My apologies, this has turned out to be a VERY long review. Feel free to scroll to the end for the “Bottom Line” or read on to learn from some of our experiences.
My wife (57yr) and I (62yr) love to travel and we LOVE Mexico. We are not snobby, nose in the air kind of people. We enjoy a good meal but occasionally grab a bite a McDonalds, both have their merits. When we do driving trips we will stay at more upscale hotels at our destination but the Holiday Inn Express for one night stops.
We travel to Mexico two or three times a year. In October we usually travel alone as it is our anniversary and over the Winter months we travel with family and friends.We travel to relax, not to seek out problems or fault in a resort that is just too much work.
So why go to the same resort 14 times? Well, like your favorite Steak House that you keep returning to, you know what to expect, it offers value for your dollar and you always leave satisfied and wanting to return.
I am not going to dwell on “this is a large resort”, it is. Or “say Hi to Carlos from the couple in New Hamburg”, there are over 4,000 people through this resort complex weekly don’t expect Carlos to remember you.
Booking and Pre-arrival
Reading reviews in Trip Advisor we determined that one of the Hotel Managers is a gentleman by the name of Juan Oliveira. We have known Juan for a couple of years dating back to his time at Gran Bahia Coba. I contacted Juan and received timely replies. He was a big help. We had several requests concerning dining and room location. We are well aware that not all requests can be met as we are just one of hundreds of couples, but he came through with a GREAT room location and all of our dining requests!
We use Transat Vacations. They are the only tour operator that offers a First Class cabin which they call Club Class. The cost is reasonable and the service excellent. The seats are wider with enough legroom to stretch out without touching the seat in front of.
You have the option of selecting your meals in advance. Drinks are included as it a “comfort package” which includes a blanket, inflatable neck pillow, ear phones etc.
Both flights actually left and arrived early.The cabin attendants were very attentive. No issues with them at all.
Many people have written about the situation at Cancun Airport so I won’t except to say, fill out your entire Tourist card and Customs forms. Once you have cleared Immigration, retrieved your bags and cleared Customs, do NOT stop walking until you are outside of the Terminal.
Once you are outside there will be a Tour Operator representative there to direct you to your transportation. They will also provide you with information about your resort and when they will be available at the resort to assist you.
For a number of reasons we do not use the bus transportation provided. Frequently you are delayed while people get their first Corona and have a smoke. Not an issue for me as I both drink and smoke it just delays your departure. Depending on how many people are at each resort you can have several stops along the 90 minute ride to Gran Bahia. Again, another beer and another smoke.
We use Private Transportation. Our supplier of choice is Lomas Travel. They are professional, well attired, and always on time. We most often opt for a stretch Lincoln limo, not because we are special but the price is right and I am on vacation. We have also used their Lincoln Navigators when there is just the two of use.
Last October we met some people at the Toronto Airport that were also going to Gran Bahia. When we talked to them the next day at the resort we found out that we had arrived at Gran Bahia BEFORE their bus even left Cancun Airport for what turned out to be over a two hour trip. Our ride from and to the airport was without incident or issue.
One word, smooth. Because we had our own transportation we were the only people at the check in. During the checkin process we were given a “welcome” cocktail, very refreshing and large. Within five minutes we were on the cart and off to our room. Our Bell Man gave a little tour of the grounds (more to follow on the grounds) before escorting us to our room.
We booked a Junior Suite Penthouse with rooftop terrace, it turned out to be an excellent choice! The room was very spacious, well appointed, clean and very comfortable. We were greeted with a chilled bottle of champagne and a floral arrangement.
We had requested and received a mattress topper as we are used to a pillow top mattress at home, another good decision. We found the bathroom to be well appointed with a large shower. The usual amenities were all first class, shower gels, shampoos etc.
The rooftop terrace was magnificent! Morning coffee watching the sunrise or evening drinks relaxing on a lounge chair was a real treat. We did use the hot tub a couple times in the afternoon more as a cool down than a hot tub.
Despite what I have read on other reviews I found there to be adequate storage for clothes and luggage.
There is a dining area and every night we received pastries as a snack. The mini fridge in the wet bar area was restocked daily.
The Grounds and Pools
Spectacular! This entire resort was built in a jungle area. Great care was taken to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible. Gran Bahia is very Eco aware and it shows. As you walk the winding pathways amongst the villas you are surround by both natural landscape and planted areas. At times you cannot even see the villas but they are mere feet away. It is very relaxing and quiet.
There are several pools. They are smaller in size as some reviews have indicated. I would describe them as more intimate. We have stayed at all areas of the Gran Bahia complex and prefer the “quiet” pools to the “activities” pools. Having said that, there were daily events put on by the Animation Team at the largest pool close to the Cenote 24hr Snack Bar. The Team puts a lot of effort into their day with the sole purpose of making YOUR stay more enjoyable.
I could write paragraphs about the grounds and there beauty, suffice to say we loved them.
Yes, you have to take a tram to the beach. Unless you stay at Akumal Club Golden or Tulum Club Diamond (we have stayed at both) are luck enough to get a beach front villa, you will either have a nice walk or a tram ride to the beach so for us this was not an issue. In fact we rather enjoyed the ride. The trams ran frequently and we never waited more than a few minutes. On one ride to the Beach the driver quickly stopped the tram, we thought something was wrong and there was. A small turtle have made its way onto the road so the drive gently returned it to its habitat.
The beach area is private for the exclusive use of people staying at Sian Ka’an. The lounge chair are more comfortable and plentiful. We never had a problem getting a spot close to the water.
There is a bar at the beach area with waiter service. Some people have mentioned the service was sporadic. Let me think, sitting on the beach in Mexico with somebody serving me my favorite beverage while I read a book or listened to the waves, and I have to wait a couple minutes for service, oh darn!
Other reviews have commented on the large “wave breakers” and how they are unsightly. Well if they were not there then the beach would wash away down to its limestone base. People sure seem to enjoy sitting on them and having the waves wash around them. It also keeps the water close to the beach, calm and warm.
This will be the shortest part of my review.
We have eaten at ever A La Carte in the Gran Bahia Complex. Prior to this trip, our favorites were Mikado (Coba) and Arliquine (Akumal). Now, hands down our favorites are the two A La Cartes at Sian Kan’an, Alux and Maiko!
Why? The service, the ambiance, the food ALL top notch.
The Buffet is also excellent, again the best in the Gran Bahia Complex. Where else do you get lobster on Saturday night. If you are a desert lover, loosen your belt you are going to need the extra space!
What is Next at Gran Bahia?
Sian Ka’an will be Adults Only as of 01 November 2012. I think this is an excellent decision. We were fortunate enough to meet with Juan Oliveira, of the Management Team. He shared with us that in the Coba Resort there is a water park under construction that is slated to open later this year. What this does is setup Sian Ka’an as the Adult resort and Coba as the Family Resort. The Gran Bahia Team, in my humble opinion, is right on track with these moves and with the four Resorts setup to accommodate different needs/desires they will have many more repeat guests. There is also a Convention Center planned for the Sian Ka’an Resort area.
The Bottom Line (Finally!)
Again, just my opinions!
I tried to find “true” fault or issues at Sian Ka’an (honestly I did not spend much time trying to be picky and whiney I was too busy enjoying and having fun). Sorry not one issue!
Sian Ka’an is a beautiful, well thought out and laid out resort. It is best suited for couples that want to be able to relax, and enjoy their vacation time. You still have access to all the amenities of the other Gran Bahia Resorts and the local attractions.
IF, being directly on the beach is your main priority this resort is not for you. I would suggest Akumal Club Golden. Akumal also has the best pools.
IF, you are on a family vacation, then once the water park is open, Coba is your best bet. Coba has always been our favorite until now. We have stayed there eight. We even have a favorite room 32737 which the Management Team at Coba arranges for us on each visit.
IF, you want first class accommodations, superior food choices, peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, attentive and accommodating staff, in an adults only environment then Sian Ka’an is THE choice! You will NOT be disappointed!
If you have any question about Sian Ka’an or any of the Gran Bahia Resorts please e-mail me I will be happy to assist.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 4 outdoor pools (1 with Jacuzzi) Sun terrace with loungers and sun umbrellas BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Transfer to the beach and other facilities on the complex (at set times) Water activity centre, Beach Club with exclusive bar (at the Grand Principe Tulum) Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (free of charge) and in rooms (additional charge) 1 international buffet restaurant 2 speciality restaurants 4 Bars 1 snack-bar Riviera Maya Golf Club: 18 long holes and 9 executive holes with lakes, natural wells and Mayan forest. Hacienda Dona Isabel: karaoke bars, shows, live music and disco. Rooms 420 rooms including 4 types: Junior Suite, Deluxe Junior Suite, Deluxe Garden Junior Suite, Deluxe Penthouse Junior Suite. Deluxe Garden Junior Suites and Deluxe Penthouse Junior Suites are larger than the Junior Suites and the Deluxe Junior Suites. Room facilities: King size bed or 2 full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Direct phone line (additional charge for external calls) Sitting area with sofa-bed and armchairs Balcony or terrace Bathroom with shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathroom amenities Bathrobe and slippers Don Pablo Collection amenities Alarm clock with iPod docking station Flat screen TV Coffee-making facilities Mini-bar Safe Iron and ironing board 24 hour room service Butler service in rooms Private Jacuzzi Wifi Pillow menu Aroma menu Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings and anniversaries, as well as corporate incentive trips and conventions Casino ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Sian Ka`An Golf Resort And Spa
- Gran Bahia Principe Sian Ka`An Golf Hotel Akumal
- Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka'An Don Pablo Collection Riviera Maya/Akumal, Mexico