Pros: Beach, Grounds, Pools
Cons: Rooms, Food, impossible-to-use resort credit
Use hotel concierge for any bookings/reservations, etc. - very helpful.
Don't hesitate to ask for manager if necessary.
Don't hesitate to book sightseeing trips from US - you will save a lot of money.
We stayed for a week at Barcelo Maya Caribe Beach for the family vacation in February 2013 (4 people, 2 adults 2 children ages 10 and 14). The whole Barcelo Maya resort is very big, and it consists of 5 different resorts - Barcelo Maya Beach, Caribe Beach, Colonial, Tropical and Palace Deluxe. We stayed at Caribe Beach section. Here is what we think.
Probably the best we had in Riviera Maya. Nice white sand, clean, no rocks. Easy to get in the water, and the water is pretty shallow for the good distance. Once you in the water, there are some areas of the rocks on the bottom, so you should be careful, but it is easy to find a s soft and solid place once you in the water.
Palm trees grow right on the beach, so they provide natural shade - unless you want front line chairs, there isn't any need to “reserve” your spots as it happens in many other places where there is a limited number of the “umbrellas” on the beach.
Excellent. Very spacious, nicely shaped. Each section of resort has its own pool, and each pool has a pool bar which opens at 9 am. There are plenty of chairs surrounding the pool, and there are many hammocks hanging right there between the chairs. You can find both sun and shade by the pool.
there are water sports, golf, archery, scuba diving lessons, water aerobics, ping pong tables, basketball hoops, darts, bacci, volleyball and water polo and so on and so force - there is always something to do if you just don't want to lay down.
Good service, reasonable quality drinks. Quite honestly, mojito (which is my ultimate vacation drink) are just okay, something in between of mojito and caperina - definitely not enough mint. “Higher end” drinks require additional payments ($3 - $7 per drink). No beach bars.
I might be spoiled, but can only grade the food a very average. I would say that breakfasts were okay, lunches were decent (burgers we the biggest hit typically at lunch - good quality), but dinners were rather mediocre. All of the “theme nights” (Italian, Mexican, Spanish, etc.) didn't have much of the actual “specialty foods”. Lots of food is overcooked and improperly seasoned, either over salted or completely bland.
Hard to get into. Within an hour from our arrival to resort we went to our building concierge to make reservations. It was very hard to get any good times in any of the restaurants, so we had to take whatever was available (our hotel concierge was actually very helpful later on changing our reservations). The worst part on top of “hard to get into” - the decor and service were great, but the food was good only in the steakhouse - both Spanish (Don Quixote) and Mexican (Agave) restaurants had very mediocre food.
We stayed in the standard room with two double beds. I beds are advertised as being queen size, but they are not. The beds might be a touch bigger than full size, but definitely not the queen size. Our kids are quite big (ages 10 and 14), so sharing of the bed was not really an option for them. We tried to upgrade the room, but we're told that hotel is fully sold out for at least a month ahead. Instead we got a roll-away bed in our room which was very helpful and solved our sleeping arrangement challenges. Our room had very little drawer space (three drawers to be exact), so it was very difficult to comfortably unpack for a week-long stay. We had to keep clothes all over the place including all the shelves, and one of the suite cases had to stay practically unpacked (no, we are not carrying too much clothes in case you wonder...).
Bathroom was clean and an ok size, not amazing but good enough. There is no privacy in the bathroom - door is not solid wood (french door style) and does not have a lock. The room had a large balcony with the small clothes drier (hangers), two chairs and the small table. The room had a small fridge with all kinds of sodas and water, which was always well stuffed. Also there was a coffee maker and a safe in he room.
lots of activities are offed by your travel company, all of them priced quite high. We wanted to take kids to see Chechen-Itza, so we booked that excursion from US, using http://www.gomexico.travel/ web site. It worked very well, except that we had to walk to the entrance of the resort as the pickup van was not allowed to enter the resort. Otherwise it worked well so I would recommend booking your trips in advance through the webs you will save a lot of money. The second attraction we visited was called Delphinus, where kids had their one on one time with the dolphins. This one we booked at the hotel and we got a good deal, so we can definitely recommend it - but keep in mind that there is an additional cost factor - pictures. There is no way for you to take good pictures of the kids, so if you want pictures and/or video, you will have to pay (full package of CD with 70 pictures and DVD with video was offered for $293, and CD alone was $163).
Generally good in bars, buffets and restaurants. Okay at the front desk. Mediocre concierge service in the building, but excellent very helpful service from the hotel's concierge. Helpful bell staff.