OK, so here's the deal:
The Aventura Spa Palace is a great place. I rate it three stars not because there's anything what-so-ever wrong with it, but rather by way of local context. With competition like the Rosewood Mayakoba, the average-but-excellent Aventura can't possibly hit the mark set by those world-class 5-star resort destinations.
That said, on to the review.
We got in late. The activity in the main lounge/lobby area was busy but not over the top. We got checked in and got a quick golf-cart ride to the room, a fast tour of the room itself and were able to get a drink and a nosh before everything closed down for the night.
The check in process is, it seems, somewhat outdated. They seem to rely on old-school methods that can cause a bit of confusion. It also took longer than it needed to, frankly. Since Hard Rock is going to take things over, perhaps this is something they'll work on.
The room was well appointed, if not a little worn. The bed was HUGE. The whole place was crazy clean, smelled good and was stocked with well liquor, beer, water, pop and club soda. Room service was a fast call away to get you whatever else you wanted. The Jacuzzi in the room is a nice touch, although it was never used, because there was enough humidity already. By the by, American Beer brands just ain't here...at least not yet. You get Sol (draft and bar pour) Dos Equis and Tecate (light). That is it. So if you're a beer drinker, know that going in and try to make arrangements. Or just suck it up, drop the lime in your glass and enjoy the sunshine.
Here's something you should know; You DO have control over the air conditioning (that can be rare in certain places) however the AC will most likely not overcome the humidity completely. You'll be cold if you want to be, or hot if you want to be, but, as some have noted, things don't dry. The reason that's true is because the doors face an outside hallway and are not weather sealed.
If you're compelled to do laundry (and not pay the price for hotel laundry) hang whatever you wash out on the balcony when the balcony gets sun, then bring it in to hang it the rest of the way.
About the balcony: It's safe, the door is sturdy and the hammock holds more than you think and is more comfortable than it looks. Kudos on that idea, afternoon naps on the hammock were one of the highlights of my trip.
The grounds are VERY well kept. Depending on where you are, you may see monkeys, iguanas and capybaras running around. Don't sweat it though, they won't bother you. However, iguanas like fruit, but if you want to give it to them, just set it down and walk away. They're wise to your tricks.
The staff, aside from a grumpy front desk person, is the real star of the show here. Some of them are faking it, but they are ALL nice...like Disney nice. Everybody greets you; 'hola' or various shades of 'buenos' (dias, noches, tardes) everywhere you go by everyone you pass. Even the guy whose job it was to carry a giant ladder back and forth all day long was quick with a south-of-the-border howdy.
The food at all of the restaurants we tried was good. Some of it was VERY good.
The Mexican restaurant was good, inventive and charming.
The Italian was...OK...not bad but not great, despite sharing a flavor palate with Mexican cuisine.
The Sushi place was surprisingly solid for being in Mexico (note, there's also a breakfast buffet in here, too).
The main dining room, El Greco, is where you'll have the most variety and, depending on your vacation style, never be required to wear a collared shirt or long pants (for men, anyway). Resort dress codes always kind of mystify me. I get dressed up at home, why on EARTH am I going to bring dressier clothes on vacation?
But I digress...
It IS standard AI buffet fare for the most part (the same stuff reanimated several times before it's tossed) but the fresh grill (which was also the omelette station in the mornings) was the real deal. Fresh steak, pork chops, chicken and fish, all done to spec (and ask for lobster, you can use resort credit for it).
Also, the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables available was outstanding and all of high quality.
Now I'm gonna bag on the sweets a bit, most of them were pretty terrible. Admittedly, I'm not a huge sweets guy and what I DO get in Chicago is usually crazy-high quality, but these are just not that good. Some interesting flavors but mostly sweet and lots of things are "flan-ny". Which is great, once.
The Pool scene is nice without being overly intrusive. The main pools are well populated during the day with everything from little contests to water aerobics (next to the swim up bar, which is odd). The trouble though, is the chairs. People are jerks about it. They'll save two or three chairs per person per location, which is maddening because they seem to do it between 3am and 5am. Bottom line is, if you want a chair, get out there early and save one, and just one, don't be a dick about it.
Also, if you're feeling emboldened and somebody hasn't been back in an hour, give their towel (if that's all they've saved the chair with) to an attendant. Tell them you found it. If the lout returns, you can honestly say that you saw an employee walk away with the towel and the chair hog can smooch your tuchas.
The volleyball pool is a quieter place, away from the hustle/bustle. Really? It was the hangover pool. Mostly people just sleeping it off in the sun and chatting.
The cross-current pool is small and really rather neat, it's a tiny lazy river that is also a form of exercise. For those who just want to bounce around a small lazy river, there's also an adjacent bar.
Remember that this is the spa not the Cove. That joint was riddled with kids, and although some of the daily activities were there (i.e. fire show), unless you're bringing kids or REALLY like that kind of chaos, don't go over there.
Speaking of the spa, I had a full compliment of treatments including a deep tissue massage and a pedicure. They have it down to a science. The rooms are clean and fresh, the staff is knowledgeable and helpful and the entire spa experience is as close to world-class as it gets.
If you're getting a treatment, spend some time in the Hydrotherapy area. Let one of the staff guide you through it. It's something you won't regret.
All in all, the Aventura was a great place and with Hard Rock, it's bound to get better. That said, I probably won't be back. I prefer a more intimate setting with beach access. (They have inlets with lagoons. Neat, yes, but I love a beach). Specifically I'm talking about the Playacar Palace, adjacent to Playa Del Carmen Centro. After staying at both, I prefer Playacar and would go back in a second.
Anyway, be prepared to love your trip. You absolutely can't go wrong with this place and you won't regret it. That "30 years of travel" douche needs to just roll up in a ball and stuff his face in a corner somewhere. If you cant be happy at the Aventura, you can't be happy.
Rooms in the low numbered buildings (2,3,4) are closer to the main activities.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.