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“We will be back” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Reef Playacar

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The Reef Playacar
3.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Paseo Xaman-Ha, Ret. Sayil s/n | Fracc. Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico   |  
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Ranked #108 of 199 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Brandon, Minnesota
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“We will be back”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2012

16 of us stayed at the Reef for 1 week last winter and had a blast, we all have nothing but fantastic to say about this resort. Food was great, very friendly staff (Jesus and Eric were the best bartenders ever). The resort was very clean. We will be back the end of February for another great time.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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2,481 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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vancouver, bc
16 reviews 16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2012

Just back from a week at the Reef Playacar. This was my 7th time on the Riviera Maya, but only my 5th resort, as I went twice to some places.


Nice, pleasant, standard-level, small.


The fact that it is small contains much of the good and some of the bad of this resort. It has 200 rooms, which makes it one of the smaller on the Riviera. It is inside Playacar, a gated community containing both condos, houses and several resorts. It is very close to Playa del Carmen, which is walkable both via the road and via the beach (in both cases 15 mins. to the main stretch, the 5th Avenue). In our case, the demographics we found was probably 35% Europeans (particularly Swedes and Italians), 35% Quebecers and 30% North-American Anglophones. The most represented age group was the 30 to 60 y.o. one, with several couples with young kids, quite a few older people and a few gay couples, too.


Standard-level for me, nice but not luxurious, roomy but not palatial etc. Shower was good, nice pressure, nice temperature, never found it lacking water. We had booked a "superior" room, which gave us a restocked minibar (which for some reason did not feature beer - just an oversight, I think) and the use of the safe in the room at no extra cost. It also seemed to have bought us some more attention from the staff.
One thing that had me very unhappy at the beginning of our stay is that the rooms (which have a nice balcony) are not equipped with a screen door to keep out bugs. I have a terror of bugs of any sort, so I simply never opened the door to the balcony for more than a minute. By the end of our stay, though, I realised there were no bugs to speak of anywhere, so I relaxed. But I still would have preferred a screen door (like most other resorts have).
The A/C worked fine, but it was noisy. No sleeping with it on. We didn't need it anyway, it was pleasant without it. The rooms did have a musty smell and feel, as it often is the case in Mexico.
We asked and were moved the second day to a second-gfloor room (from the original ground floor we had) in the hopes of finding a less musty room, but we ended up with more of the same, pretty much. But no big deal, really.
The TV was ok, several channels to choose from, but at times the signal went off for a few seconds.


I am VERY fussy when it comes to the beach, which is the single most important reason I go to Mexico. In this case, I was happy. It wasn't absolutely stunning, but it is very good, with the usual fine white sand, perfectly swimmable ocean, no rocks on the ocean bottom. The only downside was the many seaweed that the ocean (we got a windy weather week) deposits on the beach from the coral reef. Yet, it is nice to walk along the shore in both directions. Going North, towards Playa del Carmen, there is only one very small resort before the city beach, and the rest is all private houses, while walking South you get to see all the Playacar resorts from the beach.
The beach front of this resort extends only for a few dozen metres, but there are many beach chairs and (and some nice beds on the upper levels) to choose from. Some chairs were missing the piece that allows them to support your back, so one had to hunt for the right one. There are no palapas fixed to the ground here, but blue umbrellas on heavy cement (yet movable) bases, so it was never a problem to find shade.
Yet, I went down to the beach by 7:30 am and the beds were all claimed, while there was ample choice for the chairs. I think that late risers might have had some trouble, though, in finding shade AND workable chairs on the beach by late morning.


There are two pools, on two levels. Both are small and both are shallow (4 feet everywhere). The upper level one has a swim-up bar, that doubles on the other side as a regular, "dry" bar. The lower level pool is right under the restaurant and has a more adult feel to it. But both are very small and not usable for jumping or diving in.


No complaints. I am a native Italian speaker and I am also fluent in Spanish, so I always spoke Spanish to them, but my partner speaks little Spanish so he spoke English all the time and never had a problem. Everyone seemed kind, attentive and helpful. The small size of the resort also helped in the (lack of) line-up situation at the reception desk etc.


It is with great pleasure that I can say that the entertainment staff could practically not even be heard during the day. There were activities happening, but you wouldn't know unless you 1) stayed by the pool 2) listened carefully to the short announcements that were given out occasionally. In other words, you HAVE TO WANT to be involved in those activities - and I didn't, so was very happy.
The night shows were hit and miss. Some (e.g. the Mexican show or the Michael Jackson one) were good, others were so-so or downright bad.


I am a foodie and a cook, and I am Italian. This said, I can say that, with a few exceptions, the food at the buffet ranged from decent to good to REALLY good. I was impressed with several dishes they served. There are also two specialty restaurants, which you don't even need to book in advance, and we tried one (The Terrazza Grill), were quite disappointed, and never tried the other, which is Italian. The food we got was actually worse than the buffet, but the a la carte menu clearly stated several other options which sounded more enticing (at extra cost!).
While it may be boring to have 3 meals a day in the same place, it didn't feel nasty, and there was a good variety of dishes to choose from. Nice Mexican food corner. Pasta bar available all the time.


The usual array of water sports were available, with the (unfortunate) exception of windsurfing, not available while we were there.

By the beach there is a snack bar, which serves pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and fries all day round.

In the middle of the resort, there is the so-called "lounge" - a nice area suspended in the middle of the jungle, with couches and tables and a bar that was open in the mid-afternoon hours. Great spot.

The ice-cream parlour is also popular, as is the pottery-painting ongoing table, but we didn't try it.

Hotel computers and Internet can be used by buying an Internet card at the reception (for 30 or 60 mins). If you log off properly after each session, you can reuse your login until the credit is expired. One 60-min. card was enough for us for the whole week to check email daily and get news updates from the net.


What this place lacks is a gathering place. The lobby is small and unequipped to become a hub for people to gather pre-dinner. We had one day of rain, and the resort really has NO place indoors where one can spend some time and have some sort of fun. The only option was the area above the lobby, with the bar and the pool tables, but it is not sheltered from the wind.

When we asked to change rooms, we were "intercepted" by a "concierge" who turned out to be a timeshare salesman. I knew the lot, so I stopped him soon enough, but they can be aggressive and nasty. Just say no thanks and walk away.

Before leaving for Mexico, I wrote twice to the resort (using two different e-mail addresses) expressing concerns about our late check in and asking about a late heck out, and we never got any reply.

According to other reviewers, the "superior room" should have entitled us to bathrobes. Never seen any.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2012

I have to agree with many of these reviews. Smaller, newer, jungle like setting with the cenotes and little seregues throughout the property. Very Friendly staff, decent buffet, great snack bar and nice restaurants. White sand as far as your can see and the bluest water I'd ever seen. I loved playing in the ocean.
But...I have to agree with the "Membership" Presentation. I couldn't pass up the the great deal but now I am finding all kinds of hidden set up fees that weren't made clear or even mentioned. All in All, I'll be returning.
Loved that your were in a gated community but a 15 minute walk to the real Mexico.

Room Tip: The top floor is the quietest!!
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
vancouver bc
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2012

This was our third trip to The Reef and we still love it. We spent Christmas and New Year's Eve in this lovely, intimate little resort and enjoyed every moment. If you like excellent customer service, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and an absolutely beautiful beach, this is the place for you.
We chose to alternate our evening meals between the 2 restaurants and the buffet. Every night we were impressed by the attentive service regardless of where we ate, (they really do have wonderful staff!) and the quality of the food. Breakfast was always a treat. We loved tucking into custom made omelets made for us by Victoria. The snack bar has the best clubhouse sandwiches ever and very friendly staff too. The bartenders were all fantastic. New this year was the VIP lounge which is right on the beach. Loved it! We are wine-lovers and were sometimes disappointed not all the wines on their wine list were available, but hey, we survived.:-) The wait staff went out of their way to find alternate choices for us. They were fantastic . . .so helpful.
We have nothing but praise for the entire Marina crew. My husband got his scuba certification this trip and spent countless hours bombing around on the catamarans. This group of people are friendly, professional and provide truly excellent service. Kudos to them.
The folks at the Reef do their best to provide top-notch service. If you want sprawling, opulent over the top luxury, maybe this isn't the place for you. But if you enjoy a smaller, more intimate kind of get-away that is perfectly situated . . .to our mind, this place is a terrific choice. The rooms and grounds are spotless, and should any problem arise, the staff quickly and efficiently remedy it.
We've read some of the reviews posted here and are puzzled by some of the more critical reviews. If you look for the negative you will find it, I guess. But how can you complain when you are in a little part of heaven, in glorious sunshine and surrounded by stunning beauty and people who go out of their way to ensure you are comfortable, happy, well-fed and watered??? It's beyond us. We have absolutely no reservations in recommending this lovely little resort. We travel a lot and love going to new places, but we will be back to The Reef. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind, get pampered or party if you are so inclined. It has it all.

Room Tip: Garden view rooms are great. We would avoid a room closer to the main building due to the noise gen...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berthoud, Colorado, United States
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2012

I like the Reef. It is smaller than many resort hotels but is it close to the beach (one you can actually swim in) and close to Playa Del Carmen. The food is good and the rooms are nice through not as elegant as some other hotels.

However, we made the mistake of going to the timeshare presentation. They presented a great program. We spent a few hours talking to them about it and various deals that were always getting better. Then came the contracts. I am afraid by then we were too weary to really read them. Now we find that they do not resemble what was presented to us. We have not decided what to do yet, but stay away from the timeshare operation. You will end up owning a little time in the Reef and more time in Elite Guest Circle which is worthless. You end up paying for what you get for free with Expedia and Expedia has a better website. A few cheap places but they are not that great.

My advice, get you best deal on a room and don't consider the timeshare.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Onalaska, Wisconsin
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2012

We went here for our Honey moon in January and it was absolutely perfect! We had never been to Mexico, so we were both very hesitant. Is area in Mexico was great and the resort was amazing! We didn't think we would leave the resort but we decided to take a 15-20 min. walk up the beach in to town, it was so nice went to town again while we were there. The buffet was really good and had different options every day. They even had two fancy restaurants that were included in the all inclusive, but did have some fancier food choices if you liked for additional cost. I would totally recommend this place & would love to go back again! :) .... oh! and p.s. the water/ice that they serve is totally fine! *bonus!*

  • Stayed January 2012, 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.
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2012

November 12-19, 2011

We loved our stay at the Reef Playacar. I was attracted to the pictures of the jungle atmosphere and it truly lived up to all our expectations. It was so much fun to walk the grounds which were not very big so that is a positive for folks who are looking to access the beach, hotel and other amenities. The hotel has a very quaint and intimate feel to it. The ice cream bar and the coffee/tea spot is so lush.

The beach was beautiful, a bit rough on some days but for wave riders that's always a treat. The hotel is the last one on the beach, followed by some homes and condos, before the town of Playa Del Carmen. So it's very quiet and not crowded. There are only apx. 200 or so rooms, so we never had to reserve a spot on the beach. We slept in everyday till about 8, which is way better than the 6 a.m. "hurry to the beach to save a chair" alarm we had to set! Loved this very much.

Restaurants - they are all good. Five stars, no. Variety was excellent at the buffet, the beach restaurants had the best club sandwiches ever - addictive. Staff are very pleasant and attentive. Never had to make reservations - that was another big plus!

Rooms - we had requested a king bed, no such luck. After trying for three days to get another room, we gave up. The downside is that they do not offer queen beds but doubles. The rooms are clean and cozy, not very big. They could use some upgrades in the bathrooms, but you get what you pay for. We had a ground floor room, okay since we spent our time on the beach anyway. As mentioned in other review, the walls are thin and we were quite shocked at first. Especially on the peak hours, morning going out and returning to rooms at night. But we got used to it and it got very quiet around 9pm. We slept great. Higher floors would be nicer.

We were looking for a quiet, peaceful, relaxing vacation and we got it. On our last day we said to each other "I'd come back here" and we never say that because we feel there are so many places we haven't seen yet! So one day we will return!

One negative: front desk staff. Friendly but not accommodating. Many folks asked for upgrades and were told the same thing...."hotel is full, but we have room no. Xxxx available bit it's right next to the disco and it's very noisy. Same room was offered to everyone. So you know that no one wants it! Easy for them, they don't have to do a thing. So that was a disappointment.

Note: Time share people, not too bothersome, just be firm and say no and avoid the front desk and you'll be fine. We only had one encounter and it was pleasant, just not interested.

We would recommend this hotel and have already.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReefPlayacarResort, Manager at The Reef Playacar, responded to this review, January 17, 2012
Thank you for the time you spent writing this detailed review. We are very glad to know that you were pleasantly surprised with our Resort and that we could provide you satisfaction in terms of facilities, service and food-.
As you could observe our hotel is pretty small all inclusive and fortunately right now in high season we are fully booked. Our Front Desk team offered the same room to guests interested in a change because they do not have a lot to choose from to offer. They might seem not accommodating but they are limited with the availability of rooms. We will make sure to share your comments though, so we can improve the service in the Reception area.
Thank you so much once again for your time and it will be a pleasure for us to welcoming you back. Warmest regards,
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Additional Information about The Reef Playacar

Address: Paseo Xaman-Ha, Ret. Sayil s/n | Fracc. Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Bar / Lounge 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 Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#38 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#48 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#65 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#83 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Reef Playacar 3.5*
Number of rooms: 196
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This boutique style all-inclusive resort is located on a beautiful white sandy beach just steps away from the famous 5th avenue in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico. The hotel offers all food and domestic drinks, 1 buffet restaurant, 2 a la carte restaurants, Italian & Gourmet($), snack bar, ice cream parlor, various bars including a swim up bar, 2 pools, kids club, daily activities & nightly entertainment. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Reef Playacar Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Reef Club Playacar
Reef Playacar Mexico
Reef Playacar Playa Del Carmen
The Reef Playacar Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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