When I think of Mexico, I think of pristine white sand beaches, freshwater cenotes, incredible cuisine, ancient ruins and rhythmic nightlife. Now imagine enjoying all these offerings from a single resort company.
Last week, I had the privilege of joining Emily Spadafora, Sandos BDM for Western Canada along with 11 travel advisors on a Sandos FAM to explore three very different properties.
Here is my take on how to find the right Sandos fit for your clients.
Not A ‘Cookie Cutter’ Resort
Sandos Hotels and Resorts is an attractive and affordable option for adults, families, groups and multi-generational travellers.
“One thing that stands out is that Sandos is not “cookie cutter”, each hotel provides a unique vibe and distinctive character with elements sprinkled in to support their individuality,” Emily Spadafora explained. “Our guests at Sandos are multinational. It’s beautiful to see the diversity in our hotels, from Canada, USA, South America, Central America & Europe. Every demographic too, couples, young families, mature families, multigenerational families, retired couples – depending on the experience people are looking for while on vacation, we have a hotel that likely fits the bill.”
During our visit to Sandos Playacar, Sandos Caracol, and Sandos Cancun, we discovered that each of the properties has a distinct personality, yet they share a common thread of being unassuming with a focus on delivering excellent customer service.
If your clients are looking for a family vacation spot with options for adults-only, weddings or multi-generational groups, I would describe Sandos Playacar as being playful yet mature. The property is divided into three distinct sections. The Select Club Adults Only is closest to the beach with its own dedicated section, adults-only pools with pool bars and plenty of loungers, it features two Premium Clubs with concierge services, a premium bar and snacks.
The Haciendas are like a home-away-from-home, tucked in the heart of the property with tons of privacy and lush greenery. There are 16 buildings in total, each with its own pool and shared among the complex of 6-8 private rooms. And finally, the Riviera Family Section is comprised of 300 rooms, king and queen junior suites with garden or pool views. Families can enjoy the infinity pool and aqua park together or make new friends at the kids and teen clubs, while the parents relax in the spa. There’s something for everyone.
The property has a central ‘Meeting Point’, as it’s referred to, which features several restaurants, bars, games area, gym, spa and the main entertainment stage. On the topic of entertainment, we were truly impressed by the exceptional talent on the stage, especially in Sandos' latest show, a tribute to Whitney Houston. The performance wasn't just visually stunning, featuring images of the late pop singer, but the vocalist flawlessly hit all the high notes, leaving us in awe.
Staying at the eco-friendly Sandos Caracol was a treat for all the senses. This resort is set in a lush rainforest home to wild animals like monkeys and coati (they are lemurs but similar to a raccoon), beautiful blue cenotes and mangroves, an animal sanctuary and ancient Mayan ruins, perfect for connecting with nature and your inner self.
There are Mayan ruins right on site and the resort offers a special experience known as the "Xcalacoco Experience," where guests can explore and learn about the Mayan culture. This interactive program includes traditional Mayan rituals, workshops, and guided tours of the ruins.
With the humidity at close to 40 degrees Celsius, a few of us took a quick dip in the cenote located just steps from the main lobby, but if your client's family prefers a waterpark, then Caracol is the place for them. Boasting 29 water slides, the Aqua Park is the largest of the three properties and is situated adjacent to the Eco-family accommodations. Bikes are available to grab and go and even segways for an additional fee.
The final stop on our Sandos tour was in the Cancun hotel zone. Sandos Cancun is situated right on the powder white sand beaches the area is known for. With it’s tag line “live the rhythm experience”, this property has a totally different vibe, with luxurious velvet chairs in the lounge and DJs pumping music at the three-level infinity pool - obviously targeting a different audience than the jungles of Caracol.
It’s a much smaller hotel, with only 213 rooms, but the accommodations are spacious and offer many room categories to choose from. My room in particular had a lagoon and ocean view, the best of both worlds!
Of all the Sandos properties, here our palettes were treated to incredible meals. We feasted on an Italian dinner, prepared by head chef Antonio, who not only curated a delicious menu but executed it with style and picture-worthy flair. For some agents, it left them wanting more and asking for recipes to try at home. If your client’s focus is on cuisine, this property offered an elevated level.
After several days of being on the go, we saved the best for last - a trip to the spa. Sandos Cancun has a tranquil spa just off the pool area, where you can indulge in treatments ranging from facials to body scrubs or massage. We were guided through a hydrotherapy circuit from steam to sauna and cold plunge pools, to bubbling Jacuzzis. It was truly relaxing and enjoyable for all, not to mention the sparkling wine served at the end.
Something I’ve observed touring the three resorts was that Sandos takes a humble approach to their conservation efforts and community support. They do not boast about their contribution, even when they implemented environmental practices years before it became the ‘popular’ thing to do. By incorporating solar panels to their buildings, or exchanging large air conditioning units for individual ones in each room, they help to conserve energy.
When it comes to water preservation and single-use plastics, Sandos resorts in Mexico, including Los Cabos, installed a filtered water receptacle in each room, and on the dispenser a sign reads ‘By using this jug, we save the equivalent of 32 plastic bottles and we’ve reduced our CO2 emissions by 1,354kg’.
When asked about what Sandos offers in the way of conservation and community efforts, Spadafora says, “We partner with Pack for a Purpose, where guests can bring items like books, clothing and school supplies for youth that we distribute locally. We support 13 communities by hosting them to sell their crafts and treats on-site at our properties at no charge and taking no proceeds from the sales. Finally, all four hotels are on natural turtle migration paths, we assist with the preservation of migration during each nesting season, making sure the eggs and babies get the best chance for survival.”
Each time I travel to Cancun and Riviera Maya I learn something new. It was a pleasure to explore these three diverse properties and to share them with amazing travel industry partners.
If you’d like to learn more about Sandos Hotels & Resorts, through the SMART Agents program, you can register at https://sandossmartagents.com/ for online training. Keep in mind that for every 7-night booking you make, you receive one complimentary night stay at Sandos and all you have to do is register your bookings in the portal.
Travel advisor impressions from the FAM:
“The staff are so kind and I’m always greeted with an Hola, and a smile. It feels like they genuinely enjoy working here.” - Nicole Vandal, Expedia Cruises, Prince George
“Fams are great opportunities to experience a product you sell, increasing your knowledge beyond the brochure & website. I've stayed at Sandos Playacar, but sold all 3 properties and now I can better qualify my clients for the best fit of the three.” - Ken Stewart, Crowfoot Travel Solutions, Calgary AB
“Sandos Caracol is such a unique resort. It’s a huge resort, but there are plenty of signs to help you find your way. However, Sandos Cancun is my favourite of the three resorts we stayed at. It’s smaller and more my size. The food is far superior here and the beach is beautiful.” - Diane Kowal, Expedia Cruises, Edmonton AB
“This fam has given me a totally new perspective on what these properties offer. All are so different but have lots of unique selling points for certain clients. Not every place is perfect for everyone and this fam helps to make sure we have the right client in the right place for a great vacation.” - Cathy Matieshin, Artistic Travel in Calgary AB
“The Caracol is very lush and the resort is spread out so even though it's busy you wouldn’t notice that they’re at capacity. I originally was going to recommend the Playacar to my client and her family, but having seen this resort, I think this might be a better fit, with the room size and all the kid's amenities.” - Natasha Botbijl, CEO at Experientialist, Calgary AB