In 2009, I had a stellar year as a travel agent! As a reward for being the top selling agent at Easy Escapes Travel, I won a 3 night stay at any AMResort (Dreams, Secrets, or Zoetry brands). Zoetry Casa Del Mar had just opened in December, so I figured an agent needed to get down there ASAP to check out the latest in luxury all-inclusives. Who better than me, right? It’s only a 2 hour flight and I love small, intimate hotels. It turned out to be a wonderful trip, not to mention I escaped the worst weather Phoenix has seen in years!
(NOTE: This resort is no longer available)
Flights: I am NO fan of the flight offerings out of Phoenix, since I have had bad luck with USAirways. In typical USAirways fashion, they have let me down yet again. For some reason or another, the co-pilot failed to show up for work. So, at the last minute, they had to call up a reserve. What should have been a 2 hour layover in LAX turned into a dash to see if we could even make our connecting flight on United. We made it just as they were boarding, but our bag wasn’t so lucky. With the help of the wonderful staff at Casa Del Mar, our bag did arrive safely 24 hours later, but only after I was out $150 for two bathing suits and sunscreen (MAJOR REMINDER- pack some essentials in your carry on. I know to do this, but was too lazy to rearrange my bags. Big mistake!) The return flight was direct and went smoothly. I could have chosen to fly direct down there, but I couldn’t justify the $500+/person ticket for a 2 hour flight just to go non-stop. Lesson learned: pay the extra cash if you can afford it.
Transfers: For a mere $150, Zoetry offers private transfers to and from the airport. For a measly $63, you can have a shared van transfer through Grayline, which I reserved on the Easy Escapes Travel website through Viator. Grayline was on time and no fuss.
Endless Privileges: I know that when the concept of Endless Privileges was first introduced at Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, the hotel did not always follow through with the promised amenities. At Casa Del Mar, all of the privileges listed on the website were further explained to us at check-in. We mostly took advantage of the free 20 minute massage and upgraded for $80 per person to 50 minutes.
Hotel Grounds: I have stayed in some pretty amazing places in my time and experienced some of the most breathtaking views. Zoetry Casa Del Mar has such a view. It’s quite stunning, overlooking the beach, the Gulf, and the mountains in the distance. The grounds were not expansive, but were very well manicured and clean. The vegetation is abundant and it makes for a very romantic and scenic setting. I do wish the hotel was a little bit more spread out, though. The property seemed very crowded on our first day, even though there are only 45 suites. It did seem to thin out over the weekend and it was less bustling. I have been to resorts in Tahiti that were at capacity with over 100 rooms and felt like I was the only guest there.
Accommodations:I knew walking into Casa Del Mar that the hotel was not brand new. I read a few reviews that the rooms were disappointing because people expecting brand new accommodations or heavily renovated accommodations. From what I could tell, the rooms were slightly renovated, but they didn’t redo any of the tile work. I thought our ocean view suite in the main building was quite lovely. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was spacious. Our LCD TV had some sound and display issues, but we weren’t overly concerned with needing to watch Fox en Espanol. We really got good use out of our balcony, especially toward sunset. Like I mentioned above, the view was amazing! I cannot figure out which building houses the beachfront suites, as there are villas mixed in among the resort. If it’s where I think, the view would still be very lovely, but I really preferred having the room we had (Room 108, second floor).
Food/Beverage: If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you know I am not a foodie. I am picky, but not picky to the point where everything has to be 5 star – just my liquor. In my eyes, nothing beats pizza being delivered to the house! Anyway, I’ve been to a few all-inclusives in the past few years and I have to say that the food at Zoetry was awesome compared to my past experiences. We had zero complaints about our meals. We mainly ate lunch at the pool bar and dinners at the Beach Club Grill. The Beach Club Grill offered tables in the sand during evening hours, surrounded by lights and with a fire pit in the middle. It was so relaxing to sit and enjoy the sound of the water while digging your toes into the sand. It’s my opinion that there is no need to pay extra for a private romantic dinner on the beach because this set up was just perfect. We also ventured over to Dreams Los Cabos(a 3 minute shuttle ride down the road, paid for by the hotel. You are free to use the facilities there!) and had dinner at Portofino. That, too, was an excellent meal with superb service. We ate until we could eat no more. El Tapanco, the more upscale restaurant, seemed very lovely, but the dinner menu did not appeal to me. The cuisine was too “nouvelle” pour moi. Breakfast is served in El Tapanco, though, and that was delicious! As for the alcohol, they offer many of the top shelf brands, including my beloved Grey Goose. As with a lot of foreign destinations, they sometimes interpret cocktails differently than we do at home. For the most accurate recipes, visit Maguey’s Bar in the main building.
Spa: The Suenos Del Mar Spa is located on the second floor of the main building. The spa is very minimalist- nothing too fancy and the space is fairly small. We both enjoyed our massages very much and used the steam room and saunas in our respective locker rooms.
Beach: Casa Del Mar did not have any chairs or lounges set up on the beach, except for a row down by the Beach Club. I did not find this option very attractive, though, because local vendors would set up shop 10 feet from that row and stay there the entire day. They didn’t seem to pressure anyone, but at this caliber of a resort, there should be no pressure and you shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable (see below for further thoughts on this). At any rate, I hardly saw anyone spend any time of the beach and you cannot swim from the beach at this hotel due to the under currents.
Further thoughts: Two things I did not really like about Casa Del Mar: They allow children and they allow “timeshare” sales. First, the children- we only saw two older kids on the first day there. They were quiet as can be and did not cause a fuss. However, I feel that since AMResorts has an adults-only chain and this is supposed to outshine that, this should also be adults only. They do note on their website that there aren’t many amenities for kids, but in reality, most people do not pay attention to that and it could make for a very unhappy child during the vacation. Finally, the “Timeshares”- I put it in quotes because it’s not really timeshare sales, but rather a sales pitch for other resorts in the area. The group who offers the free breakfast and resort overview does not work for the hotel and it becomes apparent when you realize these people are not wearing the Casa Del Mar uniform. It is my opinion that a resort of this caliber should not allow this type of pressure or sales. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does Las Ventanas or Esperanza allow this? I don’t think their clientele would appreciate it! Could you imagine George Clooney being asked for 90 minutes of his time to learn more about the local Hilton?
Final Thoughts: Even though this wasn’t the most perfect vacation, we still had a wonderful time. The pros far outweigh the cons and I hope they continue to improve as they become more accustomed to the Zoetry chain. The staff really went out of their way to make our stay special and for that, we would gladly give them our business again. Plus, who can pass up endless Grey Goose martinis?