Celebrated our 20th Anniversary at the Barcelo Maya Palace 11/28 - 12/7 in an ocean view Jr. Suite. We were upgraded for free so we really got our money's worth! We're in our late-40's and we've traveled quite a bit. Major trips have been Hawaii (many times), NYC, Europe several times, Costa Rica, New England. We like quality resorts in tropical locals and big cities and simple, small and quaint in Europe and New England. Costa Rica was an adventure trip. For this trip, we wanted something nice and cushy.
This was our 3rd visit to the Yucatan and our 1st stay at Barcelo. Our previous stays were at the Palladium Grand and this time we were looking for a step up in both resort facilities and food. For this trip, we wanted something nice and cushy. We weren't disappointed at all.
My complaints are listed first, but read to the end so I leave you on a positive note.
Hated the lobby bar at the Palace hotel -- although the decor is very hip, it's so cold, both in decor and temperature and there are 3 small tvs playing sports all the time but no comfortable chairs to sit in and the florescent lighting is awful. The room echos terribly. We like to relax with a drink before dinner and afterwards as well -- this wasn't it for us. Bartenders had no personality. In Mexico, we prefer open-air lobbies and lounges with good mood lighting, comfortable seating and warm night air. The lobbies next door at Barcelo Tropical and Caribe had cozier lobbies and bars with open air and large palapa roofs. Walk there if you don't like what the Palace has to offer. And, while you're down there, take advantage of the miniature golf course at night between Colonial & Caribe. It's set in the jungle and it's pretty neat! Closes at 9pm or something.
We were also disappointed that there is only one spa for all 5 resorts and it's located at the Colonial resort. It's not very large and certainly not "Palace" standard, although it is clean and pretty. Barcelo really should add a new spa right at the Palace hotel and make it spectacular.
Now, for the positive ---
The Maya Palace is absolutely beautiful, spotlessly clean with a very long and lovely beach and nicely matured palm trees everywhere. We were able to take advantage of all 5 Barcelo properties, which are lined up one after the other along the 2-mile (or so) beach. The Barcelo resort that is at the other end of the beach was closed while we were there because of low vacancy and the beach in front of that hotel was practically vacant. We LOVED hanging out down there feeling like we were on our own private island! Had to walk 7 minutes to get a margarita but so what?! We had insulated mugs and a reason to get out of the chair! Alas, that hotel is scheduled to reopen on 12/18. The beach directly in front of the Palace was way too busy for us most afternoons. However, there's never a shortage of chairs at the beach or pools. And, the further down the beach you go to the other end, the less people you'll see. There are 10 Bali beds at the stunning Palace adult pool but they are grabbed early in the morning. We were able to get them twice during the week and that was enough for us. There are so many other equally beautiful spots throughout the resort!
The food was very good. We always found something we really like. Beautiful fresh meats and fish that are grilled to your liking right in front of you during lunch and dinner. We ate at the French restaurant twice (filet mignon and lobster is EXCELLENT) and the Cuban restaurant once (just ok). We ate outside the resort twice (Playa del Carmen and a lobster cruise in Cancun). The other nights we did the buffet. You can build a GREAT salad both at lunch or dinner. Breakfast is very good with plenty of choices. Made to order omelets every day. Top quality fresh fruit (strawberries, grapefruit, melon, pineapple, grapes, papaya). Even the nacho cheese sauce and guacamole are very good (unlike at the Palladium). Don't miss the chocolate and coconut gelato at dinnertime and the butter cookes that are at every meal! Even the house red table wine offered at the buffet was good enough (and we're wine people).
My husband works out and he preferred the gym at the Colonial resort over the Palace. More to offer in the way of free-weights and half of the gym is open-air under a large palapa so lots of sweating! Drinks always good and you can politely request more alcohol -- no problem. We never went to the Jaguars disco and didn't go to the shows (not for us). We did have fun bar-hopping in Playa, though! Started off mellow in The Den then Coco Maya (really cool) and the Blue Parrott for fire dancing. Do it! It's safe, fun and the party starts late (10pm) and goes late (3-4am). Lots of taxi drivers on every corner to bring you home for $18 USD. Guys - wear jeans with flip-flops and a cool t-shirt and you're set! Girl's can wear anything. Even flip-flops ok if you're not a fancy girl! Had a lot of fun.
The bartenders at the resort weren't the friendliest but they do their jobs well. Rooms are beautiful. Grounds are perfectly kept and the palm trees have filled in much more than the hotel photos show - they are BEAUTIFUL. Housekeeping always did a great job and we only tipped twice. Kids pool is a blast for kids under 7 or so. I felt guilty about leaving our kids at home every time we walked by! ;-)
Our vacation was spectacular (even better than we had hoped) and we had a really wonderful time. I've already checked prices for next June!