I'll first start by saying that I believe that most people who write reviews do so because they need a forum to voice their opinion (usually really strong, polarizing opinions). I write reviews because I think there are a lot of people like me trying to get an honest picture of a place where they plan on spending a lot of money. I take most reviews with a grain of salt, so do what you will with this one.
I booked this hotel in September of 2012 for my Dec 26th-31st stay because I had read so many awesome reviews and I figured it would book up for the holidays. As time got closer, I read so many bad reviews and started worrying a little bit. With that said, I was on the lookout for all the problems people had encountered and did not come across one of them.
Check in: We arrived after a long, exhausting night of travel at about 2pm and were greeted promptly and kindly at the front desk. Although check in wasn't until 3, we were told our room was ready. However, he said that the room was on the Cove side. That kind of annoyed me because I am a young(ish) married woman with no kids and picked Aventura Spa Palace because it was an all adults resort. The man said we could check it out and if we didn't like it, we could switch rooms.. We didn't make a fuss because we really didn't care; I'm sure if we had, we wouldn't have had to stay on the Cove side. NOTE: Check in took all of 8 minutes. I'm not sure what took everyone else so long. Nobody once bothered us about the timeshare.
Room: Lovely room, no complaints (except the gigantic hot tub is pretty unnecessary, in my opinion). The room was on the 3rd floor and had a great view. We noticed some tiny ants in the room on the first night and called down and they had someone come spray immediately and exterminated the room the following day when we were out. Didn't see another ant. It really wasn't a problem.
Resort: GIGANTIC. I'm not kidding, it's huge. I wouldn't go back simply because of the size. I believe it has over 1400 rooms and it was at full capacity. That's way too many people for my liking for a relaxing beach vacation. It was incredibly well staffed, but I just would have preferred something a little more intimate. The resort was very well maintained and there were no problems, it is just a personal preference.
Service: Every single person we encountered was so kind and friendly. I made an effort to talk to them and they were super nice. I was there for my 30th birthday and got sung happy birthday to quite a few times.. The hotel sent me a cake and champagne and I got dessert beautifully presented every night from my waiter. Each night the front desk would call and see if we needed anything and if our rooms had been cleaned. Someone would usually come by and bring chocolates or more shampoo if needed at night also.
Spa: We used our resort credits for the spa. It was awesome. You already know about the 11% service charge so don't complain about it because $18 for a massage is a steal. The spa itself is wonderful and is very well staffed. I had a 50 minute massage, 80 minute couples massage, and a pedicure.
NOTE: booking services is kind of a pain. I was able to do it the first time over the phone which was great. Waiting for the vacation planners (who you book your credits through) was such a time consuming process. With only one person in front of you, you could wait at least an hour. I saw people waiting and felt bad for them.. I truly got lucky on that one.
On that topic, the vacation planners help you book your activities using your resort credits. The system they use is either slow or inefficient but either way they are doing their best to book your services so don't yell at them. I witnessed a lady go off on the vacation planner because she couldn't use her credits on what she wanted. The resort is HUGE and was at full capacity. I'm not surprised it was difficult to use your FREE credits on whatever you wanted.
Food: It was good. Not great. I think the size of the resort prevents it from really being a 5 star. They're serving somewhere in the realm of 3000 people food 24 hours a day.. It can only be so good. That being said, I didn't even get the opportunity to try everything because of the amount of time I was there, the amount of people at the resort, and my lack of desire to wait an hour at the sit down restaurants. The only a la carte restaurant we went to was the Italian restaurant which was very good. I ordered room service everyday; breakfast was my favorite. We also ate by the pool (Cove side) pretty much every day. The carne asade made by Guillermo was my favorite. He was really nice too.
Pool: We actually never went to the pool because we couldn't get a chair. People are not kidding when they tell you people are up early and claim "their spot." 8am was too late to get 3 chairs together. We went in the jacuzzi on the Spa side and the volleyball pool once. We went in the cove one time too.
Entertainment: Didn't really go to anything. Tried the Mexican Fiesta on Friday but it was crazy windy outside. We went to the "club" which is on the Cove side a couple of times for about 20 minutes but it was lots of teenagers. Could be a fun place but not really my thing. The martini bar on the Spa side was fun.
Airport Transfers: We booked through the one the hotel recommended. On Tours, I believe. They were fine. No problems just too expensive. You can take a cab from the hotel for about $52 (we paid 147 for 3 people for round trip transfers). We could have done it cheaper with a cab, but it is nice to have it all arranged for you. On that note, the hotel tries to get you to the airport super early. My flight was at 250 and they wanted us to get picked up at 1010. I said no so they pushed it to 1110. It was plenty of time.
Miscellaneous: Cabs are expensive. It's not like elsewhere in Mexico where you can barter. The price is set and it's not cheap. $26 each way to Tulum, $18 each way to Playa del Carmen, $18 each way to Xplor. Xplor and Tulum are both amazing. We did both in about a half day. Bring a towel and go to the beach in Tulum (not the one just below the ruins but to the right of the ruins) it's stunning. At Tulum, it costs about $5 to get in. For Xplor, we went around 1pm and were able to do everything. We just took a cab there and paid for it when we got there. Not necessary to do tours for either Xplor or Tulum. Also, if you're going to Tulum or Playa del Carmen, get pesos. Don't use US dollars because you'll end up paying more. Trust me on this one. US dollars at the resort to tip is fine, but having pesos around town is much better.
All in all, I would recommend this hotel and I was happy with my experience at Aventura Spa/Cove Palace.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thank you so much for express a so sincere review and for selecting our resort to celebrate your 30th birthday chilling out in this slice of heaven.
We are pretty happy to learn that your overall experience was very good, that most of facilities and services were to your liking and that despite you could have little inconveniences these were promptly kicked out by the good service.
It is good to know that you liked your room even in the Cove side and it is better to know that the clerk offered you another option in case you were not pleased with your accommodations. Please allow me to inform you that at our resort fumigations are periodically done, however you may note that our beautiful hotel is described and set within a 85-acres expanse, combining the exuberant virgin jungle, typical of the state of Quintana Roo where ants are part of the wildlife; however we are more than happy that somebody took care of the situation. Thanks for noticing thee good job that our Maintenance hard workers do. We are satisfied you found our spa to be awesome and that you loved your massages and treatments in addition to that we cannot stress our satisfaction to know that you got many happy birthday songs and that you felt the warmness that characterize all our staff.
Thanks for spotlighting our coworker Guillermo; he will be very glad to know he left a good impression on you.
On the other hand we have passed on your comments about areas where you felt that service was not so good to our Management Team such as better food in restaurants, timing to book optional activities, entertainment, more chairs around pools.
Just as a personal opinion let me share with you some advantages to be in a so big resort as ours; you get more of everything and for everyone, more space, more activities, more dining options, a better and lively atmosphere…
Our goal is to always provide the best stay possible and we are really glad to know that you had a wonderful and enjoyable experience here at Aventura Palace and we sincerely hope you to come back soon.
We remain entirely at your service
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.