We have been to Cancun/Rivera Maya a dozen times or so but never statyed this far south. We went went with another family (2 kids) and another couple. I booked through cheapcaribbean and the experience was seamless. I had never booked online and Elizabeth, the cheapcaribbean agent, was VERY helpful and was on the spot with her recommendations with pricing on different options almost immediate.
The "gauntlet" at the hotel seemed to be less this time but it was no trouble finding our transfer company. After a few margaritas at the bar outside the airport they quickly got us our transportation and the trip to the hotel took about an hour. Check in wasn't too bad. The two families chose to upgrade to a premier room and the couple chose to stay in their "regular" room but chose to upgrade to premier for the drinks etc.
We went over to the premier lounge to finish our check-in where we found out the reservations for most of the restaurants were booked out several days which was very disappointing. Before the trip I went to the Barcelo website and felt it was pretty inadequate in explaining what all was involved with the premier upgrade...I felt their website was totally inadequate compared to other websites. If I had been better informed we would have upgraded before we arrived and may have been able to get reservations in on more restaurants before we arrived.
The property was very nice. We weren't expecting too much as this is an older property and the "bottom" rung of the attached Barcelo properties. Let me tell you don't let that bother you, the property was kept clean and neat. We went to the Colonial and Tropical and the food wan't any better and the grounds weren't too much nicer, however we didn't get a chance to see the rooms.
The two families had ocean view premium room which appeared to be built new with the renovation? The room was very nice and had a king bed with two twin bed/couches that were great for our kids....just that alone was worth the premium upgrade. The bathroom was very nice but thank goodness my family isn't big on privacy as it is a spa set-up with a toilet that is enclosed by a glass door that doesn't go fully floor to ceiling but personally we didn't mind it. The soap/shampoo/conditioner are in a dispensor mounted on the wall...just don't push up because the container will go flying across the shower. There were several toiletries available for use (loofah, razor, toothbrush/paste etc) which were very nice but never replenished teh entire stay. There were two sinks which was great while getting ready however one didn't drain and leaked. We let both the premier desk and front desk know for the first three days but nothing ever happened. The beds weren't that bad with a choice of pillows. The tv was good and was easy to work (yes as per other reviews the english channels were limited but this resort is geared more toward European travellers and you are in another country.) However, the aux plugs did work and were easy to set up so a dvd player or ipad adaptor was easy to attach. Our wifi worked very well in the room and by the pool/beach. The other room had a hard time getting wifi in the room. There was also a nice drying rack on the patio for swimsuits. The room was very dark at night so next time I am going to bring a small nightlight. I believe these rooms were set up with motion sensors that would shut down tv/some lights and turn the ac back to 23c however the recovery back to setpoint was very quick. We were in the building right next to the construction and it wasn't an issue....didn't hear anything.
The buffet was big and there was something for everyone. We had some picky kids with us and there was never any complaining. The buffet by the lobby is open for b/l/d and is air conditioned. We found it was more comfortable toward the center of the room. The different "theme" nights were basically the same type of food with 3-4 dished divoted to the "theme". They did rotate the regular dishes from time to time so the food didn't get too redundant AND it DIDN'T all taste the same like many other properties we have visited. We ate lunch at the buffet by the pool/beach. Sit along the outside edges as the center of the restaurant gets very hot with little air movement. The bars weren't as bad as some of the earlier reviews. The "regular" booze was ok and most of the beer was Corona and Corona Light but there was some Negro Modelo. The premier upgrade we did included all of their topshelf liquor...and yes they did run out from time to time at the pool bar but we just dealt with it and chose something else. I am booze snob and I was not disappointed (except for the white wine at the buffet..tasted like Thunderbird). The Beach Bar by the lobby was a great place before/after dinner. There was plenty of top shelf liquor and snacks throughout the day as well as the Premier Lounge which has a self-serve liquor and snacks (however their internet was always down). The only restaurant we were able to go to was the Italian which was pretty good but hotter than all get-out. It was over at the Colonial where most of their restaurants were very hot the night we were over there.
The pool had alot of activity which we like and the beach was great with plenty of chairs. If you like to snorkle bring your gear as there is decent snorkling just off the shore including turtles and a 3' sea ray. I would suggest doing the "stingray shuffle" (slide your feet instead of stomping down) in the sand as there were several stingrays in the sand just off of shore. They were obviously used to humans being around and weren't going to bother anyone unless you step on them.
As I mentioned earlier we have been fortunate enough to travel somewhat and Barcelo Beach was a very pleasant surprise. Sure not everything was perfect buy we just try to roll with it. When you called to the front desk there wasn't the confidence your issue would be resolved however I can say my son got sick one night and within 15 minutes there was someone to the room giving us what we needed (he was fine the next day). This is a European hotel, geared to multiple nationalities and it is in another country. We enjoyed being around all of the other cultures, it made us feel like we were actually in another country instead of being in a resort geared to Americans/Canadians....just keep in mind we have a totally different idea of personal space than many other countries.