My husband and I just spent an amazing week at ASP from Nov 12th to the 17th-- we loved it even more than our honeymoon at the Cancun Palace! The $1500 in resort credits really go far if you're smart and *make sure to book your spa appointments upon arrival, BEFORE you do anything else!*
I'll break down my review into sections as best I can, and try to be thorough and include the good and the bad. There were many things we were curious about before going, so I'm trying to be mindful of those things in the information I share.
We used our credits to get a couples' holistic massage, a romantic rooftop lobster & steak dinner for two, a wine tasting, and a wine list upgrade to Moet & Chandon for our last dinner at the resort. After all that we still had over $600 in credits left!
We could have used them on excursions, tequila & cigars at the gift shop, a room upgrade, etc., but there were quite a few groups traveling last week, so there were no upgrades available; we didn't want to check our bags on the way back-- so no bringing liquor home; and we didn't feel like leaving the resort this time around so we opted out of excursions. There was also a tequila tasting, a beauty salon, a spa skincare package for $300 in points, and two jewelry stores at which the credits could be used with some limits (note: the store called Mathia was more interested in selling us specific pieces than in allowing us to browse, and when we mentioned the credits they began really pushing their silver jewelry, on which the credits don't apply, so we wound up leaving the store altogether rather than be stressed out by a salesperson trying to steer us toward a particular product when all we wanted was to spend our "free" money in the first place).
I said all that to say, don't let our leftover $600 points deceive you-- there's really a lot you can do with those credits depending on what you want out of your trip. And again, if the resort hadn't been full, we'd have used ours for a room upgrade as well. Also, it's worth noting that the credits count like real money (i.e. you don't pay $300 in points for a $150 room upgrade or anything like that; a $350 couples' massage costs $350 in credits). One thing to remember, though, is that an 11% tax applies to any credits you spend, and that cost can't be paid in credits. It'll be on your bill at check-out. At first we thought the new tax was odd, but then we though: if you could pay $165 up front to get a few days' worth of spa treatments, several excursions, etc., would it seem like such a big deal then?
If we hadn't waited until the 14th we'd have been able to book more spa appointments, but you can't expect a spa resort running at full capacity to have many openings for treatments-- especially when they're offering every guest $1500 in free services! haha
Lety and Lidia were so sweet and gave wonderful massages, and didn't seem the least bit fazed when we realized at the end that we'd forgotten to bring money to tip them (we went back the next morning). Since I brought it up, it's worth noting that tips are not required or expected anywhere at the resort. The staff were very professional and made sure we felt relaxed and pampered no matter what.
Before going we were slightly nervous about the lack of a conventional beach, but honestly the lagoon and its beach left us wanting for nothing! Many people spent their time playing games or doing water aerobics and drinking at the swim-up bar in the pool (where drinks undoubtedly came faster). Because of that, there were always lounge chairs available down by the lagoon. And there were more by the volleyball court just a few feet away, which we had no problem dragging a few feet so we could lay out by the water.
The sand on the "beach" is a little rocky, or actually more like "pebble-y," but not sharp or uncomfortable enough to make you want to put your shoes back on. The sand IN the lagoon is much nicer-- very fine and soft. Take care when walking as opposed to swimming, though, as it gets shifted around into areas of mounds and hollows when people move through it, and it can be difficult to judge depth even when the water is crystal clear. The water is gorgeous, though, and calm. It doesn't have the rough surf that's characteristic of Cancun beaches.
The lagoon was by far our favorite part of the trip. My husband noted that drink service was considerably slower at the beach than at the pools or anywhere else, but then again there were two or three servers handling the entire beach, so that was to be expected. And honestly the margarita bar was just a few steps away, and it was never crowded, so if we had really wanted our cocktails faster we could've gotten them ourselves. But it was definitely nice to lay out and have someone approach every half hour or so to ask whether you wanted anything.
Each area has its own "beach" at the lagoon: VIP, Spa, and Cove. The Cove beach was almost always empty whenever we visited, and it was extremely quiet. It was also where the water flowed out into the ocean behind the rock wall's curve (it flowed in at the VIP area). We liked the Spa's beach, right in the middle, the best because it had a good amount of seaweed-free space to walk around in, and a nice gradually increasing depth from a foot or so at the shore to 9-11 feet by the rock wall/coral.
There are snorkeling tours and you can also snorkel by yourself if you want. The fish living in the lagoon are very used to people and will swim right up to you, especially if you stand up and put your hands in the water. Some people feed them bits of sandwich and whatnot, so I expect that's the reason they approach humans so willingly. The lagoon has a few different varieties of fish that are very pretty to look at, and since the ocean flows through it at either end, every day or two there are new types of fish that make their way in. One day we saw hundreds and hundreds of tiny silvery ones that looked like minnows, and on one of our last days there, a few baby barracudas made an appearance! They were about the size of my hand and easily scared away, but really cool to watch if you could get close enough.
Our favorite water activity at the ASP was couples' kayaking. I'm a scaredy-cat in the water, so snorkeling didn't work out for me despite several attempts. But in the kayak I was able to enjoy a view from above of all the ocean life the snorkelers were swimming through, and hubby and I had tons of fun floating and rowing along from one end of the resort to the other, watching the fish below and the crabs on the rocks beside us.
The pools were nice, but crowded, and honestly with the lagoon so close by, we didn't really see the point of staying at the pool. We could still faintly hear the music down by the lagoon after 11am, which was nice but not overpowering. The atmosphere by the pool was like a party, whereas the atmosphere by the lagoon was more laid back.
The staff were fantastic! Everyone was happy and jocular and seemed to truly enjoy their jobs (apart from the women in the gift shop, who were very polite but seemed less cheerful than their coworkers). Servers always pulled out chairs for me, and they made mealtimes more lively-- by the way, if you enjoy coffee and kahlua, don't pass up a Mayan coffee demonstration! Everyone gave us a warm welcome and was very obliging with any special requests. No one ever lingered waiting for a tip, and whenever we did tip anyone they put on a good show of surprise (haha).
They were extremely patient with my limited Spanish, and there wasn't a single person there who didn't let me know right away that they could speak English if it was easier for me. The manager at El Greco even joked, "I'm sorry miss, I don't speak Spanish," when I asked him a question about the availability of a certain food item. Some of the servers' eyes lit up when I responded in Spanish to their initial how are you's, and they'd begin asking me questions about how long I'd studied the language and where, and would encourage me to try to place the order in Spanish like we were playing a memory game. They would always oblige if I switched to English, but they really made me feel at ease with my attempts to recall Spanish from years ago.
Speaking of food, I have somewhat unique dietary restrictions so I'll only talk about things that are likely to be useful to most people.
My husband raved about the guacamole and insisted on having it every day, and he loved the seafood as well. He couldn't stop talking about the steak with goat cheese at La Hacienda, either. One thing we both noticed, though, was that there were very few items that weren't cooked in large amounts of butter or some other type of heavy fat. Taste-wise everything was great, but if you're sensitive to that type of ingredient you may want to be aware that most things are prepared that way. I ordered grilled chicken at the lunch buffet and realized it had gotten a good serving of the grease from the hamburgers that were being cooked just next to it on the same griddle. The taste was fantastic, but as someone with a sensitive stomach I found that I needed to be a little more observant than usual.
Servings at Mo Mo No Ha Na were pretty small especially when it came to sushi, but it is all-inclusive, so you can order as much as you want. Everywhere else servings were huge. One constant across all restaurants, including the lunch buffets, was that anything labeled "with vegetables" more often than not came with a side of half a carrot, or a mix of onions and peppers, or very small bits of peppers and corn. There was a salad station at both lunch buffets and there were carrots (cooked in butter) and raw sliced cucumbers as well. As far as fruit there were melons and pineapples available every day. And while we're on the topic of sweet treats, my favorite desserts were the coconut ice cream at the lunch buffet, and the tempura fried vanilla ice cream at Mo Mo No Ha Na! The Pastel de Tres Leches at La Hacienda was delicious as well!
For breakfast, we preferred waking up to room service, so we never visited the breakfast buffet. The room service menu is pretty big, and the portions don't disappoint, either. I particularly liked the french toast even though it was different from what I'm used to. It was a few pieces of egg batter pan-fried bread sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served with a choice of butter and jam or butter and maple syrup. Milk arrived already at room temperature a couple times but then again we couldn't tell from the taste whether or not it was synthetic boxed milk, which can safely be left out. Bacon was delicious and served in large amounts (a.k.a. a dinner plate full)! Time between ordering and arrival was typically 30-45 minutes, but the staff were always up front about the amount of time it would take, and they were never late.
Even with the amount of guests present, we were almost always seated right away at restaurants. Mo Mo No Ha Na had an hour-long wait the first night we ate there, but had no wait at all later in the week when we revisited at the same time of the evening. La Hacienda on the Cove side had an hour as well on Thursday night, although we noticed there was a large party dining together that night, possibly a rehearsal dinner. We waited an hour to eat at La Trattoria, too, and we did notice that particular restaurant seemed to have people lining up to put their names on the list every night.
It was worth the wait, though. Our dinner at La Trattoria was very romantic. We didn't notice the server nearby, but somehow he appeared out of nowhere to refill our champagne glasses every time we emptied them more than halfway.
As I said before, we originally planned to upgrade our room upon arrival with Resort Credits. On our honeymoon a couple years ago the upgrade was so easy that my husband was convinced it would be just as simple this time, and so he booked us in the cheapest room offered. Go figure, this time around we happened to be traveling in a busy week even though it was the off season, and there were no rooms to upgrade into. The staff were very helpful, though, and put our names on a list so we could check back each day to see whether or not there were any upgrades and whether it was our turn.
After two days in the room we became accustomed to it and no longer wanted to switch. We were on the ground level when we'd prefer a balcony, and our patio faced the other buildings in the resort instead of the ocean. But apart from not being able to sleep with the curtains open or enjoy the jacuzzi while watching the sunset, we didn't feel deprived with our room.
In fact, there were plus sides depending on how you look at it. Our room in the 1400 block was equidistant to the restaurants and the main lobbies of both sides of the resort. It was also close to the obstacle course/nature trail, where the resort's spider monkeys spend a lot of time in the trees. From time to time we were treated to a glimpse of those adorable little guys sneaking into the halls to take scraps from the room service trays guests had left outside their doors, and that was fun to watch. I'm not entirely sure that we'd have seen monkeys in the halls on the second or third floors of the building and though we didn't expect it, it was really cool! One night we awoke to a bang, then heard a young monkey's high-pitched call, which sounded a lot like a squeak toy. It was quickly followed by several more clanks and bangs as the monkey and its companions cleared the room service trays in our hall and quickly scuttled off to the trees again. It was SO funny and we were actually a bit disappointed that it never happened again, since we'd love to have had photos or video of that.
The bed felt a bit stiff when we first sat down on it, but we were surprised to find that we fell asleep quickly and slept better than we have in years-- and both hubby and I have permanent back and neck injuries, so a comfortable bed is no small matter! Ours was perfect.
Staff cleaned our room and stocked our mini bar both morning and afternoon, and almost always again at night we'd come back to find our bed made and our shower and jacuzzi freshened up and stocked with new, dry bathmats. They almost always gave us extra toiletries each day, and one night the maid even gave us chocolates when she stopped by! Little things like that occur throughout your visit and make you feel like you're in a place where everyone is friendly and you haven't a care in the world.
We had concerns about construction going on because of the transfer from Palace to Hard Rock. There was work being done, but honestly we never once heard it, even during the day, and it really didn't affect our experience apart from the rock climbing wall being out of commission.
There are golf carts circulating every 3 minutes to take you anywhere you want to go on the property, but we rarely used them because the walks from one place to the next were really short and pleasant. It took less than 5 minutes at a comfortably slow pace to walk from the Spa lobby to the Cove lobby.
We also saw reviews with complaints about loud music and noise from the pool games, but honestly wound up scratching our heads about that one. The pools close at 7pm, and the music and games don't start until 11am, so unless you plan on sleeping between lunch time and dinner, there really is no noise problem. If you do want to avoid noise during those times, however, don't ask for an ocean view room as those are almost exclusively by the pool on the Spa side.
There are yoga classes, zumba, and several other offerings in the gym that I'm sorry to say I can't recall. I believe each class was offered one day on, one day off. The gym has a lot of machines and the dance studio with yoga mats and free weights has plenty of space to work out, even with a zumba class going on at the same time.
Bottom line: We are so happy that we chose to visit the Aventura Spa Palace! Hopefully Hard Rock doesn't change it too much!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A blend of relaxation and adventure awaits you at this adults only retreat. Set in the Riviera Maya overlooking the aquamarine Caribbean Sea, enjoy 1,266 luxurious accommodations with double Jacuzzi, balcony (most with hammock), and 24 hr. room service. Among the facilities to highlight is the state-of-the-art spa offering a perfect day of pampering. Guests can also enjoy seven restaurants, several bars, a disco, outdoor/indoor pools, and unlimited tours as part of the all-inclusive package. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Aventura Hotel Palace
- Aventura Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Mayan Riviera Palace
- Adventure Spa Palace
- Hotel Mayan Palace
- Adventura Spa Palace
- Aventura Palace Spa
- Aventura Spa Palace Riviera Maya
- Aventura Spa Palace Resort
- Aventura Spa Palace Mexico