UPDATE 2023: This property is now being operated as the Sunscape Akumal Beach Resort & Spa by the Hyatt Group and some things will have changed. But if you’d like to learn more about our experience on the property and its location, read on.
“There’s another one!” I heard someone on the beach exclaim, as I stuck my snorkelled head back into the water, searching now for not two, but three stingrays that had been spotted just offshore. Sure enough, there it was, another ray gracefully skimming the ocean floor just meters away from a fishing boat anchored in water that was barely chest-deep. Following it through my underwater camera’s display as Henk and I swam behind it, I couldn’t believe that I had seen a trio of these underwater creatures for the first time, mere meters offshore from the Grand Oasis Tulum resort where we were staying. Despite the resort’s tagline as ‘an oasis of calm’, I was about as excited as a novice snorkeller could get!
Surprises in Store at the Grand Oasis Tulum
When tripcentral.ca invited Henk and I to visit couple of Oasis resorts in Mexico, I did a little research beforehand and read that the Grand Oasis Tulum on the Mayan Riviera offered some pretty decent snorkelling right off their beach. But I certainly wasn’t expecting to see stingrays. Nor was I expecting to see needlefish, schools of tangs (yes, I ‘found Dory’ many times here!), striped angelfish and schools of swirling minnows.
It turns out that snorkelling wasn’t the only way in which the Grand Oasis Tulum resort exceeded my expectations: the entire experience that Henk and I had here was one of understated luxury, especially as guests of the Sian Ka’an Club, a premium category available at this and 2 other Oasis properties. Like our previous experience at the Grand Oasis Sens in Cancun, being a Sian Ka’an guest meant a few extra perks, and because the Tulum resort was a much more intimate one in terms of size, the service here felt that much more personal.
Low-Rise, Low-Key and Luxurious at Grand Oasis Tulum
Unlike some of the higher-density hotels in Cancun, the Grand Oasis Tulum is a low-rise property in lush green jungle set back from the highway, so it feels a little more expansive than many of the resorts farther north. In fact, right from the drive in, everything feels a little more laid-back. The rooms and facilities here are laid out so that each of the room categories have their own area: the budget-friendly Tulum Lite rooms are set back from the beach behind the other two sections of the resort; the Grand Oasis category rooms are located in multi-unit buildings with green gardens throughout, plenty of family-friendly pools and activities; and the Sian Ka’an side of the resort has its own very sleek, modern aesthetic with adult-only pools, lounges and even a private beach area.
Sian Ka’an Club Perks
Henk and I were guests in the Sian Ka’an Club, which because of the sectioned layout of the property immediately felt like its own resort, with a dedicated reception area for guests to check in and the kind of personalized service that would set the tone for our stay.
After a smooth check-in and with welcome drinks in hand, Henk and I headed to our room, where as soon as we opened the door we were immediately impressed with the room’s decor and amenities.
From the generous size of the room itself, to its huge closets, enormous dual-sinked washroom area, and comfy, king-sized bed, we couldn’t have asked for more space or more comforts.
But more there was: a beautiful terrace that felt like our own private mini-resort with a plunge pool, 2-tiered deck with loungers and chairs, and even a partial view of the ocean.
With the special welcoming touches that the Sian Ka’an club is known for, Henk and I were torn between taking advantage of our gorgeous room, or immediately exploring more of the resort….but explore we did.
Champagne Lounge, Terrace and.. Strawberries!
Just down the hallway from our room we found the second-floor Champagne Lounge, one of the Sian Ka’an exclusive bars that serves premium drinks and complimentary snacks to guests.
Better still, steps from the bar through floor-to-ceiling glass doors was a large outdoor terrace where guests could enjoy the sun on a canopied deck laid out with comfortable loungers, Bali Beds, and even plunge pools if you want to cool off.
Henk and I couldn’t resist spending a little time here, especially after I spotted chocolate-covered strawberries and truffles in the lounge.
And with a name like “Champagne Lounge”, it seemed like bubbly was the only way to go!
“Grownup” Pools and an Adult Beach
The Champagne Lounge’s terrace may offer great views of the ocean and other temptations, but there are also 3 adult-only pools in the Sian Ka’an section of the resort where you can relax and enjoy the sun in – or out – of the water. There’s even a lap pool that boasts one of my favourite features, a swim-up bar!
This swim-up bar is also the closest one to the beach, making it very convenient if you want to grab a cocktail to take back to your lounger, which Henk and I did a few times in between our snorkelling adventures.
The Beach at Grand Oasis Tulum
Beach lovers who want to feel nothing but sand between their toes either in or out of the water might be a little disappointed with some of the Mayan Riviera beaches, as the stretch of Mexico’s coastline close to Tulum can be known for its rocky shoreline. Fortunately, at the Grand Oasis Tulum location there is plenty of soft sand for lounging on the beach and there are rock-free spots directly in front of the resort that provide easy access for swimming. There are, however, patches of coral as you go farther out, so you might want to watch where you place your feet.
TIP: Bring swim shoes with you if you are concerned about coral or rocks.
If you like to walk the beach, go right and there’s a good stretch of sand where you can stretch your muscles; go left and the shoreline gets rockier, but here the resort has built its own private pier where guests can book massages for two from the on-site Sensoria Spa, where any stress you might have will disappear with the sound of the waves lapping below.
Swim or Snorkel Safely with a Protected Beach
If you’re an experienced scuba diver who’s been to the Great Barrier Reef, the snorkelling just offshore from the Grand Oasis resort will seem more like an appetizer than an entrée. But if you are a novice like me who is still taking baby steps when it comes to underwater exploration, the beach here was a great place to practice my snorkelling, because every time I put my face in the water even in the shallows, there was no shortage of fish to see.
One of the reasons for this might be that there is a reef about a mile offshore in front of the resort which attracts fish to the area. This natural breakwater also means that the water is very calm, and ideal for swimming and water sports. We even saw guests paddleboarding whereas farther down the beach from our resort, the surf was considerably rougher and this would have been too difficult.
TIP: Paddleboards and kayaks are available from outfitters on the beach, and the first half hour of use is free for guests of the Grand Oasis Tulum resort. There are also snorkelling excursions that take you further offshore to the reef.
Bars and Restaurants
When I’m staying at an all-inclusive resort, variety and quality of restaurants is very important, and since the Grand Oasis Tulum has 12 restaurants (and 11 bars), there was a good selection to choose from.
On our first night at the resort, Henk and I dined at Careyes restaurant, which serves French-Mexican cuisine and is exclusive to Sian Ka’an guests. But I think our favourite restaurant on the resort might have been Cocoa, where we enjoyed melt-in-your-mouth beef entrees, seafood and delectable desserts. As an added bonus, because it was shoulder season we had the restaurant practically to ourselves.
Cocoa also offers an alternative to the self-serve buffet if you prefer an à la carte breakfast or lunch during the day, which Henk and I took full advantage of during our stay.
TIP: Even as a Sian Ka’an Club guest, it’s important to reserve restaurants in advance, especially during high season, so be sure to ask how and when you can make reservations.
When it comes to bars, as Sian Ka’an guests Henk and I had a few additional options as well, including the Martini Piano Bar that serves premium liquor and that definitely lived up to its name (I had a Grey Goose vodka martini served in a unique chiller-glass-combo that kept it deliciously ice-cold from start to finish).
Grand Oasis Tulum after dark
Guests who come to the Grand Oasis Tulum come for the romantic, relaxed atmosphere and slower pace that the resort provides, so you won’t find any tequila-fuelled dance parties happening here into the wee hours. But there are a few things to do in the evenings before you open that bottle of complimentary wine in your room: if you like a little piano music to accompany your cocktails, definitely check out the Martini Piano Bar after the sun goes down; or you can catch a show at the resort’s on-site theatre, where there is a different performance every night that ranges from music tributes to acrobatics.
Henk and I saw a performance where dancers ‘painted with light’, using illuminated costumes and accessories to create stunning visual effects on the dark stage. I’d say the audience was impressed, based on the number of photos and videos being shot (ourselves included).
If you do decide to make it an early night, do yourself a favour, and make it an early morning the next day as well – because the sunrise here at Grand Oasis Tulum is well worth getting up before dawn.
Henk and I both woke up early on our last day here so we could catch the sky as it was brightening, and we were rewarded with an absolutely gorgeous sunrise with only the sound of birds disturbing the silence. Not even a breeze disturbed the palm trees on the beach, as we caught their reflection perfectly mirrored in the pool.
What to Expect at Grand Oasis Tulum? an Oasis of Calm.
Even after only a short stay here, I could see why the Grand Oasis Tulum resort is described as an “Oasis of Calm” and why so many people come back year after year. Its slow pace and relaxed luxury left both Henk and I feeling like we had been on a much longer vacation, while at the same time wishing we could have even more time – to snorkel in warm, calm waters, to capture more spectacular sunrises, and maybe to indulge in a few more strawberries!
And while I can’t promise every visitor that you’ll see 3 stingrays when you come here, I can promise you that as a Sian Ka’an guest, you’ll experience one of the best Oasis properties in Mexico.Special thanks to tripcentral.ca and Oasis Hotels & Resorts, who hosted our stay in Mexico.
Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established GrownupTravels.com in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.