We spent a week at the Barcelo Colonial and absolutely loved it. There was my husband and I and three teenagers, age 17 - 21. We have travelled extensively but this was only our second time to Mexico. I was expecting a 4 star hotel and believe this resort was a good 4.5. The property is beautiful and we loved the beach. The buffets were reasonable for breakfast and lunch and we enjoyed all the Al la cart restaurants. We were able to sample 5 during our 7 day visit and the Japanesse by far, was the family pleaser.
We were looking for rest, relaxation, and sun and were not disappointed. It was quiet at night with only the disco generally opened past 11pm. The teenagers enjoyed the disco and went each night. They are very strict about entry to the disco. You must be 18. Needless to say, our 17 year had to get creative to get an adult bracklet.The resort is quite large because there are a number of Barcelo resorts and you can easily walk amongst the different resorts. For fun, you can take the trolley that goes to each of the different lobbies. If I was going again, I would likely stay at the Palace which is the newest resort and seemed a step up from the Colonial. Overall, this is a family resort with some amazing pool areas for young children. Not sure it would be the best place for young singles. Our only negative about this resort was the pillows. They were the hardest pillows we have ever slept on. We went with Transat holidays and it is also a bit of a jaunt to the resort...around 1.5 hours because the bus drops off at hotels along the way. We knew this from trip advisor so were prepared. At the end of the day, it was worth the bus ride.
In terms of things to do, we did a side trip to Playa De Carmen. The fith avenue shopping is fun with a mix of expensive and tacky stores. Also, my husband and son went to the ruins in Tulum and quite enjoyed it.
It is worth noting that on our return trip home, a number of people on our flight were charged for baggage in excess of 20KG. Many were paying $200 plus and insisted their luggage weighted the same as coming down. It seems that there could have been a scam taking place at the Air Transat counter (a contract company is likely running this). Passengers were following up upon our return to Toronto. Probably happended to 20 people so beware.
This was our first time at a Barcelo resort and will not be our last. Overall, a great time.