Located 30 min. south of Playa del Carmen on Kantenah Bay, Sensimar Seaside Suites is an award-winning, adults-only luxury resort for those wanting to reconnect with their loved one in an intimate, romantic setting. Forbes Magazine voted it “one of the ten most romantic hotels in the world”, Trip Advisor has given it multiple Travelers’ Choice Awards, and the resort has also received Green Globe Certification for its achievements in sustainable tourism. Although many aspects of what has made Sensimar Seaside Suites an award-winning property have not changed, one vital item is different–its name. Prior to the latter part of 2015, this resort used to be referred to as El Dorado Seaside Suites but was re-named due to a business arrangement between Karisma Hotels and Resorts and Tui, an overseas travel business associate of Karisma. A new nearby resort has taken over the El Dorado Seaside Suites name (catering to Americans and Canadians) while this resort has become one of Tui’s Sensimar resorts for couples in the European travel market. Although this change has created confusion and has not been welcomed by all, the two resorts have full exchange privileges with one another–returning American/Canadian guests can still access their beloved resort while curious European guests can see what the new Karisma resort has to offer.
One of the unique features of Sensimar is the property’s lushness–a modern Garden of Eden with its palm trees, coconut trees, and native flora interspersed with Bali beds and hammocks placed all around the grounds. There are private nooks for two, swinging Bali beds, beachfront Sky Massage decks for couples’ massages, and tennis courts and kayaks for the more active vacationer. While the property is not massive, amenities are spread out over its acreage; golf carts are readily available to take guests wherever they wish to go, either on the Sensimar property or to the new El Dorado Seaside Suites.
Many guests come to Sensimar to soak up its romantic atmosphere from the comfort of one of its many complimentary beachfront Bali beds. As a result, beds are typically “reserved” with private items by 7 a.m. The resort hopes to ease some of this potential disappointment for its guests by extending the south end of the beach and adding many new beds.
Some guests may also find the beach area disappointing since it is narrow with loungers in close proximity to one another. The man-made breakwater and remaining black sand “whales” initially installed to prevent erosion can also be a deterrent to those looking for the perfect ocean vista. There are sectioned areas for swimming (bring water shoes) as well as offshore snorkeling–it’s best to bring one’s own equipment since guests may only check out the resort’s snorkeling gear for a limited time. Beach walkers can only travel south towards the Grand Palladium; those walking north will be turned away by security guards since Hidden Beach, a nudist resort, sits squarely between Sensimar and the new El Dorado Seaside Suites. Guests who wish to spend some time at EDSS therefore cannot get there via the beach, but instead must walk inland around Hidden Beach or request a shuttle ride. NOTE: There is a rumor that Hidden Beach will be relocated north of El Dorado Seaside Suites which will certainly solve the accessibility issue, but as of the present time it is still a rumor.
Pool lovers will enjoy the many options at Sensimar including the “quiet” pool with its multiple sundeck Bali beds, the daily activities and lively swim-up bar at the main beachfront pool, and two additional swim-up bars located by the Jr. Suites in blocks 35-41. Don’t fret if sunscreen has been left at home, there is typically a nearby cart with extra bottles of both sunscreen and mosquito spray for general guest use. Those staying in Premium Suite rooms also have the privilege of enjoying a dedicated pool and swim-up bar as an upgraded amenity. All guests are free to venture over to El Dorado Seaside Suites to enjoy their brand new pool and swim-up bar as well.
Guest room buildings are scattered throughout the entire property giving vacationers the impression that only a select few are at the resort at any given time–part of the romantic ambiance to be sure. In actuality, six room categories are available at the Sensimar including swim-up suites, beachfront Jr. Suites, and upgraded Premium Jr. Suites. Unless one is staying above the third floor in the Premium Jr. Suite building, having a room on a higher floor is not necessarily an upgrade at this resort due to the mature landscaping which often partially obstructs beach and ocean views. Older guest rooms often have dim lighting, but many guests are willing to overlook this factor given the Jacuzzi tub in every room. Since there is a concierge for every block of guest rooms, questions and problems during one’s stay are readily addressed which creates a more stress-free and relaxing vacation.
In addition to dining at the six onsite restaurants, all guests are free to eat at any of the four new restaurants over at El Dorado Seaside Suites. Three are located in the new lobby while the fourth is only open for lunch by the pool. It is an easy walk over to the new lobby, but golf carts are available for those who want to expedite the process.
For those who would like to venture offsite, it is good to know that any concierge can take care of arranging taxi service to one’s destination (and locking in a fare so there’s no negotiating), or guests can take the inexpensive local transportation called a colectivo (a minibus that seats 12) which stops on the main road at the resort’s entrance. Less adventurous types can always arrange for a guided tour to local destinations at the lobby tour desk. Guests wanting to go to Playa del Carmen can also take advantage of the complimentary shuttle transportation which leaves in the late morning/early afternoon hours; there are scheduled stops along the way at local jewelry stores, but there is no pressure to buy.
Type of Resort: Adults-only, this resort is dedicated to the European travel market
Pro: Stay at one play at two, free WiFi, many Bali beds, friendly staff, lush grounds
Con: Beach can be rocky in areas, poor lighting in some suites, guests get up very early to claim Bali beds
Best Suited For: This is an affluent couples’ resort, lots of honeymooners or couples celebrating special occasions come here, it’s also a popular wedding destination
No. of Rooms: 378
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, mini-bar, non-digital safe in older guest rooms, flat screen TV, CD/DVD player, ceiling fan, coffee maker, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, umbrella, hair dryer, shower, Jacuzzi tub (most are in the bedroom or sitting room area with the exception of Premium Jr. Suite rooms), toiletries, 24-hr. room service, and complimentary WiFi. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds. Garden or pool view.
- Superior Jr. Suite: King bed, separate sitting room area. Garden or pool view.
- Beachfront Jr. Suite: King bed, sunken sitting room with sofa, coffee table, and Jacuzzi tub.
- Swim-Up Jr. Suite: King bed, small table and chairs, “lazy river” access from the terrace which connects to the pool and swim-up bar.
(Premium Suite rooms)
- Premium Jr. Suite with Pool View: King or two dbl beds, small sofa, ottoman, table and chairs, balcony day bed, audio dock, dbl vessel sinks. Located on floors one through three.
- Premium Jr. Suite with Sea View: King or two dbl beds, small sofa, ottoman, table and chairs, balcony day bed, audio dock, dbl vessel sinks. Located on floors four through six.
- Premium Jr. Suite Swim-Up: King or two dbl beds, small sofa, ottoman, table and chairs, dbl vessel sinks, terrace day bed and direct access to the pool and swim-up bar.
- NOTE: The only guest room elevator is located in the Premium Suite building, all other accommodations are located in buildings with up to three floors with no elevator. Also, if you like to be close to the “action” (loud noise, late night partiers), blocks 25-26 near Las Guacamayas Bar are good choices.
Physically Challenged Rooms: This property is not recommended for the physically challenged.
Resort Amenities: Four pools (main activities pool with swim-up bar, quiet pool, older swim-up suites pool with two swim-up bars, and the newer Premium Suite pool with swim-up bar), spa, beauty salon, fitness center, tennis courts, non-motorized water sports, Bali beds, hammocks, theater, pool and beach butler service, giant chess and checkers, shuttle service around the resort and to Playa del Carmen, concierge services, tour desk, gift shop, jewelry shop, car rental. Guests are also free to use the amenities at El Dorado Seaside Suites.
Restaurants/Bars: Sensimar restaurants include a buffet (Arrecifes, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), three a la cartes including Mexican (La Carreta), international (Gourmet Pub), and Latin fusion (Culinarium, open for lunch and dinner). There are two more informal dining options including Sandwicherie and the beach BBQ–both open for breakfast and lunch. El Dorado Seaside Suites offers an additional buffet (Seaside Market, open for breakfast only), the Driftwood Gourmet beachfront grill open for lunch only, and two a la cartes including Asian (Klay Talay), and Italian (Mia Casa). Ask at check-in whether reservations are required at any of the a la cartes–the resort keeps changing the rules about this. Sensimar bars include a tequila bar, pool bar with swing seats, beachfront bar with swing seats, margarita bar, and four swim-up bars (one of which is for Premium Jr. Suite guests). El Dorado Seaside Suites bars include a swim-up/pool bar, a bar on the 4th floor, and the lobby bar.
Entertainment: Live music at the beachfront bar, nightly theater shows, mariachi bands, Mayan performers, watching sports games at the beach bar, and the occasional movie night on the beach.