We just returned from Gran Bahia Tulum on February 20, 2013, we were there for ten days. We are a family of four with kids aged 6 and 9. We loved it.
Resort: beautiful, well-maintained and huge. We arrived at 3:00 a.m. and were offered a choice of two rooms, building 27 or 44, which was in the Diamond/ Hacienda Section (not to be confused with the Hacienda area where all the little shops, the disco and the sports bar are located). We loved Diamond. We had our own small lobby with the ever- helpful, wonderful and friendly Laura and her manager Fernando. Coffee and snacks were on offer throughout the day and a full bar in the evenings. It was very elegant to have a pre-dinner cocktail in this lobby of very international guests. Diamond guests also have access to a lovely, small pool and pool bar at the beach and the Tequila restaurant for quiet buffet breakfast and lunch. Gabriel was our server and went out of his way to accommodate my family. The kids adored him and miss him every day. They can't wait to go back to see Laura and Gabriel. Laura even gave my children a small parting gift and Gabriel gifted my husband.
Staff: All of the staff at this resort will go out of their way to meet your needs, help you out and do what they can to make your stay fantastic. They seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs. Laura, Gabriel and Omero at the Diamond/Hacienda Pool bar were amazing. Omero was terrific. How he remembered everyone’s name is beyond me…
Room: Our room was perfect. The beds were comfortable, the temperature was cool and Roberta ensured that it was immaculate every day. With two children and tons of sand you can bet this was no easy feat. There were always enough towels and beverages in the fridge.
Beach: Gorgeous. While it was not the calm, warm, still water I was accustomed to from Punta Cana, my family found it more interesting to experience the waves, coral and rocks. The beach strip is very long and each of the four resorts (Akumal, Coba, Sian Kan and Tulum) has their own distinct beach, each with its own vibe. Akumal has still, calm waters, created by these massive sandbags placed to block the waves, and an amazing array of fish to see with (your own snorkels). There is a reef here and if you slip under the chain you can see fantastic fish and sea life. You can also see many fish under the stairs of the lovely dock/pier at Akumal.
Although the resort offers snorkel gear they will not provide it when the red flags are up (which was every day we were there) so if you have your own gear you will use it and be grateful that you have it. Akumal also has two beach bars and the farthest one (from Tulum) had coconuts, yum. There is also dancing on the pier and water aerobics at Akumal. Coba seemed to have land sport: beach volleyball etc and Coba and Sian Kan had a privilege section of beach with beach beds that looked deluxe. Tulum Beach had a bit of hill leading the water in parts and big waves most days. When wading into the water the first few feet are rocky and pieces of coral are swept by waves and can hit you in the shins but once you get past this the water is gorgeous to swim in and the waves are fun. Water shoes really help with the rocks when entering the water. The Tulum beach strip closest to Diamond (the opposite end of the resort from Akumal) was not very busy (much less than Akumal and Coba) and we could always get chairs under a palapa. The sand was also much finer here than Akumal. The beach was windy which was lovely. If not for the wind it would have been too hot.
Pools: There are so many pools I am sure I did not see them all. Our little pool at Diamond was the kids’ favourite because it was close to home. It was BUSY! And raucous. There are animators who have a little booth and play music for most of the day. They are lovely (Annisa and Loic) and facilitate some sort of party version of water aerobics, as well as silly darts (three at a time, use your left had), beach volleyball, water volleyball and waterpolo. There seemed to be a loud, party water game going on at all times, which my son loved. Everyone was very kind and included the kids so they did not feel they were in the way. It was really fun. Tulum pool is also a crazy party atmosphere. The pool is huge and has a great shape with lots of areas to explore and a pool bar. Or two? (swim-up and exterior). It seems that the only pool we visited where there is no music or partying was the main Akumal pool. Akumal pool was also large with many sections to explore. Kids loved all the pools.
Mini Club: We visited Tulum min-club when our kids were sun burnt and we were looking for activities in the shade. We heard there were video games but there were not. It was clean, the staff was welcoming and there were games such as mini table-top hockey, however, the only child there at the time was around 4 and my kids felt that they were too old for the toys on offer. The mini-club at Coba has a waterpark but we were told it would not be open until the end of February. On the 19th we found out it was, in fact, open but we left the next day.
Food: People who complain about the food here are really picky eaters or looking to complain. There is food for everyone including a heart-smart section in the main lobby buffet. We ate most often at the buffet at Tequila because the kids needed to see Gabriel and it was a nice, quiet buffet with a view of the sea. There is something for everyone here and the drink service at the table was superb-mimosas or champagne in the morning, coffee, espresso, juice…cocktails at lunch. We did not book the a la cartes early enough and were left with awkward times (5:30 or 10:00). With the limited times offered we tried a few. As the sun left our pool at 5:00 the kids often wanted some shade-time and were not prepared to eat at 5:30 so we forfeited on reservation. If possible, book these as soon as you can to get the better time slots. We loved Mediteraneo. Anibar was so much fun and took such good care of us that we returned to give him a bigger tip at the end of the trip. And the food was fantastic. The Brazilian restaurant was a hit with my carnivorous son but was very slow. Tequila was lovely but there are Mexican food options at the big lobby buffets so it did not seem that special and we walked out of Mikado because it was taking a while to order and we wanted to spend our last night outside. We tried the Coba buffet instead and it was fantastic. Very different from the Tulum and Akumal buffets, more food choices and a bit fancier food (hors d’ouvres, fancy beef and tuna carpaccio, more seafood) and a bigger kid’s section with a kid’s desert bar).
Gym: There is a wonderful gym at Tulum, near the lobby and I got a chance to work out 5 out of the 9 days. Fresh towels, cold water, three cardio machines, spinning bikes and loads of weights.
Timeshare: They did not harass us at all. They tried to reach out to folks who passed them in the lobby but were the least aggressive of any timeshare people I have seen.
Excursions: There is so much to do and see within the resort but also so much to do in the area. We took the collective ($16 for four of us each way) to the Tulum ruins and it was wonderful. Avoid the people trying to sell you a ride to the gate or the privilege of jumping the queue. The walk to gate was short and nice and the lineup moved fast. The ruins are spectacular and so are the views. The ice cream for sale at the highway was fabulous. Reports from people we met regarding all the excursions (Xel Ha, Coba ruins, Chichen Itza) were all glowing.
Shows: At this resort the guests are really into the shows. The place was deserted from 9-10 as everyone was at the theatre. The shows were fun. Music, dancing, costumes…the kids loved the shows and it was kind of cool that the theatre was full. Many people went to pool dance party following the shows or to the bar beside the Tulum theatre. Both options were loads of fun.
Finally, we can’t wait to go back. Thanks Bahia!!!!! Oh, the only negative was the bus trip. It really is far-two hours. Makes the travel day/night just that much longer. We arrived in the middle of the night and there was nothing open in the airport and the kids were parched. Thankfully the driver gave us a mini water bottle he had for his kids (who were not there) but otherwise it would have been very unfcomfortable to be thirsty for so long. The bus ride back to airport was not nice. The host was angry that we were not at the bus (kids had to use the washroom and I was unable to pay for the safe because there was a problem with the debit machine) and he was rude and threatened to take our luggage off and leave without us. They were two minutes late, after waiting for the bus for ten minutes.... Then we went to at least four resorts to pick people up and waited up to 20 minutes at some of them. At one resort nobody ended up getting on the bus after we waited 20 minutes. And the bus stank like urine and body odour. Was so unpleasant. I wish we took a taxi.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.