Have just returned from a 2 week holiday here.
What an amazing place. Was totally beautiful and the staff were great, all smiled and spoke to you, were efficient and ensured you had everything you needed.
I'll be as honest as possible for my review.
Accomodation - rooms
We stayed in Maya beach first and the rooms were very clean and had everything we needed. Sheets were clean and was very pleased. Moved to Barcelo Tropical and rooms were slightly better (well balcony was bigger and more private) not much difference, but just as clean.
We moved because of all the building work. The kangos and bansaws were busy from 7am-7pm. Although to be perfectly honest we really didn't notice or feel affected by the work. We couldn't here from our side but can imagine if you were facing it you would have been annoyed. We also opted to use the Colonial pool (just because we could and it was nicer) so daytime building was never noticable either. However, we read a review before we left and were concerned about the building work - so we contacted Thomson/First Choice both by going in and telephoning. Both times we were told that they have a specialist team who deal with renovation and building work and if it was going to affect your holiday we would have been informed. So we went on the understanding there wasn't anything to worry about. Well done Firstchoice for having such an informative, knowledgeable team! Really on the call there. Sorry to be sarcastic.
However, (again I will say it really didn't have an impact on our time) the area was enclosed by fencing that apologised and wasn't instrusive. The complex was so large that the noise (to me) seemed so far away even when you were close. So this gets me round to why we changed hotels. The hotel itself decided that because of the building work next door they were going to completely close the 'Maya beach'. So we were moved to 'tropical'. The only inconvenience for us was that we had to pack and unpack mid holiday.This didn't bother me that much because...
The beach!!! Was so so beautiful. The sea was turquoise and tropical with the reef so close and some of the most amazing snorkelling ever, so many different fish and ray to sea (second largest reef in the world next to the barrier reef). We were able to swim with turtles it was simply fantastic. There was always a quiet place to sit/lay and the beach never seemed overcrowded. There were always sunbeds (never that horrible saving with towels). The sea was warm and some days calm but when the wind got up wavy for more fun. Sand was white and smooth and the jetty was great to sit and watch fish or jump off. There were palm trees to shade under. BLISS!!!
The hotel itself was immaculately kept and the staff worked very hard. There was never any mess or litter, nowhere ever appeared dirty and no flies! Were some lizards, iguanas and a snake?!?
The food buffets were full of a super variety of food and never empty for long. It always looked appetising and again the staff were very friendly and efficient. Everything was fresh and really good, can't complain about anything. Made it really hard to come home and cook again. Boo hoo.
Weather - rain came rain went, same with the thunder. It's a tropical place in the rainy season. This didn't bother us. When it rained with ate lovely food and drank tequilla! Ariba! No problem for me. Pretty soon the sun was out again.
Excursions we found incredibly expensive. We decided to do this off our own back and definately saved money this was. You can get the bus to Tulum and taxi to Xel-ha and Playa Carmen. I'd say research where you want to go and prices before you leave and then ask someone at the hotel or a local as they can tell you the cheapest way of doing things. Ie the cenotes (there is one across the road from the hotel) The turtles excursion - why pay when you can see them when you snorkel off the beach at the hotel?
Pay for your exit tax in pesos as it worked out cheaper the pound stirling or dollars about £5 each - every little helps.
We were told that it was only pesos now in mexico and not USD but this is not the case. They take and accept both. In fact more things are priced in USD and we took pesos so were converting alot! Speaking of money barter for your life at the shops. They really try it on. I wanted a wooden carved mask for my wall. They started at 60USD and I eventually paid 400 peso, a bowl for 1055 peso came down to 450 blimey. I'm sure I'd got it for less but I began to feel a touch guilty.
Overall we had an amazing holiday. I found the mexican people so friendly, accomodating and cheerful. The complex was fantastic in a beautiful setting.
Would go back in a flash. But there's a lot of world to see!