Hi guys, I have just come home from two weeks in Mexico, Riviera Maya and had to write another post, this time it's a Gran Bahia Principe Akumal review! This review will be less elaborate as last years GBP review, found at: http://www.phillshaw.co.uk/home/gran-bahia-principe-tulum-review.html, as both Akumal and Tulum share the same resort. Read the linked post for an in depth look at GBP Tulum, Riviera Maya.
Gran Bahia Principe Akumal Review.
So going back to the same resort, how boring I can hear you say, however, GBP is far from boring. The resort in its entirety is so vast that even going back a second time still haven't managed to explore every inch of it. Last year we stayed in the Diamond Hacienda area of Tulum which was fantastic, quiet, beautiful and close to a great lobby bar area that has a terrific house band. This year we stayed in villa 50 in Akumal which is designated 'Gold Club'.
Akumal, if you read my other review, is generally busier than Tulum or Coba and was reluctant to stay here and even contacted the resort to ask to be moved back to Tulum. Fortunately we weren't moved because our suites and location was brilliant! There was no noticeable difference in amount of people near our rooms than if we had stayed in Tulum so this was fantastic. What was also great was that from our villa the beach is a two minute walk, GBP Coba is a five minute walk and the beautiful bar and lobby only thirty seconds out of the door! Well placed so that you can venture off to one place or another easily without having to jump on a club-cart.
When we arrived for checkin we were greeted by the Manager 'Jerry' personally who whisked us off to a private checkin with a cocktail and had the bell-boys take our luggage to our room. As we had been before we didn't really need much explanation but if you haven't been take half an hour to acquaint yourselves with the layout and times places open so that you needn't worry about things later.
Our rooms where on the second floor overlooking an outcrop of trees and well manicured gardens which was perfect because we had the wildlife (small lemur type creatures) playing in trees opposite! As ever the rooms were pristinely made up and we had champagne and fruit waiting for us, which after fourteen hours of travel was superb. Each day our maid 'Patricia' tidied and cleaned the room and left flowers on our bed.
When you checkin they will tell you that there are four buffet restaurants that open for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two 24-hour snack bars and (I think) eleven à La Carte restaurants that you must book into. You will receive three bookings a week unless you upgrade to Golden Club or Diamond then you will get one more each week.
The buffet restaurants and brilliantly stocked, full of fresh fruit and vegetables and freshly cooked meats and fish. There is plenty to try. I have read reviews where guests have complained that the food is repetitive. Look at this way, how many different meals at home do you actually eat? You may have a pasta dish two or three times, Bolognese and Lasagne for instance, a couple of rice based dishes, a Sunday roast twice, pizza once, a chinese takeout and burger and chips. Now consider that each of those is available on a daily basis as well as Mexican food, roasted meat and fish, fresh salads, soups and deserts and tell me that the choice isn't big enough. Some people complain about such trivial things. I guarantee you wont go hungry!
à La Carte restaurants are a great way to spend an evening. Be sure to book yourselves into the Dom Pablo, La Gourmet and Tequila restaurants, these are a must! The Dom Pablo restaurant has great well cooked and beautifully presented food, as does La Gourmet. The Tequila restaurant is a Mexican restaurant and I can recommend the chicken! One thing I would say is that Dom Pablo and La Gourmet need to be mixed up. Dom Pablo's cut of steak was phenomenal, I pointed a knife at it and it cut itself. However it wasn't cooked 100% correctly to our taste. My partner ordered hers rare but got it medium-well. This didn't taint our experience at all but after visiting La Gourmet later in the stay her steak was cooked just to her taste but the cut wasn't quite as good. The ambience in La Gourmet was the best we have experienced in any GBP à La Carte, everything from the ceiling height, music and decor complemented the well presented dishes and overall this was our favourite restaurant. The manager of that restaurant came to ask if everything was to our satisfaction and at the end of the meal asked us to fill out a feedback form, which we happily did.
We also ate at La Gran Tortuga, Mediterraneo and Mikado, which was better than the Jamaican counterpart, and they all offered great service and food. When a staff member goes that extra mile to make your evening pleasant I always remember it, at Mediterraneo the waiter chatted to us for a while after a couple of tables left because he had a couple of minutes to spare after things had quieted down, he was casual and showed an interest into how our stay was going and asked about England, hoping one day to visit.
The buffet restaurants, as mentioned earlier, have a great selection. I personally felt Coba was the best buffet eatery but my partner preferred Tulum with Akumal faring worst. Essentially they all offer the same food but, I assume, cooked by different chefs because there is a definite divide on quality. The ambience of Coba's buffet is lovely, the layout works well and always seems less populated than the other two, presumably because the others site close to the beach while Coba is further in land. Guadeloupe, waiter in Coba, was superb always running around making sure everybody is fine, we loved him.
I covered most of this section in last years review, not much has changed. Read it here. This stay however we used Coba a lot more. The mornings are the best time for the beach, they offer Yoga, Zumba and water aerobics from the pier on the Coba Beach (dont be misled by this, Coba is still inland!) My partner participated in Yoga and she loved it. The afternoons after lunch we ventured to Coba and used one of their far superior pools. Coba isn't as busy as Akumal or Tulum during the day so we had free reign of the massive pool and hammocks. I recommend getting out of the hot afternoon sun and find a shader, it's so easy to get burnt. Fortunately I didn't burn but Su, my partner, did and she peeled and blistered on her shoulders.
As mentioned there are club-carts that will take you to most places such as the shopping area, Hacienda Dona Isabella, which can be a bit of a walk in the heat. There is a great lookout tower set in the Coba jungle area which gives you views over the entire resort, we saw some sort of eagle (I think) which was huge! Dont go up on a windy day unless you're Mary Poppins.
Mosquitos are an issue, this is beyond GBP's control so dont whine about it on Trip Advisor (you know who you are!) but they do have 'bug guys' out with pesticides to try and hold them back but chances are you will get bitten. My advice, if you're travelling from UK, is to go to the local 99p Store of Poundland and look for the Xpel Repellant. We took this brand and it worked a treat. Dont take a repellant that doesn't contain DEET, it wont work and they will bite you. Xpel Wipes were the best as they wont leave your skin feeling oily and can breathe through it. Coba has more of a mozzie issue than the others because it isn't directly on the coast.
I highly recommend visiting the ruins of Chichen Itza or Tulum, they both offer an amazing look at the Mayan culture. Don't book with your tour operator book directly with Bahia Tours, the Thomson group act as a middle man for them anyway so save some cash and find them in the resort yourselves.
I cannot applaud Gran Bahia Principe enough. They manage to run a massive super-resort with such attention to detail at such an affordable price it begs the question "how do they do it". However they do i'm glad they do and will always recommend this chain to anybody wanting to have a great caribbean holiday. The service, style and experience we received were second to none and are planning our next stay with them already!
I hope you enjoyed this, if you are planning on going and need some more information please don't hesitate to message me.