There is nothing “all-inclusive” about this all-inclusive resort. Let’s just start with the dining options. The Barcelo Maya Caribe Hotel boasts two a la carte restaurants and two buffet restaurants and two “snack bars”.
Upon arrival you need to sit with the guest services person to book your allotment of a la carte dinners (based upon your length of stay). Our allotment was three a la carte dinners. The first thing the guest services person does is pull out several menus and tells you that you can book at several a la cartes in the resort property (made up of 5 separate hotels). You get excited. You pick one that sounds good. She tells you, “That costs $15 or $20 extra.” So, after doing this a few times, you discover there are only two a la carte restaurants with which you can book dinner reservations that all included in your deal. Okay. So, you pick a day and the guest services person says, “That day is not available.” After several tries, we were able to book only two of the three reservations because everything was booked up. One dinner was at 10pm. The other at 6pm. The food at both was without taste or, at best, marginal.
Now, let’s talk about the buffets. There are two. One is the buffet at the Maya Caribe. The other is at the Maya Beach next door. There are buffets at all the hotels at the resort property, but if you want to eat at anything other than the Caribe or Beach, you pay extra. The buffet at the Caribe is open for breakfast, but not lunch. So, you have to go to the Beach for lunch. They are mirror images of each other. There is nothing different. There is no choice between one or the other based upon a preference. They are just buffets. And they offer a wide variety of exceptionally bad food. Imagine having to eat at Country Buffet or Golden Corral every day. I would say that it tastes like they bought all their ingredients at Costco, but that would be an insult to Costco.
Then, there are the snack bars. These are actually smaller versions of the exceptionally bad buffet food you are getting at the bigger buffets. One snack bar is at the Caribe. One at the Beach. AND, the snack bar at the Caribe transforms into one of the a la carte restaurants at night.
You can also get snacks at the pool bar like burgers or chicken wings. This bar is approximately 20 feet away from the “snack bar”/”buffet”. However, if you want to eat at the bar, it costs you extra money. Not inclusive.
I should mention that the wait/service staff at the restaurants and buffets are enthusiastic and friendly for the most part while also being less than talented at their jobs.
The bartenders are generally friendly and fast, but the booze is so bottom shelf that they might as well be serving two buck Chuck and generic tequila. The beer was not bad. They had help-yourself snacks at the lobby bar: popcorn, peanuts, olives, fruit. Odd mix.
Now, let’s talk about the room. When we checked in, even though I had requested a King Bed, they booked a couple with no children into a room with two double beds. I had to ask for the king bed, and there was, of course, one available. Just not forward thinking. When we got to our room, we turned on the light and the A/C. It stayed on for about 5 minutes and then the room went completely dark. I called the front desk. The phone didn’t work very well and I got transferred several times. Finally, I got someone that could barely understand me and they said they would send someone. When I tried to ask when, they got tired of trying to understand me and said, “I’m hanging up because I can’t understand you.”
What we discovered between the time we called and when the repair man came is that there is a card reader next to the door. You must put your room key in the card reader and leave it there for the lights to remain on and the A/C to remain on. It might have been a good idea for either the front desk or the bellman that delivered our bags to mention that. And, it just happens to be a very stupid idea.
Here are the technical problems we reported to the front desk the next day that needed to be fixed: The A/C barely worked. Mostly it blew air but not cool air. The phone didn’t work. The sink leaked so severely we had a puddle in the bathroom in the morning. The bathtub drain was very slow and backed up when you took a shower. Here’s what they fixed. The phone and the sink leak. That’s it. Turns out, the toilet also would run every time it was flushed and you had to wiggle the plunger just right to make it work. We didn’t even report it because we felt it would be a waste of breath. The housekeeper left the toilet running more than once.
There was no free Wifi in the room, which is just stingy and a reflection of the non-inclusive experience we had at this all-inclusive resort. You have to pay handsomely to use the business center, too. Which, of course, wasn’t working.
The beds are firm in this hotel. Personally, I really like that. And, although my husband generally likes a softer bed, he didn't seem unhappy with the bed.
The beach is stinky. The water was not clear. The beach chairs functioned poorly. Wait staff did not come to you at the pool or on the beach to take your drink order. They did send someone to come around and pick up your empties, though. The entry to the ocean from the beach requires water socks because it’s rocky at the beginning. Once you get out about 20 feet, though, the bottom is sandy. I can’t fault the hotel for a rocky entry into the ocean. That’s just mother nature.
So, if you are vacationing along one of the most beautiful reefs in the world, you want to snorkel, right? Well, this not all-inclusive resort included one hour per day free snorkel equipment. That’s it. One hour. The snorkel excursions cost extra. Of course.
We decided to rent a car to do a road trip. We had to go to several of the different hotel lobbies on the property to try to find the rental car desk. No one knew for certain where to find it and if there would be anyone there when we got there. The first time we found it, there wasn’t anyone there. It was in the middle of the day. A sign said, “Will return in 30 minutes.” Forty five minutes later, no one had returned, so we took a brochure and decided to call the toll free number from the room. I called the front desk to confirm the call would actually be, dare I say it, inclusive. The answer was “no.” Even toll free calls in Mexico from the hotel room phone cost $6 per minute. Yes. That’s what she said. Six dollars per minute.
We returned to the rental car desk in the afternoon and the rental agent was there. He rented us a car to pick up in two days time. When we went to pick up the car, as we were approaching the desk, my husband said, “Watch. He’s going to say that the car we rented isn’t available but he can rent us another car for more money.” My husband was not wrong. We were, however, able to negotiate the same price as the car we originally rented and off we went. The rental car experience from there on was pretty uneventful.
I will only say this about the tour that we booked through the tour operator in guest services. It was colossally bad on every level. However, the tour sales person is not really a part of the hotel. They are allowed to pedal their tour packages there, but the hotel does not control the outcomes of those tours.
The front desk staff was generally nice. And, the guest services woman we met on our first night complained a bit that we kept her late, but the guest services woman that helped us by printing our return boarding passes for us was quite helpful and we appreciated her assistance.
Just in case you think we are picky, on the early morning ride back to the airport, we shared our van with another woman who had stayed at the hotel for a friend’s wedding. She was equally disappointed in almost everything the hotel had to not-offer.
Finally, even though all-inclusive resorts are supposed to include gratuity, most of the service staff expected a gratuity. When my husband and I stayed at Couples Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica, we were told upon check-in that gratuities were included. However, at this hotel, the front desk staff told us to we should go ahead and tip if we wanted to.
My tip for choosing a good room would be to book at another hotel.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.