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“Staff, food and location make this a must-stay resort” 5 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 #5 of 201 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Toronto, Canada
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Staff, food and location make this a must-stay resort”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2014

Having read a lot of somewhat 'whiny' reviews for this resort, I felt it was important to break down what Playacar Palace REALLY excels at, and who they are best suited to.

THE STRENGTHS

STAFF - As you've probably already read in most reviews, the staff are exceptional. Friendly, attentive without swarming you, and always happy to serve. They appreciate guests' friendliness, respect and are very grateful for any gratuities you see fit to reward them with.

My husband and I traveled to Playacar with our 14 month old, and anyone who has ever traveled with an infant knows that often, the vacation starts with some level of anxiety about how the resort will cater to your child's needs. Don't worry. This resort is fantastic for younger travelers. It pays to email ahead to confirm a crib (actually a 'Pack n' Play' playpen that worked just fine). Staff are very accommodating of toddlers and my daughter subsequently had the trip of her life.

FOOD - Always tricky, since every person has his/her own criteria as to what makes food outstanding. I've lived on 3 continents and traveled to countless countries and I've got to say - this food (particularly in light of the all-inclusive aspect) is amazing. Both N. American and local dishes were fresh, tasty and beautifully presented, regardless of the restaurant. It also goes without saying that the more authentic you go, the better tasting the dishes are. Skip the french fries and chicken fingers and try all the Mexican food!

Stand-outs: Seafood grilled to order (calamari and fish tacos were sublime), seafood appetizers and grouper at the Italian restaurant, grilled rib eye at the Restaurant del Mar and Italian restaurant, crunch maki, playcar maki at Momo Japanese restaurant, banana cake and any cake or custard with chocolate.

LOCATION: As close to Playa del Carmen as you can get while still enjoying an immaculate beach. Playcar Palace is located adjacent to the Cozumel pier and ferry and steps away from Fifth Avenue, the main restaurant and retail stretch. It's a lovely spot.

BEACH: The beach and lounge chairs there more than make up for the smaller size of pool and limited chairs around it. I realize sand can be annoying, especially when it's so fine and perhaps that's why other reviewers preferred the pool setting, but this beach is AH.MAZ.ING and should not be missed. Service is prompt and Berenice was a gem. Use the beach as your staging ground and hop over to the pool when you feel like a less sandy and salty swim.

SPA - Unbelievable. Truly a game changer. I'm a spa junkie and this spa just makes all others look like they're run by kids. There is a reason why you are only allowed to use up to $300 of your HUGE resort credit for the spa. Otherwise, I would have never left. Massages and facials are specialties - skip manis/pedis in favour of the longer, more elaborate services. A MUST is the hydrotherapy 'circuit' that is complimentary with every booking. Go as many times as you can. I almost don't want to spoil this by writing too much about it. Just go.

RESORT CREDIT - A tricky thing, and often more of a headache than it should be. There are MANY terms and conditions that you have to be careful you fully understand before committing. First and foremost, you will be paying a 16% fee on everything purchased with credit.

PROS: Coba (ruins) was spectacular, guide was great and lunch was tasty. Well worth it.
Wine upgrades are generally very high quality and well worth the 16% fee - try the Chianti or Argentinian Cab Sauvignon.

THINK ABOUT SKIPPING: Chichen Itza is a looong drive (2.5 hours from Playacar Palace) and if the day is particularly hot, this excursion can seem extremely gruelling. I'm inclined to say the guide really makes the tour - see if you can find out who your guide will be. Ours (Alejandro) wasn't great but wasn't terrible. His English was decent but the quantity of information was so staggering that in the end, many of us felt overwhelmed and confused by it all. The temple at at Kulkulcan IS amazing, and the other ruins are majestic. Unfortunately, the site seems to be run by the hundreds of merchants who now line every path, taking up most of the available shade, hawking their (mostly) cheap, 'made in China' souvenirs. A real shame.


OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Standard rooms sleep 2, so families should think twice before they book a single room
- Book spa appointments before you arrive to ensure you get the days/times you want
- Those travelling with infants can request puree Gerber baby food and whole milk ('leche entera')
- Day passes for non-resort guests are steep at USD$97 but would be worth it if guests are staying the entire day (passes are good until 11pm)

Room Tip: - Request a full balcony if you plan to use it - the smaller balconies only seat 2 comfortably - Ro...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Loch Arbour, NJ
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2014

This was our 2nd stay at Playacar Palace, and it did not leave us wanting for more. Not only was the weather perfect everyday, but the hotel and its staff were better than we remembered from last year.

First - the breakfast staff (Israel, Dionicio, Sotero, Guadelope and Edgar) are the best. There is nothing that you need that they don't try to provide in service. Once they get to know you and what you like, they have it there waiting for you, as soon as they see you coming in the door. They go out of their way, everyday.

Can't forget Perla, who provides for all your needs out by the pool and on the beach. She does not stop, and you are never without a drink or a snack. She tries to make sure you never have to get up from the lounge.

But if you do want to get up, Cesar is a fantastic Recreation/Activities Director. Whether he is leading the Water Aerobics class in the morning, getting kids out to have some fun or pulling together a game of beach volleyball, he tries to get you engaged if you have an interest. And if not, he's more than happy to just say hi and move on.

If you stay, make sure to take advantage of the spa. You can use up to $300 of your hotel credits for spa treatments, but that won't be enough, as it is a top rated facility. Better than most in the states and the staff also tries to make sure you have everything you need.

Hotel is right next to the Cozumel Ferry. We went to the Cozumel Palace for the day and get full access to the facility just by showing our Playacar bracelets. Great kids activities in the pool and you can go snorkeling off their property, since Playacar is just beach and Cozumel is on the reef.

Make sure to see the Vacation Planners to schedule use of your hotel credits. You can use them for swimming with dolphins and stingrays, spa treatments, upgraded wine, golf, etc... Look for Gustavo and his team, as they are very helpful in helping you to get everything you can out of the stay. Oh, and the nightly shows are great.

Anyway, in short... FANTASTIC place and we look forward to returning again.

  • Stayed April 2014, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Sandwich
2 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014

We just spent six days at the Playacar Palace (4/19/14 to 4/25/14). From check in to check out, our experience was tops. This year was our eighth or ninth visit to the Palace in ten years and we will return. No reason exists to look at another property; Playacar Palace is safe...we walked an ran in the morning before daylight, we walked the beach during the day and strolled Fifth Avenue in the evening, Playacar Palace is welcoming...the staff recognized us and checked in often to insure we had all we needed, Playacar Palace serves great food...the fish (mahi) was really tasty, Playacar Palace has a great beach...the water was cool and comfortable, life guards watched the water and insured that no interlopers gained access to the proberty, beach service was constant, Playacar Palace completed its mission with a smile and an offering of "we hope to see you again."
My wife and I are in our sixties, mobile and have a sense of humor that matches the atmosphere of the Palace...This is a great place to stay for those our age and those who want to play in the louder opportunities the PdC offers. Accessable to all aspects of the area, Playacar Palace is a winner.
We will be back.
To the staff at Playacar Palace, Thank you.
B

Room Tip: Facing the pool with a balcony on the upper levels
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2014

I was hesitant to write a review, but after some thought I couldn't consciously let others spend their hard earned money at the Playacar Palace without letting them know my thoughts regarding our vacation.

I did a lot of research prior to our trip and communicated with a few past guests via TripAdvisor. I was really looking forward to an amazing experience. The reality of Playacar Palace did not live up to the hype.

Some things I will share that I wish I had known:

- Four people cannot comfortably stay in one room. My husband and I and two teenager daughters stayed together. The jacuzzi tub taking up a decent portion of the room doesn't help. For storage there is one closet and about five drawers (not enough for 4 people). We had to live out of suitcases for the week. The rooms are suited for couples -- not families. The beds are full size beds at best, not King size for sure.

- The bathroom doors don't have locks or extreme privacy if that matters to you. The bathroom door is made of frosted glass.

- The bathroom shower is open and adjoins to the toilet area. This results in a giant indoor pool after someone showers. With the floors being marble, this can be extremely slippery and hazardous.

- Excursions & Resort Credits: If you are interested in using resort credits for excursions, make sure this is one of your first matters of business upon arrival. Some excursions are limited and only offered on certain days of the week.

There seems to be a disconnect in communication between guest services at the resort and the excursion companies. In both of the excursions we took to Tulum and Stingray Beach in Cozumel there was confusion and miscommunication. If you take the half day trip to Tulum and are told you will not have beach time, wear your swimsuit under your clothes anyways. We had nearly 1.5 hours of free time to swim and didn't have out suits as we were told there was "no beach time" - that we'd have to break away from the tour and get our own ride home! We were very hot and ended up going in our shorts anyways.

- Hibachi table: Yes, reservations are needed. The guests services representative said to make them one day in advance. Not true if you'd like to eat before 9 pm. It took us till the last day of of week long trip to get a reservation at 7 pm. After making your excursion reservations, make booking the hibachi table your second stop.

- Pants are required. Yes, long pants are required for men in the Italian restaurant. I've read many discussions about this on TripAdvisor. During our stay I saw numerous men turned away who were wearing shorts. There is even a sign posted outside the restaurant saying that long pants are required. Don't *hope* that you can get into the restaurant, just bring your pants already.

- Besides eating dinner from the buffet there are no outdoor evening restaurants. I found this to be very disappointing considering the beautiful location of the hotel. Since there are patios located right outside of both the Asian and Italian restaurants it seems like it would be easy to place some tables outside for those who would like to enjoy the sound of the waves and sea breeze. Seemed like a shame to be cooped up inside when we traveled all this way to enjoy the tropical weather.

- A pro of the resort is it's small size. You don't have to walk far to access the pool, restaurant, beach or your room. On the other hand the downside to a small all-inclusive resort was the limited selection of restaurants. For a week long stay, three restaurants to choose from wasn't enough especially when two of them were so specific in their menus (Italian and Asian cuisine). I would say that the food was AVERAGE at best, nothing special. Certainly not worth the money invested. We found many things to be "watered down" from drinks to the guacamole.

- Reserving pool chairs. Our stay was during spring break, granted a peak time, and we found it necessary to put towels on the poolside loungers by 6 am if we wanted a spot for the day. It appears the hotel reserves blocks of seats for VIP members with their names on them. Even if they don't come to the pool that day, the seats remain unoccupied. Seems a waste when other paying guests are wandering around waiting for seats to open.

- Transportation to/from the resort. I've read other reviews where people experienced trouble with their airport transfers. I can mention that we used Amstar and were very satisfied with their prompt service.

- Overserved guests. I guess this comes with the territory of unlimited alcohol, but the hotel needs to have a toleration policy for guests who have been overserved and are becoming disruptive. While at the pool we had to leave because of the language and subject matter. Another evening, there was a f-bomb screaming match poolside between bridesmaids.

- If you're looking for a relaxing poolside experience, this resort is not for you. All throughout the day there is dance music playing and there are event coordinators running water aerobics, bingo, trivia contests, etc. On a positive note, the wait staff around the pool is very attentive. Juana was our waitress for the week and she always answered our requests with a smile. She is an extremely hard worker.

Room Tip: Be sure to ask for a room with a FULL balcony. Some rooms have small balconies or no balconies at al...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Honolulu, Hawaii
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2014

My wife and I recently spent two weeks this April at the Playacar Palace in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The location was perfect and provided easy access to Cozumel and all the tours.

From the moment we arrived Alberto and Saskia made us feel welcome.

Our first dinner was in the Italian restaurant where the manager Jazz Perez and the hostess Marysol made us feel welcome. The waiters Rafael, Domingo, Antonio, Pedro, Ivan, Luis, Gilbert, Renan, and Cleiver made our dinners very special.

In the morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast with servers Porfirio, Artemio, Francisco , Meyra, and Edgar attending to our every need. Anaceli made the very best omelet.

In the afternoon the pool bar was well attended by Alfredo, Gerardo, David, Ivan, Wilder, Juan, Carmen, and Francisco.

If you enjoy Asian food then the hostess, Micelia, and manager, Quetzal Vazquez, can arrange a superb evening. The waiters Victor, Raul, Oscar, Pedro, Marisela, Alejandro, and Juan Pablo will make you comfortable. The sushi chef, Juanito, and the teppanyaki chefs, Mario and Victor, will make the evening special.

You have shopping available on 5th Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach and consists of new and old stores, shops, and restaurants.

The ferry boat to Cozumel island is a few hundred feet from the hotel.

The ADT bus system, a few blocks down 5th Avenue, is available if you wish to travel to Cancun for 116 Pesos for a round trip ticket. The buses are air conditioned and provide a movie to entertain you during the hour and a half trip.

You will enjoy your stay at this resort.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2014 via mobile

Location was perfect, can shop on 5th ave or catch the ferry to Cozumel. Beach is spectacular blue. The best part though was the service. The staff is so friendly and accommodating. Will be back next year.

  • Stayed April 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2014

I never write these letters,but I just couldn't let the opportunity pass to let anyone traveling to playa del Carmen know what a spectacular resort Playacar palace is.From the moment we arrived we were treated like kings and queens,the staff is unlike any staff I have experienced in the past,and I have travelled extensively.Nora,at poolside,Vivina,Gerardo the AMAZING bartender,also poolside,Angel,Gilbert in the Italian restaurant,Martha,Israel,Jesus,Martha the morning breakfast lady,who never stops smiling,Quetzal,the manager,Erick,Adelmira,Bernice the amazing beach server,Elvia,Sandra,Ana,Felipe and last but not least,Antonio,who was so kind to me in the Italian restaurant that I wll never forget....your wife and 2children are blesses with your presence in their lives.I am sorry if I have not mentioned some of the other fine staff,you were all so lovely and the day I arrived home I started planning my next trip to Playacar palace.Also the rooms were great,the beach fantastic,the pool area so much fun and the food was so great,I never left the resort property for 7 days!!! I enjoyed the spa so much and the ladies there took me to a level of 'zen ness' that I am still enjoying! I travelled to Playacar palace with 37 people for my daughter Kate's and son-in-law Brett's wedding,and NOT ONE PERSON had a complaint! WOW! Our wedding co-ordinator was perfect from beginning to the very end,so nice. Well I better stop as I have run out of superlatives to describe this place and the people who work there,all I have to say is GO THERE!!!

Room Tip: Choose the new part
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  • Stayed April 2014, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
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:
#4 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#5 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#10 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#13 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: 200
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 amazing Resort features 200 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 it’s all inclusive, all incredible and all yours… ... 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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