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“Our 6th visit next week!” 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 #114 of 201 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Kansas City,MO
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Our 6th visit next week!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2013

Next Saturday, my wife and I are looking forward to our 6th visit in 8 years! We love The Reef so much we will continue to visit for many more years to come. For repeat visitors, they give you many extra amenities and services that keep us coming back. The beach is absolutely awesome. With The Reef being a smaller resort, you don't have a lot of people to deal with and it's never over-crowded. 2 pools and 1 has a swim up bar. Food is great and the people are really friendly. At the pool and beach, you have plenty of chairs for everyone. Don't you hate how you have to claim a chair at 8 in the morning at some resorts? Not at The Reef! They have plenty to go around. I could talk all day about how a great value The Reef is. For the money, this is the best deal in Playa.
We will keep coming back!

  • Stayed October 2013, 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
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2,652 reviews from our community

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  • 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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English first
Indianapolis, IN
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2013

It’s taken me a little while to write this review party due to the fact there was an issue upon checkout that really ticked me off and I had to shake it off first in order to give a fair review, and partly because writing reviews seems like a daunting task to me, so here goes!

Stayed from 9/20 - 9/27

Check In: Fast, but we always travel during low season. Friendly. Did receive a map that needs to be updated as Nico’s bar is not listed.

Resort Layout: I love the layout of this resort and the fact that it’s small. We go off property a lot and do a lot of walking around Playa, so it’s nice to have a small resort that is easy to navigate while there. It has a very tropical atmosphere, which I love.

Rooms: I loved our room, the hubby thought it a bit sparse. We both loved the bed! Some say the beds in Mexico are hard, but we must love that because we've never had a bad bed. All of the linens were of good quality and nothing was worn, including the towels. The bathrooms could use an upgrade I suppose. Didn’t bother me, but caulking was cracked and worn. Only issue here was it was a large drop to step out of the shower, which was odd, and the first time we almost slipped. After that we were more careful. Water pressure was very low, but water was always very hot and plenty of it.

Buffet: The buffet was excellent, as long as your expectations are in check. I didn’t find it to be better or worse than buffets at Dreams, Barcelo, or Secrets. We tried the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with breakfast being the best, as you would expect. Oh, and they did advertise an al-a-cart breakfast at Botticelli's but we never tried it out.

Grill: The pool grill was surprisingly very good. Especially considering what we paid. You always have to consider what you paid. Hubby loved the grill at Secrets much better, but we also paid twice as much for Secrets than Reef. I thought the grill was more than adequate. I’m a guacamole snob, and it was almost as good as mine. Only tried guac, fries, and burger, all were good to great.

Botticelli: This restaurant could have been a bit better. They serve you bruschetta as an appetizer, and it’s the best I’ve ever had. The main dishes fall short a bit. I ordered a ravioli dish, which was good, seemed of high quality, but had a taste that was different than what I’ve ever experienced. The hubby ordered the Alfredo, which I thought was great and I’m an Alfredo snob, but it was just pasta and sauce, so I thought it could have used chicken or spinach for some color or something. The hubby ended up mixing both our pastas together, and that was good. LOL! Service was a bit slow. Also, there’s an extra charge for premium cuts of steak and lobster in both al-a-cart restaurants. The house wine is a matter of opinion. I’d say it’s equivalent to about a $5 or $6 bottle you’d get from your local grocery store. Some people can’t drink that stuff, I can if properly chilled. One night it was slightly chilled, just perfect, the next night it was warm and definitely undrinkable.

Terazza: The first night I ordered the coconut shrimp. It was the absolute best coconut shrimp I’ve ever had. And I had coconut shrimp all over Playa, as well as Cozumel, and Terraza wins on this one! It was phenomenal. I don’t think it had any breading on it, I love it like that, just some toasted coconut in a coconut cream sauce. It was great. Runner up was Rasta’s on Cozumel for $16. The second night at this restaurant the hubby upgraded to the Ribeye for $20, which is too much money to ask for in my opinion and it was over cooked. My steak, the filet that was on the menu, was also over cooked. We both ordered them medium, and they were both well done. Bummer.

Theatre: We saw the Street Dance show and the Michael Jackson show. They were both fantastic, especially the Michael Jackson show. I am such a sucker for choreographed dance! This guy really looked a lot more like MJ than even the impersonators I’ve seen in Vegas for $75 a pop!

Bars: Lobby bar is great, nice atmosphere, friendly service. Bar Papo’s, up by the theater is a great little spot, there is a beach bar by the grill with seats nearby, and it’s a great little asset. Never used the pool bar, but we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Nico’s!!! This place was heaven! We were normally the only one’s there, maybe because of low season, but the bartenders were GREAT! And Soheila really kept an eye on those young boys running the bar and they all provided top notch service. I think their names were Herlindo and Gerardo. We REALLY had a ball hanging out there!

Beach: Fantastic! Walk for miles, soft sand, warm water. Never used any of the kayaks or hobie cats though. Bummer.

Overall, we LOVED the Reef. I would recommend it highly and I would go back in a heartbeat. When considering overall value for price paid, the Reef really shines!
However, whoever was running the front desk when we checked out really ticked me off. We had a 20% discount for massages at the spa. This is a coupon that is attached to the map that the hotel gives you upon check in. Because I didn’t present this coupon to the spa at the time of my massage, they refused to honor it upon checkout. Okay, but here’s the kicker. I asked the guy TWICE if my discount was on there and TWICE he said “yes”. It wasn’t until I did the pesos to dollars conversion that I realized it wasn’t. When I brought it back to him it turned into an exchange of him making phone calls, bringing the spa manager to the front desk, I don’t know, it was a bunch of confusion just because I asked them to honor the coupon THEY gave me. What’s the big deal that I didn’t physically hand it to the ladies in the spa? I still have the coupon, I still paid for a $100 massage, I still tipped a LOT to EVERYONE that served us, I still never complained about my overcooked, overpriced steak, and yet I’m not worthy of my $20 discount. Whatever! I don’t know why, but that just made me so mad. I guess because I felt like they thought I was trying to get one over on them, when they are really getting one over on me.

Couple of other mentions: The coffee there is the best ever, a wonderfully rich flavor. The specialty coffees set up by the cenotes from 4 – 6 are delicious. The ice cream at the ice cream parlor is great. Oh, and one more complaint too before I close out. We paid for the Superior Premium upgrade and one of the “perks” is a free safe. They give you a lock that goes into your safe, okay fine, but then they tell you if you lose the lock or key they will charge you $100!! Really Reef? $100 dollars? So now I get to stress about that stupid thing all week!! Thanks a lot! But other than that, overall, I LOVE THE REEF!!!

Room Tip: Forgot to mention that the A/C unit in the room worked wonderfully. On the things that really count...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
    • 4 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.
Beltsville, Maryland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2013

My wife and I came to the Reef for 4 nights and we had an amazing time! All we did was relax by the pool and the beach. They probably have the most beach beds of any resort in Playacar. We didn't have to wake up early to claim a spot - there was always a beach bed available and plenty of very comfortable beach chairs. They keep the whole place very clean. There's a main stone walk-way that weaves through the center of the resort, and it's like walking through a beautiful jungle with lots of trees, waterfalls, and ground cover. And staff regularly cleaned the walk-way and pruned the gardens; it looked like Disney World. We were treated well by all the resort employees. They were very helpful and treated us like VIP guests. The food is great and there are lots of options. They had lots of bottled water (don't drink the tap water) and bottles of hand sanitizer in all public places that anyone could use. The room was cool with a nice, quiet AC unit. The only downsides were that they had a long check-in line and that they didn't have enough bar or wait staff to regularly fill up drinks at the buffet, but you could also walk up to the bar or fill station to get your own drinks at any point. We highly recommend Reef Playacar to any couple or even family.

Room Tip: Be sure to specify one king bed vs two doubles if that's what you're expecting; don't as...
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  • Stayed September 2013, 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
    • 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.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2013

1. Buffet food, drinks & service is great
2. Snack bar food and ice cream is good
3. Awesome beach with free kayak rentals
4. Free bike rentals
5. Premisis Jungle like with waterfalls
6. Free specialty Coffee time in relaxing jungle like area
1. Restroom moldy
2. Sheets a bit stinky
3. Pool a bit dirty

Overall, I recommended due to all inclusive price of about $160 per night for 4 people.

  • Stayed September 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2013

We are repeat visitors to the Reef. We have been to larger resorts but we prefer the Reef Playacar for several reasons:

Lush landscaping
Small resort-- you can get anywhere in a few minutes
Great food!
Tea time
Great service--you get to know everyone
Pool overlooks the beach

If you've been to bigger resports, you'll appreciate NO RESERVATIONS for dinner. The menu in the steak house has changed and we loved it! Lots of new interesting options. The breakfast buffet can't be beat, there are no trams to catch, and the intimate atmosphere allows you to meet other people. We love the mariachis and live band--need more of this! Shows were good too. Entertainment staff has improved.

Things they could improve on:
Treat repeat visitors better--if we come back, we like you! Make us feel special! We are walking advertisements for you!
Beef up the Spa--add a sauna, healthy drinks, etc. A few enhancements would make a big difference. Manicures and pedicures need improvement.
Make one of the pools adults only.
Play better music at the VIP bar--it's very boring and puts you to sleep.

Overall, you can't beat the value for the money. We love coming here!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Norwich, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2013

Myself and wife stayed at the Reef from 31st August 2013 for 2 weeks all inclusive. On arrival we were allocated a room on 3rd floor as I had requested as I was concerned about other reviews concerning noise.
We were taken to a room on 3rd floor only to find it had not been cleaned, we were therefore allocated a room on Ground floor - not a good start !!
The room was ok but bathroom was not very clean and rather dated. Some refurbishment is taking place around the hotel.
The food in the Chula Vista restaurant was average and a reasonable selection each day but it did get a bit predictable over the 2 weeks. We did use the Italian restaurant a couple of nights, the food was excellent but 1 night the service was awful.
The beach was fantastic and we had some nice walks along it during our stay. We did walk up to 5th Avenue (15 min walk), this is quite a lively stretch of shops/restaurants and worth a visit but be prepared to be invited into every shop to look at goods !!
Walking along the beach you are regularly asked if you would like a massage also or to go on various excursions.
We did 3 excursions while we were there - 1 to Chitchen Itza, 1 to Tulum and Xel-Ha and 1 to Dolphin Adventure all booked through the Virgin Rep.
Chitchen Itza was excellent but a reasonable drive to the site, Tulum was absolutely beautiful, Xel-Ha was an excellent place for water activities. The dolphin adventure was fantastic and is a place I would thoroughly recommend. However, the catamaran cruise which was also part of the day cancelled due to weather.
The staff at The Reef were all extremely pleasant, helpful. Particularly staff in the Chula Vista restaurant who were all very pleasant and attentive. Paulinio was excellent. Also, Gabriel the chef was really helpful
On the 2nd week we were there the weather was very wet and we did find it hard to find things to occupy ourselves which was a shame. We did go to a bird sanctuary up the road from the hotel but this was small and expensive so I would not recommend it to anyone.
Entertainment in the hotel was average, the Michael Jackson night was good, Grease night was quite entertaining but the main shows tended to finish before 10.00pm and individuals who had gone to the shows went back to their rooms after the show and it was quiet after the nightly shows had finished.
In other reports I have read regarding the hotel, we were concerned about being pestered by individuals selling timeshare at the hotel. We were approached once during our stay so maybe we were lucky.
The cleaners were all very pleasant and our room was cleaned each day, but the room was in need of some updating (Room 213)

Room Tip: Request a room on top floor. We had a room on the ground floor which was ok but there was some noise...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2013

I just returned from the Reef Playacar. Because it rained pretty much the entire time (7 nights Sun - Sun) we were there, I wanted to hold off writing this so I didn't let the rain influence my opinions. So I will begin with all the positives; first off upon checking in, we were offered a welcome drink upon arrival and checking in went smoothly. At that time I bought the "gold" upgrade bracelet and was able to get it cheaper thean the $18usd/day price because I was buying it for the whole week ($15usd/day). The resort has a tropical rain forest feel about it and the walkway make you think your walking through a jungle. Our bags were brought to our room and we were giving the mini tour. After we settled in we were starving, not having anything to eat since breakfast. We went to the snack bar beside the pool and I ordered the wings, which had a very unique taste, but wasn't bad. Because it was raining pretty hard, we satyed in that night. The next days it rained on and off all day all the way up to Friday afternoon. We would hang out under the protection of the thatched roof at the swim up bar at the pool, doing the only activity we could do in the rain, which was drink and try to have a good time. I found that when they ran out of the "top shelf" liqours they would not replace them even after multiple requests. One day when we were rtying to get a cab in the front to go into town, we were solicited to take a tour of the Reef to buy some kind of time share or vacation package, after multiple no's, he got out right rude and was condesending toward my wife and I as we hurriedly climed into a cab. FYI, the cab into town is 70 pesos (almost 6 bucks US). We ate at the buffet for breakfast starting out, but it made my wife and I stomach ache every time after and the food was very bland, so I can't recommend the buffet. The other two restaurants on site are a Mexican Fare and Italian Fare cuisines and were quite good and the resort has recently changed it's reservation policy, you don't have to have one, but there is a dress code. The staff is awesome and willing to help any way they can. The entertainment is just a bit better than a high school talent show. There is WiFi available for $12us/day.

The Good;
Rooms are okay, cold A/C
Resort has that tropical Jungle feel
Bars, 5 including the premium bar
Pools were nice and clean
2 Restaurants Mex. and Ital.
Beach Volley Ball
Beach is nice, beautiful waters

The Bad;
Timeshare soliciting at the Reef itself
Premium Liqours not restocked
Buffet food is not good
Excursions bought through the hotel are much more expensive
Beach chairs, most need repair and won't incline up
Resort has quite a few areas in need of updating
Bars close at the pool at 6pm, you have to go to the front bar above the check in afterwards
and THE RAIN but thats not the resorts fault, although having a plan B for rainy day activities wouldnt be a bad idea on behalf of the resort.

I give them 3 stars

Room Tip: Building 800 where we stayed was great. Close to the pools and restaurants.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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 18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member 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
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
#63 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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