El Dorado Renovation on Track

Hotel on the Riviera Maya sees first stage completed

By: Lisa Jennings

The first phase of a $9.5 million renovation of the El Dorado Royale on the Riviera Maya was completed last month with the addition of a new main building housing the lobby, restaurants, shops and meeting space.

The renovation aims to bring what was a four-star property up to what would be described as a “six-star level,” said Lubo Krstajic, executive vice president of Karisma Hotels & Resorts, which took over operation of the Royale in 2002. Karisma, which operates eight resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, also owns in the Riviera Maya the El Dorado Resort, currently undergoing a $4 million upgrade, and the adjacent Hidden Beach nudist resort.

With the addition of the new building, the El Dorado Royale has added new restaurants with terraces overlooking the ocean and indoor and outdoor seating. The new lobby also includes a lobby bar, and space for a commercial center that will house shops and art galleries.

The resort has also added four large rooms of meeting space, with a separate kitchen for catered events.

In addition to the 44 ocean-front rooms, the El Dorado Royale has added 22 higher-end casita suites with balconies overlooking the ocean. By June, small rivers will be added to the property to allow guests to “swim up” to their casitas.

Nearby at the El Dorado Resort, Karisma is refurbishing the 135 guest suites to create more of a “boutique” feel, said Krstajic, who expects renovations to be finished by Nov. 1.

“The resort will be more intimate,” he said.

Both of the El Dorado properties are all-inclusive, but Krstajic said service has been raised to a new level. Guests, for example, will be able to make special requests perhaps for an extra fee such as private dinners on the beach with their choice of live music.

All rooms at the El Dorado Resort are oceanfront suites with private Jacuzzis. And because of the growing popularity of nudist vacations, the El Dorado Resort will have a “Naked Week” May 1-8.

Karisma is looking to expand the nudist concept to properties in Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta, but Krstajic said the right property a 40- to 60-room hotel on a beach hasn’t yet been found.

“This concept doesn’t work in big hotels,” he said.

Karisma is in the final stages of purchasing another property in the Riviera Maya, but Krstajic said he wasn’t ready to announce the exact location. It will not, however, be a nudist resort, he said.