December 22 -29, 2013 Mahekal resort, Playa del Carmen, Cancun Mexico.
My fiancé and I (in our 50s) have visited several resorts, most of which were all-inclusive, in the Cancun region over the past years. This was our first time at Mahekal. (Please see below if you are interested in transportation from the airport.)
As you can see from its website, the rooms at the Mahekal resort are in thatched huts – similar to those associated with Polynesia. We had seen the resort during a previous visit to Playa del Carmen and decided then to try it, as we were looking for a lower-key, less pretentious resort than the more traditional all-inclusive (eg, Secrets, Luxuriance, Le Blanc). Also, a friend who had previously stayed there recommended it. In Mahekal, we found what we are looking for and would return. Overall, the positives greatly outweighed the negatives.
We enjoyed the relatively quiet environment, with no staff pushing drinks or “entertainment.” We also found that a week without wifi or a TV in the room was very restful. The beach water was perfect – temperature and beauty. The staff were helpful and pleasant, and the massage at the small spa skilled and relaxing. Even though this was not an adults-only resort, we found that, perhaps by self-selection, the overall feeling remained mellow, not dominated by boisterous kids playing, as other hotels have been.
We welcomed the freedom of the flexible eating plan – breakfast and either lunch or dinner included with the room charge. All drinks (soft and hard) cost extra. We usually ate lunch at the resort – which was a la carte and offered tasty Mexican fare – and ventured in the town for dinner. Our extras for the week at Mahekal were about $150. We found several good restaurants in town – including Diez (10), Kampai, and another Italian restaurant further from the resort on the right with great homemade pasta (forgot name); each meal costing about $60-70.00.
We opted for the “pent house” (non-delux) room, which was more likely to be free of screaming kids than some of the other rooms. The room was large, with a king-size bed and nice balcony. The A/C unit worked well -- but was not well-placed directly above the bed, blowing cold air on our faces. We would usually turn on the A/C before leaving for dinner to cool off the room and then turn it off for the night. The staff cleaned the room well each day.
The beach umbrellas were smaller versions of the thatched huts. While there seemed to be much more shade at Mahekal than other nearby resorts, there was still a bit of a competition to “reserve” the front row (by laying towels and personal items on the lounge chairs), especially after Christmas when more guests arrived. Even so, it never felt “packed” like neighboring hotels and beach resorts or the al-inclusive places we had been to.
We managed to escape Cancun before a major beach concert – scheduled for the 29th -- that would have kept us up until at least 2:00. If this noise is not your thing, we recommend that you do some research in advance about concert dates.
The dinner at Mahehal was always a buffet and the food was acceptable, with fish the best choice. We ate there only twice, as the Mahekal helpfully posted the menu each day – providing us the flexibility noted above.
Having coffee first thing in the morning is essential for some of us. The resort did not provide any means of boiling water in the room, and room service for coffee would have been $5, available only after 7 AM. We bought a small electric kettle and instant coffee at a nearby store, which helped get us going before the breakfast opened. There was no mini bar or fridge, which was not too serious given the many convenience stores near the resort.
The fines for losing items – keys, towels, etc – loaned out by the resort were way out of portion to their value. For example, a lost key would cost $50. This is especially ridiculous considering how easy it would be to misplace these items. (No, we did not lose anything, but the stress when we temporarily could not find something was not necessary.)
The closest gym was in very bad shape, as the usual one (still off the resort) was being remodeled. I used the gym’s weights for about $4.00 per visit.
During a heavy rain, the power went out. The ground-floor rooms of over a dozen guests, including a Swedish couple we met, were flooded with dirty water -- probably because the sump pump stopped operating. The rains seemed to tax the hotel’s laundry facility, which for several hours ran out of beach towels.
When you exit baggage claim, you will be approached by official-looking tourist advisors, who appear to be paid by the Mexican Government. They are not. Hotels and resorts pay them. While they can be helpful explaining the various excursion and transportation options (more below), they also might try to convince you to visit a “grand opening” by offering various incentives, be careful. I have strongly resisted participating in time sharing sales expeditions – taking you away from your resort for several hours to sell you on a multi-year package. The agent who “assisted” us at the airport claimed we would simply be visiting El Cid’s “grand opening,” for which we would get two free tickets to a park we thought we wanted to visit (roughly a $230 value). Despite my skepticism, we fell for it and spent the better part of day fending off three-levels of sales reps pushing a 20-year time share package. And, we did not use the tickets, as that would have consumed another 14 hours, beginning at 8:00am, of excellent beach time.
As for transportation recommendation, if there are 2 of you, we believe the yellow taxi with pre-paid return in the best option. While our round-trip was about $130, it was direct and the most efficient compared to any other alternative (e.g, joint van, private car); that is, you will save about $30 for two people if you take a van, but the time to your resort could easily triple due to drop-offs.
If your room is too close to the beach, you might find locals on your doorstep. Ground floor rooms m...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.