My wife and I, our 3 kids (13, 11 & 8) and my in-laws just returned from one of the best week long vacations we could have ever had at Aventura Cove Palace in the Riviera Maya. Since we packed so much into our fun-filled week, I think I will break down this review into smaller sections and give you my thoughts on each separately. While this was a great vacation, it was not without some minor issues. We do realize our family may be more resilient and able to cope with the unexpected better than some of the others who have written previous reviews, so please note we may be easier to please. Even if this is the case, we still believe we are a good judge of quality in a vacation. My wife and I have been traveling to similar resorts together for the past 15 years; we also own and operate a family fishing resort in west-central Minnesota.
We have been Palace Members for 3 years now and this was our 4th trip to palace resorts. This trip was our second trip to Aventura Spa / Cove. We stayed on the cove side this time as we brought children with us. (Spa side is adults ONLY) As I said before we truly enjoyed our vacation and hope this review adds some value to your next vacation to this great area and specifically this great resort.
All-Inclusive: First of all, I would want you to know that this resort is an all-inclusive resort. Not all all-inclusives are created equal. The reason we are members of Palace resorts is because of 2 separate reasons. The first reason is that the first time we visited a palace resort our friend was happy to see there are 4 bottles of Alcohol in a cabinet in his room. The only problem was he drank bourbon and was hoping they would stock that. He knew he could order it at almost any of the many bars at the resort, but thought he would ask the gentleman stocking the rooms. After a little communication issue, the man went away and quickly returned with a bottle of Jim Beam for my friend to have in his room. My friend probably only had a drink or 2 from his room all week, but the point is…. This is the kind of All-inclusive we have come to know at Palace Resorts. (We have many other similar stories). If you can’t find something great to eat or drink at this resort, you will find it hard to be pleased anywhere.
Spa Credit: For the past 2 years the all-inclusive at Palace has included spa credits ($1,500 for each room stay of over 5 nights). These credits take the All-inclusive to another level. When staying at Aventura (Cove or Spa) all of this credit can be used for SPA Services. This is a great value. We used our spa credit for Spa services including backrubs, Facials, Hair braiding (Kids); we went on the Tulum Excursion; we bought pictures taken by the resort, and for golf at Playacar. I will explain these in sections to follow. We didn’t use all of our credits and we could have used them on upgraded wines, upgraded rooms, more excursions, tequila packages and more.
• At Moon palace we have used these credits for limo transportation between other resorts, into Cancun and back to the airport. This was great, but not available at Aventura due to its more remote location.
Airport Transfer: We came with 7 people so it made it easy for Palace to schedule us on 1 van for our included airport transfer. Since Adventura is about an hour south of the airport, it is nice to not go on a bigger bus or to be put on a shuttle with people from other resorts as this can make travel time much longer and after your air travel, all you want to do is to get to the resort.
We have on other trips asked the driver to stop at a convenience store on our way to purchase drinks for the trip. This year we didn’t as we were with our kids and we thought we could wait until we arrived at the resort.
Check-in: When we pulled up to the lobby, we were excited to get out of the van and to get our vacation started. My kids have been with us to Moon Grand, but never to a palace resort with a large lobby for check-in (Moon grand’s check-in is basically in one of the rooms. Although we are fine with that, it is nice to check-in to a real elegant Lobby) We were greeted with cold wet wash clothes with a great lemony aroma. Very refreshing!
• When we arrived for prior trips we were greeted with Champaign, but not this time. That would have been nice, but may be one of the things slipping away at the resort. I did notice some other guests getting a choice of some premade drinks at check-in. But I guess that is just being done when they can find time now and not for every guest as it used to be.
We were given our room keys almost instantly. The bellman received our room number and all bags were routed right to our room.
The Room: We had originally planned to come with just our family of 5 we were going to get a family suite, but when we made our reservations in November they were running a promotion to give us a free room (including All-inclusive) if we brought another full paying guest. That made it cheaper to have my in-laws come and share 2 Jacuzzi suites for the 7 of us. If you are thinking that sounds like close quarters, that is what my wife thought, so a week before we came she changed our reservation to have a family suite and another room for my in-laws. My wife and I waited until check-in to tell anyone and thought it would be our surprise.
The Surprise was on us!!! When we arrived at our room, we learned the family suite we were upgraded to was the Presidential Suite on the 3rd floor overlooking everything! We couldn’t have been happier. This room was close to everything. It was not loud and it was huge!!!! There could not have been a better room in the whole resort for us.
Restaurants: Since we were travelling with children, the only options for restaurants we had were on the Cove side. These turned out to be very good on this trip, but kind of limiting. La Hacienda is a great Mexican, but be ready to take your time. We dined here twice. Once it was quiet and the other time it was full. Both times it took a lot of time. Mandacca which is out by the pool was great for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I acted like a spoiled tourist one afternoon and asked for garlic shrimp at lunch. Once I was able to communicate what I wanted, I received 2 helpings of freshly grilled garlic shrimp, Awesome! We did also get room service for the kids one night so we could head to the spa side for MoMoNoHana. This was a great meal, but the kids fajita’s from room service were probably better!
Spa: Since we are members, we receive a Manicure, Pedicure and a Massage each trip without using spa credits. These were great. But we still wanted more. So we used much of our credits for spa services. The only issue with this is trying to pick what service to have and the wait while the official vacation planners help make your reservations. (This is probably my biggest complaint with Palace Resorts. We get lots of opportunity to use spa credits and other services, but it takes so long to book these services. It should go like this…..What service do you want? What is your Name and Room Number? Ok you are booked I will print your receipts to sign, DONE!!!) Somehow this takes what seems like, ½ hour per service. (or a Mexican Minute!) Once booked however the Spa services are great.
• Make sure you take enough time to enjoy the water and aroma therapy before your services 1 Hour is about right.
• Only Hot Tub on the resort is outside the entrance to Spa side’s lobby. It is a great place to relax and to go if rain comes over the resort.
• We wish our kids could receive Massages. They don’t do that here. Our girls did get their hair braided in the salon on the cove side. Very nice job and they are still in today.
Excursions: We only chose to do the Express Tulum Tour on this vacation. This worked great as we were back to the resort by 1:30. Our Tour guide was an archeological Expert and was very interesting. This is a great year to visit since we found out what will happen at the end of the Mayan Calendar later this year. We brought suits with, knowing that the beach at Tulum is great. It was!
Golf: My father-in-law, son and I went golfing at Playacar. At $210+ per round it would be an expensive adventure, but since we could use resort credits it was a deal. We did have to pay for clubs and balls (We did pretty good) but you can go through the balls on this course. The course isn’t in the shape it was back when it hosted the PGA, but it is still a great round of golf. It is also great to see all the animals on the course. I love the all-inclusive piece of golf. It is nice to stop the beer cart for sandwiches, beer, pop and water and have it all FREE! We also used this trip to go to the beach at Playacar Palace. It is a great benefit to be able to go to other Palace resorts with All-inclusive included.
• We were happy they let our son golf. He is 13 and a fairly good golfer. They had no questions about it.
Kids Club: If this review was being done by my 8 year old daughter, this would be the best feature of this resort. They have an active schedule with crafts and learning opportunities. They do get to watch tv which our kids enjoy a little too much, but they are always doing other things as well. The staff is very professional and yet laid back and great with the kids. They were flexible with our older kids and let them come and go as they please (With our permission). This is a must and a great service with small children.
Entertainment Staff: Our first couple days the resort was fairly empty. This gave us a great opportunity to meet all of the Entertainment staff. J, Vanilla, Jauquin and more… do a great job making everyone feel welcome to participate in any activities they are doing. Even though they do the same things each week, they make you feel like it is fun because they are doing them with you. They should receive the highest grade for all their efforts.
Nightly Shows: We took in the nightly show almost every night. These are not just cheesy small resort shows. They are big time entertainment. The Circus show is amazing. How do these people perform such feats! The Magic Show was top notch and our children had so much fun. Other than a few sparks in our eyes from the fire show, it should not be missed. All of these shows were a great way to cap off a day of fun at Aventura Cove Palace.
Tipping: I normally bring a huge amount of $1’s to tip throughout the week. What I didn’t bring this week is enough $5’s. Since we were a group of 7 it seemed too little to tip 1,2 or3 dollars at a meal. Please note that you are not required to tip and never did I feel obligated to leave a tip, however time are changing in this area of Mexico. It seems like the simple slip of a $1 tip doesn’t justify the effort these people are putting forth. I should mention that even the smallest of tips is appreciated and does generate even better service than without.
Cove Vs Beach: We had a wonderful time in the cove at the resort. While it is NO substitute for a beach with wave coming in, it did allow for kayaking and some great snorkeling trips. We had Cosmos give us a tour one day and found it very useful to know where to see most of the sea life. After that we went on our own each day and were able to see hundreds of fish each time. My favorites were the baby Barracudas that swam near the surface. Be careful of the jelly fish, but also don’t miss watching them as they are beautiful as well. We made sure to make a couple of trips to Playacar palace during the week to get our fill of the sand and surf as well.
Check-out: This was a disappointment for a couple of reasons. One, we were leaving a great resort. But then a second disappointment was that it took a lot of time and we had to straighten out some billing issues. We had a few spa services and excursions that were scheduled with the vacation planners as spa credit services, but then were not reflected that way on our bill. It could be because we had 3 rooms and credits on only 2 of them, but even so it should not be so confusing. It also took quite a while to straighten out. Make sure you leave time to check-out so you can get your bill settled correctly. In the end they removed all of these charges and we were happy.
• During our stay a large group of HerbaLife (Mexico) came in with 1500 people. The resort handled this very well. While it was discouraging to wait a little longer for a drink or for food, service was still adequate. At check-out they set up kiosks in the lobby for their group to checkout this saved me a lot of waiting time.
SUMMARY: Hopefully this review will help you in your upcoming vacation plans. We feel like Palace resorts is a well run high-end resort that is not without issues, but overall it is a great vacation value. Our family looks forward to taking many more vacations at Palace Resorts in the future!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This is the 1,264-room Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. And this is where luxury meets satisfaction on a stage of stunning tropical views , a private white sand beach , and exclusive saltwater snorkeling areas . It's all capped off with an inviting traditional design, legendary Hard Rock hospitality, and undeniable excess at every turn. Live large at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya and enjoy the very best of paradise for all. Or, pack your appetite for opulence and hit Heaven - an elevated and exclusive retreat for adult guests only featuring a private adult beach, superlative amenities, and dining at its finest. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Aventura Cove Palace Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya Puerto Aventuras, Mexico