This is my first review, and I already feel guilty that I put it off for so long. I swore that I'd write one as soon as we got back, and now it's been about a week and a half. This was our third trip to Mexico, and our second to the Riviera Maya area. Our last time in Riviera Maya, we stayed a little further north, close to Playa del Carmen, at a very nice, but very large, resort. We had a great time there, as well. But as we booked this trip with only about two weeks notice (yes, we waited until the last minute), our options were limited. We did a lot of research, and went with Dreams P.A.
It is a smaller resort in a smaller area -- and that was great for us. (You can take a van or taxi into Playa del Carmen, if you want to go to a bigger "city" feel for a day trip or more shopping, and it's not very far) Our kids are 8 and 11. We didn't feel we had to keep our eye on them the entire time as everything was near by. Our room was fantastic. When we chose it, we didn't even realize what we'd be getting. We stayed on the Concierge floor. Didn't get a suite. But it was a large, very comfortable room. We had an INCREDIBLE view. Looked out over the pool and the tops of palm trees right out at the turquoise ocean.
The room was kept spotless. The housekeeping staff was beyond thorough. We saw the maids on our floor nearly the entire day, that's how hard they worked on each and every room.
The beach was great. Just from going around the area and looking at the other hotels, I got the sense that we had the best beach. It was not huge, but it was certainly large enough for this hotel's capacity. Because it is bordered by coral reefs, there are a lot of fish to see, and you can snorkel right out front of the hotel. You can also just see the fish without having to use any gear, as they swim right up to you and around you. My kids got a big kick out of it. Sometimes we brought bread out to the water and fed the fish, and they took it right from our hands. The actual sand in the water wasn't very rocky at all, and easy to walk on. However, if you walked further out, there was a section that had a large reef, so you either had to walk on it carefully, or use water shoes. I never got any water shoes, and I was fine. You could walk around the reef and avoid it to reach the deeper water if you wanted to.
There were always enough beach chairs, so you didn't have to do that mad rush in the morning to try and stake out your chairs for the day. That was a huge relief. Even though this was Xmas break week, and I believe the hotel was pretty much filled to capacity, it never felt overly crowded. It felt busy enough to be fun and social, but there was always plenty of everything and you rarely had to wait for anything.
The hotel itself is beautiful and welcoming. Is it a Four Seasons with that kind of opulence and elegance? No. But whoever did the interior design had a great eye. There is great artwork throughout the hotel and it is designed to feel luxurious, but in an approachable, inviting way. You will definitely feel like you are at a high-end resort. But it isn't stuffy or pretentious.
The staff is AWESOME. They were so friendly and so concerned about your enjoyment. And it always seemed sincere and genuine. Again, as opposed to the most expensive resorts, where the staff is beyond polite and always seems to be kissing up to you, this staff really seemed so gracious and happy to have you there. You always felt appreciated and they did their best to satisfy you. I can't mention the staff without recommending two people in particular: Damian (maybe it's Damien? I apologize if he ends up reading this and I spelled his name wrong!), who was a bartender and worked on our concierge floor as the bartender up there for a night or two during our stay and also worked at various other bars around the resort, and Israel, a waiter at the Portofino restaurant on the premises. Both of them were witty, smart, and seemed to go the extra mile for us. I didn't just feel like we were being attended to. I felt like we were becoming friends. They were so down to earth, and so hilarious. Whatever we asked for, they did their best to fulfill. We had dinner at the Portofino, and some of my extended family, who came with us, can be a bit difficult at meals. Israel handled them with humor and grace and even made them laugh at themselves. He was so good with our kids, and at one point, our son got bored with waiting for the rest of us to finish eating, so Israel brought him over to spend some time "helping" the chef cook. It was pretty awesome.
The food: there are a few restaurants at the resort. If you've been to the really large resorts, you will notice a difference. But that didn't bother us. We didn't need to have five giant buffets open all day long. The one buffet restaurant was fine. It had just what you needed for all three meals each day and there was always plenty of it. And there were always a few delicious things, in addition to offering plenty of basic staples that would appeal to a wide variety of people. Was the buffet restaurant a five-star? No. But if you're expecting that, then you should go spend more money at a snobbier resort. People don't or shouldn't go to places like this for five-star dining. However, the other restaurants were very good, and Portofino was outstanding. The Portofino could be an excellent restaurant in any major city in the U.S. and do very well.
All the seafood in every restaurant was fresh, there was always plenty of fruit, the drinks were good and we never felt that our cocktails were watered down because it was an all-inclusive. In the middle of the day, there was always ice cream, pizza, hot dogs and burgers, and they always had a different kind of bbq right on the beach in mid-afternoon.
There is also one restaurant that is adults only and it's right on the water. It's very nice, with a unique menu. If you don't have family with you to help watch the kids, the resort does offer babysitting. And if you go to the resort without kids, you'll enjoy having this chance to dine without other people's kids bothering you. Also, on the opposite side of the hotel, away from the beach, is an adults only section. There is an adults only pool and hot tub, and a bar. We met some people who hung out there, and they said it was very quiet and relaxed. We never got to hang out there, but we were very happy on our side of the hotel.
There was one large pool and one large hot tub on the beach side of the hotel, and that's where we were for the entire time. It never felt too over-run with kids, but it was very family friendly. Again, I think this is because it was a smaller resort. It never felt too crowded and you never felt like you had to compete to get what you wanted or needed.
My daughter and I got massages, and they were fantastic. I'll admit I was a little worried about how professional the masseuses would be and what kind of quality I could expect. But I've been to spas in NY, LA, San Francisco and other big cities, and this massage was every bit as good. it was my daughter's first time in a spa, and she loved her massage. They did even have kids' massages on their menu of services. She got a chocolate one, and thought it was the greatest thing ever.
Taking day trips was easy. There was a well-trained staff to handle making arrangements, and though I speak Spanish fluently, no one else in my family does, and I could see that all the staff spoke excellent English. No one needs to speak Spanish to go to this resort and have a great time. In fact, this was the least "American" resort we've been to. There were a ton of Canadians, Russians, South Americans, Brits, and more Europeans than I've met on other trips to Mexico. I enjoyed that there were people from all over.
The entertainment was great. Again, pretty family oriented. There were movies on the beach every night. And there were shows several nights a week which were very entertaining. The entertainment staff was energetic and beyond hard-working. They also had a couple of nights when vendors would come and set up in the plaza, selling clothing, jewelry, pottery, artwork, etc.
We also did the Dolphin Discovery, which was right on the resort's premises. In fact, from our balcony, we could see the water where they kept the dolphins and manatees, and we could watch them swimming around. But doing the actual Dolphin experience itself was really fun. We'd done it years ago, and this one was way better. Possibly because it was just myself, my husband and our two kids, but being such a small group, we got a lot of time with the animals and a lot of time in the water, and a lot of attention from the person working with us. I wish I could remember his name, because he was also fantastic. Whoever did the hiring for this place really knows what they're doing. So many people who worked there had great senses of humor, and always managed to make us laugh. They were witty and smart and seemed to really enjoy their jobs and working with people.
There is a small marina nearby that you can walk to. It has some nice shops and restaurants, and it gives you a good opportunity to get out of the resort without having to make arrangements or get in a van. You can also get bikes, free, from the resort, and ride them around the area. As the entire area of Puerto Aventuras is gated, you will always be safe and secure, so you can wander around without worrying.
We also took a half-day trip to see the ruins at Tulum, which was pretty cool. We did end up forking over money for a guide, though you don't have to, but it was totally worth it. Otherwise you had to wait in the sun in a very long line to get inside the area with the ruins, and frankly, unless you had a good book with you that explained the ruins, the guide really helped you understand what you were looking at.
In any case, we are already scheming on how/when we can go back there. I should also mention that we were there for Dec. 21st, when the mayan calendar ended. This was a very big deal in Mexico, and the hotel entertainment staff put on an incredible show. They also set up a giant banquet on the beach that night. The kitchen and catering staff worked their butts off. We watched them setting up this banquet for most of the day, and there was so much food and music. And they set up a stage outside and did this great show about the history of the Maya. It was hard to believe that, during the course of just taking care of guests every day, they somehow had time to prepare all of that food and get ready for the show. It made us wonder when these people ever got to sleep. It was really impressive.
We would not hesitate to go back or to recommend this place.
Again, though, as we have friends and acquaintances who are somewhat difficult to please, I would say this place might not be for the kind who like to feel like they are royalty and that the staff are their personal slaves. These people make you feel welcome. It is a warm and inviting vibe. They work really hard so that you can have fun, and they do their jobs with a sense of fun and humor. And the smaller size of the resort means you never have to go very far to reach any place there, or even to go back up to your room. You can send your kid to go get him or herself ice cream or a snack and not worry about anything happening to them or them not being able to find you afterwards. Again -- our kids are 8 and 11, so of course some really young kids will have to have an adult with them at all times. But we saw even 5 and 6 year olds running from the pool to the hot tub and back to the beach or to get ice cream all on their own, and they were fine.
We will definitely go back, and hopefully soon. We feel so lucky that we discovered this place!
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- Also Known As:
- Dreams Puerto Aventuras Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Dreams Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Dreams Resort Puerto Aventuras
- Sunscape Puerto Aventuras Riviera
- Sunscape Puerto Adventuras
- Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa All Inclusive Riviera Maya, Mexico