My family just got back from a stay at the Gran Bahia Principe - Akumal Resort & Spa. While we enjoyed our stay very much, it was not the greatest hotel we have ever stayed at. We would most likely not stay here again, but overall the experience was an enjoyable one!
Rooms - We stayed in 5226, on the third floor. For not being a suite, the room was still very large and comfortable. We had four people: 3 adults and 1 child, and they provided us with a king bed, a queen bed and a couch-turned-bed. All of those beds managed to fit in the room without feeling too crowded. One cute feature of the rooms is that the maids leave towel art on the bed. There's also a minibar in the room, but ours was never very cold. Also, it is hit or miss whether it's stocked every day or not. If you get a room on the third floor, be prepared to climb some stairs, as there are no elevators. Another downside is that, at least in our room, we didn't have hot water all the time, which sucked when you really wanted a nice hot shower or bath but would be disappointed instead.
Beach & Pools - The beaches here are very nice and very big! The sand isn't exactly fine white sand, but it's still nice, and the staff keeps it very clean. There are plenty of loungers and huts for everyone. There is a nice buoyed area where the water stays very calm and is great for snorkeling, even when it is very windy out. Go snorkeling! You won't regret it. As for the pools, they are very big and clean, but they are also very cold! They are not heated so be prepared for that if you stay during the colder months.
Entertainment & Shopping - Akumal has some great entertainment. Definitely check out the Ampitheater Hollywood, off of the lobby. They have great shows there every night at 9 PM, except for Thursdays. In the bar off the lobby, they have a singer there most every night. For further entertainment and shopping, go to the Hacienda Dona Isabel, which has an outdoor market area, indoor shops, a disco and a sports bar. They also have shows in the Hacienda every Thursday night.
Food & Restaurants - The food here is all right. In my opinion, the food at the buffet is nothing special. Don't go to the snack bar, as it is horrible! The food is cold, and the options are terrible. The food at the specialty/a'la'carte restaurants is much better, but you must make reservations. Three reservations were provided to us on arrival, which was very nice. We ate at the Gran Tortuga (Brazilian), Tequila (Mexican) and Mikado (Japanese/Hibachi) restaurants. My favorite was Tequila.
Location & Size - This resort (including the other hotels of Tulum, Coba and Si'an Kaan) is huge! Even just in the Akumal area, it is very big, and you will do some walking. If you want a very relaxing and peaceful stay, this hotel might not be for you with all the walking involved. Try to get a room closer to the beach and pool area, if you can. The location is good, but it is long drive from the airport (over an hour), which isn't fun, but it's worth it to get away from Cancun crowds. You are also close to the Tulum ruins here, which you should definitely check out.
Service - Service here was very good. The staff is very friendly and welcoming. When we arrived, we were served drinks right away. We booked our vacation through Apple, and on Wednesday night we were treated to a special dinner just for Apple guests, which was very yummy and entertaining. However, if you happen to wander into an exclusive area reserved for Si'an Kaan or privileged/premier guests, be prepared to be told to leave. That happened to us once, and it was embarrassing, but it didn't dampen our spirits too much.
Overall, this hotel is very good but not the best. There are a lot of great features, but there are also some negative things as well. However, we still really enjoyed our stay, and even though we would probably not come here again, we would still recommend this place to anyone looking to stay in the Riviera Maya.