Monday, February 20, 2012

Azul Sensatori Cancun Review

For those of you who are not facebook friends, last week, Mike and I took a last minute trip to Mexico. Literally last minute. We found a *deal* via an email that was passed to us from a family member -- and realized too late that 2 of the 4 four people we dealt with over the phone and internet were scam artists. Mike was double-billed for our vacation and we are currently in the process of disputing the charge. Lovely. Positives were: we actually did get the deal (well, still overcharged), I got a tan and Mike scuba-dived (dove? lol) with bull-sharks.

This was the first time for either of us at a 5 star resort. The only reason for this last minute vacation was because Mike learned that he could DIVE WITH THE BULL SHARKS.

I did a video review of the resort over on my vlog site...basically it is like all other resorts: They are built for people to eat and drink their faces off and lie around tan and that's it. NOT for anal-minded triathletes who are in the middle of a big block of training and suddenly go from 17 hours a week to 4 hours. LOL.

I was like a caged racehorse. I walked up and down the four flights of stairs to our room multiple times a day. I looked for any excuse -- "Oh! I forgot my sunblock, I'll just go back to the room," or "I think I need to get my visor." Walked all over the place. Ran on the beach and swam a ton.

Ok here we go for any of you who might be interested in checking out this particular resort:

AZUL SENSATORI RESORT


Location:
Between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen in a little place called Puerto Morelos. It is about 3km or so off the highway -- a road through the mangroves. It's far enough away to be a pain in the ass to go anywhere. Mike was scuba-diving every day out of Playa Del Carmen. THERE IS NO SHUTTLE TO THE HIGHWAY. The taxis charge $10 USD. Mike said piss on that, and started to walk in the mornings to the highway in order to flag down the cheapo bus that heads to Playa Del Carmen every morning. Inevitably a taxi would drive up and offer him a ride for less...He started paying $5. But one morning he almost made it to the highway before a taxi drove up. lol!

Management:
To keep a long story short, Gustavo of Member Services, is terrible to deal with. We were supposed to be picked up at the airport as part of the package, but both Mike and I had our suspicions from the get-go. Sure enough, there was a cluster when we arrived at the airport. Our names were on a list but not for transportation. We had 3 tour operators try to help us out. Finally, we took a cab that cost $50 USD (Special deal just for us notice my sarcasm) to the resort. When we arrived at the resort, we were jumped upon by 3 different people at member services saying that the taxi driver was waiting for us. Holy shit we were mad. Seriously, we just get to the resort and then these people call us liars.

The WORST part was the condescending and patronizing attitude of Gustavo. He played the old, "Smile and laugh, clap you on the back and assure you that you are going to be reimbursed, will comp you a couples massage, etc." And never follow through. Absolutely brutal. This guy would do well in Vegas as a mob guy I swear. We were there for a week, and the day before we left, Mike finally pinned him down and asked where our reimbursement was along with the massage he promised. Crickets chirped.

It's too bad, because the resort is pretty amazing, but our experience right from the beginning left a bad taste in our mouth...

That was until we had to attend that frigging timeshare presentation. I FRIGGING HATE THAT CRAP. In fact, Mike and I got in a fight before we left as I was ADAMANT about not wanting anything to do with having to attend one of these things. Ah well, whatever!!

The timeshare presentation:
It is supposed to take 2 hours. Lucky us, ours lasted 3. Three hours of my life I will never get back. Sigh. That was because Mike cornered Gustavo afterwards, trying to get our money back (again) and Gustavo was like a little bull dog -- he got quite agitated and offensive. Sigh again. lol.

Ok, here are the deets for the timeshare crapola: Funny side note, both Mike and I sat there with our arms crossed and the salesman tried to lighten the mood by saying, "Oh your body language is saying you are guarded." Yes dude, you are correct! LMAO.

So they do the typical salesman thing: try to create a rapport with you, etc. In our case, it was many "frugal Canadian" references, pleasant chatting about family, and the attempt to get us to want to agree with him. You know what I mean? The salesman builds things up and uses phrases that are put to you in such a way that the gut reaction is to agree with him, or you WANT to agree with him to get his approval. He uses seemingly innocuous questions but make no mistake they are leading questions. For example, he asked us, "Can you say that you can at least afford 2 weeks of vacation a year." Mike said, "No, not every year." LOL.

So, for this presentation, you are told how much the maintenance fees are: $599 or $999 (I think, it might have been $1299 for double diamond platinum whatever). You are told that you will save all this money with their travel agency too. Then, they parade you through the best rooms with rose petals scattered around a bubble-filled jacuzzi tub and ask you, "Would you pay $174 a week for this room?" I answered, "Of course I would."

That was supposed to be the hook I think. I wasn't all excited and ready to whip out my credit card and sign my name. I was just answering a simple question. I think this is the point where the salesman thought he *had* us. He even used the phrase, "You are going to think it is too good to be true..." Well, that is the biggest red flag I have ever seen. If there is one thing I have learned in my 36 years on this planet, it is this:

IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS.

No ifs, ands, or buts.

For Ruby (the lowest category) they want you to pay $19 900 USD + $1295 USD and you get 100 weeks of vacation. This does not expire -- they really tout the "lifetime membership" angle. Mike pointed out, "That's like 4 weeks of vacation every year for 25 years, who does that?" Then as a special deal just today you pay no maintenance fees ever. You can vacation anywhere in the world by using all their booklets of hotels and resorts and pay $174/week for the swankiest rooms. That is what the 19 900 +1295 buys you. The right to pay $174/week.

Bottom line, we said no, the guy started writing numbers down as quickly as possible -- asking how much we paid for this week of vacation, deducting that amount from one figure, making marks in another column...another tactic I am sure. He came down to $4775 + $1295 (this must be his commission) and 35 weeks.

We told him we didn't trust that this would pan out. We dealt with a third party to get to this particular resort and Mike's card has been charged an extra $1000! And when dealing with the management, our good friend Gustavo replied, "That has nothing to do with us, that is a third party." Hmmmm, bodes really well for the timeshare idea doesn't it?

It would have been nice to speak with someone who had actually bought this thing, but the resort folk were "not allowed" in the Premium Guest Section. I am not kidding! They have this sign on one of the pathways, that states it is for Premium Guests only. So, you have to walk on another pathway. LMAO! They even have this "special" beach area and a different coloured towel (ours was blue, theirs brown) than us simple folk. Them and all their friends. Not too many people were there -- to me it looked like it was a desperate cry for attention, low self-esteem issues, coupled with a warped sense of "status" -- Look at me I have a brown towel and I am lying in this area.

Oh man, I do not have the time for such nonsense.

The beach:
Seaweed is brutal! And there is this frigging tractor that comes all the time, belching out blue fumes in the futile attempt to clean it up. LMAO! The best was the one afternoon, I was tanning on the beach and watched as a family of four stood up and walked away from the waters edge as THE TRACTOR WAS COMING. LMAO! This thing is so loud and smelly, the closer it got, conversation ceased around me and all our heads turned collectively to watch the tractor. The young boy had built a sand castle and it was directly in the path of the tractor!

You could see there was a nervous tension in the body language of the parents...Would the boy be excited by the tractor? Or would he be devastated at the destruction of his castle?

The tractor drew nearer.

At first, it looked like the castle was going to be spared! The tractor drove right over the middle of it, passing over it. I could see it still standing as the tires rolled by. But then, just as quickly, I realized that the conveyor-belt thing that was dragging behind it would crush it. The destruction was imminent.

The boy did not cry. It was sort of anti-climactic to tell you the truth. LMAO!!

Swimming:
You can't swim at this 5 star resort! The water is shin deep at best and there is one spot where rocks stick up -- how do I know this? How do you think? LOL. The reefy, reedy, bottom is right there. I floated and sculled out just past the buoy line and it never changed.

So, where can you swim? It took me 7 minutes on the button to run north along the beach to Azul Beach Resort. They have a much better swim area there. The only thing is, you have to walk along the NUDIE RESORT BEACH to get there!!!

Nudie Resort:
They are not only nude and walking all over the beach, apparently it is also a swingers resort. OMG. The first day I saw something that I will not go into great detail here...all I will say, is that what I thought was a woman was really a man, and the image will forever be burned into my eyeballs. LMAO.

I would run barefoot on the beach so had a good excuse to look down and watch my step. LMAO!!!

Where to run:
I ran both barefoot and in my running shoes. The furthest I could run north of the resort was 25 minutes along the beach and then there was construction and trenches filled with gross brown/reddish water. I didn't want to get my shoes saturated with that stanky mess, so I turned around. Running south, you have no choice but to run barefoot or get your shoes totally soaked. People have built their homes right over the water's edge and there is literally no beach to walk on -- you have to go into the ocean. And it takes maybe 2.5 minutes to get to that spot from the Azul Sensatori.

So, I not only had to run back and forth in front of the nudie resort, I had to walk by there too if I wanted to go swimming which was every day. Not everyone was nude...sometimes, a couple would be holding hands walking, and either the guy or the gal was nude and the other had a swim suit on. Oh brother! LMAO!

Between resorts, the garbage that is washed up on the beach amongst the COPIOUS amounts of seaweed are just left there. It is really gross and the barefoot running thing became pretty challenging -- I did cut my foot a little, but that was the day I ran past the last resort and was on the beach that looked like a garbage dump.

Restaurants at the resort:
Spoon restaurant is the main buffet restaurant. Food is plentiful and awesome. Breakfast is by far the best. I had made-to-order omelettes every morning. Tons of fruit and veggies. Finding a clean source of protein was a bit more challenging, so I did have to channel my Dad's garbage guts a few times. BRING A WATER BOTTLE! Holy crap, I could never get water from the waiters and there was no "water station" like I have seen at other resorts. As an athlete I go through so much water, and the little dink water glasses they had on the table just did not cut it. And trying to get water from the waiters was like dying a slow and painful death. They are so damned inefficient. Friendly as all get out, but my God, give me the tray and I'll serve all these tables in half the time.

Le Chique:
OMG!!!!!!!!!!! This was the most amazing food I have ever eaten in my life!!!!!!!!!! It's what I imagine you would get if you went to an upscale New York restaurant. 12 courses -- all small -- not what I thought it was. Every dish was like a work of art -- they had prosciutto foam!!!! BACON FOAM! OMG, I thought I was in heaven. LOL. They had these cheese ball things that were called Black Truffles and they were stained black with the ink of an octopus. They called the cooking, "molecular," but I suspect it was Fusion cooking. The first teeny pastry thingy had a bubble inside it that exploded in your mouth when you bit into it. A bubble! YAY!! LMAO!

So there you have it! A quick and dirty run-down of Feb.9 - Feb 16 vacation.

And did I forget to stress that Mike finally had his bull-shark encounter? It's pretty funny hearing his breathing get louder and faster on his video. LMAO!!!

4 comments:

Keith said...

The rule for time share is to say no. Say no a lot. If they ask if it's sunny out say no. I had a buddy that was sucked into a time share presentation. He made up a little card that said, I am not interested. And he would hold that up every time they asked a question.

Bummer about your vacation, I would hate that.

Shannon Wicks said...

C-R-A-Z-Y SHIT!

Thanks for the heads up regarding that resort. Mel and I decided a while back not to ever go to Mexico just because of the violence towards Canadians down there.

Julie said...

Keith -- Your buddy had the right idea.

Shannon -- The news reports are pretty terrifying, especially that one resort - Riu Emerald in Mazatlan. There is no way you could pay me to go to that resort!!!! My fave place is Cozumel..I may be going there soon! :)

Lisa Graham said...

Wow - crazy! Thanks for all the info, sounds like a lot of gong show stuff goes on there! The tractor thing - OMG, that is hilarious! And the nudie resort - yikes, I would have run with my head down when going by it as well! Haha!