My spouse and I and our one child (age7) stayed at Barcelo Maya Palace between March 24th and April 7th. This was the first time we have stayed at an all inclusive and the first time to Mexico. We booked through Signature Vacations and from the moment we set foot in the airport we knew we had made the right choice. We had upgraded to "star class" which meant no lineups and pre-boarding. The service on the plane was awesome including free drinks and meal. Well worth the extra money! Arriving in Cancun, the Customs line was a little long but we knew to expect that so no big deal. We found our Signature rep right away and we were whisked away to the Palace and were there within an hour even after 2 stops at other hotels to drop off a few passengers. The Palace is aptly named. The view as you walk in the lobby is breathtaking! Check-in was flawless and we were told we had a nice room overlooking the pool. Champagne and an alcohol free drink arrived for our child and our bags were taken to be delivered to our room. We stayed in the Oxacaca building on the 2nd floor and the room was perfect. The walk to the pool was a non-issue. Gorgeous marble and tile and a beautiful bathroom. The king bed was very comfortable and had a pillow top mattress on it. We learned this is not the case at the other Barcelo properties and heard the beds were quite hard.
This was a very family friendly hotel. The pool was gigantic and never felt crowded and the kids water park was amazing. Our child simply LOVED the Barcy Kids Club and she spent most of her days there. The staff were so warm and caring and genuinely took an interest in all the children. We felt very comfortable leaving her there for the day while we went shopping in Playa del Carmen. Some parents asked us if we thought it would be "safe" to leave their children. Of course! Way safer place to leave your child then in most American and some Canadian cities! My child loved the mini disco and they even practiced for two days for a show in which they performed at the lavish theatre. On our last day my child cried when she had to say goodbye to her favourite Barcy Club counsellor Karyna!
The food was good. Although I would have to agree with some reviews it was not always as hot as it could be in the buffets. But I figure most of the time it got cold on my plate because I was spending so much time walking around looking at what else there was! The mexican food at the buffet was the best and was made fresh. They even had a little buffet for kids with kid friendly food. The only drawback I would say is that for those suffering from fish and/or shellfish allergies it was a nightmare. The ingredients were not marked and at the fresh pasta making bar you really had to watch to make sure the same frying pan which cooked shellfish for the person just before you was not used. My spouse is deathly allergic to fish so he had a tough time and ended up eating steak everynight from steakbar. But we had expected this problem. The a la carte restaurants were very accomodating though and we always told them of the fish allergic and my child's peanut allergy and the staff seemed knowledgeable enough in English to ensure that we did not order anything with these two allergens. We especially liked the Brazilian restaurant at the Palace and the Santa Fe steakhouse at the Barcelo Tropical. It was my spouse's birthday and the Steakhouse staff sang him happy birthday and he got a special dessert! We were disappointed with the Mexican Mariachi restaurant. The food was medicore and we had been told that a Mariachi band would be circulating. Of course, the night we went the band was mysteriously occupied at another venue such as a wedding!
I would have to agree with other reviews about the issue of reserving pool chairs. There are signs everywhere that it is not allowed but it is not enforced. It was quite annoying. My spouse ended up going out at 6:30/7:00 every morning to reserve during our last week once we got our routine down! I don't mind if someone reserves and then uses is for the day but people if you are not going to show up at the pool until afternoon or not at all please DO NOT spoil it for everyone else! There was no problem getting chairs at the beautiful beach. It was very windy the weeks we were there so we did not get to take advantage of the water activities or go snorkeling. But no big deal as we are not avid sports enthusiasts.
The lobby bar was the best. Nicely air-conditioned and the staff were very friendly and funny. Top shelf liquor was all that was available and no paying extra for "brand names" like at the other Barcelo properites. Kids were allowed in and they always made sure our child had her own special "cocktail". Thank you Julio! There was always fresh popcorn there as well!
Like other reviewers I would have to concur that the spring breakers were rather annoying. It was not Cancun "wild" but there was just enough loud, drunk teenagers later in the afternoon to make going to the pool bar a non-event (they weren't up in the morning). Not sure why American teenagers have to chant their school sports team songs over and over and do body shots. They seemed to be hardly chaperoned and when there were parents it appeared the parents were just as bad. We asked lobby bar staff about this and they like us were very frustrated by the teenagers. They did a good job though as soon as a group of "rowdies" came in they quickly called security and got them out. We noticed that there were more spring breakers at the other Barcelo's especially the 4 star ones. We figure that most of the teenagers had come over from the other resorts. We seemed to be in a good building and we were not bothered by any loud partiers as some other reviewers seem to have been. We were unaware of the "guarantee of no spring breakers at the resort" if there was such a thing then check-in staff need to confirm ID before they give out the over 18 bracelet!
Our rooms were always made up everyday and we tipped a couple of US dollars a day. Seemed like as soon as we left our room , housekeeping was in. EVeryday we would come in and there would be a different animal made out of towels on the bed and our bed was always turned down with chocolates for an added touch. There is a safe in the room (no charge) and we made sure that most of our valuables were in it and we had no theft problems. Some people have noted a "sewer" like smell in the rooms. I would like to clear this up after speaking to a friend who has relatives who own a resort in Mexico. The smell in all liklihood is sulphur which is in a Mexican cleaning product that is used to wash the tile floors. This is consistent with a smell we were getting in our room. We noticed it in our room right after housekeeping had mopped our floors! Case solved! Another point, if you have children and need a roll-a-way bed (at extra cost) forget it. There are two sofas in the suite and both turn into "daybeds" and are made up with sheets and blankets. My child was more than comfortable. There are supposed to be roll-a-ways but none were available while we were there but it would have taken up room in the suite anyways!
Overall, we would highly recommend this resort. Although the staff know little english that is to be expected! If they came to hotels in Canada staff would not know Spanish! We found the staff friendly and accomodating. The food was great, grounds and views are beautiful, drinks awesome (although like everyone says you have to drink quite a few to get a buzz). No problems with bugs, mosquitos or other wildlife (just the few spring breakers :) ) After staying at the Palace we would not want to stay at any of the other 4 Barcelos connected, they simply do not compare!! We look forward to returning there. It genuinely felt like home for 2 weeks!