My wife and I spent July 21 - 28th at the Hard Rock Hotel. We arrived after a 35 minute shuttle on Blue transfer from the airport. Hopefully the under construction highway will be completed next year or 2 and the drive should be cut in half.
Check in was done in about 10 minutes, if that. We just had to wait about 10 minutes in line at the members check in. We were ready to check in at the front desk when they figured out we were members and then told us to go to the members check in about 40 yards away and then we had to get in line. What's the difference where you check us in, just get it done. This is done at all Palace and Hard Rock resorts. Really no difference in treatment....just a small inconvenience.
We left our baggage with the porters and after check in we were given a map and shown where our room was at. Being Palace Premier members we were given building 5, 3rd floor facing the pool. Great room and location. Our room was right by the stair well right by were the Presidential rooms are at and noise wasn't an issue with us. We had a Consierge room which is why we had such an excellent location. The room is the same as everyone else. Beautiful is how these rooms are. The bathroom is spacious and the showers (2 shower heads on opposite walls) was huge. The shampoo and body soaps provided were very good. The toilet has its own door for privacy. We loved our room and location. Best buildings in my opinion are 4 & 5, but the adjacent buildings are fine also.
There are shuttles through out the complex with designated areas but the drivers will stop if you wave them down. We more often walked as the resort is a pleasure to walk through whether it be day or night.
The hotels has the biggest lobby I've seen anywhere. It's probably a quarter mile from one end to the other so there is plenty to see, shop, eat and drink. At one end is the sports bar with what seems 100 TV's and then the good size casino with the Oro night club entrance in the casino. At the other end is the conference rooms. In between are stores, 6 places to eat including the Italian, Japanese, Mexican, buffet, pizza, ice cream parlor. There is also 2 bars, the Moon lounge and the Karaoke bar (can't remember name) which provide good enough entertainment that you don't need to spend money at Oro night club. The bartenders were good and the drinks were also good overall. They have top shelf alcohol so ask for your brand and you will get it. I like the fact that the bartenders do their best to serve people on a first come first serve and will let line jumpers wait their turn.
There are about 13 or 14 pools all over the place and all look nice. We spent minimal time there as we are beach people and the beach was OUTSTANDING!! The beach is better than advertised. They are building a break water to calm the waves but if you like waves just walk away from the break water. The further away you go the rougher the waves. We hung around the middle for perfect waves. Oh, I forgot to mention the water is that beautiful turquoise color with no rocks, just soft white sand. If you want shade you will need to place towels to reserve palapas (palm umbrellas) personal items work best. Reserve them by 9 a.m. or they'll be gone. If you just want a tanning/lounge chair will be easier to find. Peak hours when seating is occupied is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. after 3 seating opens up.
Our favorite restaurants were Japanese, Toro and Brazilian. The Mexican is mostly tacos and Islas buffet. The Italian was average at best. The Japanese Hibachi was great as was the Toro.
For breakfast the Toro and Islas are both on the beach and are good.
Our maid service was good and I made sure I would leave them a tip everyday. There is turndown service every day as well. Fridge was well stocked.
The only negative was the service at the restaurants could be better. Sometimes you coffee and water won't arrive until you food does or you will not see the server again for refills which means you have to go get it yourself. This was pretty consistent in all restaurants with the exception of Toro, Brazilian and Japanese for dinner only.
Overall I would recommend this resort and next time I will spend more than a week there.
Oro night club is beautiful but they shouldn't charge H.R. guest $15 to enter and make them pay for drinks which are not cheap at all, 4 waters 1 Corona, 2 Absolutes and Cranberry = $51.
The DJ was very good and the sound system is second to non as is the décor...very cool looking.
The airport is another adventure, especially when leaving. Make sure you take water with you from the hotel when headed to you flight as there are no stores to buy water until you get through immigration which can take well over an hour or two. I recommend you take an extra hour from the time you leave the hotel until your plane departs. The airport is chaotic....and I'm being nice.