We travelled to the Mayan Riviera from Feb 13-20th. We are three girls in our late 20s. We had a great time at the Catalonia Yucatan Resort and Spa. Here is some info (which is a bit redundant from other reviews) and a few tips we picked up along the way.
TOUR COMPANY: We travelled with Nolitours. The staff at the hotel (Guillermo, Bianca) were great. The information session at the beginning of the week was actually useful (which is rare) and they were very helpful with information along the way. They are at the hotel from 8h to 18h every day. Little perks you get with them include a small tequilla bottle in your room, some chips and towels directly in your room which is nice. All three of us were staying in one room and we only had two towels but it was a complete non-issue to get the third in the morning and they appologized for not provided them in the first place.
RESORT: Very nice, small and easily accessible. Takes less than 5 minutes to walks anywhere which is nice (when bringing new shoes that hurt your feet). Grounds are immaculate. Not tons of flowers but nice greenery. The main areas are tremendously clean and well kept. The people at the reception were very friendly and spoke great english and french. They were very helpful when we needed some assistance.
ROOMS: We stayed in the standard rooms. Very basic but again, clean. We were on the last (4th) floor overlooking the pool. There are elevators for those who need them. The beds were hard but not unliveable. The bathroom was a bit small and not very sound proofed but not a huge deal. There is a safe in the room - you need to get the little magnetized element at the front desk to make it work and it's 3$/day. Would recommend getting it to store your passports and such. The basic rooms do not have a mini-fridge but they do give you two bottles of water which you can refill throughout your stay.
BEACH: Beautiful but rocky. Watershoes are nice but not necessary - there are some spots which are more sandy. There are tons of beach chairs and palapas but they are very close together - don't be shy to move some chairs arounds to accomodate. There is a waitress who comes around randomly and can bring your drinks directly to you (should you feel a bit lazy one day).
SERVICE: TOP NOTCH at this resort... from the wait staff to the reception to the cleaning staff, everyone was great. Mexico is traditionnally known for the 'dependance' on tips for service - although people are appreciative of tips here as anywhere else, you get great service regardless of whether you tip or not. I would like to leave a shout out to Luis, Francisco, Gloria, Keila and Alba at the Brisas buffet - they made many nights very interesting! It was my friend's bday and they entire restaurant staff came to sing and they made a special cake for her - it was great! TEQUILA!
FOOD: Very good. Lots of diversity. We tried the Mexican, Italian and Japanese speciality restaurant and all were great. The food at the Italian was my favorite but service was very slow. The Japanese was a great experience. The buffet has lots of variety every day. A little tip, the only place to get Guacamole is at the Grill during the day - it was yummy! We also went to the Creperie - dessert was very good, the actual dinner crepes were not bad. We didn't get to try to tapas bar (as we didn't realize where it was - it's on the same level as the Creperie - do try to go!).
DRINKS: Plentiful. The margaritas though were not great - best ones were at the lobby bar. Recommend the dirty monkeys and mojitos. Chill out bar on the beach was a nice spot. Don`t forget to bring your thermal mugs. The house red wine is horrendous - for those who like the vino!
THINGS TO DO AT RESORT: There is AMAZING snorkelling to be done directly off the beach (around the rocks). On the days were it was not too windy it was very easy to maneuver between the rocks and see tons of fish. Bring some bread or a banana and they will come eat from your hands. Saw some eels and spider crabs, and many many fish - it was great. We also played some tennis (two rooftop courts with actually decent equipement you can get at the Riviera Reception) and did some kayaking. There was some good beach volleyball to be had. Do take the 5 min walk to the Marina in Puerto Adventuras - we had a great morning there and were able to do a bit of shopping and see the manatees, sea lion (friend got a pic with Robbie the sea lion for 10 USD) and dolphins. The enclosures for the animals are quite small though so be warned for the animal lovers. The hotel does offer shuttles to Playa del Carmen for free (but need to book in advance) but we didn`t go as we all had previously gone before). There are two gift shops on the hotel grounds with fairly decent prices. There is no booze to be bought on the grounds so remember to keep some money for the duty free at the airport.
EXCURSIONS: We did the snorkelling excursion to Puerto Morales for 76 USD and the trip to Chitzen Itza for 99 USD. For Puerto Morales, the trip was worth of good quality (it`s from 8 AM to 2 PM) however we had picked a day where is was quite cold (just 18-20C, not typical, don`t worry) and it was truly freezing in the water. Over half the boat did not go back in at the second drop off point because of the cold. It was also very wavvy and not the best for average swimmers but again, you can`t plan for the weather. I do prefer smaller groups as you did tend to get fins in the face and the guide asks you to follow him so that he can point things out. I personally preferred going off on our own at the hotel and although you don`t see as much coral, there were just as many fish. We did not get to see a sea turtle sadly. For Chitzen Itza, well worth the money and the time it takes to get there (2.5h each way.) Our guide was great and taught us tons about the history of it all. I highly recommend the trip. You get to go to a Cenote which was beautiful and there is time to swim. Lunch was included and was very good. The only other we did was go to the Jewlery factory called LAPIS under the understanding that we got a tour of the factory then some shopping time. They provide free transportation to and from your hotel. Don`t go - there is no tour and the stuff is very very expensive. It is nice silver and stones but pressured sales and someone following you are constantly is not a pleasant experience. They advertise that they will write your name in Maya but it was much less expensive to do so on the Chitzen Itza trip for example. Also, they do give you a free pendant of your Maya Horoscope symbol but out of the three of us, only one actually got her true symbol. I don`t recommend you go.
SPA: They have a BEAUTIFUL spa at the hotel. We went for a half day on one of the cloudy days. For 38$ (Nolitours gets 15% off) we had access to the baths/saunas for the whole day (one sad thing was NO hottub), and what was called a 25 min treatment with head/neck/shoulder massage, foot exfoliation and therapeutic bath but this lasted much longer than 25 minutes and was SO great. I highly recommend it. If you just wanted to use the baths it was 15$ for the whole day. Great staff, tremendously clean, they give you nice robes and there is a little station for tea and such in there as well.
FINAL TIPS:Although I didn`t go to Tulum as my friend had already gone, this hotel is a nice spot to do it from as it is about 30 min away. Some people told us you could take a cab for about 20 USD each way if you didn`t want to do it with a tour. Also, you can pay for internet for 5 USD for 30 minutes and it is actually quite quick - the best internet connection we`ve had so far down south. There is free Wi-Fi on the hotel grounds but oh my was it slow and hit and miss - if you plan to have something important to check or write home about, pay for the internet. To call, you can get calling cards in the lobby for 10 USD and use at the pay phone - it is the most affordable way but it does not give you the advertised 20 minutes to Canada (it's really about 7-8 minutes).
I guess that is it! All and all, I would 100% recommend this hotel - it was very nice and again, way above par service. Great for all ages, lots of stuff to do and nice location! Email me if you have any other questions!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The 4 star Catalonia Yucatan Beach Resort & Spa is located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, on the private estate of Puerto Aventuras. Located on the beautiful Mexican Caribbean coast, this resort is directly on the beach and offers a comfortable and peaceful atmosphere, perfect for a relaxing break. This mystical area boasts many Mayan archaeological ruins that include Chichen Itza, Tulum and Tikal as well as the natural attractions of Xel-Ha, Cozumel and Xcaret. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Yucatan Beach Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Catalonia Yucatan Beach Puerto Aventuras
- Catalonia Yucatan Beach Riviera Maya/Puerto Aventuras, Mexico