My family and I were looking for a good value vacation over the Christmas and New Year school holidays. Our goals were:
*Something family friendly
*Must accommodate a family of 5 (easier said than done)
*Good flight times
*A reasonable budget (again easier said than done during peak holiday times)
*My husband also insisted that it must have a kids waterpark
My mission was clear, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to find something that fit all of our needs. I will be the first to admit I am quite spoiled when it comes to hotels. I have stayed at some of the nicest resorts and my expectations are quite high. I knew I may have to lower my expectations a bit for this holiday.
After looking at options for a few weeks, I came across a great price with Westjet Vacations to Ixtapa, staying at the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico. I hadn’t been to Ixtapa before and I love trying something new, so that was one point in favour. The price was right, it accommodated a family of 5 in guaranteed connecting rooms and the hotel had a newer waterpark for kids. It seemed to check off all of our boxes. The only thing I wasn’t sure of, was whether it would meet my higher standards.
I have stayed at a few Secrets resorts in the past, which are part of the AM resort chain that also owns the Sunscape Resorts. Where Secrets are their higher end, adults only resorts; Sunscape is their family friendly, good value brand. There was some peace of mind, being familiar with the AM chain and the quality they bring. We decided to give it a try and talked a few friends and family into joining us.
Prior to travelling, I carefully looked through reviews, the hotel website, other social media posts and blogs about this resort. I wanted to be well prepared and go with realistic expectations of food, service, facilities, etc. I always find it’s good to arrive with realistic/lower expectations and be pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a family friendly property with ok food, service and rooms and I’m happy to report my expectations were exceeded in most areas. Here is more information on the good, the bad and the ugly for the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico.
*The rooms were very clean and the views of the ocean were amazing. The extra space we had with two connecting rooms was very welcome for a family of 5. We had 2 double beds in one room, 1 king in the other, 2 balconies and 2 full bathrooms. The housekeepers work very hard here and are deserving of some extra tips!
*The entire hotel was very well maintained and very clean. The public bathrooms were kept cleaner at the Sunscape than some other 5 star hotels I have stayed at. This is important to anyone with little kids who touch everything!
*The beach in front of the hotel is very long. The Sunscape is in the middle and you can easily walk 20-30 minutes in either direction on a flat, wide beach with nice sand.
*The kids waterpark was very functional with lots of little slides and spray features. The kids loved it – all the kids (aged 4-11).
*The food pleasantly surprised me. Where it might be lacking in the number of options available, there was always food we enjoyed and some meals I would even rate as very good. All of us loved the food truck with burgers, hot dogs, nachos and pizza. It was a great option for lunch or late afternoon snacks and very easy and relaxed. They had three outdoor buffet/entertainment nights (80’s band one night, Mexican Fiesta night, Carnival night). The first two had very good Buffet options and lots for the kids to choose from as well. We skipped the Mexican A la Carte as it was rarely open and had no kids menu. The Italian a la carte is adults only, so also got a miss. We tried the Bluewater Grill for dinner twice. The first time it was exceptional in both food and service, the second time was just ok, but still enjoyable.
*Smaller hotel and never any waits at the buffet and no reservations needed at any of the restaurants
*The gym was small, but clean and had good equipment
*Complimentary bicycle tours twice a day
*The staff overall were excellent. We needed our safe opened and our connecting doors unlocked and maintenance was very quick to come up. We needed a doctor called for my daughter, who had an ear infection, and the doctor was in our room in less than an hour thanks to the hotel operator. The restaurant staff was very good.
*The service around the pool for drinks was spotty. The servers that were there were good, but there were not enough of them. We often had to go to the bar to get our own drinks.
*The waterpark was only open 11am-6pm. It would have been nice if it opened by 10am. We were usually in the pool by 9 or 930am.
*The rooms could use a refresh with newer beds and patio furniture.
*The rooms were showing wear – some rust spots on the mirrors and nicks in the furniture, etc
*Front desk staff were a bit slow and never seemed to have English daily activity schedules printed. There was always a wait to talk to someone.
*The main buffet is small. There were always options that we liked and the ladies cooking up eggs and French toast and pancakes in the mornings were great, but it was a very small selection for a buffet.
*The food at the Carnival buffet night with entertainment was a miss. Of the three events they had, the food this night wasn’t anywhere near as good as the other two nights…take a pass and go to the a la cartes that night.
*The kids club could use more activities for the older kids. It was good for the younger ones, but the 9 and 11 year old had very little that appealed to them at the kids club and the teen club is only for 13 and older (video games and other options there for teenagers). There was a trampoline clinic and a rock climbing wall, but there was never any staff working at those activities.
*The pillows were terrible and very lumpy. If you are a picky pillow person, you should bring your own.
*The resort at night was very loud. While it was nice to have live music options in the lobby and at the outdoor Starlight Lounge, the music was VERY loud and went until around 12am-2am, depending on the night. If anyone is a light sleeper, you would definitely want to bring ear plugs. Even with all the doors closed and the A/C on, it felt like the entertainment was right outside your door.
Overall, the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico is a very good value, family friendly resort and if you go with those expectations, I think you will enjoy your stay very much. We did and we would definitely consider returning in the future.
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