My wife and I just got back from a 6 night stay at the Barcelo Maya Colonial hotel in Riviera Maya. I'll try to be brief and summarize up front for those of you who hate long reviews, and then I'll go into more detail for those of you who want it. My wife and I are in our 30s and we're from the US, so I guess for some people that might help make this review relatable or whatever....anyway, here goes.
The resort is absolutely beautiful and well-kept. It is big, so expect lots of walking. The rooms were clean and everything worked fine. The food was just so-so. Not much variety, and the quality was hit or miss. This goes for buffet as well as the a-la carte restaurants. Service was decent, with a few exceptions. The beach and the water were both beautiful, although there are some rocky spots on the beach and in the water. The pools were great. No problems getting chairs. Bars were decent, as were most bartenders, but no real stand-outs. Entertainment was decent, but there wasn't much of it other than one show at 930 PM. Bottom line, we had a great time, but probably won't go back, but mainly because of minor reasons. You can have a great time here, but you will definitely find things to complain about. If you can try not to let the little things bother you, you can still enjoy yourself here.
So that was my attempt at a brief summary. Now, I'll go into more detail. We arrived on Saturday, and it was overcast and rainy. Not a good way to set the mood for a beach vacation. Apparently, July is the hot and rainy season in this area. Our travel agent failed to mention that to us...anyway, so when we arrived at the lobby for the Colonial, they told us we had been moved to the Tropical, which is still in the resort, but it's the next section over. It was a little confusing, but when it was all said and done, our rooms were still in the Colonial (where we booked) but we had to check in and out at the lobby for the Tropical. They offered an explanation, but it honestly didn't make much sense, so I won't even waste any more time on it.
Oh, let me back up a bit and give you a tip about the Cancun airport. Immediately after you clear customs, you will exit into another large room where all the travel companies are. It is very misleading, because they will act like they are there to help with transport to your resort at first. We had already paid for transport, and this guy was acting like he was going to help us with that. Then, it turns into a sales pitch for excursions. Okay, they seemed like decent prices, but something about it was putting my radar up. Desperation is a stinky cologne, so they say, and this guy really seemed desperate. Within a few minutes, he could tell I wasn't going to book anything right that minute, and then he offers to give us two tickets to an excursion for free. Obviously, nothing is free, so when I asked for more details, he casually mentions that we just need to give him a few minutes, no more than an hour and a half, at this resort, then we can go on the excursion. I'll spare you the play by play, and just tell you that the whole thing is about a time-share presentation. Maybe if he would have been up-front about it and just said, "hey if you sit through this time-share junk, I'll give you guys free tickets to whatever excursion you want," I would've been more willing to entertain it, but they're so sneaky about it that it just ticked me off. And on top of that, we later found out that he lied significantly about the travel time it would've taken for us to get from our resort to where we had to go for this time-share thing. Anyway, long story short, after telling him no about 10 times, we finally got to our transport and went to the resort. It's about an hour and ten minutes from the airport to the resort.
Okay, back to the hotel. We got there before check-in time, and they told us our room would be ready in just a few minutes, and then they'd bring our bags up to the room. So we decided to wait for the room to be ready at the Tequila bar in the Tropical lobby. The margaritas were pretty good, and the bartender started making us shots just because...maybe she knew we were new arrivals. Anyway, they were pretty cool. There was the Spiderman, the Rainbow, the Crap-on-the-grass (it's actually called something else, but you can't submit a review with profanity)...none very strong, but tasty. But they add up, and within an hour or so I was feeling pretty good. But then we went back out to the lobby and saw that our bags were still there. We asked for them to be brought up again, and were told it would be done immediately. Another 30 minutes later, and the bags were still there! Turns out, the bellmen can't get into the rooms unless you're there to let them in, so they were bringing the bags up, but since we weren't there to let them in, they brought them back down to the lobby. I wasn't impressed with this, because first of all I've been to other hotels and cruises where the bags are just brought to your room without you having to be there, but not only that, nobody TOLD us that we had to be in the room to receive our bags.
The rain and clouds continued the next day. Very annoying. Again, remember that July is the rainy season down there. We finally got decent weather the last 3 or 4 days of our trip, but you definitely need to be aware that if you go down there in July, you will likely only get good weather for 3 or 4 days out of the week.
Speaking of rain, once at the resort, we booked an excursion to do the Tulum Extreme day tour with Best Day Travel. They are a separate company that the hotels allow on the property to book excursions. I realize they are a different company, but I feel like Barcelo is ultimately responsible for them since they are allowing them onto the resort to do business, so that's why I'm including this. So after 2 days of rain, and at that point the forecast was rain/t-storms all week, we decided to cancel the excursion. The cancellation policy clearly stated that we could cancel with at least 24 hours notice, but when we tried to do so, the representative refused to do refund our money. She tried to at first tell us that cancellations were only allowed for sickness, and when we showed her the policy on the back of the receipt, she eventually admitted that even though it said that we were entitled to cancel, she wasn't allowed to refund our money, but offered another excursion. She also refused to let us speak to her manager. It was about to get ugly, but then Peter, the rep who sold us the excursion in the first place, came back and he was totally cool and refunded our money without a problem. We ended up booking a different excursion to Tulum later in the week, and it was great. We just did the half-day trip to the ruins, and loved it. Very cool history, impressive ruins, and an awesome beach at the base of the cliffs. It was only $50/person through the hotel. I highly recommend it.
So lets talk food. We stayed at Secrets in Punta Cana last year for our honeymoon, and the food there was much better. I realize that Secrets is pretty much in the next tier up from this resort, but still, you have to enjoy what you eat. The buffet doesn't have that great of a selection, and there isn't very much variety from day to day either. There is always some sort of Mexican food, and it was actually decent. But the steak was not good, no matter how they prepared it. I think they buy crappy quality food to cut costs, especially with meat. No matter where we ate--the brazilian steakhouse Rodizio, or Aztec Steak House, or the Japanese steak house Kyoto, the steak was never good quality. The texture was just off, and I tried both the filet and the porterhouse. Avoid the burgers at all costs. Just truly horrible. I had two bites and wasn't even sure it was beef. Just very disappointing. At least with the buffet, you can usually find something you like, even if it's not great, but when you get all dressed up and wait for your reservation, or even pay extra to eat somewhere (which we had to do at Rodizio, because it's not included in your all-inclusive vacation, go figure), you expect the food to be at a higher level of quality than the buffet, and at this resort, that just isn't the case. The food literally is the same quality as the buffet food. Not only that, but at every windowside table we sat at, there were little bugs crawling on the table and floor. Every single time. Like little gnats, or fleas or something. After the third time I learned to simply ask for a different table whenever it looked like they were going to seat us windowside. What else....oh, on a positive note, almost all of the waitstaff really hustle their tails off. You still have to wait sometimes longer than proper at the buffet to get drink service, but it's not because they aren't hustling. It's just that they have more tables to tend than they should. IMHO, the highlights of the buffet are the egg station for breakfast. It's hard to screw this up, but I'll give credit where it's due. The breakfast spread was always good, despite the fact that they only put out bacon every other day, and it's not very flavorful bacon. Other highlights are the pasta station at lunch, as well as the taco station at lunch. As for the a-la carte places, we ate at Rodizio, Aztec, the Italian place (I forget the name), and Kyoto. We paid $15/person because we thought Rodizio was going to be a real Brazilian steak house. Wrong. It's just a regular restaurant, except one of the options you have when ordering is a skewer of about 7 different meats, only ONE of which is beef. I didn't even bother, I just ordered the solomillo, which is their version of a filet mignon, and it was just so-so. Service was good though. Aztec was just horrible, all around. Service was just so-so, but the food was terrible. The waiter recommended the porterhouse, so I ordered it. The flavor was not good, and the meat was at least 40% fat. My wife's steak was really bad. Terrible texture, unlike anything I've ever had. She sent it back, and got a solomillo instead, which was also not good. Like I said before, it's just very clear that one of the ways they save money here is by using very poor quality meats. We left there very unsatisfied. The Italian restaurant was better, but still not very good. The spaghetti carbonara was decent, and the penne pasta with marinara sauce was so-so. I never expect good Italian food in the caribbean, and this was no different. I was surprised to see that they don't even have the option of a meat sauce. The cannoli was a joke. Service was okay. We had to reschedule our reservation to Kyoto because we went into Playa Del Carmen one night (which I'll talk about in a bit). Because we rescheduled, we lost our reservation for seats at the cooking table, so we just got a regular table. The food here was okay, maybe a little better than the other places, but still not great or even very good. Service was good. Oh, I forgot, we also ate at one of the pool-side grills one day. It wasn't great. Just a smaller version of the buffet. Burgers were disgusting, but the fries were good. We never went back, so I don't know if they change up the food there or if it's the same every day.
So that takes care of food. On to alcohol! Like most all-inclusives, this place uses cheap liquor to make the drinks, unless you want to pay extra for the brand-name stuff. For me, I don't mind that for mixed drinks, with the exception of jack & coke. A jack & coke with cheap whisky is just hideous. But doing shots of whisky or tequila with cheap liquor is just not something I enjoy. But the bartenders here know how to make the drinks well, and we enjoyed just about every drink we had. We drank a lot of margaritas, micheladas and pina coladas, with some mai tais and tequila sunrises to boot. The only one I found to be inconsistent was the micheladas. Some were better than others. As for bartenders, I generally liked the ones in the Tequila bar (in the Tropical lobby) and the west side bar in the theater. The bartenders at the north pool bar I didn't care for, not because the drinks weren't good, but because they had the personality of a couple speed bumps. I never went back to that one and for the rest of the trip I used the south pool bar. No complaints there. The bartenders in the other bars we went to were also good, such as the 24/hr bar in the Colonial lobby and at Jaguars, the discotheque. Oh, speaking of Jaguars, that was actually a surprisingly good time. We went there one night after the show (which I'll talk about in a minute) and at first we just laughed. They have security out front like it's a real club, but when we got inside, there were like 5 people at the bar, and not one person on the dance floor. We decided to have one drink and then decide to leave or stay. But pretty soon more and more people arrived, and then the female dancers from the show arrived, and were dancing on pedestals around the club like go-go dancers. And obviously, they are wearing next to nothing and have phenomenal bodies. Anyway, we ended up staying there a while and had a good time. If you go, ask for a Scooby Doo shot! Pretty much the only complaint I have about the alcohol is the beer. The only beer they have is Corona, on tap, which wouldn't be so bad, except I read on here that they serve 3.2 beer at that resort, and I couldn't get that out of my head, so when I had a beer there I didn't enjoy it, and I thought it tasted off. Might just be the power of suggestion, but I didn't care for it. Normally Corona isn't my first choice anyway, but with a wedge of lime it isn't bad, but here I just didn't care for it. Anyway, I wish they would've had bottles available, and of one or two other choices, like Dos Equis or Modelo or something. Oh yeah, one of the tour guides we had was going on and on about how real Mexicans drink their tequila. He told us how you're supposed to get a shot of tequila and a shot of sangrita, and then take a sip of each one and mix it in your mouth before swallowing, and that's how you savor the tequila. He made it sound so good, so I decided to try it the night before we left. For those of you who don't know, sangrita (not the same as sangria) is made of tomato juice, worchestershire sauce, and a bunch of spices. OMG, so nasty. After the first sip I wanted to drink something, anything else By the second sip, I would've taken a shot of toilet water just to get rid of the taste of sangrita. But I didn't want to lose face at the bar, so I kept my pokerface strong and finished that disgusting concoction. Later that night, I was up at least ten times with diarrhea. I don't know if it was the sangrita, or the lobster I had at Kyoto, but either way I was not a happy camper. But that's the only time I got sick the whole time we were there.
On to entertainment! Guess what--there is none! Okay, that's not true. Every night they have something going on at the theater. Mostly it's dance shows, with singers, and they're actually pretty good. Very good dancers and pretty good singers too. Unfortunately, we didn't even know about the entertainment at night until the 3rd day there. The last night we were there was Karaoke night, which sucked. I normally like watching karaoke and talking about how I'd get up there if they had a better selection of songs, but I only like watching if I know the songs they're singing, and the first 3 songs were lame Mexican love songs, sung in Spanish. I was bored out of my mind, and then some old guy gets up there and sings a Frank Sinatra song. And THEN, 2 little girls like 7 or 9 years old got up there and sang Brittany Spears Oops I Did it Again (terribly, I might add) and I knew right then I couldn't take any more. We left at that point. But other than the nightly shows, there IS no entertainment. They were doing yoga and water aerobics at the pool one day, and they had a "fashion show" by the pool another day, which was really just a sales pitch to buy the swimwear they were wearing. If you call that entertainment, then okay, they have entertainment. We found ourselves really bored those first couple days when the weather was bad, and we were wishing this place was more like Secrets, Punta Cana, where they had about 4 really cool entertainers who seemed to be everywhere around the pool and beach every day, playing games, having contests, leading yoga, volleyball games, and just being really happy, upbeat and fun. There was NONE of that here, and we really missed it.
Activities....well, we rode a jetski one day, which was a blast. The only complaint I have is that you can't charge it to your room, so bring your credit card with you when you go to rent one, and don't bring Amex, because they don't accept it for jet skis. They WILL accept it for snorkel gear, however, which only infuriated me more as I was walking back to my room for the 3rd time to get the right card. We also went to the spa one day for a couples massage, which was good. I think my girl was better then the girl who did my wife, because she was doing weird stretching things with my wife, like moving her legs around and stuff, but overall we were pleased with our massages.
So I mentioned going into Playa Del Carmen. We did the shopping trip to "5th Avenue" through the hotel. It was nice, pretty much exactly how I pictured a touristy area of Mexico. lots of shops, lots of people walking around, pretty much everyone trying to sell you something, that whole scene. We ate dinner that night at a Mexican restaurant that was pretty good, but sorry, I forget the name. They lured us in off the street, and when I didn't answer immediately when they asked us to come in, they offered us 2 free drinks, so in we went. The margaritas were great. Food was also pretty good. We were seated out front, and as soon as we sat down a guitarist and a drummer came up and began to serenade us. They wanted $5/song, and I know I could've probably negotiated down, but I felt sorry for him because he was all old, so I let them sing us a song. The waiter tried to get a little funny with the check, as in they charged us twice for one item, and then didn't mention that the tip was already included in the total, until the waiter saw me scrutinizing the bill....but other than that, the meal was good. I suppose if you want to know more about Playa Del Carmen, you can look up reviews for it, so i'll leave mine at this.
Back to the resort...one or two last notes. I feel like they are too stingy for an "all-inclusive" resort. Little things, like they have a scale in the lobby for weighing your suitcase. It's not free. Wtf? And I went to the lobby the day before we left to see if I could get online real fast to check in to my flight. The concierge at Secrets Punta Cana let me do this with no problem. Not here! They made me buy 15 minutes of internet time just to log onto my airline's website to check in and print off boarding passes. Took me all of 2 minutes. Oh, and they charge to print boarding passes too. Apparently electricity is a rare commodity there, because they have the motion-sensor lights in the public bathrooms set to turn off after like 20 seconds of no movement. So, if you go into the stall and sit down, you will soon be doing your business in the dark, and the motion sensor doesn't pick up motion from the stall, so you will continue to be in the dark until someone else enters the restroom. So THAT's not cool...Something else that pissed me off, was one evening we needed more towels, so I called the front desk and asked for some. 30 minutes later, no towels, so I called again. This time it rang for about one minute without and answer, so I hung up. Tried again a couple minutes later, still no answer. At the front desk! Finally, someone picks up and I tell them we still need towels, and they insist that towels are on the way. They never came. We finally said screw it and went to bed. But that was a huge failure on their part, as far as I'm concerned.
One last thing, this is a family resort. If you are looking for relaxation with just you and your significant other, especially if you do not enjoy listening to kids being kids and yelling/screaming/playing/throwing stuff around the pool/running/etc...than you may not want to come here. We knew there would be kids here, but we found ourselves so annoyed on several occasions with other people's kids. I don't mind kids being kids, but for the love of Pete, when your little monster is screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the buffet, DO SOMETHING TO MAKE THAT STOP!!! Some people just don't have any idea how to discipline their kids, and don't seem to give a crap that other people exist, and that these other people paid a lot of money to go on a vacation to relax, and they might not WANT to hear their precious little turds screaming and crying constantly. I'm just sayin'....seriously though, we realized that never again will we ever go to a resort that allows kids unless we take our kids with us. If it's just us, we will only go to an adults-only resort from now on. Sorry guys, but I only like my kids. Your kids annoy me. :)
Okay, so this concludes my epic review. Would I come back to this resort? Honestly, probably not, but not because it's bad. I know I spent a lot of time criticizing the food, but the grounds were beautiful, as was the beach and pool. The rooms were pretty good, except the bed was terrible. Way too hard, although we might be spoiled because we have a tempurpedic at home. Anyway, it is a really nice resort, and we did have an overall good vacation, but I just feel like if I'm going to do another all-inclusive in the future, it's either going to be an adult's-only resort, or we'll take the kids and try for a place with better food.
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Maya Colonial Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Colonial
- Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach Resort
- Barcelo Maya Caribe & Beach Resort
- Barcelo Maya Tropical & Colonial Beach
- Barcelo Maya Colonial Riviera Maya/Puerto Aventuras, Mexico