My girlfriend and I stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum from March 25-31, 2013. I don't think I'll be returning to this resort again, but that's not because there weren't some good things about this place. There just wasn't enough great things to make me want to go back. I'd rather try some place new next time. As the title stated, I have mixed feelings about the resort and our experience.
A few other facts to note that certainly color my review here: We came here on my Spring Break (I'm a college teacher). We have been coming to Cancun annually for about 5 years now. This was my fifth time in Cancun at my fourth different resort. Although in trips here, I have probably had the chance to visit at least a dozen other resorts for a either a tour or visiting for a day or so, so I have a pretty good perspective on what's out there among all-inclusives. Also, we booked our trip through Bookit.com and booked kind've late and only paid about $2800 total for two for five days including airfare, so we were trying to travel on the cheap side.
We arrived pretty late in the evening, about 9:30 pm. As you might have read, the resort is about an hour and a half from the airport. Check in went pretty smoothly, except for the fact that the airline we flew in on (Canada Air) lost my girfriend's suitcase, so we were not in a good mood. The clerks were helpful, and quick, and brought us the welcome drink.However, they did forget to issue us 2 towel cards and the girl who issued us our key wrote down the wrong room number on our key card carrier so we freaked out some unsuspecting couple trying to get into the wrong room. It freaked us out too, but we did finally get the right room and did manage to get to the dinner jbuffet ust before closing.
The resort grounds were well groomed and well maintained. There are lots of coconut and palm trees, and lots of manicured lawns with some native flowers. There's not much jungle or "nature" feel to the grounds, though. I prefer that, so I was a little disappointed. (If you like jungle-like feel, go to Iberostar Quetzal - absolutely amazing! We tried to book there, but it was full by the time we started looking.) There wasn't much wildlife on the grounds either. I like seeing native animals, so that was somewnat disappointing, too. There's no monkeys. We only saw a few raccoons and some coati's near one of dining areas on a couple of different nights, and some of those big oversized looking hamsters (don't know what they're called, but they're about the same size as a raccoon. I called them RUS's...watch "The Princess Bride" if you don't get that reference) There were tons of iguana's and lizards of all sizes, though, and a few local cats that roamed the grounds. The buildings were all similarly styled 3-story buidlings. The grounds were lit well at night, too, making it pleasant to return to your room. It just wasn't a resort that inspired you to explore it all that much. It was all pretty much the same whereever you went and with the Akumal and Tulum conjoining it, it was a very large resort. The grounds are extremely large and spread out, and you mostly have to take shuttles to get everywhere. However, the shuttles seemed to run very frequently and were easy to get on and off of, and would even stop and pick you up if you were walking in the direction they were going.
We stayed in a suite. The room itself was clean with a marble-like floor. It was about average size with a balcony (with no real view) that we never used. There was the standard desk and table with 2 chairs.The TV at least was flat screen, but medium sized. We had a nice, large and (surprise!) soft bed. It was very comfortable with soft sheets and comfy pillows. We didn't have any problem with air conditioning. The were some problems with the room, though. You had to pay $5 a day to use the safe in the room, although 3 days into our stay we found out that ours was included because we were in a higher end room. No one told us this when we first got there, though. We only found this out by accident when we decided we might want to use it. They only gave us 2 towels a day, and the towels were like sand paper (and I am not really exaggerating that much here!) It was obvious they were cutting corners here trying to extend the life of these towels well past their expiration date. The bathroom only had one sink, too, and was not separate from the toilet, which really does make things inconvenient when 2 people are trying to get ready for dinner at the same time. The shower was okay, but the water in our room was mostly lukewarm. I didn't care so much when I took a shower, but my girlfriend was livid that the water was not hot enough. We noticed, too, that none of the lights in the outside hallways were on at night. It seemed they were deliberately off to save costs, so it was dark in the halls coming back to the room at night. We barely noticed our neighbors and didn't once hear or even see anyone in the adjoining rooms. There was no alcohol dispenser in the room and the mini fridge was kind've junky with one small bag of potato chips, a couple cokes, ginger ale, bottled water, sprite, and a juice container. Overall, the rooms were clean, nice, and comfortable.
Overall, I thought the service was pretty good. The tram drivers, busboys, maids, and waiters were all very pleasant and helpful. Although, we did call for extra hangers for our room, but it took 3 calls and 6 hours before any actually arrived.
Again, mixed feelings here. The beach part wasn't too bad, There's plenty of pictures on this site, so you can see for yourself. It's long with lots of beach chairs. Of course, we got to the beach on one sunny day around 11 and there was not an empty chair to be found anywhere, and we walked the entire length of the beach! After about 45 minutes we did finally find 2 empty chairs. It was extremely windy on the beach the whole time we were there. And even though this was Tulum, this was not the turqouise water beach you see near the ruins. The water was choppy and rough, and there were rocks everywhere! And I do mean everywhere. The were only a few places where you could take a dip in the water where they had barriers constructed to create a swim area to block off the rough surf.
Again, mixed feeling about the pools. The Tulum part of the resort is older, and the pools here show their age. You can't tell that in the photos as much.They're not bad, but they're not sparkling, either, The tiles look dated. The pools at Akumal and Coba are newer and a litte nicer, but still designed around a similar style.
The buffets here offered an extremely wide variety of crappy food with a huge assortment of tasteless entrees and desserts, so there was something for everyone to hate. Seriously, that's actually pretty truthful. It seems to me, they work very hard to make the food look delicious and taste awful. Everything looks great, but almost nothing tasted good. The juices all taste watered down. Everything tastes like they bought the cheapest, lowest grade, fish, meat, or left out sugar to save money on. I had to look hard, but I did find things to like. The made to order omelettes were actually some of the best I've had in Mexico, and I had the churros every morning. Lunches were so-so, but the lunches are always crappy just about anywhere you go with these kind of all-inclusives..
On the flip side, the a la carte dinners we had here were all quite good. You only get three per week of stay here and we tried the Brazilian (La Tortuga), the Hibachi (The Mikado), and the steak/seafood restaurant (Don Pablo.) Also, we emailed the resort in advance and had all our reservations for the nights we wanted before we arrived. We only had to confirm our reservations at the guest relations when we got there to get our tickets. The Gran Tortuga was near the beach, but was a converted buffet. Still, I love the Brazilian stye restaurants at these resorts. They're a meat eaters paradise. The food was only good, with the exception of the flank steak. The flank steak was absolutely divine! We ate it the first go round, and waited at least a half hour because we had to have some more. Oh my god, I would almost come back here just for the flank steak alone! The Don Pablo and the Mikado were not converted buffets. They we both like full fledged restaurants. First, Don Pablo: The food and service was actually quite good. It was very enjoyable. The decor felt a little like a funeral home, though, but that's just me. The Mikado was a typical hibachi style, and if you like that sort of thing, you'll like this on. The decor was just beautiful, too. I felt like I could have been in Japan in there, except for the fact our cook was named Javier. The only things I didn't like was that they cooked my seafood which was mussels and shrimp, but the shrimp wasn't shelled. In fact it was cooked whole with eyeball and antenna and everything, which meant I had to pull all this stuff off myself, which was kind've hard and messy. So much so, that I didn't every bother to eat 3 of my shrimps. Also, not all of the tables was at a grill. Some people just ate at tables, but they were served from the same menu. They sat us at a grill with 10 other people. They didn't ask us for a preference, so I'm not sure why we ended up at a grill, but that's what I had been expecting.
We have been on almost every day trip offered after 5 years or so. The tricky thing with the day trips is that often the resorts are where people book their trips and they really jack up the prices sometimes. Last year we stayed at the Riu Tequila, and there was an independent tour operated that booked the same kind of day trips but at 1/2 to 1/3rd of the price. I didn't find or hear of any outside tour operators here, though, so we booked a day trip through our travel agent. On this trip we went to Xel-Ha, which was only about 10 minutes from the resort. They also said they were offering a special "promotion" for $79 per person that included transportation from the hotel. I don't know if you can go to Xel-Ha for less, but I felt like that was a fair price. You can look up reviews about Xel-Ha yourself, but we had great time. It's a natural park with some really great snorkeling, lots of water activities, some beautiful jungle, cenotes, some wild animals (mainly coati's and iguana's, but lots of them), caves, and it was all-inclusive, too, with buffets where they weren't skimping on ingredients. The food was truly excellent. I highly recommend this trip.
FINAL THOUGHTS and RECOMMENDATIONS:
In the end, we had a good overall and enjoyable vacation. I'd probably recommend Akumal over Tulum since the rooms and pools are a bit nicer and newer. I'd recommend Coba if you have kids, as this part was more oriented towards families. Still, Tulum was nice. Definitely email your dinner reservations in advance. And if someone leaves 2 towels on 2 beach chairs and it's not lunch time, just take the chairs say that they were yours and that it must have been some other chair they thought they reserved.
Don't have a tip here.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.