Surrounded by jungle and mangroves with a swimmable cenote and Mayan ruins to boot, Sandos Caracol Eco Resort and Spa is perfect for active nature lovers who want to vacation by the sea while also minimizing their carbon footprint. Efficient A/C units, solar powered water heating systems, recycling programs, organic gardens, and complimentary biodegradable insect repellant stations are only part of the resort’s attempts to be eco-friendly. Guests looking to discover more about Mayan culture will also enjoy the “Xcalacoco Experience”, a series of daily interactive activities and shows highlighting Mayan traditions and cultural events. There are nature trails, bike paths, daily Eco Tours around the property, a guided Mayan river boat ride through the mangroves, and swimming/snorkeling in the main cenote–just a few of the many activities offered at Sandos Caracol. Travelers wanting to combine an eco-friendly vacation experience with golfing will find that the Grand Coral Golf Club is adjacent to the resort.
Carved out of the jungle, this mega-resort consists of more than 70 three-story guest room buildings with four separate resort “zones”: the Family Section, the new Signature Eco rooms, the adults-only Select Club, and the Royal Elite section. The 31 Family Section buildings are located on the northern, central, and eastern side of the resort (close to the jungle, by the children’s water park, in the middle of the resort, or closer to the beach). Adults-only Select Club guest room buildings are situated close to the lobby and the main cenote but far from the beach (it’s a 5-10 min. walk). The newly renovated signature Eco rooms are part of the Family Section and located in the central area of the resort. Royal Elite guest room buildings are clustered around the main pool and closest to the beach; while these guest rooms can be booked by any vacationer, Royal Elite amenities (private beach club and infinity pool, for example) are only for timeshare owners.
Children have their own special amenities including a water park complete with many waterslides suitable for children of all ages (the newest section has slides for teens and adults), and well-equipped Kid’s Club complete with a jungle gym, trampoline, small rock climbing wall, and small movie theater. There is a Baby Club for ages 2-3; however, parental supervision is necessary for this age group. Teens have their own activities program but lack the dedicated facilities that younger children have at this resort. Guests using the waterslides should be aware that height requirements are strictly enforced.
Pool lovers for the most part will enjoy Sandos Caracol since there are multiple pools to meet guest’s needs. The lengthy main pool has a swim-up bar, activities section, and shallow end for children, while the Chill Out pool has its own bar and seems to attract families with younger children. Select Club guests have their own private pool with separate bar (no swim-up bar, however), Jacuzzi, and snack area, while timeshare owners have their own infinity pool with swim-up bar. The main cenote by the lobby is also accessible to swimmers and snorkelers; those who enter the cenote must wear a life vest, however. All sundecks have loungers as well as palapas and/or umbrellas for shade; lounger “reserving” by the main pool occurs with frequency with most chairs being taken by the early a.m. hours. Since the main pool is the most frequented of all resort pools, it is in need of additional maintenance since tiles need replacing and water pH levels can get out of balance due to its heavy “traffic”.
The beach is just a few steps away from the main pool with its coconut grove providing lots of natural shade; there is also a dive shop and water sports hut which offers access to hobie cats, kayaks, Jet Skis, snorkeling gear, and boogie boards. The sandy beach is nice for a stroll, but ocean entry is rocky–water shoes are a must. The beach has several different areas including one for general guests, Select Club, and Royal Elite timeshare owners. The Select Club beach area is outfitted very nicely with Bali beds, natural shade, and cushioned loungers with easy access to the Oceanfront Club House which is steps away with its own bar, snacks, flat screen TV’s, and pool table. Guests who don’t like the beach at Sandos Caracol have complimentary access to its sister resort, Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, just south of Playa del Carmen–transportation is the guest’s responsibility.
Those who enjoy a quality spa experience while on vacation will find that Spa Sandos offers 16 treatment rooms, a Temazcal ritual and steam treatment hut, beachfront massage hut, and complimentary hydrotherapy circuit for all guests age 18+. (Those who want a less expensive beachfront massage not associated with the resort’s spa can find one just north of the Select Club beach area). The adjoining fitness center is well-equipped with cardio and strength equipment, a separate spinning room, and fitness instructors who are prepared to personalize a workout plan. Yoga classes are also part of the morning resort routine.
Vacationers who don’t enjoy being in close quarters to wildlife should look at other resort destinations–Sandos Caracol offers many opportunities (both planned and unplanned) for guests to interact with various animals. Raccoons, coatis, iguanas, macaws, donkeys, deer, cats, and spider monkeys are just a few of the many different types of animals guests may encounter; some are in enclosed pens while others are free to roam the resort. Spider monkey encounters are avidly sought by most guests–they can be found in many resort areas including the new Signature Eco room section, by the sports bar, the deer pen, and by both the Chill Out and Select Club pools.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly with an adults-only section
Pro: Mayan cultural experiences, water park with waterslides for adults, lots of activities, wildlife viewing, free WiFi in most resort sections, golf course next door
Con: Rocky beach/ocean entry, small balconies in many rooms, main pool maintenance, WiFi not included for most of the Family Section rooms, lack of A/C in many common areas
Best Suited For: Active nature lovers who like mega-resorts, families with children ages 2-10.
No. of Rooms: 956
Room Amenities: All guest rooms and suites include a king bed, two queen beds, or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, desk and chair, ceiling fan, large water dispenser, mini-bar (minus water bottles–bring your own empty bottles so you can refrigerate water provided), digital safe, flat screen TV, telephone, alarm clock radio, hair dryer (bring your own–provided dryers may not be that powerful), shower, and in-shower gel/shampoo dispensers (coffee makers are not included at this resort). Complimentary WiFi is available throughout most of the resort but the connection can be spotty; 24-hr. room service is only available in Signature Eco, Select Club, and Royal Elite room categories. Room categories include the following.
(Family Section) WiFi and full length mirror not included. Buildings #20-#51.
- Standard: King or two queen beds, shower-only with shower curtain. Balconies are very small with jungle, garden, or pool view.
- Deluxe with Jacuzzi: King bed, sofa bed, in-room Jacuzzi, dbl sink. Balconies are very small with jungle, garden, or pool view.
- Jr. Suite with Jacuzzi: King bed, sofa bed, balcony Jacuzzi, dbl sink. Jungle, garden, or pool view.
- NOTE: Building 20 is closest to the beach in the Family Section.
(Signature Eco Collection, part of the Family Section), WiFi, bathrobe and slippers, iron/ironing board, full-length mirror, hot/cold water dispenser, and 24-hr. room service are included. Buildings #12-#19.
- Signature Eco Superior: King bed, bunk bed. Jungle, garden, or pool view. NOTE: Some guests have been assigned to regular Family Section rooms with a sofa bed; ask at check-in to make sure bunk beds are part of the room amenities.
- Signature Eco Jr. Suite: King bed, bunk bed with trundle bed, two showers/toilet areas, balcony plunge pool, dbl sinks. Jungle, garden, or pool view.
(Adults-Only Select Club Amenities)
- private check-in/out
- private concierge
- access to the Oceanfront Club House with snacks, bar, flat screen TV’s, Xbox, computer use, library, and pool table
- roped-off beach area with Bali beds, cushioned day beds, and wait service
- private adults-only pool with bar, snack area, wait service, and nearby large Jacuzzi
- La Jungla snack bar for breakfast and lunch
- 24-hr. room service
- robes and slippers
- larger plasma TV
- iron/ironing board
(Adults-Only Select Club Section) WiFi, bathrobe and slippers, iron/ironing board, full-length mirror, hot/cold water dispenser, 24-hr. room service, and Select Club amenities listed above. Buildings #58-#73.
- Superior: King or two dbl beds, dbl sinks. Balconies are small with jungle, garden, or pool view.
- Deluxe: King bed, sitting area with sofa bed, coffee table, table, in-room Jacuzzi, dbl sinks. Balconies are small with jungle, garden, or pool view.
- Penthouse: Separate bedroom with canopy king bed, living room area with sofa bed, coffee table, dbl sinks, large balcony with Jacuzzi and two full loungers. Junge, garden, or pool view; located on the 3rd floor.
(Royal Elite Section) While all guests can stay in Royal Elite rooms, those who are not timeshare owners do not have access to Royal Elite amenities. Instead, they have access to all Select Club amenities (see above for amenities list). Buildings #01-#11.
- Superior: Two dbl beds, iPod dock, dbl sinks. Pool and beach view.
- One Bedroom Suite: Separate bedroom with canopy king bed, living room area with futon couch, iPod dock, dbl sinks. Pool and beach view.
- Penthouse: Separate bedroom with canopy king bed and in-room Jacuzzi, living room area with futon couch, dbl sinks. Pool, beach, or partial ocean view; located on the 3rd floor.
NOTE: Guest room buildings do not have elevators.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Four pools (main pool with swim-up bar, Chill Out pool, Select Club pool and nearby Jacuzzi, and Royal Elite pool with swim-up bar), children’s water park, waterslides for all ages, swimmable cenote, spa with complimentary hydrotherapy circuit (age 18+), Temazcal ritual and hut, beauty salon, fitness center (age 18+), tennis courts, motorized and non-motorized water sports, dive shop, Baby Club (ages 2-3 but requires parental supervision), Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), teen activities, bicycle availability with onsite trails, disco, theater (no A/C), sports bar (no A/C), Mayan ruins onsite, Xcalacoco Experience with daily shows, daily Eco Tours of the grounds in English and Spanish, underground river, boat tour of the mangroves including sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries, private lounges for Select Club and Royal Elite timeshare guests, beach and wait service for upgraded guests, concierge, tour desk, gift shop, jewelry shop, clothing shop, car rental, medical services, and ATM. Grand Coral Golf Club golf course is located adjacent to the resort. NOTE: Look for a table outside of El Manglar sports bar to sign up for various activities.
Pool Hours: Pools close at 11 p.m.
Restaurants/Bars: There are three buffets including international cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (La Laguna), Italian cuisine for breakfast and lunch (La Toscana), and Mexican cuisine for dinner (Las Máscaras, no A/C). There are six a la cartes including Brazilian Rodizio (Fogo de Brazil, no A/C), Mediterranean (La Riviera–no A/C), Italian (La Toscana), steak and fish (Los Lirios–open to Royal Elite timeshare members for breakfast and lunch), vegetarian (Salvia–no A/C), and Japanese (El Templo–teppanyaki show tables). Reservations are only required for the teppanyaki show tables at El Templo which can be made at Guest Services upon arrival or by contacting the resort prior to arrival. Additional eateries include the popular 24-hr. El Nido snack bar which has swings for seats and an ice cream machine, and La Jungla snack bar which is for Select Club guests; the lobby bar area also offers pastries and cookies. In addition, poolside BBQ’s occur several times a week. There are 13 bars–the lobby bar, two swim-ups (one is for the Royal Elite infinity pool), sports bar, disco bar, theater bar, El Nido bar, Mapache Chill Out bar, La Jungla bar (for Select Club guests), two pool bars, Chill Out bar, and the bar in the Oceanfront Club House for Select Club guests.
Entertainment: The theater hosts nightly shows, Xcalacoco Experience features daily shows and presentations, fire show, disco, live music several nights per week, games room in the sports bar.