We stayed here Jan 21-28, and for the most part, really enjoyed everything.
Of course read many reviews, and have to question some of them that either rant or rave, and have no profile or any other reviews written, I have a hard time considering them genuine.
We stayed last year at the Sunscapes, another AI, and wanted to try another AI. The ratings here looked good.
We had some quirks when we arrived. We paid extra for a balcony room, and when we arrived at our room we noticed 2 water bottles, and one glass. The room safe did not work, they have a small refrigerator in the room, but nothing in it. At the Sunscape they stock them with sodas and beer, but apparently they do not do this here. The room had a king size bed, but to sit or lay on it, you sank about 75% to the bottom, as no support, it felt like just springs. I know everyone has a different opinion on mattresses, but it would have killed my wife and myself to sleep on it. She had back surgery within the last year, and we both need a firmer mattress. The front desk took me around to a few other rooms, in 2 buildings, another with a king bed, same mattress. The other option were rooms with 2 queen beds, some with firmer mattresses. That was our best option, and took it. The individual from the front desk was very committed to accomodate us, and we appreciated it. After an hour we had a new room.
There was no DVD player in the room, but they found and delivered one. No Refridge.
The bed light had a short in it and had to be swiveled upside down to work, but that got repaired the next day. The room safe in this room had to be reset as it did not work. Even then, it took two entries each time to open and close it.
We asked for face washclothes, but no one there knew what they were, and consequently did not have any. Mid stay, 2 arrived, but disappeared with housekeeping after two days. The rooms were cleaned promptly, and the beds usually turned down in the evening, along with an occasional towel animal, and chocolates on the pillows.
The room otherwise was clean, large bathroom area, the bath towels are 3X5 feet in size, very nice and large, all the shampoos, soaps and lotions.
We would have liked to have a coffee maker in the room. We asked, but never got one. In the lobby or restaurants have styrofoam 5oz cups you could fill and take to the room, but that was a chore to do. No lids, so coffee spilling along the way. They would not give me a carafe to use.
No clock in the room, this was listed as supplied in the rooms.
Water bottles are supplied everyday.
What would have been nice is to have a brochure listing all the hotel features, they have a little hotel map, but you are on your own to discover all the hotel has to offer.
There is a daily schedule one gets in the lobby in the morning listing which restaurants are open, the times, and description of the menus, they were about 75% accurate.
The hotel is kept very clean and is well maintained. We had a hall light bulb go out in our room one day, didn't mention it, and it was replaced before the end of the day.
Food: This was important to us, and we were pleasantly surprised. Its not Taco-Bell American/Mexican food, but what I would say authentic Mexican food. We found a large variety, and not much of a repeating menu. It seemed like everyday there was something new to try. It was always hot and very appetizing.
The food was not full of 'fat', like we tend to have in the U.S., and always lots of fresh fruit and juices. 6 different juices in La Terraza restaurant.
We ate at the Oyster Bar and La Terraza speciality restaurants, and found them very good.
There was a convention going on next door, that did not impact us, the hotel seemed like it was a third full. At any time only about 25% of the pool chairs were used, the restaurants not very full. The two speciality restaurants seemed like there were no more then 20-25 people eating there at any time. I am not complaining, I enjoyed not having a lot of guests there, the management mentioned that their occupancy was lower then they had forecast for. We plan our vacations later in the month of January, as schools starts up again, and places are not very full.
We never had any problem booking the speciality restaurants or any wait at any other venue.
Overall, we were very pleased with all the food, variety and the service.
Pools: As I mentioned, the pool always seemed empty. There were always plenty of open chairs to use, and since there are 3 different pool areas, there is a varietyof areas to sit at. We usually need a shady area, as we are so light skinned, and burn quickly. The waiters at the pools were always prompt to bring drinks around, like the other employees at the resort, they did a great job. We usually opted for the Pina-Colodas, no liquor, at the pools, very good and refreshing, and addicting.
They do have swimming areas roped off in the ocean, but majority of the time, we stayed at the pools.
There are life guards present around the pools, so those with little ones, could feel safe that something drastic does not happen. At times they had to blow their whistles, to keep folks from doing something they shouldn't at the pools. (Like jumping or diving).
Activities: This was great, this is a lot available to do. We did the kayaking over to Ixtapa Island, about 15 minutes each way, and were taken to the other side to snorkel. All gear is included. Anticipate 1 1/2 hours total time.
Also did the bike riding, this is an easy ride, about 5 KM round trip, and down to see the alligators, turtles, birds, iguanas, at the park just down from the resort.
We were taken out on the little Hobie Cats sailboats for a ride in the bay. This is available at 2, 3 and 4 o'clock each afternoon, when the wind kicks up.
All the employees running these always did a great job. They are to be commended.
As I mentioned there is a lot to do, but these were the only activities we were interested in.
They have a very good gym and climbing wall, and the daily schedule lists everything. You can sign up the day before, or that day, if space is available.
Also a list of activities for the younger ones. It was just my wife and myself, but the Azul is very kid friendly.
Gift Shops: We went in, but they do not accept U.S. Dollars, no U.S currency exchange at the front desk, but will take Canadian dollars. So we were out of luck to buy anything. If we bought something and put it on our credit cards, the fees and exchange rates, did not make sense for us to do.
Entertainment: Lots of variety for the kids and families during the day and evenings, but we did not attend any of the nite shows. We could see the stage shows from our balcony.
During our initial arrival, going through the process of changing rooms, and getting situated, we were informed about the New Grand Azul next door, and how the new hotel and rooms were something to consider. Apparently it took 5 years for the hotel to be completed and opened late last year. It appeared to only be about 5-10% occupied. I mentioned I could not find a web site for the new hotel, and that the Azul Ixtapa only has a web site in Spanish, not available in English. Suggested if they wanted to advertise it, to make information available in English, they would likely have more folks staying there. This led to the promise to be given a tour of the new hotel.
We agreed to this, signed a piece of paper stating that we would get an hour tour, and $600 peso's to spend at the gift shop afterwards. (Which we did, bought a Azul t-shirt and a water bottle).
We thought we would consider coming again next year and staying there, as it was new and another location to consider for the future. If they offered us a good deal/package, we would be interested.
This required each of us to bring our drivers license and our credit cards. We were told this was necessary, to get 'credit' from the credit card company for giving a tour. (What,? The reason for bringing the credit cards is so you can charge/finance the cost of their Travel Club). No numbers were taken, just shown to them. We told them we were not interested in buying into any "Time Share", and we were promised that was not what it was about. (There are others staked out in the hotel selling those as well, if you are interested).
Well, this ended up being a 3 hour sales pitch to join their "Travel Club".
This was a typical, standard selling pitch, typical of a car salesmen approach. Handed off to different salesmen, with a lot of very untruthful claims. We were told that their "Travel Club" was approved and endorsed by the United States, Federal Trade Commission, (F.T.C), and the Securities and Exchange Commission, (S.E.C.), (which is involved with stock trading), (I am a retired stock broker), the claims and very questionable statements were quite interesting.
For $19,950 U.S. Dollars, $2,000 in closing costs, and $2,000 Mexican Federal tax, and a maintenance fee of $400 to $600 a week while we stayed, we could stay at the Azul, and other locations, by buying their "points".
We asked to pull up what hotels were available in Dublin, Ireland and Barcelona, Spain, two current itineraries we are currently working on, which they did on their laptop computer. Nothing was available, these are world wide destination cities. They said they also could offer ship cruises, at better prices. We had booked a cruise recently, and inquired how much it would be through their Travel Club. It was the same price we just paid.
They had a 2010 booklet of the hotels you could stay at. No answer why they did not have a current booklet.
We were told many folks use it and are happy with it. Some folks we met while at the Azul bought into it years ago, and have had nothing but trouble dealing with it all.
These programs are sold to folks, many times, with questionable practices. Folks do not seek them out, as they financially do not make sense to purchase for the majority of people.
I did a Google search when I returned home, for their Travel Club, "Problems", and everyone has the same issue with them. paying lots of fees, poor and no service, and no resolutions, etc.
They sell them because they make lots of money on them. Do a quick calculation, and you can see it can generate millions of dollars a year for the hotel, and for the people selling them.
During the week I noticed the salesmen staking out guests in the lobby, offering and taking them on the tour, and giving them the sales pitch in the lobby areas.
We did not appreciate being "tricked" into their presentation. Much of what they told us did not make sense, their promises of their Travel Club were not very believable, it was a convoluted 'Time Share' type sales pitch.
It puts a bad light on the hotel to push this, but they do it because they make a lot of money on them.
If you are interested in seeing the new Grand Azul feel free to do so, but this is what its really all about.
I mention this, as it's part of how they operate this hotel, and if you stay here, you decide if you want to participate in it.
The Grand Azul has everything the Azul has, but its nice and new, and beautiful. Has the infinity Pool edge, they were gorgeous. The rooms have a good size Jacuzzi tubs in them, done very nicely. We could enjoy staying there.
Over all, except for the Travel Club, and minor issues, we really enjoyed the Azul, the hotel and grounds, and layout are beautiful, the food, activities, employees are all great, and would look to stay here again in the future.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.