We just returned from a week (Jan. 29- Feb 5) at the Barcelo Maya Caribe. We could not have asked for a better family resort experience. We were fortunate to have had 7 days of beautiful weather, and only one windy "red flag" day on the beach. We were lucky, in that we had both great weather, and we ducked the east coast storms, as we flew direct from Dulles Airport near DC -- Delta non-stop, on time, both ways.
The grounds at this hotel are expansive and beautifully maintained. I could not see so much as a gum wrapper or cigarette butt anywhere (I looked!), and the service from the housekeepers, concierge desks and food service staff was friendly and throrough.
We did upgrade to Premium status (I think it cost $80 for the week) which afforded us private check-in, access to the Premium Lounge ( liquors, light buffet and private internet room) and a small lounge. Came in handy. Also, above the Premium lounge, and open to all guests, is a modest "sports bar" with (free) foosball, pool, air hockey, card tables, and excellent cold beer. We spent many an evening there in lieu of the shows. Very nice little getaway for my family, which included two younger teens. There is also a room over by mini-golf for teens which has sofas and an XBox set up, but my kids had little interest in it, preferring the shoot baskets or go to the various pools. FYI, the beach at the Caribe is great, and calm, and we bought some vinyl rafts which we used all week -- they are sold in the Aqua shop and gift shops around the properties.
We booked through American Express, which I also recommend. They do a nice job with airport transfers and their rep (Jose Cuervo -- yes, he goes by that name) pointed us to a day trip to XPlor, which featured lots of activities and zip lines --- you need to be relatively fit and a bit daring (but not too much) to negotiate the towers for the various zip line rides. Nice day for everyone.
Our junior suite was poolside,Room 5111. Clean and well appointed. This property is pretty laid back, vs. the more active "Vegas style" hotels up the beach, i.e. the Colonial and Tropical. We ate most nights in the Colonial Hotel, as their buffet seeemed to offer a bit more selection. The one question I have is why do Americans (I am one too) feel that cargo shorts, tank tops, baseball hats and flip flops are appropritate dinner wear? It's an epidemic I tell you.
We only went to one show, which was Circus Night, and it was impressive. Most nights we walked the grounds, went to the charming Mexican Village shopping area, or played pool in the sports bar. Did I mention the cold beer there?
This is a great spot for families, and I would have no hesitation at all returning. Go and enjoy! Feel free to e-mail if you have questions.