We just returned from a week at the Sandos Playacar and had a really good time. Part of it must have been our low expectations after reading the mixed reviews. Let me start with a note on those:
There are so many reviews on TA that for any resort you'll find anything from lousy to great. As a result we used the 'recommended ratio' as one of our criteria making our choice. When you look at that number you notice it will be usually between the 60s and high 80s across resorts. As I'm writing that number stands at 82% for the Sandos Playacar. Meaning 18% of visitors didn't like it here. Even in the best rated resorts a good 10% of reviewers had an experience of 'average' or below. I was trying hard to figure out how people can get away from any of these resorts with an overall bad experience. My best guess is that based on the 5 stars which are sometime advertised people expect a Four Seasons experience for what's essentially the price of an upscale motel. As long us you don’t make that mistake chances are you'll be happy in almost any mid to high end Riviera Maya resort. As I go through my evaluation criteria I'll try give some perspective on the most common complaints.
This is the southernmost of a string of resorts in the Playacar (sort of a gated condo/resort community). This makes it the farthest from town but it's still only a 5-10 minute cab ride. Playacar resorts are sizeable and deeper than wide – in the case of the Sandos maybe 250 yards of beach front and 1000 yards deep. That makes it a 10 minute walk from the most inland rooms to the beach, about 6 minutes to the main bar and restaurants. This didn't bother us but it seemed to bother a lot of other reviewers. Maybe in the summer months you'll break a sweat moving around. The beach is great. I've read some complaints about the 'whales:' walk around them - problem solved (kids even like sitting on them).
We stayed in the Riviera section. Nice spacious and clean rooms. However, the other reviewers aren’t kidding about the hard beds. They are livable but did give me a bit of a backache in the morning.
No complaints, friendly staff. We tipped plenty though I don’t think it's expected.
Activities and Entertainment:
The high decibel entertainment team focuses mostly on the main pool. The crowed self selects into those who enjoy this and those – like us – who don't. Kind of a good thing, the former bunch up around the main pool and party, the latter stick to the smaller pools and the beach which are in fact very nice and peaceful, at least during the relatively off-peak pre Christmas week we spent there.
Time Share Issues and 'Elite Club:'
I don’t actually know much about this because we stayed away from the sales staff. They hang around the lobbies and introduce themselves as concierges, which can be mildly annoying if you don’t know and expect concierge services from them. We knew and it wasn't hard to keep them out of our hair. There are little roped-off areas - a small pool, a bar and a section of the beach – for the select/elite/timeshare/who-knows-what crowd. It didn’t look like the kind of thing I regretted not having access to. It's a bit silly but not to the point of a being nuisance.
The Kids club is great. Kids can stay there from 10am to 7:30pm or any portion thereof. The staff is competent, fluent in English and good with the kids. On busy days maybe a bit short handed (3 women for 16 kids on the peak day). This is one of the few resorts that will take 2 and 3 year olds in the kids club, but this only works if you have English or Spanish speaking kids who are used to day care type situations.
Seems like reviewers particularly disagree on this topic. It's obviously a matter of taste. We liked it, especially the buffet. There are plenty of good fruits, salads and vegetables. Ok meats (don’t go to any buffet and expect filet mignons). It was easy to eat healthy. You get an allowance of three reservations non-buffet restaurants for a week's stay. We only used two – following the reviews here we went to the French restaurant and the steak house. It was perfectly fine though not spectacular. We canceled our third reservation just because with kids buffets are actually easier than formal dining.
As mentioned above I find it hard to see how this could turn into a bitter experience. You may have to have some idea if what to expect and what to stay away from - depending on your preferences for example the time share staff or the main pool while there is entertainment. There are definitely many things to like about this resort and the neighboring ones for that matter. In any case, the four of us had a great time.
- Also Known As:
- Sandos Playacar
- Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
- Sandos Playacar Beach Hotel
- Sandos Playacar Beach
- Hotel Sandos Playacar Beach
- Beach Playacar Resort Sandos
- Sandos Playacar Resort
- Sandos Playa Del Carmen
- Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is an all-Inclusive hotel in Playa del Carmen with both family and adult sections. We are ideally located on a magnificent white sandy beach in the gated community of Playacar, within walking distance to downtown Playa and Fifth Avenue. Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is located only forty-five minutes from the Cancun International Airport, and the pier serving ferries to Cozumel is a short distance from our property.Playacar is a private, master-planned community situated on the southern edge of downtown Playa del Carmen. Guests at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa enjoy this exclusive community’s impressive infrastructure, including an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Von Hagge, the Xaman-Ha Aviary, pristine biking paths, and Mayan ruins, accessible to the public for hiking.Riviera Maya is a protected region where many remaining artifacts from the fascinating Mayan civilization can be found. Surrounded by Mayan archeological zones, such as those at Tulum, Coba, and Chicen-Itza, this Playa del Carmen hotel successfully preserves a strong sense of Mayan culture onsite, adding an authentic feel and flavor to the vacation experience in Playacar. ... more less
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