El Dorado Royale Review
By Sue McGarvie and Blaik Spratt, Clinical Relationship Therapists, Travel Journalists
On the surface the El Dorado Royale is just one of a number of five star all inclusives that frequent the coast from Cancun along the Mayan Riviera to Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Albeit an enormous resort with over 630 rooms and 450 acres of land. The property includes horse and camel (yes camel) stables, its own desalination plant, and with ocean frontage so wide that you need a golf cart to get you to dinner. With over 1000 employees, the El Dorado Royale and the attached high-end El Dorado Casitas Royale is like a small city. Think of a land where everyone says “Hola” as you walk by. The resort emphasizes their specialized beach butler service, personal concierges, impeccable grounds, and wedding and spa services. You can find the same services at many other resorts but what stands out at the El Dorado Royale is the food.
The El Dorado is an adult only resort that emphasizes unbelievable, wildly varied, all-inclusive gourmet food. If you are a foodie who is tired of huge restaurant bills but don’t want to compromise on quality then the El Dorado is the holiday you need to explore. They have gourmet theatre where you can watch the chef prepare while you eat, or alternatively take day classes in gourmet cooking in the Mexican Fuentes restaurant. The food was fantastic. We are still talking about the duck/lamb combination dinner with the best chocolate lava cake (warm, melt-in-your-mouth, hmm) that has ever been devoured. It showed amazing restraint not to order a second dessert with its side of Baileys ice cream.
Over all the El Dorado is the “no surprises vacation”. You can bank on warm weather (when not during the rainy season), five star service and rooms with a Wow factor. Swim up plunge pool rooms, outdoor double (or quadruple) showers, indoor Jacuzzi’s, rose petals on the beds and overall abject luxury. You have the choice of 11 pools, 15 different bars (and over 50 different umbrella drinks), seven different restaurants, and three “gourmet corners” for emergency late night pizza and healthy choices. You could happily book your parents, honeymooners, even grandparents and know that there would be universality to the food, accommodations and service that you can bank on. Elegant, sophisticated, adult, and very high end are the words we would use to describe the El Dorado Royale.
But we wanted to look beyond the amazing food, weather, and property to find out what was truly special about the El Dorado. And we found it in the most unexpected place.
Mexico has been late in embracing environmental and “green” concerns. However in keeping with a new recyclable and organic emphasis at the El Dorado, the Mayan owner has embarked on an ambitious new greenhouse program. With acres of greenhouses using the latest technology, this new program is defining freshness for hotel foods, and offering up a model of organic farming. Yup, the El Dorado luxury winter palace for discriminating tourists is getting into farming vegetables in a big way. They currently produce over 1.5 tons of fresh vegetables a day. They supply all of their El Dorado and Azul chain of hotels, sell vegetables and herbs at a reduced cost to employees and are now able to sell more to other neighbouring hotels. Besides the awe inspiring volume of food produced in the automated greenhouses, what is cool is that the growing materials are crushed up coconut shells and beach sand. The agronomist on staff is using abundant and readily available natural products as a growth medium for the plants. They use natural tree saps as insecticide and their own bee colonies for pollination. Coupled with perfect temperatures, and loads of light it represents ideal growing conditions.
The staff has really bought into the concept of fresh, organic food as a way to differentiate the resort from a crowded marketplace. Our tour was conducted by an enthusiastic tennis pro turned junior agronomist and everyone from the bellmen to the wait staff knew how special the greenhouse program is to the resort. With plans to expand to fruit, berry and additional herbs, the greenhouse is one of the ways that the El Dorado chooses to be serious about food. The chef picks his produce every day for dinner, and works with the greenhouse staff to try different varieties for subtle flavours. The resort offers daily tours of the greenhouse for interested guests, and can include samples of home grown vegetables as take aways to add to the fresh fruit bowl found in all the rooms.
It is an organic success story at a resort that has embraced healthy living among all the decadence. And the care put into the all inclusive food that the El Dorado Royale serves is definitely a difference maker when selecting a holiday resort.