10 of us in total -- 2 families with kids (9 to 13) and 2 grandparents.
Our last two trips to Mexico were at the Iberostar Tucan/Quezel and Iberostar Paraiso Beach so these are what I'll be comparing the Barcelo against.
Pools -- large, a tad on the cool side (but okay if you're swimming in them lots, not great for just lounging in without being active). Given the large sizes of the pools you have lots of room for throwing a football etc in, which is nice. You can use the pools on the Tropical/Colonial side, which is what we did quite often. Although there are lots of chairs/loungers at the poolside, people thrown their towels/gear down so it can be tricky to get your own for the day or afternoon (which was frustrating since many people would reserve for the whole day even though we would never see them).
Beach and Snorkelling -- great snorkelling right off the pier in terms of number and size of fish, best we've had at any of the three resorts we've stayed at. For the more adventuresome, from the pier go to the left and follow the markers/rope towards the small coral island -- there 's some nice coral and more interesting fish over there, just need to be careful of the waves when over the coral as always. Also decent snorkelling right in front of the Barcelo Palace, saw a see turtle on one trip. The beaches right in front of the Maya Caribe are the best for gradual entry with no rocks and nice sand -- as you head up towards the Tropical/Colonial/Palace there are more rocks and more difficult entry.
Food -- ate at the Mexican restaurant (Agave) twice, the Seafood and the Steak restaurant. All were good -- for an all inclusive (none of these restaurants are as good of course as my favorite restaurants here locally, but do a good job overall). My in-laws were staying at the Palace (lots more money) and we ate with them twice at their restaurants -- frankly they weren't any better than what we had over in the much cheaper Caribe (nicer ambience, but how the food was prepared wasn't really any better). Buffets had lots of variety -- none of us had any problem finding something to each -- usual issue was more trying to not eat too much... I found the food overall to be about the same as the Iberostar's we stayed at, my wife thought the Iberostar's had slightly better food.
Service/Comfort -- Room itself was fine, same as the Iberostar's we've stayed at -- not huge, but enough for the 4 of us. One weird thing was that the bathroom doors (in both our hotel and the Palace) had ventilation shafts on the bathroom doors -- which means you don't have a ton of privacy when using the bathroom -- everyone can hear what you're up to... Service at the restaurants and buffet for the most part was excellent, although occasionally you'd have a waiter (Captain Morgans buffet was especially bad for this) that either didn't have a clue what he was doing or didn't care. Room cleaning staff were a disappointment -- one day they forgot to clean our room, didn't refresh the soap or the shampoo, when we checked in the garbage from the previous guests was still in the room. Also, they seemed to clean from 7:00 am till 6:00 pm -- you never knew when you returned to your room whether it was clean or dirty, and what would have been missed. Note that we left tips every day for the cleaning staff, so obviously that wasn't the issue. Grandparents that were with us had the same issues. The Iberostar cleaning staff were far superior on this front -- every day at the Iberostar the room was clean, with decorative towels on the beds in the shape of a swan etc, with a chocolate. Oh, and one last thing on this -- the shampoo was a terrible quality (could barely get it to lather) and there was NO Conditioner provided -- first hotel I've been to that doesn't have conditioner (daughter not happy about this since we hadn't brought any....)
Other -- the "shopping square" was a disappointment -- not much there, not really anything to do, enjoyed the Iberostar shopping square with its Taceria much better. You're better off buying items in the stores run by Barcelo at each resort, prices were way better than the square where you have to bargain for everything. Its quite a hike from here to Playa del Carmen for shopping so we didn't go that route
Shows -- started at 9:30, which we found quite late since we'd been out all day -- we only saw one. My memory is that the shows at the Iberostar started earlier, I remember seeing most of the Iberostar shows.
Don't get me wrong -- we had a great time and enjoyed the resort/beach/pools very much -- just a few little things here and there (ie the items above) brought our impressions down a few notches. If we go to the Mayan Riviera next year, if prices are similar we would probably stay at an Iberostar or another resort.