El Cid La Ceiba, Cozumel
Reviews of El Cid La Ceiba, Cozumel
We like this place. If you exchange, get a two bedroom! "One bedroom means a Murphy bed, and so is the "second bedroom." Plus two bedroom units are in the tower with a wonderful view of docking cruise ships. Fascinating. The restaurant food is excellent, especially the buffet lunch ($17) and this may be the best/easiest snorkeling you'll ever find. For those who haven't visited in a while, a huge upscale shopping center is going up right across the street--a welcome change from all the tent markets for the cruise trade. Optional All Inclusive is $73. Not bad.
First things first - I am NOT an owner!
Spent a week here in 06 on an RCI trade in one of the renovated "suites" (see below) while the new management was re-doing the resort. There was construction going on (including hurricane repair) but we still had a great time. Also spent another week here in 2010 in a regular hotel unit on the ground floor (not a time share trade) after the construction was mostly finished. New management/owners did a good job of renovation.
Old timers (??) to Coz have probably all stayed at or at least been to La Ceiba at one time or another (the "El Cid" part is a recent addition to the name - I guess the new management/owner). Good beach diving right off the dock- great place to do a check-out dive before jumping off a dive boat. Easy entry and exit without much surge. There once was an old airplane sunk in the water right off the beach but the hurricanes have carried it out to sea. Good beach dive from the dock at sunset as you can often see octopus and sometimes schools of squid. Over almost 30 years of diving in Coz I have stayed at La Ceiba probably a dozen times at various stages of repair. I have always liked it. It is a favorite with alot of old scuba nuts, like me.
The new owners/management have re-done the resort and for the time shares have combined what used to be two (2) hotel rooms into one "suite". Separate living room with mini-kitchen and separate bathroom. There are still some regular hotel room units. Stayed in one in 2010. They left the funky wood ceilings in the bathrooms! I'm glad they saved them. Kind of a tradition... But the lighting in the bathrooms is not very good ( I use it as an excuse not to SHAVE for a week!).
Nice lobby. Friendly staff. Pool, hot tub. Good restaurant. There are some other good restaurants in the area, also.
ONE POTENTIALLY BAD THING: Be forwarned that time share sales people will probably be after you from the minute you arrive. Beware the so-called "concierge"!! The time share sales people are friendly - but persistent. Just say NO. No means NO in English AND Spanish! Unless, or course, you are interested in buying time share from the developer. Usually cheaper to buy on the "aftermarket". I thought the timeshare sales push was worse when I was NOT here on a time share trade. If you are already a time share owner it seemed to me they didn't "sell" you as hard. Anyway, always lots of friendly people at La Ceiba.
AND ANOTHER POTENTIALLY BAD THING: The resort allows cruise ship passengers to use the resort. Bad idea in my opinion (maybe looking for people to try to sell timeshares to...). The cruise ships dock right down the street. Most of the cruise ships and passengers arrive mid-week. You will probably see a bunch more people and ALOT more children in the middle of the week from the cruise ships. The pool and hot tub can get crowded... Also, it is my understanding that at least some of these cruise ship passengers are on an "all-inclusive" trip - they can eat and DRINK as much as they want. Can get a bit LOUD... and obnoxious!
All of the major dive shops will pick you up on the dock and it is not very far to the usual dive spots on Palancar reef.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DIVE PARADISE. I HAVE BEEN DIVING WITH THEM EXCLUSIVELY SINCE THE MID 80s. THEY ARE THE BEST! GO TO DIVEPARADISE.COM. If you meet Apple, the owner, tell her longhairlawyer from Tulsa sent you!
I have been a fan of La Ceiba for almost 30 years and look forward to returning, probably in 2013. Damn! I'm getting old!!
I've stayed here several times. I love the location and the fact that you can dive right off the dock.
After having been to La Ceiba twice, I decided to purchase a membership on the resale market.
It is conveniently located on the south side of town. It has a nice beach, pool, and restaurant.
There is good snorkeling along the shore here or at one of the beach clubs located further south of town.
El Cid La Ceiba Cozumel - Review
I reserved two 1 bedroom suites for 14 nights through Wyndham Vacations Resorts Fairshare Plus program. We arrived February 9 and departed February 23, 2008. El Cid La Ceiba is an "affiliate" resort with Fairshare Plus by Wyndham. I booked 10 months (April 2007) in advance.
I received a call at work in the United States one day before leaving for Cozumel from Agnes who identified herself as the concierge at El Cid La Ceiba. She called to answer any questions I may have had about the resort and to recommend and/or arrange transportation from the airport or ferry to the hotel. She also warned me to stay away from folks at the airport or ferry that claim to be affiliated with RCI or Wyndham/Fairfield pitching timeshare presentations. Having been to Mexico several times, I learned after the first time to avoid these timeshare folks at the airport and other places.
For folks reading this review with no prior travel experience in Mexico, these are timeshare agents that appear at the airport, sometimes in uniform with official looking id badges (this infers that they are official airport representatives but they are not) that are very friendly and offer FREE recreational activities such as golf, diving, spa treatments, etc. NOTHING IS FREE. They require 90- 120 minutes (but usually last 3-4 hours) of your time for a "first contact close" timeshare sales resentation. "First contact close" is a common sales tactic (think used car sales) where they want you to buy their timeshare product and close the deal on their first contact with you during the presentation. I.e. high pressure sales. For me, these incentives are not worth my vacation time.
El Cid La Ceiba is also a timeshare resort with active ongoing sales. I have a feeling that the courtesy call I received from Agnes was not so much that they wanted me to stay away from timeshare presentations, but rather, that they wanted me to avoid timeshare presentations with the competition. The call from Agnes was very pleasant and helpful.
It was less expensive to fly to Cancun and take land and ferry transportation to Cozumel rather than flying directly in to Cozumel. That said, going by air, land and sea makes for a very long day of travel!
Land: From Cancun airport, we used Cancun Shuttle (www.cancunshuttle.com) to Playa del Carmen to catch the ferry to Cozumel. If you pre-pay and book Cancun shuttle online before you leave, you can save 10%. They will have your private transportation waiting for you when you get outside the airport. The driver will hold a sign with your name on it. There are other less expensive land transportation options but since we had 4 people and lots of luggage, the private van worked out well for us. I booked round trip online in advance (discount for advanced booking) for $126.00.
Ferry: Ferry service from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel leaves every hour at the top of the hour from early in the morning until 11:00 PM at night. The cost is $12.00 per passenger each way. NOTICE: The ferry service consists of two separate private companies. I recommend that you DO NOT buy a round trip ticket. First, there is no discount for buying round-trip and second, you may want to go at a time when the competing company is providing the ferry service. Tickets purchased at one ferry company cannot be used at the other. I thought the UltraMar boats were the nicest. There are ferry employees available to assist with and check-in your luggage but you may need to ask for help. Insist on getting claim tickets for each piece of your luggage. On arrival, they are very good about matching up the claim tickets to luggage before allowing anyone to walk off with a bag.
Taxi to the hotel: El Cid La Ceiba is known as "La Ceiba" (La Say-bah) to the locals. I referenced "El Cid" to the taxi driver and he didn't know what I was talking about. When I said "El Cid La Ceiba", he said "Oh, La Ceiba!"
The taxi fare from the Ferry terminal in San Miguel to the hotel can run between $6.00 and $10.00 (including tip) depending on how many people are riding and the amount of luggage you have. We had 4 people and lots of luggage so it was $10.00. NOTE: Keep small denomination bills on-hand for the taxi drivers, $1's and $5's USD (or 20, 50 and 100 peso bills). It seems the taxi drivers may conveniently not have change for $20.00 USD or 200 peso bills thereby forcing you to offer up a 50-70% tip.
We arrived at the hotel late at 9:45 PM so we missed the normal hustle and bustle of the regular check in hour.
While checking in at the front desk, the bell-men were very attentive from the time we got out of the taxi helping with our luggage. Someone from the restaurant brought us some cold punch. Nice touch, especially after a long day of travel!
The actual check in experience was uneventful. The front desk clerk was efficient at providing our room keys and check in information. We were the only customers around at the time. We requested use of their "free" in room safe service as the sign at the front desk advertises. Unfortunately, the front desk clerk indicated that they were out of safe locks and they would put me on a list.
The Rooms and Unfortunate Security Experience:
When arrived at the hotel late. We were hungry after our long day of travel. The restaurant was closing at 10:30 so we had our bags delivered to our room and then we left immediately for the restaurant. We ate a light dinner and were back in our rooms by 11:00 PM. While we were out at the restaurant, our beds were turned down by the hotel staff. I noticed that my Tumi "man bag" that I usually carry around my neck while traveling had been moved slightly from where I left it. The bag contains my travel information, passport, credit cards, iPod and a large amount of cash. This is the one item that I usually immediately put in a room safe but I was unable to obtain a safe lock at check in. I had $110 in one pocket that consisted of 4 $20 bills, 30 $1 bills and another deeper pocket that had $1400.00 which is my "emergency travel cash." I am acutely aware of the contents of my bag and am certain that precisely $63.00 was stolen from the zipped upper pocket that contained the $110. I suspect the thief wanted to only take enough to go undetected or perhaps didn't take a look in the deeper pocket. I was not happy about this.
I reported the problem late Saturday night, approximately 90 minutes after check in. On Monday, I spoke with General Manager Salvador Sanchez to discuss what had occurred. He took care of the problem in a way satisfactory to me and promised to "investigate." Mr. Sanchez indicated that his employees were long term tenured employees and that he was surprised this had occurred. I was able to get a safe key the next morning and wanted to put this unpleasant experience behind me so I didn't follow up. This was not a wonderful way to start my vacation!
I had booked two 1 bedroom suites. We received one room in the tower and one room in the older low-rise "cabana" building. RECOMMENDATION: The low-rise units need refurbishment desperately. The furniture looks old and dated
and the bathrooms are very dark. The cabana rooms also have no elevator. Insist on staying in the tower. The next day we were able to move both rooms to the tower on the same floor so our family vacation would feel more like a family vacation. There is a significant distance between the cabana units and the tower. We were moved to suite 1730 (7th floor) which consists of rooms 1731, 1732 and 1733. This configuration makes for a 2 bedroom unit with living room and partial kitchen. The living space has a queen murphy bed that we did not use so it could have been a 3 bedroom suite.
The rooms and bathrooms are clean and reasonably lit in the tower units. The hotel indicates that the water is potable but when you fill up your sink, you will notice that the water is yellow-brown in color. I recommend buying bottled water at the Chedraui super market. You will be able to buy anything you need for your stay at this Wal-Mart like store.
The soft goods have seen their better days. The bath towels, presumably once white are now gray-ish in color and a bit worn out. I suspect this has to do with regular washing in the tinted water. The bed linens were low quality
but they were a nice crisp white. I'm guessing they send the sheets to an offsite laundry service. The bedcovers and throw pillows were nice at one time but they have started to pill and show wear and tear. Time for a refresh for sure. The maids provide very interesting and amazing towel creatures and sculpture every day. Nice and fun touch.
Each room has a private balcony. The views of the ocean were nice from my room(s). One of the several large cruise ship docks is right next to the resort. Two very large cruise ships dock each day except Sunday and they do block the view somewhat. They arrive between 8 and 9 AM and leave between 4:30 and 5:30 PM. Obviously, this is not something the resort can control and it didn't bother me as some others.
Things I really liked about the hotel: Reasonably clean with nice balconies. Excellent maid service.
Things I really didn't like about the room: Towels and other soft goods need refurbishment. The water should be clear. The fan in my room was off balance and slightly rusty so it made noise. The AC systems are controlled by remote control. The batteries in the controllers were dead in two of the rooms as well as the TV remote in my room. I took them to the front desk on two separate trips to have the batteries replaced. The maintenance folks should be taking care of these details, not the guests. Hot water was sometimes intermittent.
I really liked most of the resort staff. The maid that took care of our rooms was excellent. She worked very hard.
The bell men were top notch and always available to help with luggage, groceries or whatever. The waiters in the onsite restaurant were O.K.
The General Manager, Salvador Sanchez was very nice.
The front desk staff is horrible. Esperanza and Maria in particular are not very hospitable. Not hospitable is the perfect description for the front desk staff. Maybe I caught them on a bad day or in my case, multiple bad days. I was there 15 days and had several encounters with the front desk from getting batteries for dead remote controls to just asking basic questions. Not hospitable! Since El Cid Resorts is in the business of hospitality, this is something that they should improve immediately.
The Concierge (Agnes) that I spoke prior to arrival is not really a concierge at all. Her function is to offer discounted activities in exchange for taking the timeshare tour. Much like the folks she warned me to stay away from at the ferry dock! She was very nice AND hospitable. :) Do not expect any sophisticated concierge services however.
The resort has a young man on staff dedicated to various resort activities. Karaoke, movies, disco music and a managers night where General Manager Salvador Sanchez greets guests by the pool with complimentary drinks and snacks. Unfortunately, some of the activities are little inappropriate for a family oriented resort. Example: Balloon popping contest that simulates anal sex and lap dancing. Great for college students on spring break in Cancun, but not so good for my 65 year old parents. Most of the clientele staying at the resort while I was there was mature so they should really rethink the activities. I didn't see any activities for children.
The resort offers cruise ship passengers a $35 all inclusive day pass to use the resort facilities as well as all you can eat and drink (including alcohol) in the restaurant and pool area. After seeing how cruise passengers behave after the first couple of days, I avoided using the facilities during the "invasion" periods. My parents were clever and went out to the beach area before the cruise passengers arrived and rearranged the lounge furniture so they could have some modicum of privacy and peace and quiet. If it were not for the cruise passengers, I would have enjoyed the facilities more. The grounds are very nice. The rooms had nice balconies and I made use of them.
The resort offers free Wi-Fi internet in the lobby for your personal laptop. It worked intermittently during my stay. You will need to get the password from the front desk and have enough computer skills to configure the
network connection settings. You can also pay to use computers in the lobby for $2.00 US for 15 minutes.
I didn't use it but the resort has a nice Sauna.
There is a small store for snacks and beverages in the front of the resort.
Onsite Dive Shop:
It was nice to be able to walk downstairs and get on the dive boat. Very convenient. The onsite staff was courteous and friendly. The dive destinations are average and comparable to other diver operators in the area. If you are a diver with experience, I would recommend Aldora Divers in Cozumel. They go to the places ordinary dive operators do not. www.aldora.com.
Onsite Dining (La Chopa Restaurant):
Good and reasonably priced with fair service. It was never busy. My parents enjoyed the continental breakfast in the morning. The salsa is extraordinary. I liked the nachos. The frozen cocktails are not so good.
Other Dining in Cozumel:
Pancho's Backyard: Excellent for lunch and dinner. Service is top notch. Good margaritas! Very busy at lunch time.
La Mission (aka La Casa Mission): An interesting take on "mi casa es su casa." This is a large hacienda style home where the large patio has been converted in to an elegant dining area. The service is excellent The owner actually lives in the hacienda. This restaurant is off the beaten tourist path and is a must for anyone visiting Cozumel. Opens at 5:00 PM for dinner.
I recommend buying the "Cozumel Can-Do Travel Guide & Map." This was very helpful travel guide for just about everything in Cozumel AND it has a great map all in one. You can get it at Amazon.com for $7.95.
Cruise Ship Passengers:
Cozumel has two major things going on: Diving and up to 8 (or more) cruise ships per day. 8 cruise ships equal thousands of cruise ship passengers that flood the island and invade this resort in particular. The cruise ship dock is right next door. Sunday was truly a religious day for me. No cruise ships! Cozumel is building another large dock for MORE cruise ships. I know this sounds "stuck up" but the cruise ship industry has become very inexpensive and unfortunately so has the clientele. I learned the true meaning of the phrase "the ugly American." Since cruise ship passengers are only in Cozumel for the day, many leave their manners at home, or at least
on the ship. There was definitely some loud boorish behavior and it was embarrassing. While this kind of conduct is not directly the fault of the resort, the $35.00 all you can eat and DRINK does not help.
Great resort and destination if diving is your focus. Lock up anything valuable. Do not expect a luxury resort. Do NOT expect Wyndham Vacation Resort standards. I would recommend Playa del Carmen if you do not dive. I would go back to El Cid La Ceiba but only for one week at a time and only for a dive trip. Overall, I enjoyed my vacation. Good luck!
Excellent scuba diving with dive shop on premises.
Great shopping & restaurants nearby.