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Review of ÓLEO Cancun Playa – An Honest Review

Grade 3.8 out of 4 Stars 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Overview 

This boutique all-inclusive 4.5-star resort is located in the main hotel zone of Cancun. It’s part of the Atelier group of hotels. We found it interesting that they labeled themselves a 4.5-star resort as we weren’t aware that you could even get this grade, but needless to say it’s a solid 4-star resort in our books. 

With only 168 rooms in the resort, it does have a more boutique vibe compared to a lot of other resorts in the main hotel zone. The resort went through a complete renovation in 2018 and they did a great job at designing a minimalist luxury aesthetic throughout the resort.


Location 

Just a 15-minute drive from Cancun International airport. This resort is in the middle of all the action. There are quite a few things to do within walking distance and the main area of the town is a short bus ride away. There are also loads of excursions and golf opportunities very close by. What we really liked was that when we touched down at the airport within an hour we were through immigration and in the hotel, due to its close proximity to the airport. 


Top Tips 

  • Located right in the center of the hotel zone there isn’t any need to rent a car. There is a huge amount to see and do near the resort. With a few restaurants within walking distance. There is also a regular bus that runs on the mainroad in front of the resort. This will bring you directly into the main area of Cancun.
  • If you are looking to venture out of the resort for dinner one of the nights. There is a great option within walking distance. Navios is a Mexican seafood fusion restaurant that is perched on the waterfront with fantastic views of Nichupte Lagoon from its terrace. You have the option to dine on their pier which is really nice.  The food here is top class and it’s actually decent enough value for the output. The seafood platter and the Tuna carpaccio were our standout dishes. 
  • This is a dog friendly resort,  so if you want to travel with your pooch, this is the resort for you. There is a $50 surcharge if you are bringing your furry friend. When we visited we sadly didn’t see anyone with a pooch, but it’s nice to have the option. 
  • Checkout at the Óleo is at 12pm, but if you have a flight later on in the day. The staff will happily take you bags and you can enjoy the resort until you depart.  They also have a great offering called a “courtesy suite” which gives you access to a suite to shower and get ready for your onward travels. This suite needs to be booked with the concierge prior to the day you are leaving. 

Check-In

The team at the Óleo Cancun really thought through the check-in process. As you drive in there is a really impressive gold entranceway that gives off an art deco vibe. In the main lobby area where you check-in, there are stunning views of the ocean as you check in, so you really feel relaxed the second you walk through the doors. The check-in process was very swift, there were no long lines that you have at a lot of the bigger resorts.

From arriving at the door to being in our rooms the check-in process only took about 15 minutes.  The check-in staff was very detailed in explaining where everything was in the resort, the amenities that were on offer, and everything we needed to know about the resort, which we found very helpful.  

Like a lot of resorts these days, the Óleo offers a small wristband as your key. This is super convenient and we are a big fan of all-inclusive embracing technology to make your vacay smoother. 


Is this a Family Resort?

This is not an adults-only resort, but when we visited there weren’t a huge amount of kids throughout the resort. This is obviously a smaller hotel, so there are no kids sections like you get in a lot of resorts. There is a kids club, but the hours are pretty limited.  As a whole, we wouldn’t recommend going to the Óleo if you were planning on bringing the family. A better option is the Finest Playa Mujeres. You can see our review here……


Amenities 

The amenities here are actually pretty good for a resort located in the main hotel zone. With a tennis court, ping tables, gym, and a range of activities throughout the day and night. There is a decent amount of things to keep you occupied on your vacation. 

Pools 

This resort is on the smaller side and because it’s in the heart of the hotel zone. There aren’t going to be loads of pools and as many amenities as there are in resorts outside the hotel zone. The Óleo has one large pool that almost looks like two separate pools, but they are connected. For the size of the resort, this pool serves its purpose, but don’t expect to find a quiet corner where you can sit by the pool and read a book. 

Golf 

There is no golf course that is directly associated with this hotel, but there are a number of options in the area. There are four decent enough courses that are in the main area of Cancun.  The pick of the bunch is definitely the Iberostar Cancun Golf Club, which is just a 3-minute drive from the Óleo resort.

Gym 

The gym at the Óleo is quite small with a limited amount of equipment and space. In total there were only two treadmills, the machine weights were pretty limited and there was a free weights area that sufficed. Anytime we used the gym it was quite busy, so if you are looking to get a workout in while visiting we recommend going non-peak times. 


Beach 

The beach here is just ok.  As it’s located in the main hotel zone, we are not a huge fan of beaches in this area.  We find that the waters can be quite choppy, which means it is not the best area for a dip. We also found that the set-up on the beach wasn’t the most luxurious. In other all-inclusive resorts, they have beach cabanas and sun loungers, but at theÓleo they don’t have this beach set-up. It’s probably due to the fact that this beach is a lot more public, but it did slightly take away from the premium experience. 

The beach here is just ok.  As it’s located in the main hotel zone, we are not a huge fan of beaches in this area.  We find that the waters can be quite choppy, which means it is not the best area for a dip. We also found that the set-up on the beach wasn’t the most luxurious. In other all-inclusive resorts, they have beach cabanas and sun loungers, but at theÓleo they don’t have this beach set-up. It’s probably due to the fact that this beach is a lot more public, but it did slightly take away from the premium experience. 


Spa 

The Nuup spa is located in the resort and offers a full spa menu as well as a range of hydrotherapy pools. We had no issues booking a treatment when we went. Normally when going to all-inclusive we would recommend that you book the spa treatments before you travel, but at the Nuup you should be covered as the resort is smaller. 

If you book a treatment you are entitled to use the spa facilities which include a lovely outdoor infinity pool as well as a hydrotherapy circuit. You have the option to just use the facilities, which cost $15 for 80 minutes of access. 

We booked in for a Mayan massage which lasted 50 minutes and cost $120.  It was a mix of the different massages on offer (deep tissue, hot stones, sport, and relaxing massage) which was very relaxing. 


The Service  

From the housekeeping, restaurants staff, the entertainment team, and the bar staff they all provided top quality service. This was definitely the standout part of our stay. It was also one of the reasons why we specifically wanted to go to this resort. As it’s a smaller resort we really expected that personal touch and for the service to shine and it did just that. 

The waiters by the pool and beach were the best. Our signature order is a Pina Colada and Cerveza, after the second round the pool staff didn’t even need to ask and were down with refills the second our drinks were half full. There also felt like there was a high ratio of staff members to guests, which meant there was always someone on hand to help you out. 


Cleanliness

The resort was super clean throughout. We really found it quite difficult to come up with any callouts here. We didn’t really notice any dirt or rubbish throughout our stay. The housekeeping staff was very consistent in their timing and how they cleaned the rooms. The wait staff was also great at taking away empty glasses and plates as well as wiping down surfaces for each round of guests. 


Staying During COVID

The Óleo is part of the Atelier group of hotels and is advertised as having robust plans and protections in place for visitors traveling during Covid. The cleaning plan is very thorough and they seem to be taking every precaution necessary to make sure their resorts are safe environments. 

Where I think the Óleo’s Covid procedures are left a little wanting are their testing options and the lack of insurance available if you get Covid when on vacation. Most resorts are offering free antigen and PCR’s tests prior to departure.  At ​Óleo only the antigen tests are included. The PCR test comes at an additional cost. 

There was also no coverage related to room insurance if you do contract Covid while on Vacation and therefore cant travel back to your country. 


Tipping

When planning an all-inclusive trip you should definitely be baking in tips into the cost of the overall trip. Although most resorts do state that in the overall package that gratuities are included, you should plan for the additional cost. The service really was impeccable and the staff worked hard for tips, so it should be considered mandatory.

Typically when we visit all-inclusive resorts we tip $1 per drink and $5 – $10 per meal. That means if we are ordering multiple drinks we tip per drink, not per order. The staff are always extremely appreciative of the tips and as we mentioned the service you get at the Óleo is really top quality. 


Rooms

The rooms here are spacious and wonderfully designed.  When we visited we were staying in an Inspira Junior Suite.  As you walk into the room there is a lovely living area with a couch and a TV. You will be immediately struck by the wonderful view if you are in an oceanfront room. There is a king-sized bed and a well-sized bathroom.  

The one thing we were a little disappointed with was that these rooms don’t have balconies in them. So, although you had a wonderful view of the ocean you can’t really take it in too well without an outdoor seating area. 

The room offering at the Óleo is quite condensed which we at InspoVacay appreciate. There are effectively three types of rooms. The standard suite, junior and superior suite. 


What’s included in the all-inclusive package 

The majority of food, drinks, and amenities are included in your package. There are a few caveats, but by and large, most things you see will be included.  For example, If you want to order a specific bottle of wine at the restaurant, there is a surcharge for these. 

There was no mini-bar in the room when we visited, which we were a little disappointed with.  For a resort of this standard, we expected this as table stakes. 

The one thing that we didn’t really like was that in the coffee shop it wasn’t included in the price you pay. If you are staying in an Inspira suite there is a specific menu of drinks that are included from the coffee shop, but it is pretty limited. 


Dress Code

There is a dress code in place for a number of restaurants on the resort. It mainly applies to the specialty restaurants of Almar and Hakka; these were the only restaurants that guests seemed to dress up for. They describe these restaurants as being “Casual Elegance” which we were a little confused about what that actually is, but it was pretty casual when we got there and the staff didn’t seem to be very strict on the dress code when we visited. It was a nice occasion to put on your Sunday best though, even if it wasn’t needed. 


Food + Restaurant Options 

With three restaurant choices, it’s a fairly condensed offering at the Óleo Cancun.  With that, you would expect the quality of food to be higher than the larger scale resorts where they’re churning out significantly higher volumes of dishes. These expectations were met and the food here was pretty average. 

Ranking the Restaurants

  1. Almar

This is the fine dining style restaurant in the resort and is a Mediterranean-style offering. The views from the Almar are really stunning, so if you can go during the day for lunch or for an early dinner you get great views of the ocean and Sunset. 

This is a four-course meal where you have the choice of a Salad, soup, your main course, and dessert. As this is marketed as a fine dining restaurant the portions were pretty small, but the dishes were very tasty and of high quality. 

We ate here on two occasions and it was definitely our favorite restaurant on the resort. The Tuna and the Mahi Mahi were super fresh and tasty and we would highly recommend them. For dessert, they are known for their Mayan coffee. It’s a boozy coffee that involves fire, alcohol, and cream. Not only is it delicious, but it’s a nice show as well. 

This restaurant does require a booking, so make sure to book ahead before you go.  We did try and walk up one for the nights, but it was full. 

2. Azul (Buffet Restaurant)

The main restaurant in the resort. This is a buffet offering that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is actually the only restaurant in the resort where you can get breakfast, so you will be eating most of your meals here. What we really liked about this buffet was that each night for dinner they focused on a type of cuisine. As there was a limited choice of restaurants we found this was a really smart way of adding a bit of variety into the resort.

The range of choice at the buffet was really good, they had lovely fresh fruit, an omelette station for the morning, and a wealth of choices for dinner and lunch. The quality of the food was nothing to write home about, but we would rank it as a mid-range on the all-inclusive buffet scale. 

3. Hakka

This restaurant only does three seatings a night which means it can be quite difficult to get a booking for. Make sure that you book for later in the week once you arrive. This is the Asian-style restaurant that mixes the flavors of the east with local ingredients to make wonderful Asian fusion dishes. 

It’s a 7-course dining experience that is prepared by chef Antonio Chavez Encizo and his team. The quality of the dishes was good for an all-inclusive resort and although it wasn’t the fine dining 7-course extravaganza like it’s marketed to be, it’s a really strong restaurant with fresh ingredients and good execution of dishes.  

4. El Botanero Bar by the Pool 

This is a great spot for grabbing a bite during your day of relaxation by the pool. Located right next to the pool, it’s open from 11:30 am to 17:30 pm This spot serves up a range of comfort food.  From burgers, pizzas, and tacos to name a few. It’s the ideal spot to grab a quick and tasty lunch. 

What we really liked about this poolside grill that stood out from the standard poolside grill offering was that there were a number of fresh menu items that rotated in each day.  We had some really nice Ceviche one of the day as well as some beautifully cooked grilled snapper. 


Bars and Drinks Offering 

Similar to the restaurant setup, there were just a few options for bars in the resort. Honestly, the limited choice was never really an issue. The bars were never too busy and they all had a really decent selection of beers and liquors on offer. There were some premium offerings, like Bombay,  Absolut, and Johnny Walker Red Label, but there weren’t really any top-shelf options like Grey Goose or Johnny Walker Black on offer.

Similar to the restaurant setup, there were just a few options for bars in the resort. Honestly, the limited choice was never really an issue. The bars were never too busy and they all had a really decent selection of beers and liquors on offer. There were some premium offerings, like Bombay,  Absolut, and Johnny Walker Red Label, but there weren’t really any top-shelf options like Grey Goose or Johnny Walker Black on offer.


Is the Inspira Club Worth It? 

Based on our experience of staying in an Inspira room, we felt that the additional cost did not deliver enough value to make it worth it. Usually, for these club options, we find that the private beach and pool areas are the biggest draws. While there was a reserved area at the beach for Inspira guests, there was no such area at the pool, which we were a little disappointed in. 

There were two other benefits that were of any value.  First was the coffee options in the cafe.  If you are not an Inspira guest then all drinks at the coffee shop come at an additional cost. If you were in an Inspira room there was a specific menu of drinks that was included. Overall we didn’t like that the Coffee shop wasn’t part of the all-inclusive for everyone.

The early check-in was also a nice touch,  but overall the value just wasn’t there for us to warrant the extra cost if we were to visit again. 


Conclusion 

What we really liked about this resort is that because it’s on the smaller side. The service did feel a lot more personal. We did have expectations that the food would be on the higher scale for an all-inclusive. Based on the size of the resort, but sadly it didn’t meet our expectations. 

We felt that the resort was missing a few key components that take a stay from just good to great. It was mainly the little things for us. With no balcony in any of the rooms and the standard of food being ok, it is hard to warrant picking this as your vacation destination with so many strong offerings in the Cancun and Playa Mujeres area. 


FAQ’s

Q. Does the Óleo offer a shuttle service from the Airport 

A. Yes, a shuttle service from the airport can be requested. They do advise that you ring before your trip to check availability.

Q. Is parking available at the resort 

A. Yes, parking is available for guests and it is complimentary 

Q. Is Wi-Fi included

A. Yes, Wi-Fi is available to you in your suite as well as throughout the resort. 

Q. What local attractions are there?

A. Cancun has a lot to offer. We really recommend that you take in as much of the natural beauty and culture that this area of Mexico has to offer.  We highly recommend checking out Chichen Itza which is a two-hour drive away from the main area of Cancun. You will travel back in time and experience the way the Mayan people of Mexico lived.