Bianca: With the fast-paced leg of our trip behind us, we were looking forward to unwinding and spending some quality time pool-side. And by we, I mean me. My ideal version of a beachside/poolside holiday is ‘Me + Sun + Cocktail + Guacamole = A very happy Tanned Bianca.
Tulum is beautiful, incredibly picturesque with a real focus on its natural sights. Ancient Mayan ruins and gorgeous underwater sinkholes known as Cenotes. It was a fairly straightforward 1 hour and 10-minute drive from Cancun International Airport. We organised our transfers with Super Shuttle and found them very reliable. We did opt for the private transfers so we didn’t have to do several hotel drop offs. The cost-saving didn’t seem to extreme for the ease of a private transfer.
Our check-in at Grand Oasis Tulum was a bit laborious. With only one staff member checking in guests and a sizeable queue of people bombarding the front desk. This was to be our first experience with an all-inclusive hotel. Through sheer luck, we were upgraded to the Sian Ka’an at Grand Tulum. The adults-only/ more upmarket section of the hotel, no complaints here as our room was stunning. With an outdoor tub overlooking the beach, we couldn’t have been more chuffed. Considering we booked this hotel as a way to save our pennies for our splurge stay at Paradisus in Playa Del Carmen.
Within the hotel, there are 12 restaurants, 11 bars and 3 swimming pools. When you check in you’ll be given a map with everything you need to know. This was a bit of false advertising because on any given day there were only 2-3 restaurants open for lunch & dinner respectively. Whether this was due to the time we visited, I’m unsure.
Our first experience with the all-inclusive lifestyle was a bit of a learning curve. We found across Tulum and Playa that the portions served were on the smaller side so ordering a few extra dishes between 2 people is feasible without overdoing it. Our first meal was at Careyes. The adults only, fine dining option. Where we had our fill of Velvet Prawns, a Beef Tenderloin and a delightful Cocoa Fondant. This was also the night I discovered my love of the Red Widow – a slushie vodka basked drink with raspberry.
Breakfast was a buffet at one of the hotel restaurants, it really wasn’t much to write home about, hence the no photos. We made an early morning beeline for the Tulum Ruins.
And a pit stop for some Juice & Chips and Guac from Encanto Cantina. My original stop was going to be Burrito Amor but as luck would have it they are closed on Wednesdays (our only full day in Tulum).
We hired bicycles from a shop in the centre of Tulum, they’re a dime a dozen just really make sure you give the bike a look over before you head off. Mine was a ratchet job and the chain came off mid-bike-ride. We got it back on easily but that bike had definitely seen better days. It took us about 15 minutes to cycle to The Gran Cenote. One of the more popular cenotes in Tulum and for good reason. Don’t be afraid of the bats in the cave, they don’t bite! We chased turtles, explored the grounds and swam in the crystal blue water. If you’re going for the #instalife you’ll want to go early to beat the crowds. We rocked up at about 1-2pm and it was busy.
Dinner that night was at the hotels ‘Mexican’ restaurant. Hacienda Sarape a Mexican cantina, was kind of a comedy of errors. From the blink, till you miss it food, the still moo’ing steak served… and the fact that the majority of the food was not Mexican in the slightest. We’d been in Mexico for 2 days by that point and not a taco in sight! Your room is marked off at the entrance to each restaurant and as we left so thoroughly underwhelmed and not really satisfied. We moseyed on over to Dos Lunas the Italian restaurant where we loaded up on pizza and carbs and could not stop laughing at our ‘crime’.
Our room was lovely but I don’t think we’d be rushing back to the Grand Oasis Tulum if we were to revisit Tulum.