird that actually swims under the water, except for its head and neck that stick out and look rather like a snake, as it attempts to catch fish! Really cool to see! We also saw a lot of brown pelicans landing on it).
The beach was great for lying out sunbathing
...but swimming was impossible. It was very rocky and you literally could not walk out without falling or almost falling from all the uneven parts and sharp rocks, even with water shoes. We gave it a try, but found that it was just too rocky and jagged to even wade.
We quickly fell into a routine of spending a few hours in the morning, after breakfast, sunbathing on the beach, sipping cocktails and just relaxing.

, We'd listen to the surf, and watch the birds catching fish, then we'd go back to our swimout to swim, which was lovely and refreshing! Then we'd shower, change into some fresh clothing and decide where to go for lunch. 

The breakfast buffet was wonderful...lots of selection and delicious food, friendly and attentive servers. We ate there every day until the morning we left when we had a champagne breakfast in our room. Most of the restaurants we tried were great. We both thought the food and selection was top notch, even at lunch! Lots of yummy choices...

My husband also loved the Coco Cafe just off the lower lobby near the bar. Yummy hot and cold coffee creations and snacks...

 Oceana and Seaside Grill were both great for lunch, as well as open for dinner, and almost everything we tried was delicious...

 Ceviche - my husband's favourite! He was a happy man!

Himitsu, the Asian cuisine, was so good that we ended up eating there twice ... the decor was incredible and the food...YUM! Everything I tried, I loved!

 And El Patio, the Mexican restaurant was incredible. The LOVED the decor...the tree with metal lanterns was amazing, and the food was really good. We had hoped to go back here on our last night, but unfortunately that night they were closed. :-(

French restaurant was our least favourite, but still good food...just not as many things on the menu that appealed to us. We didn't try Oceana for dinner.

After dinner, there was plenty of entertainment from live music in the lobby to shows every night. Our favourite thing to do was go to the lobby to watch the lady make specialty coffees... you picked your favourite liqueur and then she would put on this amazing show while making your coffee. And at the end...yum!

We also used the Spa services during the week we were there. It was okay. I didn't like the Spa here as much as the other Secret resorts...

The hydrotherapy circuit was outside. My husband tried it while I got a pedicure.

We are beach people, and we like to swim in the ocean, so it's unlikely that we will come back here, but we did have a nice time and the food was great!

During the week we decided to go on a trip snorkeling the cenotes amd Xel-ha, a natural aquarium where the fresh and salt water meet, as well as swimming and snorkeling at Akumal Bay with the sea turtles. We originally booked a trip through the airline rep but I wasn't happy when I found out the next day that the brochure we were given was for a different tour company than the one we were actually booked with. The company that came to pick us up did not have any prescription snorkel masks (something that the company in the brochure we were given when we booked DID have) and I'm virtually blind without my glasses on, and didn't bring contacts. We didn't discover this until we were on board the bus and picking up more people, and I was very upset...this was our first time snorkeling and I was excited but I knew that without a prescription mask, I would see nothing but blurs under the water. When we stopped to pick up more people at Maroma, we decided to go back to Silversands. I was in tears and my husband was upset that I was upset. We took at taxi back and he called the rep who booked our trip and made it clear that we were not happy with the switch in companies, and after much argument, she refunded us the amount for the tour that we had paid. We then checked online for a well reviewed Tour on Tripadvisor and saw Edventure Tours. My husband called them from our hotel room, told them what had happened and explained that we wanted to try to book something with them. Bonnie, who answered the phone, was wonderful. We booked a private tour (there was originally one other couple but they wanted to go see Tulum instead of snorkeling the cenotes, so we got to go all by ourselves with the guide)! The cost was not much different than what we had paid for the original tour and they had prescription masks!!! yay!!!

Long story short, it was AMAZING! The highlight of our trip! We went to a cenote cave system first called Dos Ojos. My husband is a weak swimmer and neither of us had snorkeled before, but Danny, our guide was great. He led us through the cave system and into a huge Bat Cave, taking lots of pictures along the way and pointing out various things of interest!  You can read more about the Dos Ojos cenote, cavern and cave system here:  Here's a bit of what it says:

"The name Dos Ojos is Spanish for two eyes, and refers to two neighboring cenotes which connect into a very large cavern zone shared between the two. These two cenote appear like two large eyes into the underground. Some of the underwater cave were featured in an IMAX Film in 2002, Journey Into Amazing Caves. Parts of the Hollywood 2006 movie The Cave was filmed in the Dos Ojos cave system. However this movie really sucked.
Water temperature is 24 to 25 °C (77 Fahrenheit) throughout the year and the maximum depth near the Dos Ojos Cenotes is approximately 10 m (33 feet). The water is exceptionally clear. 
There are a few varieties of fish living in the cavern and two types of freshwater shrimp. Their is also a Bat Cave that you surface in to see the bats" 

After that we went to Akumal Bay to snorkel with the sea turtles and see the coral. It was incredible and we could have stayed there all day. The beach was gorgeous and sandy and clear.

Then we went for lunch and after lunch to Yal Ku Lagoon. It was an amazing place filled with paths through a jungle type foliage and wonderful sculptures. The water was clear and filled with colourful fish of all kinds!  What's nice is that it's not deep...only about 6 feet at its deepest, and calm and has stairs and platforms for easy entrance and exits, so it was perfect for beginners like us. Danny went in with us for a while and then told us to stay in and explore as long as we wanted. We had a wonderful time and Edventures was the best! We will definitely book with them again in the future!