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“Imagine having an entire resort and its staff all to yourself” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Heaven at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

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Heaven at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Carretera Cancun-Chetumal Km 72, Puerto Aventuras 77710, Mexico (Formerly Aventura Spa Palace)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #12 of 15 Hotels in Puerto Aventuras
Orange County, CA
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Imagine having an entire resort and its staff all to yourself”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2009

My wife and I traveled to ASP from Orange County, CA for our honeymoon. We had a great time and are now very unhappy to be returning to work tomorrow. There were a couple hiccups througout the trip, but nothing too serious.
Before I get into the resort too mcuh, I just need to vent about the entire flu scare everyone is stressing over and how it is effecting everthing. As I am sure everyone is worried about right now, the swine flu, or H1N1 something or other flu is a concern of potential travelers to Mexico, and it is too bad that the media has blown it so out of proportion that by the end of our trip (May 4th), the entire Riviera Maya through Cancun was all but empty. We did our research and there was no issues with this supposed pandemic flu that would have kept us away. The airports are screening heavily and precautions are being taken all over so we did not feel threatened at all. Sadly, by the time we had checked out of the resort, the vacancy was beyond 90% (and rising), people were being laid off in droves and I wouldn't be suprised if the resort had to close its doors until this all blows over. The south resort, Aventura Cove Palace, was vacant of all bookings and only had its restaurants open for the north resort guests. The Sandals Playa Del Carmen had closed down while we were there (due to lack of people), restaurants in PDC were open on our initial visit to the city one day, but then closed just a couple days later when we visited again. Of the restaurants that were open, they were completely empty as there was no one there to even partially fill them.
The media frenzy over this hyped flu has completely devastated everything and it sickens me to think that 100's of thousands of locals are lossing their jobs over this whole ordeal. The las night we were at the resort, we dined at the sushi/ chinese restaurant and after 3 hours of being open, we were only the 20th and 21st guest of the night. There were more than 20 people working the dining room, polishing flatware, making sure there were no spots on the glasses, pre-bussing, or anything else they could do to show their worthiness so that they would not be the next to be axed.

OK, on to the resort.

It is about an hour's drive south of the airport. We had airport transfers included with out package but opted for a limo being it was our honeymoon. We booked a sweet super stretched Escalade for the trip and it was sooo nice. I will admit that it was serious overkill, but given the occasion, we decided to indulge.
Once arrivimg at the resort, we were greeted with an extremely attentive staff, and that same service extended thoughout our entire stay. We were offered champagne while we were being checked in and it all went very well. We were offered the Palace Premier (time share) presentation in exchange for 3000 pesos. From what I have heard, they offer you more money that older you are. I am 35, so we were at the 3000 level. Over 40 is 4000 pesos, etc. We actually had all of the perks of a member for our stay because I purchased our vacation package off of a travel agent that uses Ebay, but he is a member. As a result, we each got a manicure, pedicure, massage, unlimited use of the hydrotherapy at the spa, and a slue of other perks thoughout the resort.
Since we bought the packege from the agent, we would not have the perks if we were to return on our own, so we took the tour. I will get into the tour itslf in a little bit.
The room was nice, but I would have liked a little bigger vanity area. There was just enough area for my wife to get ready, and no room for another person. The shower was large and all the supplied toiletries were nice (so says my wife). They had Bio Silk shampoo/ conditioner/ bubble bath which I guess is a nice brand. I am a guy so I don't care either way.
There was a 2 person spa/ tub, refer stocked with beer, soda, mixers, etc. and was regularly restocked. The bed was quite comfortable and wifi worked well thoughout our stay.

There are the 2 pools, one in the north end (Aventura Spa Palace) and anoher much larger one in the south end of the property (Aventura Cove Palace). For those who don't know yet, the reesort recently split from one into two resorts. The north ASP remained the original ASP (adults only), and the South end of the property was been converted into a family friendly resort. They had just finished building a kids pool area and it was fully functional by the end of our stay. They must not be advertising the new resort yet, or the whole Swine Flu hype, because we only saw one kid at the resor the entire time we were there.
With spliting the resort into 2, they obviously kept the north end of the property adults only because of the spa, but in doing so, there are difinitely some other major drawbacks. The south end of the property was previously the "party" side of the resort. It has the much larger pool, with bigger swim up bar that includes barstools, and the night club/ disco. The disco was closed while we were there, but I am sure that was the result of the flu related vacancies. If you have ever been to a club that is not busy, then you know that it is a pretty sad scene inside. Closing it was probably a pretty good idea. Even if it was open, this isn't really the party resort so if that is what you are looking for, they I would recommend something in Playa or Cancun.

We spent the first full day at the North pool and enjoyed everything about it. Normally I wouldn't drink any foo-foo drinks, but I gave myself a pass for being on vacation there. I would recommend either a Miami Vice, or Monkey Banana. There is a full drink menu, so just look over it to see what fancies your tastes.

There are extremely nice lounge chairs down in the lagoons between the north and south resorts. They have plush padding, they lay flat, and are very comfortable. I think they may only be for the concierge level guests, but with the resort being empty, no one was regulating who used the chaises.

The snorkeling in the lagoons is ok, but the water is not too clear the first 1' below the water surface level. The logoons have are connected to the ocean through inlets. It you go into the inlets, then there is a lot more aquatic life and the water is very clear. It is much more shallow, but the clarity makes it all worhwhile. If you are at the south end of the north lagoon and go out past the roped area (but still stay to resort side of the water for safety) then you will see the best sea life. We did not use the kayaks, but they were open the whole time. There is no beach, but I am sure that is general knowledge.

The first evening we hit up the Pizza and Pasta buffet restaurant. They make the pasta fresh up for you, but sauces were all watery and it sort of killed the dinner for us. We did not go back after that. The rest of the meals were very good after this though, so we did not see a need to try this restaurant again.

We did room service for breakfast the first few days, which was nice for its concvience, but the food was much better at the restaurants. Not that the room service was bad, but the restaurants were great.

Day 2 we went to Playa Del Carmen. The highlight of this trip was a guy with 2 little monkeys who would let you hold them and take pictures for you. The mokeys were soooo cool. He would give you sunflower seeds to feed them and they would open them with there tiny hands. Each one was about 5 pounds each and words cannot explain how great the experience was. The guy and his monkeys were at the south end of 5th street. The street hooks to the right at the end and he was just past the Starbucks. I think he only wanted like $5 for the whole thing.
The shopping on 5th street was.....not that good of a deal. The prices at the hotel gift shop were actually better than those we found on 5th street in Playa. That included linen pants, little sombrero hat for gifts, jewelry, etc. I thought that surely the prices would be better in Playa, but I was wrong. Of course I didn't find this out until after we returned to the hotel and had bought a bunch of stuff. The shopping may be better off the main strip, but it is no deal on 5th.
That night we did the Italian food restaurant for dinner. The food was good to great and the outside dining was very nice. This restaurant is the first place that we had exprienced Mayan Coffee. I am so suprised that no one has ever mentioned this in any of the reviews. It is a coffee drink that is made up at your table. It uses a flamable alcohal that they ignite and they do an excellent presentation. I highly recommend it, and they serve it at all of hte restaurants that we asked for it at.

Day 3, we did a dive trip through Dive Aventuras. The shop was very professional and we had a great time. They took us to Canyon land for the first dive, and I can't remember the name of the second, but they were both great. We sam Sea Turtles, eels, blow fish, etc. The shop did all the hard work with changing tanks for us, and getting all the equipment too and from the boat.
We did the asian restaurant for dinner and had sushi. The food was, for the most part, pretty good. Some of the rolls we didn't order on our second trip, but we were impressed overall. They had hot saki, but only mexican beers to accompany it, which we were ok with.

Day 4 we did the dolphins at Primax Delphinus. We did the $159 package and were then suckered into the whole picture and video package afterwards. They don't "allow" you to bring cameras with you for the dolphins, but I just put my dive camera into my board shorts and somehow they did not see it. Even with my camera, the pics were blah at best, but the ones they offer are perfect. They have the ideal angles, camera, etc., so unless you just want to have a pic showing you did it, and don't care what they look like, then just buy the pics from them. They charge $25 each, or $159 for all the pics and the video of the experience.
We did the steak house (Mundaca?) for dinner. The steak was pretty food, but not Moton's. If it was served at a local steak house, I would definitely go there again. The restaurant was next to the kids pool, so if there were actually kids at the resort, then that would have made me a bit upset, being we booked at an "adults only" resort. On that side of the resort is also the Pizza & Pasta, La Hacienda and Sweets & Coffee Caf'e.

Day 5 we dived out of Playa Del Carmen. We used Scuba Libre for this expedition and they also did a great job, just like Dive Aventuras. They did not have as nice as a set up as Dive Aventuras, but the price was much less. DA was $218 for 2 tanks, and SL was $140 for 2 tanks, both including rentals. We did Tortugas for our first dive (Spanish for turtles) and there were many sea turtles that we saw. The second dive was something like Sabadlos, but I don't remeber for sure. It was right next to Tortugas and had a lot of aquatic life. The dive master did a great job and was very knowledgable.
We had a "honeymoon" dinner set up by the resort in La Hacienda restaurant and it was great. I can't think of the what they are called, but they had 3 mexican guys with guitars that would go from table to table to sing a song for you. They did a great job and sang very well.

Day 6 was spent at the resort just hanging by the pool and snorkeling. We did the Greico restaurant by the North pool for lunch and it was tasty. It was a buffet, but for lunch, we just wanted to get in and out so we preffered it. The food was all fresh and they had a number of made to order items if you would rather that option.
With our $3000 peso spa credit, we did a couples facial. This is something that I would not ever get for myself any other time, but since it was basically free, I went with my wife. We got to the spa about 30 minutes early and went to our seperate locker room areas to get ready. After getting into my robe, I attempted to meet up in the quite room with my wife to wait for the facial, and the spa staff basically told me that I couldn't go in yet. They were pretty pushy that I was too early and I had to use the hydrotherapy services of the spa. I didn't have a bathing suit with me, as you need to wear for the spa, but they said they would give me a disposable one to use. I went along with it and used the jacuzzi for a little bit, but was turned off by the experience. The spa itself was incredible, I just did not want to use it at that time and they made the experience bad for me.
The facial itself is not something I would have ever gotten after it was over, and I wish we had opted for a massage. I don't think the therpist did a bad job, I just think that they have a process that I didn't like. My wife also did not like her service.
Upon checking out of the spa, I marked "good" for the services and the spa director promptly came out to question why the low rating. It was "good", just not great. I did not like the pushiness into making me use the spa and I did not like the facial. Maybe I would like any facial, and I let him know it was my first, but it wasn't great.

We only participated in the evening entertainment 2 nights. We did the Mexican fiesta the first night for a little bit, where they sold some Mexico type souveneers. The prices were decent and you can actually bargain with them.
They other night we did the fire dance show which was EXCELLENT! I would highly recommend doing this one.

The last day I had my massage, which was amazing. It was only 25 minutes, but it was the best one I ever had. I also opted to take advantage of the other spa services this time and I was pleased.

The cons:
The power went out several times during our stay and it was exrtremely aggravating. The resort said it was the power company, but we had found out later that it was a planned outage for whatever reason.
One night, we had reservations to do the sunset catamaran cruise and lobster dinner. We had to cancel our reservations for this because we could not get ready for it. The resort was running on bare bones back up power, but that meant we had one functioning light in our room and nothing else (no A/C). When I went down to the travel desk to cancel the cruise, they tried to tell me it was less than 24 hours in advancen and I could not cancel. I got a bit upset and let them know it. They eventually said I could cancel without and fees, but it was not an easy thing to accomplish.
When the power came back on in the middle of the night, all the lights were on in the room. We had to get up, turn everything off, and then try to fall back asleep.
Not knowing that they had decided to make the resort "kid friendly" was a bit of an upset. Luckily there was only 1 kid there the whole time, but if I was there with a packed family friendly resort, then I would have not been happy at all.
Another item that did not affect us, but it would have if the resort was busy, is that the family resort pool area is twice the size of the adult's side pool area. If the resort was even at half capacity, then the pool would have been far too packed to get a chaise. That forces you to go over to the other pool and lose out on your kid-free experience.
The snorkeling in the lagoon wasn't great, but if it was a beach resort, then there would be no lagoon at all, so I guess I can't reall complain.
It would have been nice to have had a beach. That fact alone may be the reason that we don't return.
The resort is all byitself in the middle of no where. You can't walk anywhere, so you will need to take a taxi or rent a car to go anywhere.

We will probably not return to this resort because we want to be near options if we wanted go out. Between that and the beach, we will try another resort next time. That is not to say that we wouldn't stay at anther Palace resort, but just not this one. If we had friends that didn't care about being closet to town, or a beach, then this would not be a bad place.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
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  • Rooms
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Locust Grove, Virginia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2009

Our 5th visit to ASP was 4/14-21 2009 followed by a week at Moon Palace. We are Palace members for 9 years and have visited Moon, Sun, LeBlanc and ASP and ASP remains our favorite, hands down. Arriving about 2pm on a Tuesday, check-in was a breeze as was immigration and customs. I think we were in the van within 30 minutes from the time the plane landed. Traffic Tours, the Palace shuttle service must also contract out to other hotels as we made a stop at Iberostar in Playa to drop off another couple. We had never seen the quaint, beautiful village of Playa so didn’t mind the few minutes it took.

Uppermost in our minds was the concern that the N and S spit at ASP would affect our relaxing and beautiful ASP. There was no problem and the S side was deserted the 2 times we were there. One employee told us only 5% full and N side was about 23% full. We saw 2 families with children the night we had dinner on the S side. I hope for Palace’s sake the capacity increases very soon.

Concierge: As VIP members, we had concierge service for free. The concierge beach, at the S side of the N lagoon is where we stayed most of the week. It has more shade and great padded loungers. We also enjoyed the private dinner which was a choice of Mundaca or El Greco restaurants. The menu was the same (3 entrees) for both places. We chose El Greco and had a lovely dinner on the lower outside patio area. We had at least 4 waiters serving us. We could choose from chicken, red snapper or filet mignon and we chose filet and chicken. Both were excellent as were the upgraded desserts. The other concierge services include room aromatherapy, afternoon treats, pillow menu, expresso coffeepot, better room view, free mani, pedi and back massage and king bed. I would not pay extra for these services which vary from $200-600 depending on whom you book with.

Spa: Since our vacations are for relaxing, the spa is one of the most important things at ASP or any Palace resort. We always use our free mani, pedi and back massage and upgrade the pedicure to the deluxe one.We have Relaxing Plan ( a spa package) with our membership and I enjoyed my usual hot stone massage. Hubby got the foot and leg massage, scalp treatment and his first ever facial. All excellent. We received 4000 pesos for our membership update and I happily made spa appointments for the next week at Moon Palace. At ASP checkout, the 4000 pesos were worth $297 and I had booked $402 in services at Moon so I was able to cancel 2 of them and pay a few dollars for the 2 services I wanted. Spa prices are in dollars and I didn’t even think about the difference in pesos so I was glad I booked ahead for Moon services. Hubby used the fitness center several times for jogging. There is a wide assortment of free weights machines and fitness activities.

Restaurants: Our favorites remain La Trottoria and El Greco. We ate at La Hacienda and Ventannas also. Food was good at all of them especially the lasagna at La Trottoria. They are also open for pizza for lunch 3 days a week and that was very good. The Sweet Shoppe, now located on the S side in the lobby was a big disappointment over last year’s but the Moon Palace one more than made up for it. We didn’t have food at the lagoon but the drink service was fine. All waiters we had were friendly, polite and bent over backwards for anything that we wanted. We stayed with El Greco for breakfast and most days for lunch.

Employees: From outside greeting, check-in, bellboys, waiters, guest services, member services, housekeeping and everyone at ASP, all employees are great and deserve the few dollars we leave in tips every year. We saw very few people tipping this year and it seems that they need it more this year than ever before.

In Conclusion: Our Palace membership is one of the greatest things we have ever done for ourselves. We’ve had 9 great vacations since joining and have never been disappointed in Palace services. We look forward to many more Palace stays and know we can always expect great service and food. We chose a late shuttle to Moon on the 21st and were able to get a 2 pm check-out, another concierge perk.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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New York
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2009

We booked through Liberty Travel early, and they had a price reduction after we booked, so they upgraded us to Conceige Level rooms.
Our Trip was from 4/25 to 5/2/09. When we landed we went to our shuttles through Olympus Tours. We had a group of 12, they split us up between two vans. One van had no stops and arrvied in 1hr and 5min. The other had one stop and they took 1hr and 15min. Since we were Conceige Level, we were to have private check in, however, 4 couples had to check at front desk, and two couples did get private check in.. No big deal, but not what should have happened. 5 out of 6 rooms were ready, so those couples checked in, while the other waited from 1pm to 3pm for their room. Not a big deal but Conceige Level says early check in available. We were all put in the French Horn building, 4 couples in odd numbered rooms and 2 in even numbers. The odd number rooms face out to the south side and had nice views as the maze and open area is very large on that side of the building. The even number rooms face the obsticle course and have no view at all, at least not from the first floor. The only way to see the ocean was to go out on the balacony and lean over the rail. Again, Conceige level rooms are suppose to have the best views, but not the even numbered rooms.(the last time we stayed, we were in the last building on the south side and have much better views, then anything in this building whether it was even or odd).
The rooms were nice but they have now moved the liquior depensors to the bottom cabinet, so to get a drink you almost have to lay down on the floor. Not sure what genius decided this, but they should be fired. In the conceige level rooms were were suppose to have absolute vodka, but only 3 of the rooms had it. We requested it 4 times for our room, but never got it... another couple did finally get it after a few requests. We requested a cork screw for our wine in the room, but after 3 requests, we borrowed one from another couple.
The Conciege private beach area was nice, with padded lougers, but nothing great. we only used them one day.
We revcieved a private candlelight dinner with our Conciege level, and it was very nice, but not spectactular. Menu was very limited for this dinner.
Room service did include additional menu items from three of the restaurants and this was very nice
Aroma therapy and special pillow menu was okay...
Overall Conciege Level is not worth the extra money
Overall the resort is still very nice... The north side is very crowded. The pool chairs are taken very early and chairs are side by side all around the pool. We only went there on day 1.. after that we went to the south side, which was great. Plenty of chairs and plenty of room, and all kinds of chairs available at the lagoon.
The food was very good at every restaurant we went to. Mondacca, Mo Mo Hana, the pizza and pasta buffet, the Italian and the Mexican restaurants as well as El Grecco. We did not have a bad meal anywhere.
Overall we found the southside to be nicer all around and spent alot of our time on that side. We seen a total of 5 kids all week, and they seemed to stay at one end of the south pool where they had a kids area and did not venture up by the swim up bar.
I am little concerned going forward for this resort, as in talking to a number of employees it seems the resort is in some trouble getting people to come. Workers told me that they have reduced their pay, and told them they had to switch to familes to try and get more people to the resort, because if they dont they will be laying off workers. I talked to two different people who said they are leaving palace to go and work for an Iberstar resort in a couple of weeks. For now the service is still great, the food good but not sure what will happen over the next 6 to 9 months, if business does not pick up. Certainly the swine flu scare is not helping them.
Last item about the swine flu, as of May 1st, I talked to numerous people and no one new of a single case of flu in the Rivera Maya area.. We did not see any evidence of the flu or any type of extra proctections such as masks during our entire stay. When we got to the airport, they did have masks around and were taking everyone's tempature, but that was it.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Lake Mary, Florida
Top Contributor
102 reviews 102 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
100 helpful votes 100 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2009

Aventura spa was a great 2nd honeymoon/ first anniversary. On this vacation we were going to relax, so that is the main focus on this review.

Getting there: After getting through customs, we headed outside for Elite, and he was right at the exit. He said the airport was busy and he didn't have a van, but to give him a minute, he came back and took us to a taxi. So we had a car take the 2 of us straight there, so far so good.

Check in: Once we arrived Ernesto, or (Jay Leno) gave us a towel, took our bags and escorted us to the front desk. They were great, we didn't get the drink, but they had us quickly ready to go. Marimar, was our palace premier rep, she gave some tour info, and scheduled our update meeting, for the next day. Then the bellhop took us to our room and I blown away with the location and view. We were in Clarin room 2506, we had a great view of the pool, El Greco, the lagoon and the sea.

Food: We hit all of the restaurants, accept for La Huerta and all of them we really good. I want to preface, you are in Mexico and some of the food is different, but I enjoyed most of it and when I had something I didn't like I would get something else. The breakfast and lunch buffets were great, I really loved the hand made taco's at Mundaca at lunch. The service was great at all of the restaurants, but I want to say that German (Herman) was the best server I have ever at had, he was at La Hacienda. I told him it was my anniversary and he sent the Mariachi band over and made us Mayan coffee.

Lagoon and pools: Going there I of course new they didn't have a beach, and we OK with that. The lagoon was actually better then a beach. The water was still clear and salty, but minus the waves. I recommend water shoes, because there are some rocks. I found the North part of the lagoon to be the best, more privacy and the water was clearer.

The pools were great, the North pools were always busy and seemed to get more active as the day wore on. We like the South pool the best, Alberto was great at the swim up bar. Even though the South or Cove side allows children I didn't see very many and the ones I did, were all well behaved and caused to problems.

Spa: I am now a spa guy!! The hydro therapy was wonderful as was the hot stone massage. if you have service scheduled be sure to go an hour early for the hydrotherapy. I only wish i could have done it with my wife, I am not sure why the are gender specific, you had to be in a bathing suite.

Tours: we didn't go on any tours, but we took the shuttle to Playacar Palace, looked around, and then took the shuttle to Cozumel. I really enjoyed the Cozumel Palace. We snorkeled, had lunch, a few drinks and back to Aventura.

Shows: Some of the shows were really good. My favorites were the Kingdom of fire and the Samba show. The pirate show and God of fire was ok, make sure you see the kingdom of fire of don't see anything else.

Conclusion: Last year I really loved the Sun Palace, but the Aventura may get the nod, just because there are many more choices. If you can do the kitchen tour, you really can appreciate what they are doing. Find Jose in the indoor pool bar at night and have him make a bumble bee for you. As I said in the Start of the review we went to relax, and I couldn't have asked for more.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2009

My husband and I visited the Aventura Spa Palace April 23rd - 30th. At first we were overwhelmed by the size of the resort, but after a day or so we felt right at home. The rooms are similar to the other Palace rooms in size and amenities. We were in the Trumpet building which is the next to last building on the North (spa) side. This was nice because it was very quiet, but it was a long walk from any of the restaurants or activities on the South side. Our room had an ocean view, but only after looking over the yoga hut, current pool and bar, and spa hut. It wasn't a big deal though because we spent very little time in our room. We only noticed a few children during our entire stay even though the South side of the resort is now family friendly.

The restaurants were all good. Our favorites were La Hacienda and the Oriental restaurant, although we also had excellent meals at the Italian and the steak restaurants. My husband is quite picky and doesn't eat seafood at all and he was able to find something on every menu. The breakfast and lunch buffets had a large selection and always seemed hot and fresh. All of the bars had a large selection of premium alcohol. They would use the cheap stuff unless you specified otherwise.

The staff was excellent. Everyone went our of their way to meet all of our needs. It suprised me that given the size of the resort several of the staff members called us by name. We believe in tipping for good service. We tip well here at home, so why would it be any different just because it is an all-inclusive? The tips were never expected by staff members and they were always appreciative.

The facilities were always very clean and the landscaping was very well manicured and maintained. The pools were cleaned every morning and again during the day if necessary. I never noticed the pools to be cloudy or slimy. The pool areas are quite large which makes it nice for finding a secluded spot to read a book or nap. We spent most of our time at the pool on the south side because it seemed a little less crowded than the north side. There is a swim up bar on both sides and there are servers constantly circling the pool and the lower level by the lagoon. I never found it difficult to get a drink. The indoor pool and hydrotherapy area was very nice and was a nice place to go in the late afternoon to get out of the sun.

The spa is fabulous! I did several spa treatments on different days and wished I could have done more! Every detail is looked after and the whole experience is well worth it. Be sure to go an hour early to enjoy the hydrotherapy area at least once, it is so relaxing!

My husband did 5 scuba trips with Dive Aventuras which operates the dive tank on site and has a dive shop at the Omni Hotel a mile up the road. He was very pleased with their professionalism and really felt like he got his moneys worth.

Overall we were very pleased with the hotel. There were very few negatives and since we were on vacation we did not dwell on them.

As far as the Swine Flu, we didn't see anything at the resort or in Playa del Carmen. In fact, if it hadn't been for CNN we probably wouldn't have even known about it. When we left on Thursday we had to fill out a sheet of paper asking if we'd had a fever, headaches, body aches, etc in the last 48 hours and turn it in at the airport. There were a few people in the airport with masks on, but it was pretty much business as usual.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Irvine, California
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2009

Aventura Spa Place (ASP) is one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited in my
entire life. The grounds are beautiful, tropical and lush. The rooms are comfortable and relaxing. Service is spectacular, great food and drinks, beautiful ocean, lagoon and pools. Be prepared to eat and drink yourself silly, while being waited on by the most attentive staff in the most wonderful resort. We were impressed from the moment we arrived, until the moment we left. Seven nights was not nearly enough. Imagine paradise in the Riviera Maya on the sparkling blue Caribbean combined with all inclusive food, drinks and amenities.

Overall appearance of the resort and grounds:
ASP is massive, grand and spectacular. It could easily take you 15 minutes to walk the entire length of the grounds from one end to another. It took us about 24 hours to familiarize ourselves with grounds. That is not a bad thing, seeing as each corner has a new jewel and the entire place is meticulously manicured. All the plants are green and well maintained. The entire set up of the resort was very well planned out. Almost all of the pools, restaurants and rooms have ocean views, regardless of placement. The pools are creatively shaped, not just boring circles and rectangles. Two restaurants (El Grecko and Mundaca) have open air patios that look directly over the ocean. Not bad for a sunset dinner. The size of the resort lends itself to lots of great architecture. I suggest a lot of exploring to discover all the different areas at the resort.

Room:
The rooms are very nice at ASP. We stayed in the Clarin building, which is next to the obstacle course and North pool. Our room was on the obstacle course side, so we didn't get any pool noise during the day. After sunset, you'll notice the pools clear out immediately. So even if our room had been over the pool, it would have been fine at night. The rooms aren't huge, but they are certainly comfortable. They all have tiled floors with a large two person jacuzzi next to the sliding door. It was a pretty relaxing experience to sit in the jacuzzi and look out over the ocean at night. Each room has a liquor dispenser with four bottles (Bacaradi, Jose, Smirnoff and Clan McGregor,) a fridge stocked with beer, juices, soda and water. Anything in the room could be restocked at any time from room service, or by the daily service. They will bring you bottles of wine and champagne as often as you want, as well. We left notes each day for the staff letting them know what to refill for us. Room service and the in-room drinks are all included. We ordered room service a few times and the food was good, with about a 30 minute wait from the time of the call. The bed was very comfortable. A lot of reviews have mentioned that it was not. We thought it was more than soft enough, with good linens. We got a king bed, as requested. The rooms are all attached to a semi-exposed corridor. The tiling in the rooms and corridors did make for a lot of echoing and noise. I am a very light sleeper who has suffered from insomnia for most of my life. I slept fine every night and wouldn't think twice about returning. They also do nightly turn down service. We found the shower to be huge. Room was very clean, no bugs, not even a flea or spider. The AC worked great and we were able to maintain whatever temperature we desired.

Service:
The service started out great and maintained the entire time. You are greeted with a moist towel as you step off the shuttle. They take care of everything for you the entire time. We were never left wanting. Everyone is smiling, friendly and willing to help. They will even carry your plate at the buffet back to your table. They even pick up every cigarette butt as soon as someone leaves it in an ashtray. There was a bit of a language barrier, but most people were very accommodating. Only a couple of times, did we have trouble communicating, but it was usually more my fault for trying to think I speak any Spanish. The bartenders are super nice and enjoy encouraging some fun. If you sit near the pool or lagoon, they will bring you drinks and food, non-stop. We spent a lot of time at the north lagoon and our server was super nice, the entire time. She seemed to be having almost as much fun as we were. Being an all-inclusive resort, don't be shy to ask for something out of the ordinary. They are willing to accommodate. Tips are 'included' in the price, but we chose to tip. No one really ever seemed to be expecting it, so we kind of slacked off on it, sometimes. The service didn't seem to change, regardless of how much, or whether or not we tipped. We did make sure to take care of those who took care of us.

Food:
I was very pleasantly surprised at how good the food was at ASP. A lot of the reviews made it sound like I'd be eating at Sizzler the entire time. In fact, some of the best foods I've ever had, were here. We ate breakfast/brunch almost everyday at El Grecko on the north side. They do a buffet style breakfast/lunch. There were a ton of items, including: chorizo, Portuguese sausage, Spanish eggs, poached eggs, hash browns, mini quesadillas, bacon wrapped skirt steak, fried potato balls, doughnuts, black bean and pork, chicken dishes, bread with bean topping, crispy chicken fried tacos/taquitos, fried cheese balls, omelets station, waffle station, egg nachos, eggs benedict, fresh fruits, yogurts, healthier items, deserts, toast station and cornmeal cakes. Everything was freshly made and served at the correct temperature. It was a lot of fun to enjoy this every morning, looking out over the ocean, with fresh mimosas. They switched around a lot of the items everyday (other than the American classics.) Mo Mo No Hana is ASP's "oriental" (Asian, mostly Japanese) restaurant. We enjoyed all the sushi rolls we got, but be warned, they only bring you 2 or 3 pieces for each roll. I am accustomed to getting a full size roll, like a typical sushi joint. We tried to order several, but it was clear that they aren't used to ordering sushi as you would do at a contemporary sushi restaurant. The spring rolls were also excellent, as was the shrimp curry. This shrimp was some of the most tender I have ever had. Our favorite place was definitely La Hacienda. This is ASP's Mexican restaurant. La Hacienda is one of the restaurants where men must wear long pants (jeans are ok.) It's a nice darker atmosphere with a big fountain in the middle. They had one of the best steaks I have had in my entire life, here. It was very tender and cooked to perfection. Great job here. They have La Hacienda cheese (queso fundido) served with two tortillas, for an appetizer, highly recommended. I also like the octopus dinner I had one night, this was my first time (other than sushi) having octopus, and I ordered it again. I also had the shrimp dish another night, and again, their shrimp are super tender. One of the real treats here is the Mayan Coffee, it's a show and a drink. They start with two wine glasses; add a flaming liquor and then coffee. Then they pour more flaming anis liquer from one vessel to another, before topping it off with vanilla ice cream. Tip: mix it a little with your spoon before drinking. It's awesome. It's not on the menu, but ask for it. They will serve it at any of the restaurants, we found out later. La Trattoria is another 'dress up' restaurant at ASP. This is their Italian restaurant. The best dishes were the gnocchi, which was super soft and garlicky. The Spaghetti Carbonara was excellent as well. Even the scaloppini was impressive. They bring you a big basket of bread, which you should be sure not to fill up on, as good as it is. Mundaca is the Argentine/steakhouse on the south side, on the ocean. Their steaks were as good as La Hacienda's. I had a filet that must have been a solid pound, super juicy and tender. I also recommend the Atlantic Clams here as well. They are bread and clam stuffed shells. Very good, but you only get two per order. Even the poolside bar (at least on the north end) had good eats: hot dogs, pizza, burgers, sandwiches and self serve nachos. All in all the food was impressive and I had several things that ranked among the best I've had or close to.

Drinks:
At an all inclusive, I was expecting to find mostly generic brand liquors. Not the case. They didn't necessarily have the top shelf brands, but they were more than adequate and probably better than most of us get at our local bars and restaurants. I recognized a lot of the better known brands (Malibu, Jack, Smirnoff, etc.) They even had some more expensive stuff, like Pernod. I read a lot of reviews that complained about the drinks being weak or in small cups. Yeah, the cups are small. It's an all inclusive, order two. I didn't find the drinks weak. Even if they were, order a double or get a side shot. I never felt like the bartenders were ever trying to hold back on us. We did shot after shot after shot. Try a bumblebee shot. It is: Kahlua, Santa Clara Rompope (eggnog flavored) and blue curaco. I also recommend the "La Cucaracha" it's a shot of Kahlua with tequila on top. I enjoy lighting them on fire and dropping into beer. Not for the faint of heart. They had a lot of top shelf brand tequilas at ASP. All in all, it's hard to complain about all you can drink. The north lobby bar gets a little 'rowdy' at night, but not in a bad way, just lots of happy vacationers.

Beach, lagoon and ocean:
There is no 'true' beach here, in the traditional sense. It is a man made lagoon, fed directly from the ocean. Basically it's a protected ocean area, because the sand has eroded in this area. I actually kind of found this better than the beach, because you don't have to worry about the hazards, but still get all the fish and fresh ocean water. The sun heats the smaller pools quickly, so they are quite comfortable. They are packed with fish, crabs and conchs. The crabs stay on the walls so you have to swim out to see them. The conchs are easy to mistake for rocks. I spent almost the entire day, everyday, at the lagoon. It's very nice and relaxing. The water is refreshed by the ocean, so it doesn't get tepid at all. The staff comes out and cleans out the seaweed (not that they really need to.) Take an underwater camera, when you go. There are plenty of loungers and we never had an issue finding a spot.

Pools:
The pools aren't for doing laps, but they aren't small either. They are just shallow and winding. I thought they were an ok temperature, but everyone else seems to think they are too cool. I think it's nice and refreshing when it's 100 degrees out, but that's just me. The creative designing of the pools makes them a real centerpiece. They have small bridges over them, at various points that add to the design. They also have a great indoor pool with hot tubs. It was very nice after a day in the hot sun to go inside and float around and just unwind. This was one of my favorite spots. The pool has giant columns and a stained glass ceiling. It's very impressive.

Spa:
They have a wonderful spa on the north side. The spa is very relaxing and has dimmer lights, than the rest of the areas. It has nice aromas. If you do a massage, you will get some time at the spa pool, steam showers and sauna. Then you relax in a waiting area with a hot neck wrap and cool drinks before a nice massage. This was my first trip to a spa, so I can't really say how it compares to anything, but it was awesome.

Entertainment:
There is a lot of entertainment offered. They have a show every evening (fire show, Vegas show, casino night, etc.) They also do a lot of games at the north pool during the day. At night, there is a disco at the south end. Honestly, it was kinda hokey, but a lot of fun. It's what you make of it. They put a lot of effort into it.

Other:
ASP is about 1.5 hours from the airport. We were lucky enough to have a shuttle that was only people going to ASP, so it was a direct drive. Honestly, it wasn't too bad. It was interesting to see the stuff along the road anyway. The grounds at ASP are full of lots of animals. We saw a ton of iguanas and at night, cats. I guess they rescue cats and allow them free range. You see them more at night. Recently, the south end became a 'separate' resort that now allows children (Aventura Cove Palace.) I had booked ASP because of the idea of adults only and was upset that they changed it before our trip. ASP (north visitors) can visit the south side, but south cannot visit the north. So we still had access to the full resort. When we were on the south side, we saw about 2 kids the entire trip. We ate over there 5 times. In fact, the south side actually seemed calmer. I wouldn't, for an instant, worry about the split. I heard a lot of complaints about the timeshare presentation. What is anyone talking about? No one even offered us the opportunity to do this! Not a single mention, the entire time. And if you don't want to do it? Just say 'no.' Goodness, much ado about nothing! I am sure we could have done it, if we had scheduled it with someone, but we never made the effort and on one ever once asked us. There were three conferences there while we were there. We never once felt like the place was too crowded or overrun. The place is huge, there's room for everyone. We had to wait about an hour or less one night for dinner. That was it, and I don't even know if it was because of the conferences.

All-in-all this was an awesome trip. I'd recommend this place to anyone looking to have a nice relaxing time. The grounds are just too truly beautiful to even attempt to describe. It's huge and gorgeous. I would go again in a second. I honestly don't know how you could go here and complain. Everyone we ran into seemed to be having a great time, or better. From the great food selections (and there are a lot) to the lovely rooms and great views, it was breathtaking from start to finish. I wish I were back again already. I honestly felt like it was a great value, when you consider how much you get with it. Maybe even more than I paid for. Aventura Spa Palace is simply magnificent.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ohio
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2009

We had a quick check-in. The bellboys took our luggage except for my laptop and carry on bag which was great. Carlos greeted us at the front desk and we also received a couple glasses of champagne. Our personal concierge, Guillermo, took us from there to a desk. He explained all about the resort, the restaurants, where our room was located. He asked us if we wanted to attend the membership presentation and we agreed on a day. He asked us when we wanted to do it, he didnt pressure us. He also mentioned to us to contact him about anything we needed, including any tours we wanted to go on.

Then we were whisked off to our room.

We had a concierge level room and for me it was worth it simply because of the view from the room. We could lie in bed and see the Caribbean. From the location of other buildings, there's no way you could see the water. This was our honeymoon, so I wanted a nice view. If you dont care about the view, then no reason to book concierge in my opinion. The concierge area around the lagoon was nothing special, I thought. The other areas of the lagoons were better looking. The waiter service was pretty good though. Still, if you dont care much about the view of the room, no reason to upgrade.

I read many reviews saying the rooms are small. I have no clue why. The rooms were nice size. Yeah, the jacuzzi took up some space, but hello you have a jacuzzi in your room. how many rooms can say that, say - in myrtle beach for example?

I wanted to break down the different areas for review:

Staff (except the spa staff) - A+++++++++ These people are awesome. While a couple times at dinner we had to wait awhile on things, the service was amazing. We felt like a king and queen there. Everyone had a smile on their face and they were willing to go the extra mile.

Room - already mentioned a little but the room was very clean, very pretty. The sink and bathroom area were adequate size but nothing outstanding. The shower I thought was very nice - roomy and a clear glass wall.

Pools - Amazing to look at and get in. They had some nice contests and music and activities going on. The only negative was people did reserve chairs, despite management's statements 'in writing' that they would remove towels from chairs so people cannot reserve. Never happened. It was pretty darn irritating to walk out there at 9 am and see literally no one at the pool, but 80% of the chairs reserved just with a towel on them. It sounds far-fetched but its absolutely true.

Nightlife - as many people have noted, this is where the resort lacks a bit. Some people have dissed the disco bar, but I thought it was a pretty cool place and I would have went there more, but my wife likes her beauty sleep and wanted to hang more in the room. Dont be fooled by the name - they dont just play disco music. They play any kind of music you can think of. They also have special nights. We went there on 'latin' night, and they gave about 30 mins of lessons on a couple dances, then went back to playing any kind of music as normal. We participated and had a great time, even though I normally don't dance. However, that is really the only place to go. There are lobby bars, which dont seat that many people. It can be fun though, if there's a rowdy crowd. Still, for paying that much money there should be more nightlife at the resort. But, you can pay around 30 bucks roundtrip taxi to playa del carmen if you want more nightlife.

Restaurants - I thought the food was pretty darn good. I was a little nervous about this based off people's reviews. I am picky about the type of food I eat (but I do not expect 5 star quality), I just mean the type of food to pick from, to order. Every restaurant had something that I could eat and trust me if it worked for me, it can work for you. We liked Ventanas (pizza and pasta - but also had steak and other items), Mundaca, and we loved the food at the Italian restaurant (i had lasagna). I liked the Mundaca for breakfast. We also liked Greco for the lunch buffett. I was impressed with the food, especially considering quite a few people on here rip the food. I guess they are all gourmet chefs. The pool bar grills we thought were excellent. They had all the chips and salsa/queso/guacamole you could ever want.

Room Service - up and down. The first couple days we had breakfast brought to our room. They give you a half hour window so you select which half hour you want it. The first 2 days it came at the early part, right on the nose. Later in the week we ordered and it came 30 mins after the half hour had expired. I am guessing they were overloaded. So, my recommendation is dont depend on it and just get up earlier and go to a breakfast buffett as they are great. The desserts from room service are just awful, so dont bother. The ones in the restaurants are fine, though. We had dinner once I think wtih room service, just something like cheeseburgers or whatever and it was good.

Member presentation - this was a long day. I wouldnt say they are pushy, as you can just walk out of there and they cant do anything. But, if you want to become a member, you really have to wait it out and they will offer you a ton of stuff. But, first they dont offer much and if you are a sucker they will take you. So, my advice there is if you are interested in becoming a member, have some guts and stick it out. Never agree to their first or second offer.

Spa - My wife had a few spa treatments. She said they were all fantastic. to make a reservation though, is a pain in the neck. You have to go to a different office to make a reservation, then you have to go to a reception area where the spa is located. But in the reservation area, you have to talk to a couple people, then go sit down with someone and go over it again. It should be able to be done much simpler, such as over the phone or even online. The system is archaic. They won't let you really trade services (we had a couple back massages since we had concierge, but I could not trade mine in to use the hydrotherapy room).

Plus here is where I had the only issue of the trip. I didnt want any spa treatments. But, I did want to use the hydrotherapy (sauna,steam room, etc). So, we had obtained some spa credit so I scheduled to use the hydrotherapy on a couple certain days. I walk up to the desk, and he gives me a receipt to go in. I go thru the door (first time in there other than the 'tour') and I see what looks to be a check-in area. The first guy comes up to me and I hand him the receipt. He asked me if I had been drinking because for safety reasons you cannot go in the sauna/steam room. I told him no (and I had not, I was honest). He kind of looked at me with a smirk and handed me off to someone else. The next guy also asked if I had any drinks. I said no. Then he went back in the office and a couple minutes later I had about 6 people all staring me down, and 2 more asked if I had anything to drink and I said no (obviously getting irritated at this point but never at any time did I raise my voice to anyone). Then one of the guys tells me I should come back in a couple hours. I said 'why' and he mentioned drinking. At this point I was adament that I had nothing to drink and I picked up my receipt and walked out the door. At this point he came running after me saying 'sir, sir, sir' like they just hadnt made me sit there for 15 minutes hassling me. I talked to our personal concierge and explained the situation, and told him my wife could back me up on where I had been the whole day and could confirm I had nothing to drink. He believed me and said he would escort me up there if I wanted to go. But, at that point I didnt want to see anyone up there as they had all treated me like a child basically. I said the only thing I wanted was for him to cancel my appointments as I did not want to go. In the end, the concierge did nothing but have a bottle of wine sent to the room. He didnt cancel the appointments. To me, not believing was a slap to my face and I was not rude to any of those people and I felt they were very rude to me. I understand that I'm a younger guy, at the pool at all inclusive so they had reason to think I maybe had done it, but If I say I hadnt 5 times and if I dont smell of alcohol (no way I could have since I hadnt had anything to drink) then what gives?

In the end I was a bit ticked that they didnt believe me and the only thing I asked to be done, wasn't taken care of which should have been the minimum done. However, it was simply a misunderstanding and I didnt let it ruin anything. But, it was obviously a nuisance at the time.

Overall, I had a very pleasant experience and would recommend the resort to anyone. After seeing the member prices, and knowing what we paid for it, you should try to book thru a member as its outrageous the difference. If you want to take a few trips, its worth becoming a member or at least take the time to find a member and book thru them.

They have desks for honeymooners and guest services and tours. They all provided solid advice and were happy to help.

As far as the Cove palace, it looks like they are still working out the kinks. The kids play area was worked on the whole time, and it looked like the South pools were being worked on the last few days, and only were half filled to the normal level water and areas were roped off. I was amazed that the South area was actually less crowded. I think, though, that people were so scared of it not being adults only that there were less people on the South and it was actually the better area to go to. I only saw 2 or 3 kids the entire time I was over there, over a few days span. If I had a family, I would not take them there just yet. Let them work out the issues.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Heaven at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

Address: Carretera Cancun-Chetumal Km 72, Puerto Aventuras 77710, Mexico (Formerly Aventura Spa Palace)
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Puerto Aventuras
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Luxury Hotel in Puerto Aventuras
#11 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Aventuras
#11 Top resorts Hotel in Puerto Aventuras
#11 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Aventuras
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Heaven at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya 4.5*
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

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