By Pierce Hoover
The Fiesta American Cozumel Resort is well known to divers, perched on the island's west coast just north of Chankanaab National Park, the twin seven-story wings of this upscale resort rise prominently above the surrounding jungle. The oceanfront dive center provides a convenient starting point for central and southern reefs, and a recent property-wide renovation has raised the bar on comfort, service and value.
A Good Choice
On a recent dive trip to Cozumel, photographer Walt Stearns and I chose Fiesta Americana Cozumel Resort as our base of operations. One of the attractions was the option to book a two-room suite, which gave us plenty of room to spread out camera gear and electronics, and provided more elbow room than dive buddies usually enjoy in a standard hotel. Families would also enjoy this option, while couples will be more than happy with the standard min suites, which feature the same spacious ocean-view balconies, mid-century modern hardwood furnishings, crisp white walls and premium bedding.
Since we were there to film, Walt and I spent most of our time either on the water or in the room reviewing images. Had this been a real vacation rather than a working vacation, there would have been time to enjoy some of the resort amenities such as the spa, steam room, fitness center and the social scene on the pool deck.
The hotel fronts the inland side of the coast road, which means you'll be walking through the open-air lobby and across the street to get to the Beach Club and three of the hotel's six dining options. But that's OK, since the dive shop is also located on the water side, and all gear is rinsed and stored in secure lockers at that facility. Divers have an easy morning routine, as they can either grab a coffee and pastry at the kiosk in the lobby or head to the beach club for a full buffet spread, which opens early to allow plenty of time to relax and nosh before the dive boat arrives.
After returning from morning two-tank dives, there's no need to rush back to the room, as the Beach Club area includes a pool, an open-air massage station, cabana day beds, over-water sun pads and plenty of space to spread out on the sandy area above the limestone shore. Steps lead down to a swimming and snorkeling area, and in addition to the buffet, there's a snack bar and seafood restaurant for casual waterfront lunches. Fiesta Americana's main pool deck is on the hotel side of the road, and that's the place to head for a post-dive libation at the lobby bar or the adjacent swim-up bar. When it is time to head back to the room, guests on the upper floors will appreciate the elevators. As a dinner-time alternative to another trip to the seaside buffet restaurant, Fiesta Americana has three a la carte restaurants serving Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisines.
The Dive Center
Fiesta Americana Cozumel Resort has partnered with Dive House, which is one of Cozumel's premier operators. We found the staff at the on-site facility to be both friendly and professional, and though small, the facility stocks a reasonable inventory of well-maintained rental equipment—just in case you need a spare or don't want to travel with your gear. Dive House is known for their Experienced Diver Program, which places divers on a five-boat fleet according to individual interests and experience levels. This practice allowed Walt and I joined a smaller group interested in holding a slower pace while shooting marine life.
As you would expect from a top-rated company, the Dive House boats are equipped with VHF radios, depth sounders, DAN oxygen units, first aid kits and life vests. The four larger boats, ranging from a 30-foot Island hopper to a 46-foot Sea Ray, also include camera racks, marine heads, freshwater showers and water-level dive platforms. Boat capacities range from eight to 26, but these higher capacities are reserved for groups. When carrying individual divers or buddy teams, the maximum number of divers per boat is limited to twelve. Dive House also offers a "Select Fast Boat" option, which for a modest upcharge gives individuals or groups of up to six their own boat.
A Value Proposition
Caradonna has partnered with Fiesta Americana Cozumel Resort to create attractive all-inclusive stay-and-dive packages. Since these rates include rooms, all meals, drinks, diving and even airport transfers, you end up getting a lot for your money—especially considering that this is a full-featured upscale property. Not to mention the diving services are among Cozumel's best. We were quite happy with our stay, and would not hesitate to book a return trip. To learn more and hear about current offers and specials, give the Caradonna a call at 800-330-6611or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.