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“Very good service - beware of resort credit game” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Playacar Palace

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Playacar Palace
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Bahia del Espiritu Santo | Esq. Abraira de Arriva, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico   |  
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Special Offer
$1500 Resort Credit
Ranked #13 of 204 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
53 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Very good service - beware of resort credit game”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2011

We stayed at the resort with a group of friends to celebrate milestone birthdays. I was told the resort was more expensive than “Adventura Cove Palace” due to its close location to Fifth Avenue shopping area. It is also close to Banco Santander ATM (on Av Benito Juarez, between 20 and 25 Av Sur). With Bank of America ATM, I can withdraw MXM (Mexican Peso) with no fee. The exchange rate is the best, USD1 = MXM 14.09 (November 24, 2011). Bus station is 5-minute walk from the resort. The closest Starbucks is at Paseo del Carmen, only 3-minute away on foot. Airport transfer from cancun-cab.com was good and on time. It costs USD45 per person round trip. However, according to the taxi fares displayed at Playacar Palace, it costs only MXM 520 (about USD 37) for one way airport transfer. This rate is per car, not per person. The resort architecture is minimalist (like the name says, the design is simple and minimal). It is not as grand as I thought after reading other reviews. If you want a luxurious resort with manicured garden and elegant landscaping, go to Westin Resort in Bali (see my previous review of Westin Resort in Nusa Dua, Bali).

Restaurants
=========================
There are two a-la-carte restaurants: Italian “La Terraza” and Asian “Mo Mo No Hana”, and one buffet “Café del Mar”. We dined at the Italian and Asian restaurants. The menu choices are fancy but the food is so-so. I think only the fried lomien is not bad. Similar to the grand buffet in Las Vegas, Café del Mar has more than 50 buffet items to choose for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Before you travel, lose some lbs. first, so you won’t feel guilty at the buffet. Ask the waiter to “mix” Mayan coffee in front of your table. Mayan coffee is a mix of liquor, vanilla ice cream, coffee and flame. It is best to share this 500+ calories dessert. Ask for Styrofoam boxes and fill them with food – for picnic, eat by the pool or even take it to the airport for in-flight meal (since most airlines do not provide complimentary meal).

Rooms
=========================
Our room rate was $318 per night and we received $1,500 resort credit with 5 night stay in the Deluxe room. When we checked in, they could not upgrade our room. They said the room upgrade was based on availability. On the third day, I asked again about the room upgrade. The key here is PERSISTANCE. Finally, they let us upgrade to Suite on the ground floor using the resort credit ($140 upgrade fee per night). Later I was told by the room service that the suite has actually been empty since we checked in. Of course, suite is much better than deluxe. It has separate living room, two TVs, two fridges, liquor dispensers in 3 cabinets. You can host a private party at the extra-large veranda that can easily fit 8 guests or more.

Tours
=========================
I recommend taking Chichen Itza tour using the resort credit. It is a long trip, but worth every penny. If you want to buy souvenirs, do not buy from the shop that the tour agent brings you. For the best price, buy from the vendors at Chichen Itza. There are numerous (800+) vendors around Chichen Itza selling mostly the same stuff. Practice your haggling skill with them. It is always a good idea to carry MXM (Mexican Peso). As a general rule, if the price is in USD, you should pay in USD, not MXM. In my experience, the vendor offered the product in USD, but when I was about to pay, they converted the price to MXM with poor exchange rate (worse than big banks). Do your math.

Before the trip, I did some research about the full day tour to Tulum organized by Palace resort. This tour is accompanied with lunch and snorkel in Xel-Há. As I found out, they omitted Xel-Há for cost-cutting reason. So, basically you spend couple hours in Tulum, then they drop to at Adventura Cove Palace for lunch and 2 hour afternoon free-and-easy. If I have known that the itinerary was changed, I would not take the tour.

Lobster Dinner
=========================
One way to cash out the resort credit quickly is to have a lobster dinner. Don’t faint - the price is $159 per person. Our group had the lobster dinner together accompanied by $195 champagne. Here is menu: Seahourse - juicy clam scallops served with tuna fish tartar on a delicious puff pastry (entrée), Real Cream Soup – a delightful combination of asparagus cream soup and crunchy masago fish eggs in lime vinaigrette (soup), Sunset – an exquisite Angus Beef fillet perfumed with Port and garnished with lobster tail served in beuree meunier au Cointreau and Napoleon style vegetables (main course), Chocolate Delicacy – a fine combination of soft chocolate and strawberry mousse in a crunchy basquet flavored with sambucca (dessert). Without doubt, the dinner was excellent, but is it worth $159? So far, the best dinner in my life was at Al Iwan restaurant, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE (see my previous review of Burj al Arab in Dubai, UAE). If I rate it 10, then the lobster dinner at Playacar Palace is 6. Ironically, the lobster dinner costs 50% more (food at Burj al Arab was about $100, drinks extra).

Conclusion
=========================
Location is the main reason that we stay at Playa del Carmen Palace. It is close to shopping area, ATM and the ferry to Cozumel. All-inclusive experience at Palace resort is superb, especially if you like to drink (liquor dispenser is available in the room). Restaurant and bar staff is very nice and friendly but front desk staff is reluctant to upgrade the room, unless you are persistent. The idea that I stay in Playa del Carmen and I can enjoy the amenities in other Palace resorts, e.g.: Cozumel Palace, is delightful. At home, before you arrive at the hotel, think carefully what you are going to do with the resort credits. Certain tours are not scheduled every day, so plan ahead. For the best value of your stay, you need to simply utilize the entire resort credit. Our resort credits were used up for tour, spa, lobster dinner, photo, and room upgrade.

Duty Fee Shop, Cancun airport
=========================
Several liquors at the duty free shop are cheaper than Pennsylvania. Prices are in USD. Beware that if you pay with Amex, the price is converted to MXM. Don’t forget the foreign transaction fees charged by the credit card companies. But I think it is still cheaper to buy. Liquor-filled chocolates are overpriced.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
10 Thank gaby_pa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,218 reviews from our community

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pa.
Level Contributor
48 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2011

My wife and I and 2 children stayed here from Nov. 20-27 2012 and overall were very pleased with our stay.Here are the details with 1 star being the worst and 5 star the best.....The rooms.... 3.5 stars,good toiletries, average condition but very clean and everything worked well which I can't say for most places we've stayed, we thought the beds were very comfortable. The beach... 5 stars.... beautiful sand and water ,very swimmable....beach amenities ... 3 stars ,not enough beach chairs and definitely not enough beach umbrellas,we counted 9 total most days for over 200 guests..also be prepared to be seated like sardines as the chairs are tightly situated right aside of each other and if you attempt to move them anywhere closer to the water or away from the others you will be reprimanded for it as they like you close together and not near the water??? never encountered this before in mexico but we were able to look past it. Food ..3.5 stars,would have given a 4 but my daughter got food poisoning and spent 1 1-2 days with repeated vomiting and uncontrolled diahrrea,not a pleasant experience and definitely not for her.When we notified the manager , he assured us it was not from their food ,...okay my daughter was well for 363 and 1/2 days this year but miraculously got violently ill here ??? Oh well ,we didn't let it ruin our stay. The room service was exceptional and fast, very well done.The shows...3 stars. some good, some a little hokey, the Mayan show was best...Service... 5 stars+ and well deserved, these people from the maintenance to the servers and everyone in between made it a point to show you they appreciated you and wanted you to return ,it was the best overall service of anywhere we 've stayed in 6 trips to Mexico , these are some very dear people,lots of smiles and holas and ALL seemed very pleasant. The location is great and though we payed the most for this of all our stays in Mexico we still felt we got probably the most overall value here and though we have vowed to keep trying different resorts, this is one I would definitely consider staying at again someday.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank deanroc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ontario
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2011

Background

My husband and I travel South to all inclusives about 3 times a year. In the past 4 or 5 years we have limited the resorts to Adults only. With few exceptions, we try to stay at 4.5 or 5 star resorts in Mexico or DR. Last month, we along with about 30 guests attended a family wedding at Playacar Palace. For this travel reason, we stayed at a non Adult only hotel. Not too many kids, except for the Thanksgiving weekend when there were quite a few, and typically hanging at the swim up bar and taking over water sports in the pool. Oh well..

In General

We very much enjoyed our stay. The first impression, after a quick check in and a short walk taking us to the large terrace overlooking the pool and ocean, is wow! Minimalist design. No landscaping but very attractive. We booked an ordinary room which was very nice with a great ocean view. The resort is spotless. The food and drinks are better than average, consistently. We didn't see much of the entertainment, but what we did see was simple production. I would say the majority of guests are upscale and in a wide range of ages.

Food and Beverage

The Italian chef who is up and about among guests frequently, has things together. The a la carte menu selection at both restaurants is better than at most all inclusives and well prepared and presented. The buffet is plentiful but I would say on the small side, likely because of the popularity of the 2 a la carte restaurants and the small size of the hotel. There's a barbecue pool-side about every other day or so. Every meal I ate, whether a snack by the pool, a 5 course meal, room service or buffet was excellent. My compliments to chef Massimilliano.

The drinks were consistently prepared with popular brand name liquors if that's what you ordered. There was no shortage. The house wine was hit and miss. The upgraded wine selection is extensive. If you don't see it on the wine list, ask the head waiter/ sommelier who is always more than happy to get it for you. Pool and beach side drinking cups are 10 oz washable plastic glasses as opposed to the large plastic hurricane glasses I've used at other resorts.

Pool and Beach

The pool was very warm and clean. Lots of chairs, even in shade if that's your pleasure. The beach was one of the best I've seen. It's extremely wide and you could walk it forever too. A variety of very good music most of the day. Entertainers kept guests busy with beach and pool volley ball, water polo, aquacise and various pool games.

Credits

Having been to Secrets Resorts and so having used their credit/point system, I wasn't really excited about the 2000 credits assigned to us. The difference between Secrets credits and Palace credits is that you don't have to spend money in order to use the credits. There is no "catch". We used it for golf - round, cart, transportation, beverages, food - all included in the credit for $150. We paid nothing and there were no limits. We had 3 massages all for free - The spa is limited to $400 in credits but that's the only limited area. The point is the credits are truly like cash. I think it made a difference in our vacation.

Service

Impeccable, very eager to help with anything, friendly, not attached to whether or not you tipped. In fact, the service was so good everywhere you wanted to tip, and tip often. I've never seen a pool bar even a swim up bar without customers waiting for their drink. You simply never, never waited. The pool and beach servers were providing new drinks before your old drink was finished - consistently. The hotel, from my perspective, did a very good job with the wedding which included the after ceremony cocktail reception, dinner and dancing in a privater terrace area in front of the ocean.

Having said all that and including my raving about the consistent service, I will mention one dinner at the Asian restaurant which was bizarro. Everything good we experienced about the service was reversed. It was so disastrous that after the initial annoyance phase passed it became and continued to be hilarious right up to receiving another table's soup while I was eating my entree. The manager eventually took over our table. I think the poor waiter was so frustrated, he just made things worse with time.

All in all, a beautiful, well managed resort. Be prepared that it is not only small in the number of rooms, restaurants and bars but also it is very compact with no green spaces. You would enjoy instead very nice, but cemented terraces.

No problem to contact me if you need more information.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
21 Thank MCobsessed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MA-USA
Level Contributor
47 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2011

This resort is on the BEST stretch of beach in the area. Also, very close to everything. no cab needed!! Very safe area.
Rooms are great, food is great. Nice restaurants. As I stated above, the rating is very good. The only aspect I did not love was the lobby and check in area. Kind of open air, not much air conditioning. I was dripping sweat as I checked in. The other aspect was some staff could have been more professional and or accommodating.

But, that being said I will go back.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Joe D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nelson, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2011

Smaller than most and low key, we chose it based on prior experience with Palace, proximity to the shopping area of Playa del Carmen, and the ferry dock to Cozumel. Although our agent said we could use resort credits to upgrade our room, our daily requests were turned down by front desk manager, always claiming "we are very full". The empty bars, beach cots, and tables in restaurants disputed that; I would generously give it about 2/3 occupied.

Good points were the cleanliness, upbeat and friendly attitude of the serving staff, and - due to low occupancy I would think - availability of good tables in restaurants and beach cots. Food was quite good but not a lot of variety. The daily buffet became a little boring after three days, and the theme restaurants (Italian..sort of, and Asian...sort of) were just OK. We used $350 of credits for the Romantic Beach Dinner of lobster and champagne on our last night there, and would only recommend it if, like us, you had a slug of credits which would otherwise go unused.

There was construction/repair going on, but they started up at a reasonable hour and quit early, so we were never disturbed by it. On the beach or out touring.

A big plus for us was the proximity to the extensive Playa del Carmen 5th Avenue shopping district. We have stayed at some of those huge but isolated resorts, and really enjoyed being able to enjoy a change of scene and some local color with just a very short walk.

We really enjoyed the tours to the Mayan ruins at Coba and at Chichen Itza, both "free" using hotel credits. Book early for these, as you will be riding a smaller bus or van to shuttle to a larger Palace resort to join the full-size bus. Coba will use up most of your day, Chichen Itza will take from 0800 to 1900, but is worth it - it's been deemed one of the seven modern wonders of the world along with the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, etc. (A big thank-you to Cristina of the customer service crew, who acted fast to help us get on the Coba tour after we booked late!)

Stay there again? Well, we like to move around and try different places and areas, but it would be high on our list, and I would easily recommend it to those who don't need the full 5-Star experience, but like the things I have pointed out here as positives.

Room Tip: Try to get on 3rd, 4th or 5th floors overlooking pool, with a room numbered from 335-339, 435-439, e...
See more room tips
  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank OldbikerBC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Danville VA
Level Contributor
24 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2011

This was a "girls" getaway for much needed r&r. This Palace is low keyed and very quaint. It is a great place for couples or someone wanted a layed back atmosphere. The mexican market is beside this resort and was great to get out and walk around. The ferry to Cozumel is, also, beside this resort! Food very good!

Room Tip: Always book an oceaview or oceanfront room for the other views are of the parking lot!
See more room tips
  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank travel56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Hyde Park, NY
Level Contributor
36 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2011

We just returned from the Playacar Palace and were amazed by the service, amenities and staff ! When they say all-inclusive they are not kidding...from the fantastic meals to the fully stocked mini-bars in the rooms...everything exceeded our expectations. Everyone connected with this property was super friendly, efficient and accommodating. Especially Vaney in the breakfast dining room. She greeted me very morning with a smile and hola while making omelets, waffles, pancakes and french toast. The girl can multitask! Rodrigo made activities in the evening fun.

We used our $1500 in credits for Spa treatments at Moon Palace, swimming with dolphins at Dolphinas (amazing experience...better than Discovery Cove or the Bahamas), souvenir photos and bottles of Moet Champagne (there is Mexican "champagne" included in the all-inclusive...good but the Moet was for a special occasion).

We have stayed at all-inclusives in Jamaica and the Bahamas and this was by far our greatest experience. We will be back.

Also, as tarheelmom said, the membership spiel was painless and no pressure. We also $200 in Spa credits for listening.


There is nothing more that I can ad to the reviews by tarheelmom, Dikocsis and the rest.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank jkutun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Playacar Palace

Address: Bahia del Espiritu Santo | Esq. Abraira de Arriva, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#8 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#10 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#11 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#12 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#12 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#14 Business Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#15 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates):
Hotel Class:4 star — Playacar Palace 4*
Number of rooms: 201
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Playacar Palace, a trendy beachfront resort located steps away from Playa del Carmen's famous 5th Avenue and the Cozumel Ferry Dock. Our all-inclusive, luxury resort features 201 appointed rooms, 3 restaurants and 4 bars. This resort is considered the perfect spot to relax during the day and enjoy the nightlife and charms of "Playa" at night. Playacar Palace is perfect for families, couples, and group getaways. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playacar Palace Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Playacar Palace Mexico
Playacar Palace Resort
Playacar Palace Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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