VACATION IN HELL or ALL-INCLUSIVE NIGHTMARE!!!
We are an easy-going couple who love Mexico and the wonderful and most friendly Mexican people. We’ve travelled extensively around the world and stayed at some outstanding as well as pretty dismal hotels/resorts in different places. We are fairly open-minded to standards being different than what we are used to, but this is the first time we are writing a review and we would like to stop others from having the same dreadful experience. We stayed at the Barcelo Maya Resort recently for 15 days and paid top dollars for this suffering!!! If you are not willing to read the following detailed review of this resort, let us tell you right at the offset that this resort is one of the horrible places we’ve ever stayed and terribly disappointed. Greeted with MASSIVE CONSTRUCTION NOISE, BOTH IN THE HOTEL AND ON THE BEACH, we felt like prisoners put on a conveyor belt throughout the 15 days and getting even the most basic and simple service was a major struggle. Every single day, from 6 AM to 8 PM (and until 11 PM for three days) we had to listen to the MASSIVE CONSTRUCTION NOISE/DRILLING and we were treated like a number rather than a guest.
If you are thinking about booking this resort for your dream vacation, AVOID BARCELO MAYA RESORT AT ALL COSTS!!!
So many shortcomings mar this massive resort that you will regret you booked Barcelo for sure. Barcelo certainly does not deserve its 4 star rating. Prior to booking Barcelo, we’ve read the reviews people wrote on Trip Advisor and thought “How can you be THAT unhappy on vacation?” So we’ve decided to completely dismiss the bad reviews of this resort. Big mistake!! There were so many good reviews that led us to conclude that the bad reviews must have written by extremely “fussy” and “mean” people who are unappreciative and very difficult to please in the best of circumstances. But now we know better and are sorry that we did not pay heed to those honest reviews as our dream vacation in the Caribbean was shattered as soon as we entered Barcelo and faced the most unprofessional, inattentive, rude, and unfriendly staff with appallingly pissy attitude at the Front Desk. Being treated like dirt at the Front Desk was not the only problem, however. Barcelo Maya Resort misses the mark on many points. In an effort to give you a better picture of this horrible place, we will explain the horrors of this resort in some detail below so that you can see why booking this resort (any of its 5 sections) will be one of the costly mistake as you will surely waste of your hard-earned money and valuable vacation time.
MISSING WILDLIFE ON THE RESORT GROUNDS:
We read from other people’s reviews that there are many wild animals freely live in harmony in the resort, especially the coatis. So we were very excited that we would see coatis at Barcelo’s natural grounds at night. However, our excitement was replaced with horror immediately. We couldn’t see any coatis anywhere so we asked the staff and one of the bellhops told us—with a grin on his face—that because of guest complaints they regularly “poison” coatis and other animals such as raccoons. Enough said!! Draw your own conclusions from this atrocity.
Front desk staff does not know anything about customer service. The people at the reception seem to be extremely ill-mannered and are horrible at their job! They cannot handle the hotel guests well and messed up quite a bit! It was very ridiculous of them to not pay heed to us and at least offer a simple apology when there was a problem from their end. They didn’t seem to be very concerned or even bothered about the hotel guests and their issues. Their sour faces suggested that we are inconveniencing them and that even though they are Front Desk employees, it is not their responsibility to help us. You would get different answers to the same question from different staff. When we called the desk at 3 AM to complain about the noisy guests nobody answered the phone. And yet, every time we had the “Do Not Disturb” sign on our door someone from the Front Desk would call and check on us for no reason at all and disturb us even after we told them not to call! They always had excuse for everything and they made us feel like as if we were talking to a wall.
THE CONSTANT AND UNBEARABLE PROBLEM OF EXCRUCIATING CONSTRUCTION AND OTHER TYPES OF NOISE IN THE RESORT:
When you approach hotel you feel like you made a good choice, the view of the beachfront is truly spectacular. After that it ALL GOES DOWNHILL!!
We booked “Maya Beach” section of this resort but during check-in we were assigned a room in the “Maya Caribe” section. We asked the most unhelpful and rudest person at the Front Desk (the woman with thick black plastic glasses named YORIANDA PUNKA or YOLIANDA PUNTA) but instead of explaining the reason for this change, she quickly brushed off our question and ordered us “Just sign here!” She conveniently chose not to explain the awful truth that Maya Beach section of the hotel is being expanded and therefore has been closed. We discovered this early in the next morning when we were awakened by the noise of heavy construction trucks and drilling etc.
And to add insult to injury, THEY LIE TO THE GUESTS. When we asked for a quieter room, the desk supervisor assigned us a different room and promised that should we experience noise problems again, she would upgrade us to the Tropical or Colonial sections of the resort which by the way, would not have made a difference as the construction is happening right on the beach and all buildings in the all five sections of the resort have open-air hallways and paper walls. Therefore it’s impossible to escape the loud noise no matter which section you’re in. Sure enough, in our new room the couple in the next door were constantly fighting and punching each other day and night!!! Shocked and horrified FOR THE SECOND TIME, we returned to the desk and asked to be located to a different building but we were refused. They just relocated us to another room in the same building which was not any quieter. In fact, it was very close to the construction site of the massive commercial tank for DOLPHINGS IN CAPTIVITY. So we were forced to look at, and listened to the cranes and heavy machinery drilling during the remaining portion of our stay.
Instead of renovating the existing dilapidated guest rooms and facilities, they are putting up new buildings and a PRISON TO TORTURE INNOCENT DOLPHINS IN CAPIVITY! They are drilling day and night right on the beach, so no matter which portion of the beach or building you are in, you will be listening to this DRILLING and heavy machinery working, heavy trucks carrying loads of construction material right in front of you all day long while you are trying to enjoy the tropical scenery and relaxing . Well…guess what? You won’t be enjoying anything other than loud construction noise!! So, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have a very unpleasant experience. We were told that the construction will last at least two years or more as they are expanding the room numbers.
We are still very upset because we’ve wasted so much of our precious holiday time dealing with these multiple room changes with packing/unpacking/carrying luggage, waiting, explaining things to the most unhelpful and uncaring staff rather than relaxing and enjoying the beachfront. In a desperate attempt to avoid construction noise, we went to Cristalino Cenote which is just south of the resort but even here (yes, in a Cenote!) we could hear the construction noise coming from the resort.
It was indeed impossible to sleep in the night. The walls seem to be made of paper and you hear every movement of your fellow neighbours, and yes, there is a very loud music playing untill very late hours, and after that the party seems to be moving into the rooms, together with the music, which doesn't make your sleep any easier. We could hear the loud music until early hours of the morning from the disco, Jaguar. We could hear neighbours partying, talking, coughing, laughing, TV noise. So, if you book Barcelo (make no mistake about it, its all five sections are equally bad. We did investigate!) expect to stay awake the entire duration of your booking in this resort.
We are not unjustly exaggerating the noise problem in this resort because loud noise would happen “everyday” as opposed to just one day disturbance only (caused by one specific group of loud guests) which then the noise would not have been such a major issue. Unfortunately, because of the totally incompetent security staff the constant noise was an ongoing problem. If this resort had competent security/front desk employees they would have not allow people party in their rooms all night long and every single day.
The two important reasons we booked this resort (as opposed to the hundreds of other resorts in the Riviera Maya) were: 1) its beautiful and unobstructed beachfront 2) the fact that it did not have dolphins in captivity. We not only had to endure the construction noise on the beach (as well as in the buildings) but also had to put up with the shocking reason for this excruciatingly noisy construction which is not to renovate the ailing facilities in consideration of their guests’ comfort and enjoyment, but to keep innocent non-human animals in captivity and make them suffer for more profit. The tour operator, SUNWING/SIGNATURES.ca should have advertised clearly the fact that the massive construction —not minor renovations—is taking place at Barcelo Maya Resort, “BEFORE” we proceeded with the “NON-REFUNDABLE” booking. WE CONSIDER THIS A STAB IN THE DARK!
Yes, by not telling us the truth, they ripped us off once but they lost valuable customers forever who would be booking multiple itineraries in the future. From now on, we will strongly advise our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours to avoid SUNWING/SIGNATURES.ca. We certainly hope that SUNWING/SIGNATURES.ca and its associated travel agencies (TRAVEL BEST BETS/JUBILEE TRAVELS) who do not tell the truth will be utilizing the money they ripped from us towards remedying their misfortunes.
On the top of the fact that guests can’t get any service from the Front Desk, there was no concierge in the lobby. Go figure!! Huge resort with literally thousands of guests and no concierge! Instead, they set up tables at the entry of each section of the resort but despite the posted service times there was nobody at these tables to serve the guests. So, good luck with getting any help with booking à la cart restaurants, excursions, etc.
When the couple—the supreme idiots— in the next room were fist fighting in the middle of the night we called the security and someone showed up but instead of shutting this lunatic couple up he was very upset with us for disturbing him (!) and asked us to calm down and said that we should direct our complaints to the Front Desk!?
Furthermore, on two occasions, we saw people so drunk—or sick—that they’d passed out lying in the hallways. When we returned to our room we saw these individuals STILL lying on the floor. This demonstrates a great deal about the quality of security (or, the lack thereof) at this resort. We saw surveillance cameras everywhere and still, the hotel staff would not take any action when it's urgently needed.
RESORT CREDITS (i.e., THE SHAM):
Barcelo offers $2000 worth resort credit and here is what it means:If you buy a bottle of wine that is worth $800, will give you 80 cents resort credit.Go ahead, knock yourselves out on these unbelievable resort credits!!!
For those travelling with Sunwing/Signatures.ca good luck with the rep whose name is ISRAEL. He introduced himself and made a pitch for private excursions (they charge way too much, go on your own) quickly and he said that he is “chained”to his desk from 9 AM to 1 PM but then we never got to see him again from start to finish and believe us we tried.
FELLOW VISITORS AT THE RESORT:
We found the fellow guests to be the rudest we’ve ever shared a resort with. They were extremely loud and obnoxious. We have never met such a bunch of self-centered, inconsiderate, and rude people in all our many years of travelling. This low class clientele alone reveal a lot about Barcelo Maya Resort itself. We regularly saw people picking their noses in the restaurants, blowing their noses right into the table cloths and cloth napkins, putting their feet on the tables etc.
No wonder these visitors give glowing reviews to miserable Barcelo and return to this place many times. It seems clear that these people simply feel “at home” and able to get away with their unruly behaviour at Barcelo. Therefore, it should be noted clearly that this resort is for large, loud, and obnoxious tourist groups only. Do not choose Barcelo unless you want to be jostled and elbowed in the dining room and other common areas by rude tourists.
The rooms on the website look clean and modern, but don’t be fooled, in reality those rooms don't exist at this hotel. The entire resort is seriously in need of some renovation. It has been worn out for decades, and clearly there hasn't been much improvement if any—especially with sound-proofing which is desperately needed in this resort. It is in a great location and has a vast area so has a great potential, but unfortunately with its incredibly impolite staff, bad meals, noisy and musty rooms with worn out furnishing Barcelo is reminiscent of a poor run down motel in the US!—definitely not the characteristics of a 4 star resort.
For starters, all the 3 rooms we we're in were pretty beat up. That would have been inconsequential because of the great location of the resort, but the rooms not being very clean and noisy offset that. As soon as we walked into our rooms (all three) it was like entering a time machine into 1955. We had better furniture in our dorm room in college. Although the rooms were very large, everything was very old. The housekeeping staff was rude and inattentive even when being tipped well.
--the air conditioner wasn't working very well in any of the THREE ROOMS that we were in, we had it at 18 degrees, but the thermostat kept showing 28-29 degrees. Even though it was dismally weak, A/C was so loud that we had to shut it completely off at night. Presumably they are trying to save money by turning off or adjusting the AC. It seemed this is normal practice in this country but with the temps over 100 and 100 percent humidity, this was unbearable.
--ceiling fans too, were not functioning very well. They seemed broken or very loud.
--the bathrooms were outdated and quite disgusting. The maids do not clean the rooms they just replace the towels despite the note in Spanish saying we’d like to reuse them for environmental reasons. We saw smears (blood and feces) on the toilet paper holder, bathroom mirrors, glass shower doors, tiles, etc.
--shower doors did not close properly causing flooding in the bathroom
--shower drains were clogged due to sand from the beach and improper cleaning
--rooms were dingy and musty with a foul odor with dust on the floor
--the beds were either too hard or sagging needing replacement
--the king size bed was made up with double size sheets (as opposed to proper King size sheets) overlapping so during the night they rolled into an uncomfortable lump.
--towels in the hotel room are extremely hard, old, and threadbare. Weirdly enough, all the three rooms didn't come with hand towels or wash clothes, just large body towels, and it was an ordeal getting them through housekeeping. Also, they did not smell fresh and they were like sandpaper. After getting sunburned we had to use our own “soft” beach towels instead.
--rooms reeked of cigarette smoke despite the signs it was non-smoking building
--one day there was no running water in the shower stalls on the beach and in the rooms for about an hour
--sliding balcony doors would not lock
--in all three rooms minibar refrigerators either did not work or they were very weak, and never replenished
--corridors were grubby and the balconies could have done with a fresh paint
--as mentioned above, we had to change rooms 3 times as all the rooms were equally noisy. There was continuous and excessive noise all the time that it was impossible to sleep.
--on the positive side the balconies were good size with the views of beautiful palm trees. But then again, the constant construction noise, noisy neighbours, excessive smoking (cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, and God knows what other substances!) drunk people VOMITING from the balconies into the gardens below, etc. all made it impossible to enjoy the balconies.
--don’t be fooled and pay extra for “ocean-view” rooms since they don’t exist in this resort. From the third floor you can see the palm trees only, which of course, are beautiful, but that’s not the “ocean-view” they advertise.
CARIBE BUFFET RESTAURANT:
Eating in this buffet was reminiscent of a high school or Army cafeteria with food to match! Everything was so hectic and we were rushed all the time to make tables available for others. Tables and chairs were so old that they were very uncomfortable and chair pads were so worn out that they were like paper. We saw bugs floating in the creamers and pitchers. Even though we were there during the low season, it was so terribly crowded all the time. In order to accommodate large numbers of people they put so many tables and so it was difficult to walk among the tables. There were two major conventions going on, so thousands of people were using the beach as well as the buffet and other already-crowded facilities at the Caribe section.
The major problem with the buffet and other restaurants was that there was almost no vegetarian food. Even the salads had meat in them such as ham, bacon pieces, etc. There were soups available all the time but they all had meat in them and they were made with chicken or beef stock. We could not even eat simple pasta with tomato sauce because they were boiling the pasta in the same pot, for example with sausages, ravioli with meat filling and other items with meat in it. Pizza was made on-site but not good at all. Pizzas had only one or two toppings and the pizza bread was terrible. So, even though we paid for “all-inclusive” we didn’t get much food at all. We ate bread, cheese, and same fruits for 15 days.
Vegetarian or not, the food was repetitive and not good at all as fellow guests also frequently commented. The deserts were very good but they were all warm and melting because of lack of refrigeration. Instead of keeping them in proper refrigerators, we’ve noticed that cold food items were kept in the staff-only area prior to serving and served over crushed ice as opposed to keeping them in the refrigerators until they are needed, and putting them on serving platforms with proper refrigeration. If the buffet was air-conditioned, you would not be reading these comments but in the scorching tropical heat it is only fair to wonder about food safety issues.
All drinks were watered down so we did not enjoy drinks that we paid for ahead of time!! The other major problem with the buffet was that the bus persons pretend to be servers. It is a “self-serve” buffet and yet they would come to our table and introduce themselves as “I am your waiter/waitress.” This was quite ridiculous! They bothered us constantly. They would take away our plates before we even finished. They try very hard for tips and this made us very uncomfortable. We’ve worked as food and beverage servers ourselves for many years, so we had every intention to leave tips and indeed, we did. Nevertheless, we felt we were being used as “guinea pigs” because obviously these individuals with absolutely no prior training in the hospitality industry were offered on-the-job training in the buffet and then transferred to the former restaurants in the resort. The sad irony is that the service in these supposedly former and better restaurants was even worse.
Most disappointingly, however, the Caribe Buffet is an open-air buffet and in the 45 degree Celsius eating was a torturous experience as opposed to a pleasant and relaxing holiday eating. In the scorching heat this buffet should have been air-conditioned. Clearly, Barcelo is more interested in making huge profits by stuffing as many people as possible in gymnasium-like restaurants rather than offering them enjoyable holiday experience.
À LA CARTE RESTAURANTS:
We were allowed to eat at two restaurants only: Mexican and Spanish. This is the first time we've encountered this eating segregation on the massive, all-inclusive resorts. Agave, the Mexican restaurant was closed due to construction so the snack bar Captain Morgan was doing the double duty. We mention this because we had extremely hard time booking this restaurant as the concierge did not know this (!) and she refused to book a dinner reservation at Captain Morgan for us. We found out later only from another guest that the snack bar Captain Morgan was being used as “Mexican” restaurant.
We’ve tried the both restaurants once and that was enough! As we anticipated, both restaurants did not have any vegetarian selections on their menu other than salads. So, after eating salads every day at the buffet we ended up eating salads at the à la carte restaurants too. Service was terrible and slow too—we waited about 45 minutes for salads. Especially at the Don Quijote there were only five tables occupied and yet the entire staff was in a major panic mode! We asked for hot tea and they brought us a cup only half full with lukewarm water in which the tea bag did not dissolve. Is it too much to ask for a full cup of hot tea in an all-inclusive resort with four star rating??? Is it too much to expect that the concierge (who is responsible for booking these à la carte restaurants) would be knowledgeable about the goings-on pertaining to resorts’ restaurants??? . . . not to mention be available at their desks to serve the guests???
BEACH SNACK BARS/POOL BARS:
We were allowed to use two beach snack bars only and yet we were denied entry to one of them because they reserved it for the convention guests and later on they shut it down completely due to the construction. We paid fees for “all-inclusive ” but we were allowed to use only one snack bar, Capitan Morgan, which was very crowded all the time and had very poor selection of food. They offered hamburgers (no vegetarian hamburgers were available) and sausages only. Also, they would not replace the serving plates so we had to put up with the left overs.
Beach snack bar and pool bars frequently ran out of glasses so we had to bring our own cups to the beach all the time. On many occasions they were out of beer, too!
We’ve also noticed that they’d close the restaurant earlier than the posted hours to prepare the place as Mexican restaurant for dinners. So, for example, if you wanted to get a simple soft drink or water late in the afternoon you could not, even though you are entitled to.
The pools were very dirty and always crowded especially around the swim-up bars and when thousands of people descended on the resort to attend the conventions. There were large groups of people occupying the pool area every day. They were very loud and vulgar, behaving as though this was their first time outside their country.
We saw patches of hair in the pools, and worse yet, VOMIT near the swim-up bar sections of the pools. We’ve observed that picking up the fallen leaves is the only cleaning they do. The pool tiles were grimy. At first we thought this was just a discoloration of the grouts but later we were disgusted to see the grime came off when we were walking in the pool. You can only walk in the pools (as opposed to swim!) because they are very shallow (only 4 ft. deep). The pool water was not refreshing at all and in fact it was so warm that you could make tea with it! This proves that the water in the pools is not replaced with clean, circulating fresh water. We also did not smell chlorine at any time.
The loud noise from the construction sites blended nicely with blasting repetitive music from mega speakers in the pool area. How could anyone possibly endure more Gangnam Style??? The answer: Only the repeat visitors of Barcelo!
LACK OF LOUNGE AREA:
It was impossible to rest anywhere in this huge resort because constructions are going on all the time. Due to excessive noise we could not relax in our room or on the beach. In this massive resort there was NOT A SINGLE seating (i.e., lounging) area to sit and relax, read, have a chat etc. This was most frustrating as we brought few novels with us. The only seating available is in the supposedly 24 hour snack/sports bar. But it was always so crowded with drunk and loud people and only a handful of chairs and tables were available. Also, it was not air conditioned. To escape the noise due constant partying in the guest rooms, one night we went there at 3 AM there was no hot coffee or tea available let alone any food. In fact, there was no staff member around to serve the guests.
RESORT SHOPS/COST OF WI-FI:
Prices will give you a chest pain. $20 dollars for earplugs!! Don't bother, they don’t remedy the constant noise in the resort. The cost of wi-fi is beyond ridiculous and very slow, too.
Night entertainments were extremely cheesy and repetitive. If you're there for two weeks you'll be watching the same cheesy shows all over again during the second week. Besides, who would be travelling to Mexico to listen to the American songs and watch Walt Disney shows (such as Fantasia) every night??? Also, each night they make you watch the promotional advertising for the hotel (especially for expensive Spa treatments) over and over again.
We could go on, but alas, we think we covered enough horrors to give you an idea of this place. How could a resort hotel in such a beautiful spot on this planet be so horrible?? What a pity!
The unbearable and constant construction noise all over the resort, very noisy guests coupled with terrible service will make your vacation miserable. Just stay away from this ABOMINATION that calls itself Barcelo Maya Resort! Period.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.