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“Reef - Many pros, a couple cons” 4 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 #112 of 201 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
5 hotel reviews
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Reef - Many pros, a couple cons”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2012

My wife and I recently visited the Reef Playacar from November 9 to the 16 and we were quite satisfied with our stay. The reef is small and quaint with a jungle theme and is located minutes from the city of Playa Del Carmen (well within walking distance) in a gated community called playacar. This resort is an excellent choice for those wanting a relaxing vacation and for those trying to avoid the large party resorts.

Upon our arrival we were informed that we would have to stay in a room with two double beds when we had requested a king. In the time it took us to reach our room a staff member had caught up to us and moved us to a recently renovated room with a king sized bed. The room had a couple problems with power but the staff were there in minutes to repair. One problem we did have was the level of humidity in the room. By the end of the trip the room was fairly moist. Could be solved by opening the windows for a bit but we were never in our room long enough for this.

Food at the resort was fairly good. The buffet was the best and had quite the variety of the Mexican, Italian and north American dishes. I do have to say that the al la carte restaurants were sub-par for food quality (especially the Botticelli, my steak was obliterated into super well done status). BUT the waiters were good and lots of other people had great experiences. We seemed to be the odd couple out. No matter, the buffet and snack bar more than made up for it and based on the waiters service I would try the al la carte again.

The swim up bar was the place to be during the day and Humberto the bartender gave us great service and some good tequila! He was always good for a laugh too!

The beach is nice but keep in mind all of the beach in playacar is public. We were not bothered too much by salesmen but the possibility is there.

The staff do a really good job and try very hard. Price point is in line with 3 stars but is definitely much more. Please keep in mind the resort is still going through renovations so if you plan to take siestas during the day make sure you ask for a room away from the renos. All in all a great resort !

  • Stayed November 2012, 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
    • 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.
ReefPlayacarResort, Guest Relations Manager at The Reef Playacar, responded to this review, November 23, 2012
We would like to thank you for your fantastic review. We are very happy you enjoyed your vacations with us. We appreciate your observations regarding all Hotel, wonderful beach, pools, excellent staff, food and particulary our bartender Humberto.

We would like to discuss your remarks regarding the humedity in room with the involved departments and would appreciate if you could send us a little note with your room number and stay dates, so we can follow up on this.

The Reef Playacar is looking forward to welcoming you back once again. You can contact the hotel directly at mexico@thereefresorts.com to assure you will get the special Repeat customer amenities and special discounts the hotel offers and please mention which location you would prefer, so we can make sure you will be happy with your room this time.

Best regards,
The Reef Playacar Resort & Spa.
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2,590 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (363)
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Round Rock, Texas
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

Great Resort --- close to town. Good food, excellent beach and pools. Outstanding for families.
Can't say enough good things about it..... took our entire family, children and grandkids last summer and it was enjoyed by all.

Room Tip: traveling with kids???. ask for a room in building 10 or 11...closer to pool and beach.
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  • Stayed July 2012, 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReefPlayacarResort, Guest Relations Manager at The Reef Playacar, responded to this review, November 23, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write a review of your recent stay at our Resort. We are very happy to know that you had a great vacation at our resort!
We appreciate your comments regarding the beach and pools.
We offer special rates to our returning guests, so if you plan to come back, let us know directly! We are looking forward to welcoming you once more!
Best regards,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
15 hotel reviews
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

My wife and I returned from a 14 night stay at the reef last night. We were advised by our tour operator prior to our holiday that there was some building work being carried out on some of the rooms and was offered an alternative hotel, as the work would be completed by the 31/10/12. As we were supposed to arrive early evening on the 30/10/12 we opted to stay at the reef thinking that the work would be completed the following day, therefore no problem to us.
Please be advised that our tour operator was completely wrong and work continues today. Having said that, we were not troubled by the work or the workmen in any way, infact we found the workmen to the most considerate and quietest builders that we have ever seen.
Arriving late evening on the 30/10/12 as our flight was late and having requested a high floor room if possible, we were initially dissapointed when we were allocated a ground floor room that had a musty smell, bedding that felt damp probably felt damp because of the Air - con and a light switch in the bathroom that was hanging off exposing the wiring and electrical connections. We immediately returned to reception and requested a change of room where we were advised to come back the following day. On returning to reception the following day we were reallocated a room on the top floor (834) we we were completely satisfied with. Infact you would not of thought that you were in the same block it was that much better.
The hotel is 3 star so do not raise your expectations, if or when all the rooms have been improved it will be a very good hotel. Having said that we were satisfied with what we got for a 3 star hotel. We rotated our visits to all of the restaurants throughout our holiday and were completely satisfied with the food provded. Food is personnal taste but we found that there was something for everyone and was never dissapointed, we thought that the food was quite good. We also walked into town on many occasions and ate there on a few evenings to provide a little variety in our holiday. All we found to be excellent. The walk into town is a comfortable 15 - 20 minutes and quite pleasant which we enjoyed.
Our second week we felt as though we were the only English people in the hotel which we enjoyed as all other nationallities did speak some amount of English so we found it very interesting mixing with some very nice people.
The hotel is on an excellent beach with a good amount of sunbeds and parasols, the only draw back is the guests that were getting up at 6am - 7am and reserving beds with towels and then not using them.
Maybe the hotel could adopt some form of the policy of not being able to reserve sunbeds before 8am and when towels are left on beds in exess of 1 hour not being used, the towels be removed so the other guests on the beach can be accomodated. This is something that we have noticed many hotels in Europe have started and is an improvement to the hotels service.
Many people have mentioned indviduals that have given them exceptional service. We also had superb service from some of the staff, but it is only fair to say that all the staff that we met at the Reef were excellent and a credit to the hotel we have never in all our years met a more helpful and friendly staff at any hotel that we have visited. All considered we enyoyed our stay at the Reef.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
Kitchener, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012

I returned last night from my 4th vacation at The Reef Playacar and have already booked in for next April. Everything was SO amazing, right from start to finish. I caught an early flight from Toronto and the room wasn't ready, as not everyone had checked out yet, so Jonathan (who is WONDERFUL) took care of my luggage so I could go to the Chula Vista and have brunch. He also kept checking to see when my room would be ready and got me in as soon as possible. He, along with Vita, Fernando and Hector were always polite and helpful whenever I needed anything. Of course there are other staff that I didn't have the chance to deal with, but I'm sure they were as professional and courteous as the rest.
My room was in room 223 and overlooked the walkway to the ice cream/coffee bar as well as the walkway from the lobby to the rooms. I was a little worried that it would be noisy at night because of the Papas bar, but it wasn't. As well, it was shaded and private and the room was always very clean and well-stocked. For some reason, I never did get the name of my maid, but she did a fantastic job.
The Chula Vista restaurant was as great as ever; it was so nice to see the staff again. Lupe, Mary, Paulino, Gladis, Raul, Eric, Irving, Avimael, Luis, Santiago, as well as a few new faces. The service is the BEST I have ever had anywhere, and I cannot believe other hotels haven't poached these employees. The staff at The Reef is the main reason I keep coming back, and I hope the owner/manager of the hotel realizes how valuable they are.
I visited the ice cream parlour almost every day and Miguel and Estela were always there with a smile, even when it was very busy with little kids (and adults) wanting a treat.
Tea Time at the cenote is one of my favourite things about The Reef, and Guillermo works very hard to serve many people. In 2010 there were 3 people working Tea Time, but Guillermo does it by himself now, although I did see Damian and a couple of others come and help so he could have his dinner. When it gets dark and they turn the lights on, it's absolutely beautiful to sit and have a special coffee or champagne and just relax.
My friend and I went to Botticelli restaurant on our last night for dinner, and not only was it elegant, but the filet mignon was perfection! The portion size, flavour, presentation and temperature were just right, and we topped it off with a chocolate volcano (I think that's what it was called) that wasn't too sweet and again the portion size was perfect. Guillermo, Damian and Herme (among others) will make your visit to Botticelli memorable. I'm not usually one for the restaurants, but I will go to Botticelli again in April.
If you have children, there's a Kids Club run by Claudia, and they looked like they were having a great time. I arrived on October 31st, and the entertainment staff was taking the little ones trick or treating around the resort. It was REALLY cute, as the kids had brought their costumes and the staff gave them little pumpkins to collect treats in. I thought this was very generous of the staff, since I didn't know if they celebrated Halloween in Mexico.
One last thing I've never mentioned is the young guys who are constantly sweeping the walkways. I didn't realize how many leaves fall until I got back very late one night after they'd gone home. Since it's a beautiful jungle-like setting, it would get messy if not for these guys constantly cleaning up.
The only change that I think would make The Reef better is if they would put the hammock area back up on the beach by Nico's Bar. It was nice in the afternoon to have a hammock to lay in.
So all in all, my visit to The Reef was every bit as fantastic as the last ones. I go there so often that my friends have booked in January to see what this place I love so much is like. It's a great smaller resort, but like I said before, every single staff member makes The Reef what it is. I can't wait to go back in April!

Room Tip: If you like quiet, ask for a room along the service road. Quite a few of the blocks facing the Riu...
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  • Stayed November 2012, 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2012

This most recent trip is one of many that we have made to The Reef (5+), so we thought we should finally write a review! The Reef exceeded our expectations the first time, and we have looked forward to every return trip since.

The location of the hotel is second to none – it is the closest resort in Playacar to the town, and with another hotel on only one side, the beach is always pleasantly empty compared to the other resorts in Playacar. It’s always been easy to find a chair around the pool or on the beach (without getting up to reserve one at 6am!). The hotel itself is small compared to many all-inclusives, it never seems too crowded and it is easy to get around.

The intimate size also allows you to get to know the staff, many of whom have become friends of ours over the years. This specifically is what keeps us coming back – as wonderful as the hotel is, it’s the staff that truly sets The Reef apart from others. There are too many names to list: Vita, Daniel, Roberta, Jonathan, Fernando in the lobby; and Guillermo, Luis, Umberto, Miguel, Manuel, Noellia, Victoria, Erick, Israel and Raul in the bars, restaurants and kitchen – and many more!

Over the years we have noticed some changes, the food has become better and better and the desserts specifically (thanks, Lazaro!) were fantastic this time. No matter what restaurant, the food is of excellent quality. My family has vacationed around the world, and they commented that the food meets or exceeds the quality and presentation of even the most premium cruise lines.

The hotel is clean and well organized, we have never had a problem with anything in any room we’ve stayed in and we know that the staff works hard to keep it this way.

We rate The Reef 5 stars and will always return to our home away from home (and recommend this hotel to others); however there are a few things that we feel if changed, would improve the experience for all guests.

There should really be free internet. Many hotels now offer free wifi as an included service to their guests. Even if just offered in the lobby, this is now a fairly basic service.

We appreciate that this is a family-friendly resort, but feel that one child-free area (specifically, the Nico’s Bar area) should be offered, especially for the premium guests. The hot tub specifically often ended up as a swimming pool for children, and although turned on at noon, was NEVER actually warmer than a pool.

The snack bar used to be open throughout the evening, but now closes around dinner time and reopens at 10:30pm. It would be nice if the snack bar would remain open throughout the evening, as a casual alternative for those who want to stay around the pool. Another change is the $5 charge for the Mexican restaurant upstairs for non-premium bracelet holders. This seems ridiculous - $5 is a trivial charge, and nothing extra is offered beyond what is available at Botticelli’s. This idea really needs to be rethought – the restaurant is always empty because people aren’t willing to pay extra for nothing. This also causes the Italian restaurant to be busier, which slows down service and creates a backlog of people.

The last issue is smoking at the buffet – they now seem to reserve the outdoor area specifically for smokers, which doesn’t make sense because the smoke wafts in through the windows and affects everyone inside anyway. It would be nice if ALL restaurant areas would be smoke-free – smoking is allowed anywhere else on the property.

The issues listed above however are minor, we LOVE this hotel and will always look forward to returning! It is the perfect place to escape reality, relax and enjoy a laid-back vacation with friends and family.

  • Stayed November 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.
Oak Forest, Illinois, United States
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
6 hotel reviews
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2012

This a beautiful, small resort with all the amenities of the big ones. This is the first resort just south of town and it is just a short 15-20 minute walk from the ferry pier to Cozumel and the main shopping plaza. Walk along the beach to town or go for a walk out the front entrance through the beautiful street to town.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReefPlayacarResort, Guest Relations Manager at The Reef Playacar, responded to this review, November 12, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write a review of your recent stay at our Resort. We are very happy to know that you had a great vacation at our resort!

We appreciate your comments regarding the good location.

We offer special rates to our returning guests, so if you plan to come back, let us know directly! We are looking forward to welcoming you once more!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
2 reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

Just returned (Oct 31-Nov 7), 1 week of sun and lots of laughs. Chose The Reef because it is small (170 rooms?) and close to Playa (15 minute walk along the beach or street). It was a great choice. The apartment blocks are built around a 'cenote' and a seating area surrounded by jungle. There are canopied lounges and plenty of lounge chairs at the pool and beach.
Staff, Check in was smooth and easy. Front desk helpful and courteous. In fact all the staff were welcoming and friendly. If you try to 'hablo espanol', staff will appreciate the effort and are patient with assisting in the pronunciation. Got a problem or need something - ask, but don't whine. It just spoils everybody's day (people around you-staff and guests alike). The staff may get busy, but they never forgot us and always were there with what we needed. Always a smile and 'hola'.
Rooms, Smaller (not cramped) by some standards but clean with all the amenities necessary. Our room had a large tiled shower (some have a tub or soaker tub) including a clothes line. Air conditioning and ceiling fan kept the room cool. King size bed was firm and comfortable. We only used the room for changing, sleeping and bathroom toiletries so it was perfect.
Food, Fresh and plentiful. The main courses were well presented and hot. Lots of fruit and
salad. Being a smaller resort, there was not as many choices but still enough variety for all of us to have a good meal- breakfast, lunch and dinner. 'Papas fritas' were always hot and fresh at the snack bar.
Concerns/complaints, The shows were loud, not really much to complain about.
This trip has set a high standard for our future expectations. We met people from across Canada and Europe at this resort. A wonderful international meeting place. Some will be our friends for life. There are some Maya ruins within walking distance, a small bird sanctuary and of course shopping, restaurants and clubs close by. There was enough to do without all the tours. Remember this is a sub-tropical climate - there are bugs (cockroaches etc). Competition for the tourist dollar is high, get over it - just say 'No gracias' (no thanks)

Room Tip: Email the resort about concerns or questions before leaving home
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  • Stayed November 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
    • 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.
ReefPlayacarResort, Director of Sales at The Reef Playacar, responded to this review, November 12, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write a review of your recent stay at our Resort. We are very happy to know that you had a great vacation at our resort!

We appreciate your comments regarding the easy check in, the rooms, food, and our staff.

We offer special rates to our returning guests, so if you plan to come back, let us know directly! We are looking forward to welcoming you once more!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
Amenities:
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:
#39 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#50 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#64 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#82 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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