Did you travel somewhere warm and sunny over the Christmas Holidays????
My family and I travelled with Transat Vacations from Kelowna to Cancun. The flight was direct non-stop December 22, 2018 and we opted for a one week, all inclusive vacation at the Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach resort.
Here’s my take on Transat Vacations and the Grand Sirenis.
Getting Ready for Our Trip
Let’s begin with Transat Vacations. The check-in agents were ready for the onslaught of sun seekers about 3 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave. Their systems weren’t all quite up and running, so they had an agent tagging hand luggage and answering questions. Once all their terminals we up and running, check in moved very quickly. I had downloaded their APP and checked in beforehand, so I all had to deal with was getting my baggage tags. I really recommend you consider doing that as well if you are travelling with Transat. Their APP also allows you to download movies as their is no TV screens, etc available on the plane. I was also travelling with my adorable 6-year old grandson, so I pre-registered him for the Transat Kids Club. Little crafts, etc were mailed to me (but due to the postal disruption, they didn’t arrive to after we got home!) Seats for families are pre-assigned and free – so unless you want an upgrade, when traveling with kids, you’re good to go – they do not separate families!
I do recommend pre-ordering your meals if you choose to purchase food on board the plane. We were seated at the back, and by the time the flight attendants got to us, we had a limited amount of items to choose from (good thing I was just looking for cheese and crackers!). As always, you can buy something at the airport after security and bring it on board with you and some people went with that option.
The seats were pretty comfortable… I was kind of surprised! There was plenty of leg room, although when the gentlemen seated in front of my reclined his seat, it did make my seat quite “cuddly”. I had to ask him to sit up when my cheese and crackers arrived.
Arriving in Mexico
I must say that upon arrival in Cancun is when Transat Vacations began to shine. Even before arrival, the flight attendants prepared us by giving us the “talk” on the tourist cards, customs cards and how to avoid the Time Share vendors in the airport. It’s a huge line in the arrivals area – so be prepared to take your time, add a little patience and go with the flow: head through customs, collect your bags, and out to your waiting transfer.
Again, once outside there were several Transat agents directing all the excited snowbirds to the correct transfers. We were staying at a Transat Distinction property which gave us a private transfer, along with a few other perks for our family of five… so nice! Our driver spoke English quite well and shared in the conversation on the way to the hotel. The transfer took about one hour and 15 minutes… it’s a long way after sitting in a plane for five and half hours. It was time well spent for me though, as I had a front seat view of all the hotel names being displayed on the highway. However, my adorable 6 year old grandson didn’t find it so great and had a nap! It’s always a great idea to tip your transfer driver, especially if you move out of the hotel zone and into the Mayan Riviera district.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were warmly greeted and our bags looked after for us while we checked in. Since we were the only ones checking into at that time, it was quick and easy. They had everything ready for us, explained the resort layout, showed us where the Transat desk was, invited us to the morning briefing and off we went. We were driven (by golf cart) to the Transat Distinction block of the Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach, with resort commentary along the way and our bags were brought to our room (I recommend you always tip your baggage handlers as well – just $1.00 or $2.00 equivalent per bag.)
We had a really nice room…so, let’s move from the Transat experience to the resort experience for a little bit.
We had two side-by-side ocean view rooms so we could be close to my son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Every morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise (sometimes too early for me!) and the evening brought some breathtaking sunsets. We had all the conveniences of home in the room including a coffee maker and mini fridge with a restocked bar daily. Each room block has its own concierge services. Within a couple of days, each of them knew who were were and asked what we were up to for the day. They were very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly. Of course, we used them to help organize our on-site restaurant reservations and they were very accommodating.
I think the only downfall was that the Mayan Beach rooms are located the furthest away from the restaurants and beach, but even that was a short 5 – 10 minute walk away. We really did enjoy sitting outside on the balcony every day listening to the thundering of the ocean and the howling of the winds.
Around the Resort
There are two lobbies as the resort – one for the Grand Sirenis Rivieria Maya and one for the Beach section, but that only came into play at check in and check out. WiFi is free throughout the resort, although there are a couple of “dead” spots… but just a few steps away fixed that problem.
OK, Let’s Eat!
The buffets were excellent with a very wide variety of foods to choose from. The only thing I would have like to see improved was that some of the foods could have been kept hotter. However, the servers were polite, helpful and genuinely pleased to be taking care of us. We ate breakfast at a poolside buffet everyday and had the same waiter – he knew instinctively to have our table for 5 prepared for us when we came. We did give a tip at the end of the week for taking such good care of us.
There are 8 restaurants on site to choose from aside from the buffets: we chose the Mexican, Brazilian and Mediterranean. 11 bars on site (including 2 swim up bars) take care of all your thirsty requirements. I settled into the Mojitos – yummy, and earlier in the day – lemonade! Traditionally, most resorts offer guests the opportunity to visit 3 restaurants during a 7 day stay. There are varied ways that the restaurants present their menus so just go with the flow, enjoy the food and entertainment. The food was excellent at all three restaurants, with the Brazilian restaurant being the most unique experience.
Time to Relax in the Water
The beach is small as the resort is set in a bay and it’s flanked by rocky outcrops. That lends itself to snorkeling right on site and it’s pretty good. There’s enough of a beach though for the young and the young at heart to sink their toes into the sand and order that perfect beverage from the beach bar. There’s a daily BBQ on the beach as well so you don’t need to go far when you get the munchies after chasing the waves or looking at the underwater world. Unfortunately, we only got into the ocean for a day as the weather didn’t co-operate and the beach was under a red flag warning for the duration of our visit. I strongly recommend following the flags when on a beach – we’re just not as familiar with the underwater currents as the locals. We got our water fun fix at the pools after this.
There are three pools on site – two activity pools and one quiet pool. Each are about 3-4 feet deep and perfect for cooling off – literally. The pools are not heated, nor are the “hot tubs”. There was a considerable difference in pool temperature when the sun was out and they do become very comfortable to bob in when the sun’s rays do their job! However, when cloudy in the middle of winter… brrrr… a little chilly!
The lazy river is a big hit! It takes about 10-15 minutes to meander around the resort. Tubes are supplied. It’s very relaxing and if you are lucky enough you will see some of the local wildlife while you’re drifting by.
There’s table tennis, pool tables, darts, a gym and the usual pool and beach activities to take part in.
The kids mini club is excellent and offers day care with age related activities all under the supervision of the on-site staff. They have a great kids splash pool located just off the beach. Yes, my adorable 6 year old grandson had a blast in the splash park.
The evening entertainment is pretty good. They had production shows for the kids. Children registered for the kids club actually had roles in the plays. Pinatas and on-stage games entertained the kids as well. The adult shows were standard fare for Mexican resorts – but good.
Shopping comes to you, so if you don’t want to head into Playa del Carmen, wait for it. There are very little peddling on the beach – it was refreshing not to have to push away the beach vendors. However, when they set up the market in the resort they can be pushy. Don’t forget to bargain!
There’s a Dolphinarium on-site. While the Dolphin show as a bit cheesy, it’s great for kids. You can get up and personal outside of the regular show as well (for a fee, of course!)
The resort is surrounded by beautiful gardens and they are kept meticulously clean by the staff at the resort. There is an overground cenote just outside the resort and there’s a well preserved small archaeological site just a few steps away from the beach. There’s a fantastic beach walk where you can run into all types of critters and if you are lucky enough to even see turtles making there way up or down the beach. There are four trails you can walk or bike (bikes are provided). On the Coastal Trail you will experience the ecosystems of coast including those amazing nesting turtles. The Jungle and Scrub path lets you experience the rugged nature of the region. If you’re lucky you’ll experience the local wildlife. The Path of the Jungle and Mangrove allows you to see cenotes, sinkholes and a variety of plants and animals. The forth path – Path of the Nursery reveals the myriad of plants native to the region. It’s laid out in five areas: Sand dunes, Coastal Scrubland, Wetland, Jungle and Ornamental.
The wildlife is amazing. And it’s all right on site at the resort. A flock of Mexican blue jays visited us a couple of times, raccoons, badgers, deer, cacomistle, coati, bats and the all-time favorite of every child at the resort – cats – can be seen on a regular basis. We can’t forget about the iguanas and lizards – everywhere around the resort! Grey hawks and eagles soared just for us every morning and evening!
My take on the Grand Sirenis Maya Riviera Beach Resort:
If you are looking for an excellent family resort this is for you. If you are looking for peace and quiet, this is not for you!
The long transfer from the airport can be a negative for sure – but that is soon forgotten when you are arrive and are treated with such kindness and respect. My rating 4.5 – 5*! If I didn’t wish to “see the world” – I would go back to this resort (with kids).
Photos from My Trip
Here are some photos from my gallery: