We stayed at the RH from 12 Aug – 31 Aug 2010, our eleventh summer in a row. Each year we stay for about three weeks, so I consider myself something of an RH expert. Every year I say how can it get any better, but it does. I am just blown away! There is not much more I can add to the previous posts. They are all mostly correct, but I will attempt to clarify and explain the changes this year, as well as the impact of the present economic crisis on RH.
I want to stress that the state of the hotel is season dependent. More guests mean more and different services. We were in low season, so take this review with that in mind.
Just found out (30 Nov 2010) that all rooms have been approved by corporate for TV upgrades to 37” LCD flat screens! There are other electronic upgrades going in, as well, and am eager to see this happen.
There are 11 villas on the property (200 rooms) capable of housing an average of 400 guests. During our stay this year, the number of registered guests averaged 60-80 and were located in the front four villas closest to the ocean. Another “smart thing” that RH is famous for. Why keep all villas opened with a concierge in each with maid service, if only 80 people occupy the property?
I love the small resort concept. Been to the mega resorts and they are just too impersonal and crowded. At Royal Hideaway, it’s personal. They make it a point to remember your name and strive to make your experience a memorable one. Need or want something? Just ask…
All restaurants are enclosed and air conditioned except for “The Grill” (it’s the pool snack bar…”The Deck” during the day. They spiff it up at night).
Due to the low occupancy, RH did another “smart thing”. They had only two of their restaurants opened per night. While we were there, Las Ventana’s, their signature restaurant, was almost always opened, and they rotated the second restaurant every night through their remaining five. Most guests stay at RH at least a week, so you would be able to eat in all of the restaurants before you left.
For breakfast, only Spices (the Mexican restaurant) was opened. It is the only restaurant that is buffet style with omelets made to order. When occupancy is up, Las Ventana’s is also opened for breakfast (order off a menu). We preferred Spices for breakfast with more choices and a beautiful beach/ocean view.
For lunch, we had a choice of two restaurants; “The Deck” (the pool snack bar) located on the wooden deck by the infinity pool and right by the beach. If you prefer, they also have inside seating. “Spices” Mexican restaurant, upstairs from “The Deck”, was our other option. We normally alternated days between “Spices” and “The Deck” for lunch. Spices was air conditioned and was a nice break from the hot summer sun, and the menu was extensive and creative. They had the best soups and salads on the property at lunch. But make sure you are dry and covered up when you dine.
Our awards this year for the best restaurants? Here they are;
Most romantic; Palazzo’s Italian
Most interesting menu; Las Ventana’s
Most fun; Azia’s (Teppanyaki table). Note; the Teppanyaki chef, Romi Rodriguez, was the best I have ever seen here in 11 years!
No overall winner again this year, as the food was always excellent and each had its particular charm and strong points.
Here’s a little secret. If you know they have ingredients for something you crave, but is not on a menu, ask them if they can prepare it. I like BLTs. I asked, and it appeared. Something more complicated that may take more time to prepare? Get a manager at the restaurant and explain what you want. And if you don’t like the sizes of the portions you get, ask them to double it, or reduce it. They want to make you happy and will do everything in their power to see it happens. Just be nice, patient and respectful and make sure your request is properly understood. Sometimes they appear to understand, but it loses in the translation. YOU are a guest in THEIR country. Play nice…’nough said.
Now the really good part! If you are a foodie, you will do this. Las Ventanas has something called “The Chef’s Table”.
This will cost extra; $150 per person, or $200 with wine pairings. The menu is custom prepared and changes each time it is done. Have requests, or don’t really care for something? Communicate. They will do whatever you want and will work with you. Let them know ahead of time.
WOW! Just WOW! The beach has been reclaimed! I’ve been coming here for 11 years, and I have never seen the beach so deep as this! Just gorgeous! No giant sand bags, no interference with the view. You can get help with a cabana for two to protect you from the sun and a couple of lounge chairs right on the water’s edge. Oh…worried about food and drink issues so far from the pool snack bar? Not to worry! Pick up a black flag (ask your pool waiter) on the way out to your “spot”. Waiters regularly service this area. Want something? Put the black flag up. They’ll be there!
TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP?
We have been asked about tipping at RH numerous times. I understand the property is at the upper end of the price scale and tipping may be the last thing on your mind. What we do, is tip the maid, concierges, the pool and dinner waiters, and the entertainment. The amount isn’t important. The tip is important, because it shows your appreciation for what they do. Do what you can afford, but do. The maids are working behind the scenes but their tasks are the most time consuming, so we are more generous with them. That is our take on the tipping, and it is appreciated. What you do is up to you, and you will get the same service if you tip or not. In 11 years, I’ve seen tipping guests and non-tipping guests, all are given the RH treatment. Follow your heart in this matter.
Here’s a few links I think you’ll like;
Live cam, Royal Hideaway. Not a very good picture, but you get an idea…
Here’s Royal Hideaway’s Facebook page. “Like it” and scroll down until you come to my video and picture posts; a day by day photo essay for 20 days…
SECRETS OF RH
I posted this last year (the secrets of RH), but I think it is well worth repeating, because you may have missed that post.
1) Make your own happy hour in the early evening outside on the lower deck at the end of Spices Mexican restaurant facing the ocean on the padded wicker chairs. Very quiet and romantic. Watch the sunset. Get beverages from the pool bar area and take up with you. Waiter service not usually available there. Champagne is a nice touch…We go when Spices or The Grill is open, then you can get beverages. Nice breeze, nice view, always quiet and secluded. You newly marrieds would love it. DO THIS.
2) Did you know they have “tea time” here? It’s from 4-6 pm every afternoon at the front of the property, just before you walk out the front. I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, right…tea time”. Do it. They have several flaming Mexican coffees that they prepare before your eyes, a sax player plays, the champagne flows, the finger sandwiches are eaten…whatever you want. Not just tea…nice break from lying around by the pool or beach. Just sit down at a table. The waiter will bring everything to you. No need to serve yourself.
3) Two desserts you must try. Are they in any of the restaurants? No. Only in room service. Order these; Opera cake and Tres Leches (three milk cake). We liked the Opera cake the best. Another good thing from room service? Their chicken soup. Wings are good, too. Want those for lunch? Ask for them at The Deck or call room service and have them delivered there, they’ll magically appear! You can order room service at The Deck at lunch if you want something from them, which is not on The Deck menu. Ask your waiter or manager.
4) Bring mosquito repellent for the porches, tea time, the Grill and Allegria bar. You will be happy you did.
5) Get an insulated mug for your cold beer or beverage. I suggest a Starbucks stainless steel insulated mug or similar. They are all over, but get a stainless steel insulated one. You won’t regret it. It’s hot, and drinks get hot very quickly. A MUST! I’m serious! DO IT... You won’t regret it! (They just built a Starbucks across the street to the left in the strip mall at the very end. Yummmm…).
6) Spices has the coldest beer on the property.
7) Have a special request for your in-room refrigerator? Tell them how you want it set up. Like all water, no sodas, just particular kind of sodas, beers (what kind do you want? I liked Leon)…ask them for the selections. They have many American beers, as well as Mexican and ?
8) All rooms have free wireless internet. They have a business center with 4 computers, but they sometimes get crowded. Bring your laptop. Then you can download pixs and vids to it and share on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
9) Want to call back home but are stressed because of the cost? Like $1 plus per minute for cell phone calls? Install Skype on your laptop. If someone else has Skype, you can talk for free. If you have a webcam, you can talk and see for free with a Skype user. If the party you want to call doesn’t have Skype, signup for Skype Unlimited Country for $5.95 a month. You can cancel when you get back home. It will only cost you $5.95 for your entire vacation, unlimited calling. Can’t beat that! I do that every year. Here’s the link;
10) Can’t get that pool umbrella up by the pool? Ask the pool concierge or any other staff and they will do it for you. Note; Cynthia is the BEST pool concierge EVER!
11) Night life at the RH is seriously lacking, I know. Want it? Take a $6 cab ride to town (Playa del Carmen), including tip, and hit 5th Avenue. You’ll find what you want…
12) What are those large guinea pigs called running around the property at dusk and dawn? These are called sereque. They are protected by the Mexican government, but, I hear, are quite tasty….
We already made return reservations while we were down there. Many of the first time guests said that they were returning as well, because of the service, the attention to detail and the ambience. Hope to see you August 2011. I’ll bring the chicken, La Guardia Vida “Pepita” to save anyone in the Infinity Pool, if need be. She is always on duty 10 am until Tea Time at 3 pm. God bless and hurry down. This is very relaxing, awesome experience. Enjoy!
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