My family visited this resort Dec 22-29.We are a family of five, two parents ages 48 and 50 and 3 teens. I have travelled to Riviera Maya and Cancun area more than 20 times over the past 26 years. The entire Coba resort has junior suites and the extra space was appreciated. My husband and I had a king bed and the kids had an adjoining room with 2 queen beds and a single bed. After 2 days we asked for mattress toppers and they added alot of comfort to the extra firm mattresses. The rooms had stocked mini fridges, safes, flat screen tv's, jetted tub and shower, patio , a couch and a table with 2 chairs. Rooms were modern, large and clean.
We stayed at Grande Bahia Principe Coba but utilized the beaches and restaurants at Coba, Akumal and Tulum properties.The staff within the entire resort complex was friendly and helpful. This was the happiest staff of any hotel we have ever stayed at and it makes the whole vacation experience so much better when the staff is so nice. Other guests at the hotel were primarily from Canada and England and not as many from Russia, France, Argentina, Columbia and USA.
We noticed the hotels seemed understaffed at pool bars, housekeeping and room service. However it was a holiday week and a very busy time for the resort.
Shuttles and golf carts transport you from place to place. Although this was confusing at times we never waited more than 5 minutes for a shuttle to arrive. Several instances the bell boys would use a golf cart or golf cart drivers within the resort would pick us up at get us to our destinations. We felt the transportation within the resorts was effecient.
A few minor issues are expected during any hotel stay. We had two adjoining rooms and we realized late in our stay that the phone in the kid’s room didn’t ring. A working phone would have allowed us to connect and meet up more easily. Jets in my tub didn’t work even after visit from maintenance. We had ants in one bathroom. We called the front desk and they sent someone up and he sprayed and left a spray can and we would spray at night for 3 nights and that took care of it. None of this was major and didn’t impact the quality of our experience.
We stayed in building 3 and liked the proximity to Coba premier lobby and little shops, Coba pools and Akumal main lobby. Our first floor room was fine but wish the patio didn’t face the road because shuttles going by and workers pushing laundry carts can be really loud in the morning. I generally like to sit on the patio in the early morning and have coffee so instead I walked to the premier lobby for excellent coffee and a quiet place to begin the day.
I did a yoga class at the Tao wellness center one day. It was a very crowded class with a really good instructor. The Tao wellness center is worth a visit and they had some unique things in the gift shop.
The beaches: Tulum beach had a rocky entry and sand bag “whales” but also the finest sand. Coba beach was less rocky and we were able to walk in. It had a good reef for snorkeling. We took our own snorkel gear and snorkeled every day. Akumal beach was the rockiest and almost not usable. The big deck over the water is where morning stretch and zumba are done and the deck defines the borders of Akumal and Coba beach. All beaches had bars that you could walk to and order drinks. They are no waitresses for pool or beach areas.
The restaurants/food: We ate at all three main buffets for breakfast and all were comparable and very good. We also had breakfast several days at the Coba premier buffet and the selections were not as abundant but it was quieter and the food was fresh and tastey. Cappuccino is only available at the main lobby buffets. We had lunch at several different snack bars because we could go barefoot and in our bathing suits. Selections were limited to burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, salads, fries, rice, guacamole and a few other items. No complaints about the taste or selection and the guacamole and pico di gallo were good. For lunch we also tried La Dolce Vita which has inside seating with linen table cloths. Shoes and cover-ups are required and it is buffet food with drink table service.
Dinners: we tried the main buffet in Coba lobby and also the main buffet Akumal lobby. Both were huge with plenty of choices. A la carts: Show table at Mikado-Japanese and the food was excellent, especially the steak, and the cooking show was entertaining. Le Grand Tortuga-Brazilian-food was good if you are a meat lover. They served chicken, turkey, and several kinds of beef, sausages, pork and ribs. La Dolce Vita is the Italian restaurant and each one of us each tried something different and none of us were impressed. My chicken was good but the pasta was undercooked, husband’s steak was very tough, son’s lasagna was mushy, other son’s veal was too chewy and daughter’s ravioli was okay. La Gourmet-we had the steak and lobster and both were very good, we also enjoyed their appetizers and soups and the house wines in this restaurant were good too. We e-mailed to get dinner reservations in advance and were so happy we did this. High praise for Felix at the Coba property. He was so responsive, polite and caring.
Teen perspective: Son-age 19 and he liked the Hacienda Dona Isabel area and sports bar, the disco, the 24 hour snack bars and the ease of meeting and hanging out with other teens from all over the world.
Daughter- age 18 and she liked Hacienda Dona Isabel courtyard for evening music, disco, all night snack bar where they could hang out with a big group playing cards and laughing till 5AM. She said the staff at the all night snack bar was terrific. She said the Coba main activity pool was the place for louder music and a wilder pool bar scene.
Son -age 15 and he missed organized games and pool activities that he has experienced at other resorts. Those types of silly games and contests (non drinking) are a great way for kids ages 13-17 to meet and hang out. He met a few kids his age playing beach volleyball but would have really enjoyed more organized games. At Iberostar they have “Star Friends” that pull kids into silly contests in the pool. He missed that. He liked the activity pool at Akumal best because they had ping pong tables and a basketball hoop in the pool. He also liked the beach volleyball located at Coba beach.
Entertainment: We all liked live music venues as an option to the shows. We have stayed at many all- inclusives and we are tired of the “shows” so the fact that Bahia Principe offered alternative options was terrific. In the evening we would sit at outside of the Coba lobby in a patio area. There was an outside bar, dj and dancing. Inside Coba main lobby there was live music a few nights and karaoke one night. Coba premier lobby had live (quieter music) each night from 8-11 PM. There were live bands on certain nights at patio are of the Hacienda beginning at 11 PM. Disco opens from 12-2:00AM (young crowd ages 18-25). Hacienda Dona Isabel has vendors and shops that sell souvenirs all day and are open till 11:30 most nights. Prices were reasonable and selection was varied.
Wish list: more information about other properties, the restaurants, and the events going on at the different pools and the different lobbies. Things like karaoke, paella at the pool, live bands at Hacienda, Mexican fiesta night, pool games were all things we discovered by accident. We wish there were descriptions and menus of all the resorts restaurants and also other events happening at all the pools and beaches. There were a bunch of television stations devoted to the resort and it would be great to view one that told us this information.
Room service: We ordered 3 different times and each time the delivery was really slow (90 minutes) and there is no menu available. Basically hamburgers, hot dogs and nuggets. We went the front desk and requested a menu and they said there isn’t one. Kids would order chicken nuggets and fries and said they were hot and tasted good.
Pools: We spent time at all pools and each offered something different. While we were there the Coba activity pool had limited chairs and a wilder pool bar scene our 18 yr old daughter and 20 yr old son preferred this location; the Akumal activity pool drew a lot of younger kids and tweens. This pool has a basketball hoop, water polo net, and volley ball net and a few ping pong tables on deck. Our 15 yr old son preferred this pool location. The Akumal quiet pool had a swim up bar and me and my husband liked the music at this pool. The Tulum pool had a swim up bar which we liked a lot, plenty of seating’s under palapas but the music didn’t appeal to anyone. It was hard-core urban music with a lot of “F-this and that” which held no appeal for the 50+ age group or any other age group for that matter. With all the good music in the world what is the purpose of playing raunchy stuff? It offends so many and I am not conservative or strict in any way. Other guests expressed the same opinion.
Overall, we really liked this resort and would stay here again. It is important that you manage your expectations and understand that with a huge complex there is more logistics in meeting up with people and getting to beaches, pools and restaurants. However there are also many more options for entertainment, dining, shopping,beach and pool variety.
Excursions: My oldest son and husband went to the Coba ruins. They took a collectivo (public transport van) from the main road to Tulum and then boarded a bus in the town of Tulum which took them to the Coba ruins. The collectivo was $2 per person; the bus was $3 each and entry fee to Coba was $5 each. They rented bikes $3 each, climbed the pyramid and had lunch (2 tacos and 2 cokes) $3 each at a local establishment in the village outside of the national park. If they would have gone through a tour operator it would have been $70 per person. On the return they didn’t want to wait for the bus back to Tulum so they took a taxi from Coba ruins to the town of Tulum $25 total and then the collectivo back to the resort $2 each. Total for both was $61 USD compared to $140 for a tour company that would not have included the bikes or lunch.
Another day four of us took a cab 140 pesos ($11 USD) to Akumal beach to snorkel one day. It is five minutes by car. We saw sea turtles and other fish. I returned another day to Akumal public beach and took the collective $2 USD each way to do some shopping and have lunch at the Turtle Bay café (separate review). Akumal public beach area has some great shops with original art and really nice souvenirs and jewelry. I like the t-shirt selection and the little grocery store called Super Chomak, the glass and silver jewelry and one-of-a-kind paintings at a shop called Ak-Nah Gallery and another gallery that had high quality Mexican folk art which I think was called the Mexican Art gallery.
Lost and Found: I found a man’s ring while snorkeling in the ocean. We asked all the properties if one had been reported lost and were told no report had been filed. I would be happy to return the ring to the owner. If you think it might be yours please contact me through Tripadvisor with a detailed description-ring size, metal, gemstones, engravings etc