I went to the Grand Sunset in January 2011 with a girlfriend. It is a beautiful and huge resort, but not somewhere I would stay again. For us, it was too large. We felt like we were on a giant cruise ship, but land locked.
We booked through bookit.com, and had the optional travel voucher included. The booking and transfers to and from the hotel worked just fine for us. A little bit of a wait on the way out, but not a big deal. Our driver stopped at a 7-11 so that the riders could purchase some cervesa to celebrate the trip.
The Grand Sunset has two separate lobbies - we never did figure out why. There is the Grand Sunset, and the Grand Riviera. Our check in went smoothly. We made the error of deciding that we would haul our luggage to the room ourselves. Don't do this - pay the bellboy a couple of dollars and have them take your luggage to the room for you. It is a loooong walk to the rooms, and the layout of the resort is confusing until you are used to getting around.
My impression is that most people at the resort had booked through someone, and that each of the booking places had a representative at the resort. We did not talk to our representative until we had been there for a while - it would have been smarter for us to have talked to him at the outset. He had a lot of good tips for us. He did, of course, try to sell us on some of the tours, but he was not pushy. We did not participate in any of the organized tours.
One tip that our rep had for us had to do with the currency. The exchange rate varied from place to place, and you will get a better rate in Playa than you will at the hotel. I never exchanged money - I used American dollars everywhere I went. Some places gave pesos as change, and a few places gave American money as change if you asked for it. You might want to bring smaller bills to use to purchase whatever you're going to buy; otherwise you will end up with a lot of pesos. Also, the bookit rep told us that generally the service people (i.e. taxis) prefer the American dollar, because they will get a better exchange rate than we will, so their gratuity is basically larger if you pay with the American dollar.
Our room was very nice. I do wish we had stayed in one of the villas that had the swim out area. I think that we were probably in the cheap seats. We tried to upgrade, but were told there were no rooms available. We also ended up with a king bed, even though my friend who booked the room was sure that she had requested two beds. Each day we tried to move, and each day we were told that there were no rooms available and we should check the next day. We also had our bookit.com representative try to help us, with no success. It was not a huge deal to us, but we sure would have preferred having the two beds. They did offer a roll away bed the third time we called, but we did not use it because it would have filled up the room. The bed was okay - I had a backache from it, but that could be just me.
The bathroom is very nice (see pics). The shower and toilet are separate from the vanity area. Two sinks. Magnifying mirror. Coffee maker (no decaf - it was challenging for my friend to find decaf within the resort, but some of the buffet areas did have it). Decent products. We got extra towels when we asked for them. The deck is nice - two chairs and a table. Sofa, chair. Okay lighting. Lamps on either side of the bed. TV. We did not have a clock radio. Although the hotel is advertised as non-smoking, our room was identified as a smoking room on the outside (we do not smoke), and there was an ashtray in the room. No smoking odor in the room, however. Outside is a different story - a LOT of people were smoking cigarettes. Happily, there was no smoking in the restaurants.
Our room overlooked a construction area, but we could see the ocean from our balcony. It was fine. It probably would have been worth it to us to pay the extra $ to have a pool view.
The resort itself is huge. Larger than we would have preferred. There are a ton of restaurants. We spent most of our eating time at the buffets - there is a Riviera buffet, and a Sunset buffet. One is larger than the other. The staff in the restaurants was great - I know they appreciate it when you bring a buck or two to leave for them. They worked really hard to clean the tables and bring us our beverages. They typically offered mimosas in the morning with breakfast, and wine at dinner.
I did not eat in any of the restaurants other than the buffet. You need to make reservations for the other restaurants and they fill up fast. You need to make the reservations at a desk behind the lobby - there was always a line. If you want to make reservations, I'd suggest you do it when you first arrive.
The buffets always had a place to sit. There were times that there was a line to get the food, but it was never bad. The food was fine. Not fabulous, but fine. I don't have any complaints about the food.
There are a ton of pools to choose from. One was obviously the "party" pool - I hung out there one day and the staff was working really hard to engage the crowd in games (bingo and "pop the balloon on your boyfriend") and get people fired up for fun. The music was loud pop, which was fine if you're into that. The pools have swim up bars - the blue Hawaiian drink was very popular, as were the margaritas. There were other pools that were quieter. Some folks ran down and put their towels on the chairs, but it didn't seem to be a problem to find a place to hang by the pool.
You get your towels by exchanging your towel card (similar to your room card key) at a building by the pool for a towel. At the end of the day you can return your towel for either the card or a fresh towel.
We spent most of our time at the ocean. It was lovely. You can walk a long way in either direction. There were plenty of chairs - we always found one. If you like the crowds, you can hang out right by the resort. If you walk to the right as you face the water, however, you can find an area that is a little more secluded, which we enjoyed (over by where they rent the jet skis and hobie cats). We did not partake in any of the organized water activities.
There were massages offered at the water by another group - $50 cash. We did not have a massage, but they looked nice. That other group also had a premium area of the beach held for chairs and umbrellas - they were obviously charging people to sit there. The chairs were empty - as I mentioned, there were plenty of other areas to sit.
As other reviewers have noted, it is a long walk from the lobby area to the ocean. It does take about 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. And it can be a challenge to find your room again until you become accustomed to the layout of the resort. We wondered how folks who had difficulty walking would manage at the resort. I am sure it would be a challenge. They do have golf carts, however, and I imagine that those are used for people who need assistance. We saw that many of the staff used bicycles to get around the resort.
The staff at the resort was wonderful, bar none. I was irritated that we could not change our room, but they were very polite even as they turned us down. Everyone worked really hard to try to make you happy. The bartenders worked hard to serve you and to make sure you were having fun. Not everyone at the resort treated the staff well, which was disappointing for us to see. We brought a number of dollar bills (I got $50 in dollar bills before I left the states). I never had the impression that staff would not serve us if we didn't tip them, but I am also sure they appreciated the gratuity. And they worked hard to earn it, and I am sure that they could use the money and that a dollar probably means a lot more to them than it does to me.
We were not "platinum" at the resort. There were some nice areas that were reserved just for platinum guests. We all had certain colored wristbands that we wore throughout our stay (they are put on when you check in), and that identified whether you were a platinum member. It didn't matter to us, and I don't think there was anything that we really missed by not being "platinum." I think that there is a charge for room service unless you are platinum, but we did not use room service.
A lot of people had brought containers for coffee/beverages (i.e. travel thermos cups), and we wished we had those. They were handy for people to carry their beer around (Corona was everywhere you went, pretty much). I had brought my Lexan water bottle, and filled it each morning with water from the minibar. That was nice to have with me.
The advertisement for the resort said that it was either 5 or 10 minutes from Playa, and that is a bit of wishful thinking on their part. It's more like a 15 minute ride. A cab ride costs $19 to or from the resort to Playa. If you walk the mile or two out to the main drag, you can catch the "Collectivo" for three bucks to get to Playa. Basically, you stand on the road by the area where vans can pull off, on the side of the road for cars going in the direction you want to travel. The Collectivo (a white van with "Collectivo" printed on the side) will stop for you. They apparently come about every 15 minutes. You can take it to Playa, and you can take it to Cancun.
On a side note, we were offered a tour to Isla Mujeres for $119/person - a catamaran with open bar, then lunch, and shopping and snorkeling. We opted out of that, and decided to try the adenturesome route, and to try to get there ourselves. It worked pretty well. We took the Collectivo to Cancun. That cost $3/person for about a 45-minute ride. To get the Collectivo, we walked the couple of miles to the highway, and then stood on the side of the road and waited for the van.
The Collectivo dropped us at a supermarket outside of the hotel zone by the bus stop building. From there, you can take a bus or a cab ($5) to the ferry building where you buy your ticket ($28 round trip per person) to Isla Mujeres. The ferry was kind of fun. We got off in Isla Mujeres, and were greeted by folks trying to sell us moped time or golf cart time. We bought a golf cart ($50 for the day - we probably would have been happy with an hour just to get around and see the entire island) and drove around the island. That was fun. We stopped at a beach that had a fun bar, and hung out for a while. Isla is much quieter than Playa. We liked it a lot.
We had a good time on our trip, but would have preferred a smaller resort. That's not the fault of the resort, of course - it is as billed. I would recommend the resort to people who like the cruise ship experience - that is what it felt like to us. A huge land locked cruise ship. Not our cup of tea, but surely perfect for those who like big huge bustling places with lots of people and activities and plentiful pools, bars, and restaurants.
- Also Known As:
- Grand Sunset Princess All Hotel
- Grand Sunset Princess All Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort And Spa
- Grand Sunset Princess Hotel
- Grand Sunset Princess
- Grand Sunset Princess Review
- Grand Sunset Princess Mexico
- Grand Sunset Princess Resort
- Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort & Spa Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This All Inclusive Resort is located in the stunning Riviera Maya. The hotel is perfect for an unforgettable vacation thanks to its magnificent surroundings. The style of the hotel's architecture blends in with and respects the environment. The interior decor and ample functional outdoor spaces provide the setting for a fantastic vacation.The hotel features VIP areas, such as the Platinum Suites and the Laguna Romance Villas. They are privately located and offer exclusive services, including two Platinum lounges serving continental breakfasts, aperitifs, and premium drinks, along with a concierge, 24-hour room service, a private pool with waiters, and a water circuit in the spa.Grand Sunset Princess Hotel has seven restaurants specializing in food from a wide range of cultures, including Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean, and European. Each restaurant has its own unique feel and a few of them are located directly by the sea.After crossing the spacious lobby, you'll come to the Grand Sunset Princess, located near Playa del Carmen. The hotel features a total of twelve sparkling pools and some have an adjoining Jacuzzi. There are more than thirty specialty restaurants and bars, a lounge and a beautiful beach facing the majestic Caribbean ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with BookIt.com so you can book your Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort & Spa reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.