It seems as if the management has been listening to the complaints on TripAdvisor and many of the things noted in the one-star posts appear to have been resolved. The only real problem we found was that service at the restaurants was inconsistent.
Arrival and the sales pitch: We arrived at 11pm so our personal “concierge” was not there. We were told that we should definitely meet them the next morning at 7am. Instead, we arranged everything through the concierge right next to check-in desk, the real resort concierge, and they were always professional, very friendly, and helpful. None of the restaurants require reservations and all activities/tours can be scheduled through the resort concierge. The sales concierge called once, leaving a voice message, but we ignored it and they never bothered us again. (We did notice lots of families painfully sitting through their “introduction” by the sales staff as they checked into the hotel during the day. It may be rude, but perhaps they should’ve just walked away?)
Facilities and staff: The grounds, facilities and rooms are well maintained and clean. As opposed to one of the one-star reviewers, the cleaners even left towel elephants and swans on our bed. Lots of chairs around the pools means there was no need to rush out to throw a towel on one to reserve it. The staff, with the few exceptions of wait staff mentioned below, were great. Everybody seemed to work hard to make sure your needs were met and that you were having a good time. A member of the ground maintenance staff, seeing me try to break a coconut for my wife that I had found on the ground, came back with a fresh coconut and machete and sliced it open for her to taste. When we noted the staff eating from a buffet around the corner in one of the restaurants the manager told us that is was more traditional Mexican food, prepared for the staff, but there was no reason he could see that we couldn’t help ourselves to it if we would like. We didn’t as we didn’t want to intrude, but the offer was spontaneous and generous.
Activities and cenotes: The activities were varied and the activity staff was consistently great. I would strongly recommend the kayaking and snorkeling tours in the short river in the nature preserve and the off-road Segway (costs $20 per person). The Segway tour also shows you the best place to view raccoon-like cioti along the service road beside the hotel. A large family of coati hang around the road waiting for handouts from the staff.
Don’t ignore the cenotes. We explored and swam in a number of them. We never saw anybody else and the water was crystal clear and rejuvenating.
The marina with a short snorkeling trip and a longer catamaran cruise opened for the first time while we were there. We didn’t have the opportunity to do either of these but the gentleman running these tours was very friendly and I wish him the best.
Beach: The beach, as many have noted, isn’t really for swimming and isn’t the beautiful blue color you will find at Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. There is a pier extending into the sea which is nice to walk in the morning. We spotted gar, jellyfish, a stingray, and some small tropical fish.
There is a small lagoon where the rivers flow into the sea that is quite beautiful on the north side of the property. The water is clear and you can see some fresh water fish and crabs. In general, however, plan on swimming in the pools and cenotes while wading through the lagoon or along the beach.
Restaurants: The restaurants generally opened 15-30 minutes after their scheduled times (this seemed to be the status quo at most of the facilities as well as the beach / lobby activities, although the bike, kayak and Segway tours started on time). In addition, the hotel guide book in the room was dated, and some of the information pertaining to which days select restaurants were closed was incorrect.
At the El Alebrije, the Mexican haute cuisine restaurant open only for dinner, we waited for 30 minutes before receiving the drinks we had ordered and only two other tables had patrons so it wasn’t due to excess business. The food was decent. This restaurant may be difficult to find although you can see it directly above the lobby. There is an elevator just to the right of the sales concierges which provides direct access. Alternatively, you can enter through an unmarked door on the second floor.
We had a great dinner at Kotori, the Asian fusion, dinner-only restaurant. Our waiter, Alejandro, did a very nice job and the food was very good.
The Hacienda Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and was, in my opinion, one of the better restaurants. Luis, our waiter in the evening, was very quick and efficient. Given that we ate here the evening after eating at the El Alebrije we were very happy to have a great server.
Pizzeria Il Forno offers pizzas and calzones near the pools in the afternoon. The brick-oven pizzas are light and tasty. Wait staff from around the pools can deliver anything from the Hacienda Grill or Pizzeria Il Forno to you at the pool. The pool wait staff was inconsistent, often disappearing for long lengths of time. We generally tipped a dollar or two with every delivery and this please our pool waiter greatly and we had great service whenever we were in his section.
Porto Bella, the night-only Italian restaurant, somewhat hidden behind some bushes in front of the hotel was our worst experience. Our waiter, Julio, could’ve been replaced by a plastic plant and we probably wouldn’t have noticed a difference. Struggled to get somebody to take our drink order, drinks were never refilled, plates were never cleared away between courses. The food wasn’t bad but didn’t really excite us either.
Some of the wait staff rotates through the restaurants, so I cannot be sure if the El Alebrije and Porto Bella are consistently inferior or if we were just unlucky.
The Casa Las Islas breakfast buffet was consistent with other resorts we’ve stayed in around the world. We had amazingly bad and rude service by Ernesto and had to complain to the manager, Carlos, who apologized only after my wife took his name and stated she would report both of them to the manager of the hotel. When we returned the next day, Carlos must’ve realized we didn’t report him and we again had bad service from Ernesto. Needless to say, after that we sat in a different server’s section each day and had excellent service from the other staff. I especially liked the lady running the eggs/omelet station in the morning. She couldn’t speak much English but always had a smile and a great attitude. It’s unfortunate I can’t remember her name.
Room service was efficient and very good. The portions served, however, are somewhat small so you must plan for this when ordering.
Overall, I found the Hacienda to be a very relaxing place to visit. If you are looking for a partying scene, or an area with lots of college aged guests, it is not the place for you. If you are looking for a good place for family with varied outdoor activities, or simply a place to kick back and enjoy yourself, I believe you will be very satisfied at the Hacienda.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.