This was our frist time to Riviera Maya and we both thought it was absolutely beautiful. We met a bunch of really nice people and had a great time. For the price of an all-inclusive it was just about everything we could have asked for. The only thing we wish would have happened is that they followed through with doing something for us for our honeymoon. Our travel agent made it a point to let them know it was our honeymoon and they would do something nice for us at least 1 day but they didn't. No champagne, no breakfast or room service or anything else complimentary at all. We figured since they have a wedding at their resort just about every day and that they see honeymooners all the time they probably don't think it's a big deal - and in the end it wasn't a game changer for us, just would have been nice. Now to the review of everything. I will break it down to make it easier as another reviewer did prior because you might be going for different reasons and your wants for a stay at a resort might be different than mine.
Hotel and Room:
The ride is about an hour from the airport. For those that complain about that, really, who cares? We were lucky to have it be during the day and we took it as a time to see the sights of outside the resort to where the locals live. My wife isn't into history or that kind of stuff at all, but even she found it somewhat interesting to see. We were originally booked at the Beach but found out when we got there that they moved us to the Caribe. We walked through 4 of the resorts and as far as the landscaping and rooms, they are pretty much all the same, so again, who cares? The only thing we liked better was that the lobby bar over at the Tropical was indoors and smoke free. The lobby bars at the Beach and Caribe were outside and it seemed like every person was smoking. We do not smoke and it was somewhat annoying but again, we were in a tropical location while it was 40F degrees back home. The room was nice. Typical room with a king bed, flat screen tv with a bunch of english channels (we took this time to keep the sub titles on to learn some more basic spanish to talk with the locals - it helps!). Our fridge was fully stocked with Corona, 4 huge bottles of water, sprite, coke and diet coke. I made coffee every day with the bottled water and they replenished everything I used daily. They changed the towels even when I didn't ask them to and they knocked every day that we happened to be in the room between 4 and 6 to see if we wanted more towels (I guess figuring maybe we showered after the beach?) but we politely declined. I loved the fact that you had to keep your card in the slot by the door to keep the lights and air on because it made me remember my key card every day! I saw it as a convenience and don't mind it being an energy saver. Bathroom was nice, everything was cleaned and smelled great every day. The hallway can be a little noisy at times because there aren't any carpets anywhere. The hotel has an open roof to the hallway where they have beautiful gardens between the rooms so the rain comes in on them. Be careful as it can be a little slippery, but it is so nice! You will start hearing them roll the cleaning carts at about 8am and you will hear luggage being rolled a few times here and there, but it's really not much louder than a regular hotel anywhere. We were on the bottom floor so if you are as well, you will also hear the maids moving furniture above you while they clean. They must move every piece of furniture to sweep, but at least it's clean! Our view was just of a palm tree and a bush and to the access road as we stayed at the Sayil, but we didn't care because we came for the beach and pool. Lastly for this part, if you are looking for a quiet resort without kids, you chose the wrong resort. We had no idea there would be so many kids (from babies to about 6 yrs old) at this resort. I don't think it would have deterred us from staying there, but holy crap there were a lot of bratty crying children who's parents should have been made to take a perentatl test before being allowed to conceive children. Again, not a deal breaker, just say "silencio" and they will get the point :)
HIGHLY recommend that no matter which of the buildings you stay at, that you go to the beach at the Beach and Caribe area if you like going into the water. There were a few rocks here and there, but nothing like the tropical and colonial areas. Be careful as there was a slight drop off as you first step in that could be a little rocky so take it nice and slow first time out. There were always chairs available and you can move them wherever you want on the beach. The sand was beautiful, the water blue and beautiful and a great temperature for late November and the view was fantastic. I took some pictures and they look like something you would find in a magazine or on a computer screen saver. You could hear a little noise from the pool music, but nothing that would interrrupt your day. We would just move our chairs closer to the water to hear the small waves crashing.
Ok, so this one is a little tricky. First of all, the water was COLD. Now we are from the north so we are used to colder ocean temperatures, but this pool was much colder than the ocean at the resort. So much so that 90% of the people were not even in it. We were there for 7 days and I went in the pool 1 time and I love the water. It took a while getting used to and it was ok for a bit but then was feeling really cold. Not refreshing, just cold. This was a bummer because we wanted to split our time between the beach and the pool, and we did, we just didn't really enjoy the water at the pool. Now, granted we were there in November, but the outside temperatures were still hitting the mid 80'sF. At home we would have had pool temps around 75F or so. They say it's because the air temperature is lower, but I felt cold water by the jets that filter the water coming in. It is probably great when it's the summer, but not great at all in the November time frame. I just wish they would have heated it a little bit. Being younger and on our honeymoon, when we were at the pool we wanted music and some fun. The Caribe did not have anything like that. This seems to be the quietest pool around. We went to the Beach pool the one day and it was ok and had some music. We liked the Tropical and Colonial pool the best. Music, games, fun, bigger and many less small children :) The water was clean and blue.
First of all, make sure you book your "a la carte" selections the second you get there and check in because they will tell you that they are booked up. One previous reviewer was correct in telling you that even though they say they are booked up, they will be mostly empty. This is because they want you to select one of the "upgrade" a la carte restaurants that will cost you $15 or $20 USD more per person. I know this because when we went to book the steak house at first she told us it was unavailable. Then we booked the Japanese hibachi for an extra charge. Next thing you know, the steak house was not only available, but when we went it was less than half full. Kind of "scammy" but we were ok because we knew we were booking the Japanese anyway before we even left our country. As far as the a la carte, in our opinion the hibachi and steak house were the best by way of flavor. The service was fantastic at both. The Spanish was terrible. I tried to play it safe by getting a chicken, but they must have cooked it for a week because it was so dry. The service was extremely slow but they did put on a nice presentation for the "mayan coffee". I recommend that as a desert because at least you get a show out of it. The buffets were just that, buffets. You get what you get at a buffet. You have to remember that they are trying to cater to a buch of different likes and tastes so you will almost always find a buffet somewhat bland. We tried almost every one of them for lunch and found Captian Morgans our favorite. They all have pretty much the same thing as far as selection. Each day they always have the same 4 or 5 foods with 1 or 2 extra different selections to mix it up. We never saw breakfast, so I have no opinion on that. Overall, out of a 5, the food was a 3. But for the price of the all inclusive, it's what we expected. Then again, we aren't really that picky.
Again, it's an all inclusive so it is what it is. Corona you can get from the bartender, or you can self-serve it right from the tap! Nice! Fruity frozen drinks are good but get old and there isn't much alcohol. You can ask for things that aren't on their 7 drink menu, but you usually have to tell them how to make it or if someone else orders it, you can just say you want one of them. (Mai Tai, Miami Vice, etc.) If you don't want it frozen, you have to tell them because they make amost everything frozen during the day. You can ask for things such as Captian Morgan for no extra charge. They don't tell you this, I found out by accident by tipping a little at the bars :) Hey, at the end of the day, I'm drinking all I want in a tropical paradise. If the last one didn't have enough alcohol, get another!!
After a long planned wedding, we were there to relax most of the time. We didn't do any of the water excursions, but we were told by everyone that did them that they were great. The only thing we did do was go to Playa del Carmen a couple days and went to Coco Bongo. What a great time! They have shops in Playa where you can haggle pricing to get good deals and they have plenty of authentic restaurants with fantastic food. People asked us, you got an all inclusive so why did you go spend money at Playa? Believe me we got our money's worth at the resort, but we wanted to take in some of the authentic food and atmosphere. I wouldn't have done it any different.
- When you first get to the resort, walk around a bit and familiarize yourself because it's HUGE.
- Find out from the front desk when you check in what the buffet dinner schedule is so you can coordinate your a la carte reservations to avoid having the same things over and over
- TIP your bartenders!! I gave a guy at Coco Bongo $10 USD because he was so awesome and he literally hugged me. That's nothing in the states for 5 hours of work, but it's a lot to those guys. Also, a bartender at the resort told me they work for 60 Pesos per day - the same amount it takes him to get to and from work. That's about $5 USD. They LIVE off of tips. Yes, it's an all-inclusive, but what is a few dollars going to do after you just spent thousands to get there? Not much for you, but a lot for them. We spent time with a bartender that was great so I gave him $10 USD. Next thing you know we were getting shot after shot of all kinds of Tequila, including Don Julio which you normally have to pay extra for! They are greatfull.
- If you want more alcohol in your drinks, ask for the drink with "Mucho" and name the alcohol like rum or tequila or whatever goes in there.
- When at the a la carte dinners, they will try to sell you the drink list. If you want some wine and aren't too picky, just ask them for the "house wine" and there is no extra charge. They will refill over and over if you want :)
- If you are going info Playa, take the Collectivo. It is about 30 Peso's per person. The hotel shuttle is $19 USD per person - about 230 Peso's. We kept hearing different prices about a cab, but all of them were very expensive. Plus, the Collectivo runs from 5am till 11:30pm non stop so you aren't on the hotel shuttle time frame. All you have to do is exchange some money at the front desk for some Peso's, walk out to where the front gate of the hotel is to the side of the main road and I guarantee you a Collectivo is there within 2 minutes (Make sure it says Collectivo on the side and it is not a cab.) There must be hundreds of them going back and forth and they will get you there quickly because the faster they get you there, the faster they get more customers. When you get into Playa, remember where they dropped you off and when you get back to take the Collectivo to return just ask one of the workers that is boarding passengers which one takes you to Barcello and they will point you to the right one.
- While in Playa, if you can cover your all inclusive bracelet you will be thankful. You will get harrassed non stop for a taxi or to come see someone's shop or to book an excursion with them or to eat at their restaurant. They know you are from Barcello by the bracelet and will target you individually. They yelled over to us the entire time we walked but we learned to just ignore them or just say no if they walked in front of us to divert us to a store. If you walk past the same peole a couple times they stop, or if they see you ignoring the others they don't do it as much. Some of them were actually pretty funny. One guy said "come take a look at my crap, I have a lot of crap" and another guy said with a smile "hey come on over here so I can rip you off". We laughed and they get the game, just don't fall into it. Also very important is that you don't fall for the people that tell you they were your waiter at the Barcello. Again they know what resort you are from so they are trying to persuade you for something else.
- If you like shows in places like Vegas, do NOT MISS Coco Bongo. Best live show I have ever seen. You can buy packages from your resort that include transportation and all inclusive drinks. These were the only people that gave us good treatment for being on our honeymoon! We had a reserved table with all you can drink and table service from a server all night so we didn't have to go up to the bar once. It was $60 USD each, but worth every penny! Oh, and they said it was 70, but we told them someone else tried to sell it to us for 45 so they sold it to us for 60 for a Friday night.
- Lastly, learn a little Spanish before you go. It will help you and the people you are dealing with and is a little more respectful. You only need to learn about 10 key words, but it helps. Bathroom, beer, bar, front desk, drink, clean, towels, beach, more, time, yes, no, thank you, your welcome, finished and please should get you through your first day or two till you pick up a few more.
We had a blast and a great time at this resort! We will be returning this coming summer with more people and we can't wait to see any of the things that we missed. For the price, everything is well worth it! I recommend this resort to anyone (Unless you require adult only resorts or some fancy shmancy service that follows you around all day).
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Maya Caribe Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Maya Caribe Beach
- Barcelo Maya Caribe Riviera Maya/Puerto Aventuras, Mexico