Part of the Secrets brand, the elegant, all-inclusive Aura raises the bar for the south coast's string of swish beach properties. Four low-rise buildings face a meandering pool with separate areas linked by a lazy river. Swim-up suites have direct patio access to the ground-level pool, while third-story solarium suites have narrow rooftop lap pools. The design throughout the seven room categories is sleekly contemporary, with dark-wood furnishings and contrasting sea-blue textiles, flat-screen TVs, and iPod docks. The resort offers the ultimate all-inclusive service known to most Secrets properties in Mexico.
Aug 4, 2013
I just got married and my wife & I spent our honeymoon at Secrets Aura Aug 21-27, 2013. Here is my review of their resort— Arrival No one’s room is available when you first arrive! Our room was not available when we arrived and it seemed like all the arrivals we saw throughout the week had to wait for their room when they first arrived. I think it is a ploy to give the Secrets reps an opportunity approach people and try to sign them up
for the AM Resorts presentation (more below). Upon arrival, you also get $200 worth of “resort coupons”. I think the denominations break down like this- 3 x $40, 2 x $20, & 4 x $10. They can be used towards different items or services at the resort. $40 or $20 coupons can be used toward a 50 or 80 minute massage at the spa (no facials or beauty salon services) which range in price from $139-$179. Only one coupon can be used per massage so with one $40 coupon, that translates to $99-139. $60 of coupons can be applied toward payment of a resort ‘romantic dinner’. There are 2 Romantic Dinner options- on the beach for $269 or at the end of the pier for $329. The $10 coupons can be used towards bottles of wine; the wine starts at ~$40/bottle and only one coupon can be used per bottle. Room The room was nice; nothing extravagant. We loved the swim up patio, though it would have been more enjoyable in the evenings if there weren’t so many mosquitos. The ‘lazy river’ that runs past the patio doesn’t ‘flow’; it’s more like a canal that goes to the pool. It’s still nice but you’re not going to move except by your own effort. Suggestion- take your own Floaties (air mattress or inner tube). They don’t have any good floaties at the store at the resort. We got up early one morning and we didn’t have any hot water in the shower. We called the front desk and it was resolved quickly. They provide internet service via wireless routers. The WiFi in our room was very weak. We couldn't seem to maintain connection on our iPhones or laptop and had to reconnect several times a day anytime we wanted to use it. Restaurants The food was good. But there are only 3 restaurants at Secrets and the menus don’t change, though there are 3-4 items for each course on a menu. So after 4-5 days, you wish there was a little more variety. There are more restaurants next door at the sister property, Sunscape Sabor, but we heard the food was not that good. Bars The bars are good and will even make your drink with top shelf liquor though you have to ask for it. What I found ironic was that the servers never knew the drink of the day & would get a confused look when you asked for it. Tips Though we didn’t see very many people tipping (probably because it’s an all-inclusive resort), we liked tipping good servers. So, if you want to tip… take LOTS of $1 & $5 bills because the front desk never has change. Also the banks in Cozumel will not give you change and some stores in town don’t have change even when you’re buying something! Taxis The resort is 13 km (8 mi) from town and there is no shuttle from the resort to town. You have to take a taxi to Cozumel (or rent a car or scooter); the price is $15 to go to town (each way). Honeymoon package Since we were on our honeymoon, we received some perks. First, there was a banner on our door that said “Honeymoon”. We also received a complimentary bottle of champagne. Finally we received a complimentary ‘romantic turn down service’- they turned down our bed, put some rolled up towels on the bed in the shape of a heart, and put some tealight candles on the floor at the end of our bed. Mosquitos There are lots of mosquitos; not ‘swarms’ but enough that they immediately show up when the sun starts to go down. The resort sprays for them but it doesn’t kill them all, so take plenty of repellent. Services Room service was good. They have a standard ’40-minute delivery’ time but the food always arrived before that. The food is fine but the fact that the room service menu is different from the restaurants is what makes it really nice. Maid service is as expected though there is a large timeframe when your room will get serviced. It may be cleaned at 1pm or as late as 4:30pm so don’t expect it to be clean when you come in from the beach at 4. One day they did forget to leave fresh towels so we had to call for more towels once. Turn down service- Secrets has an evening turn down service however our room was turned down only 2 out of 6 nights we stayed there. Not a big deal per se except that the turn down service would leave the activity sheet for the next day so we didn’t have an activity sheet delivered to our room most of the week. In general, all of the service personnel are great- very friendly and typically quick to bring you your drink or meal. Beach The beach is Not a ‘sugar sand’ beach. The sand is not pure white and there are medium sized pieces in the sand, but it is not uncomfortable to walk on. In the water, there are rocks & coral so you can’t casually walk into the water without paying attention. If you’re careful, you can walk out without anything on your feet but I would suggest wearing water socks or booties of some sort. Water sports Dive Palancar provides the water sports for Secrets and has a small building on the beach between Secrets and Sunscape where they provide all the equipment for snorkeling (from beach), sea kayaking, and sailing. They provide free lessons for any of these activities at certain times of the day. They can also arrange other water activities for an additional cost including parasailing, waverunners, a snorkeling tour on Palancar Reef, or scuba diving. Spa/Gym There is a spa and gym located between Secrets and Sunscape. We had a couples massage at the spa and it was incredible. They have you arrive in your swimsuit. They provide a robe, slippers, and a locker to put any personal items. Before the massage, they have you spend 5-10 minutes in a sauna, 5-10 minutes in a steam room, and 10 minutes in a Jacuzzi to get you really relaxed. Then we shared a room where 2 masseuses gave us great massages. Afterwards, we sat on individual lounging couches and had some flavored water and a snack before leaving. It was the best couple’s massage we’ve ever had. The gym was pretty well stocked with weights, machines, and cardio apparatus- a little better than most nice hotels. Time shares WARNING: Cozumel is becoming over-commercialized and there are several companies that try to sell you timeshares at the airport. At the Secrets resort, there are no timeshare salesmen however there are Secrets reps that try to get you to listen to a presentation to sell you a membership to AM Resorts, the company that owns Secrets. In exchange for listening to a ’90-minute presentation’, you receive $250 worth of vouchers applicable to the spa. We listened to the presentation (which lasted about 2 hours) but it was worth it because the vouchers paid for most of the couple’s massage we had. We talked to other couples and found that the membership prices being presented ranged from $15-17K. If you don’t take that, then they offer another deal for $6000, then another deal for $300… We declined all their offers… and enjoyed our massages. Overall the resort was very nice and we enjoyed it immensely. None of the negative critiques would prevent us from going there again. I hope this review helps others be better prepared for their trip and set some expectations.
May 6, 2013
The resort was purchased by AM Resorts and converted to a Secrets Adult Only resort by the same name in December 2012. We visited in April 2013 Room: We were in room 1226, ocean view in the back corner, but did still have a nice view over the grounds and a little bit of the ocean. The deck had two wooden chairs and a table and was a good size with glass see through railings, we were on a corner so it felt very open. Because it was an end room we
were right next to a bunch of trees though were very loud mockingbirds would hang out, so bring ear plugs or they'll be waking you up at dawn and possibly keeping you up at night. Room was large with a couch and dining table with two comfy table-side chairs. It was clean, furniture in relatively good shape, white cushions on one of the table-side chairs had a couple stains on it but not surprised since they are white. Nice rain shower in the ceiling. For us there seemed o be plenty of storage space, but it's just located in various places rather than just one wardrobe or dresser. The bar was stocked with beer, soda, juice and water. There was a coffee maker, ice bucket and glasses. Food: Generally pretty good with some issues with consistency at times. Menu did get a little old, particularly at lunch after being there a whole week. Grouper was fantastic and my favorite dish of the week, my husband's was the French Toast. Favorite restaurant was Windows for experience with both food and service. Coco cafe, no gluten free options, but my hubby liked his sandwich and it looked like they had plenty of tasty sweet treats. Coffee is a good Costa Rica brand called Café Britt, but the barista still has some skills to learn about coffee making, the frappachino was far from starbucks quality, but had super thick whipped cream filling the top half of the very small 6oz cups. Drinks: Beer on tap is Dos Equis. Their house wine wasn't so great and only two options, a Mexican white table wine and a red by the same brand that was a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache. These were barely passable and only when drank with food. The wine list looked ok, but very over priced as an American Chardonnay (Hess) that usually ran about $10 in the US was $55 here. They actually didn't have a lot of the bottles on the list in stock as we had 3 of our choices rejected. The staff in Bordeax didn't have a clue about the wines either as when we asked for a recommendation to go with the Chateaubriand and the duck he recommended an Argentinean Chardonnay. I don't personally know anyone who would pay a lot of money for wine and want to pair their beef with a chardonnay. Best bet is to go with cocktails. Several creative options there even for me who doesn't know what to have and they list a drink of the day in the Sundial too. Try a tamarind daiquiri. Entertainment: During Saturday dinner a guitarist played on the beach with both an electric and acoustic guitar for various songs, lots of Santana, Eagles, Beatles, Metallica and other well known songs. It was very entertaining and romantic. Sky bar was supposed to have Karaoke tonight, but when we showed up it was energetic club music. Most of the folks who looked like they were there for Karaoke eventually left as no one wanted to change the current vibe by being the first one to sing. Staff could have again done a better job of encouraging guests to participate in the theme of the night as posted rather than derailing it, I bet you can guess who was running it... The bartender was working hard taking care of the numerous rounds of shots ordered by a couple of the groups up there, and I didn't really see him get tips from them much either. He's clearly a hard worker, and his drinks were good too. We also attended Country night up there and it was fun and people danced too. Didn't attend any of the entertainment at Sabor. Movie night occurred outside in Coco Plaza by the coffee shop twice a week. Pools: Front pool generally peaceful with a lazy river. The back pool was quieter the morning, which lasted until 11:30 when the 80's heavy metal music would start playing. This was where the party crowd mostly hung out. Pretty easy to get a lounger either by the pool or on the beach throughout the trip. There are many "Pool float hogs" who don't seem to understand the concept that if everyone freely shares the floats there wouldn't be a scarcity of them and that when they put them aside either at their chairs or on their swim-out decks it creates a scarcity mentality around the resort, please don't be one of these people. Activities: I had previously heard that activities are not well attended, but now I understand that that might be in large part due to the fact that Luis, one of the activities guys who runs many of them is very good at trying to avoid working. Several times throughout the week when there was no one where one of the activities were scheduled to be at the time on the schedule in the Sundial, we went to the front desk and they were usually surprised to hear that, made some calls and then Luis would finally show up. It was very apparent that he doesn't take his job seriously, luckily that isn't true for most of the staff at Aura. On our last day we managed to find people to play beach volleyball on our own and luckily we had brought our own ball as the resort ball was no where to be seen that day on the court. One of our favorite was an activity to go bicycling. No one else showed so we had our own free guided bike tour to El Cedral, the town in the middle of the southern part of the island, with Ivan. The bikes were in good condition, but were only single speed mountain bikes without shocks and didn't have any water bottle holders, so bring a pack you can take water in. They provided helmets and orange safety vests. Biking felt very safe, but I am used to riding on the road. The trip took about 25-30 minutes one way and we spent some time taking photos around El Cedral. Ivan was friendly and we enjoyed riding with him. We also enjoyed the yoga classes, they had an experienced instructor from California there for the week we were there, Yoga Elaine, and she was fantastic. Snorkeling or diving is a must, while out front of the resort is convenient, it had less to see than one of the boat trips and the waves often churned up the sand so visibility was poor. Do it on a calm day. Touring the island by car rental was a good alternative to booking a tour for us that wouldn't cover all we wanted to see. The onsite rental company is Fiesta and they were helpful, friendly, and trustworthy. We got the comprehensive insurance so that we wouldn't have to deal with any hassles though. A note about the resort coupons and the "Time Share/Vacation Club" sales people. First of all we didn't realize that our package booked through Cheap Caribbean even came with them although when booking this trip I did see those offers at certain websites for $400 in resort coupons. They are broken up into small usable amounts (max $40 off a massage at one time, but three of those, max $10 off wine at a time, and 4 of those). It's clear they help sell services that you might not buy anyway since the prices are nearing ridiculous. Turns out the lady who provides them to you is with VIP services, if you miss her on check in she leaves you a note in your hotel door telling you to come down and pick them up, so we did. The VIP services is their Vacation Club Promoter. She tries to get you to agree to sit down with one of their representatives in order to get other free stuff while she's giving you the coupons. She's a pretty good sales person too, knows how to find angles around any barriers or reasons you say your not interested. For some people this could be a good deal to sit through this in exchange for car rental, snorkel trips, or other tour discounts, but we despise sales calls and would rather pay cash value. Sunsets were generally fabulous, and you can't go wrong watching the from the beach or one of the beach-side restaurants. The view of the pier and water with the sunset makes for even better photographs. Weather can be cloudy, windy and rainy at times, so bring a light jacket/sweater/shawl and an umbrella. Overall, despite some of the fine tuning the resort needs, we had a great time at Secrets Aura! If you would like to read an even longer more detailed report about my trip including more info about restaurants/food, island tour and snorkeling, you can read that here in a day by day format: http://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-central-america/secrets-aura-cozumel.cfm