We were at the Palladium White Sand at the end of June and had a great vacation. We have been to several other all-inclusive beach resorts and I liked the White Sand better than any others (but the wife enjoyed the Barcelo Tropical a little more).
We got a great deal from Apple Vacations and departed Denver on their AeroMexico charter on June 27. The plane actually left 15 minutes early and arrived on time in Cancun. If you get a chance to fly on AeroMexico, you’ll be in for a pleasant treat – no charge to check luggage, attractive friendly and efficient flight attendants, free booze poured from real bottles, a nice free meal (versus the $8 box-o-snax you find on other airlines), and a free movie with free headsets). We were through customs and immigration in about 30 minutes and departed on the included Apple van about 30 minutes later. The trip to the Palladium took about 75 minutes and we were the first ones to be dropped off.
We were the only ones at check in and Victor spent about 15 minutes explaining the various features of the resort. (Victor was very cute and charming and the wife wanted to take him home with us. I didn’t think that was a good idea). We rode with the bellmen and our luggage to our room – in building 59 just as we requested in our earlier email to the resort.
Room - Our junior suite was on the 2nd floor facing the ocean but the trees blocked our ocean view unless we looked over the trees. We had a very large bathroom with a nice Jacuzzi, two comfortable double beds (as we requested), and an area with a sleeper sofa and lounge chair. The safe was large and worked perfectly and we had a fridge with water, Sol and Superior beer, cola, and orange drink. Hint – we could not find a bottle opener in our room but I’m sure we could have asked the housekeeper for one. The bottles of beer do not have twist off tops and an opener is essential if you plan to take some beer on your excursions or have a couple on your way back to the airport. Also, the balcony was large but did not have any clothes-drying racks so you might want to bring something to hang your swim gear on at the end of the day.
Housekeeping – Sometimes our room was cleaned before noon and other times at about 4:00 PM. We were always given a towel animal and the room was always spotless after cleaning. We would sometimes be concerned about the lack of facecloths but the housekeeper would eventually come around with some fresh ones right out of the dryer. On our first evening at the resort, the housekeeper brought us a nice fruit basket and note thanking us for being repeat guests.
The beach – The beach varies drastically from north to south. The northern end at the Kantenah side is very swimable without water shoes and has some great snorkeling areas to the extreme north. Going south, you get to some rocky areas and then to another good swimable area around the Colonial side. There are some good small reefs out from this area for snorkeling – I saw some schools of squid, large blue tang, and thousands of sergeant majors. You can also just walk into the water in front of the Colonial with some bananas or bread and be surrounded by hundreds of needle nose and other fish. The area in front of the White Sand is rocky upon entering the water but there are some nice reefs off shore for snorkeling. South of the White Sand at the Riviera end, there is no beach but a nice rocky pathway to the saltwater pool. There are a lot of tidal pools along this stretch. If you walk slowly, it might take you 30 minutes to get from the north to the south end of the resort.
The entire beach area is lined with palm trees and palapas for shade. The only area that filled up was in front of the Colonial near the beach bar. You could get a spot under shade at any other area anytime of the day.
Beyond the resort – we did not walk south past the salt water pool. However, the beach north beyond the Palladium is very nice and is good for another 15 minutes of walking. You’ll eventually come to the El Dorado resort and then to a nude resort which you will not be able to enter without being surrounded by guards.
Food – Wow!! This place has an abundance of eating establishments. The buffets are all basically the same for breakfast and have standard breakfast items – omelet bar, eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, fruits, juices, etc. They also have great chorizo sausages, freshly made churos, refried beans, and a few other Mexican dishes. There is also sparkling wine from Spain to drink by itself or to make into a mimosa.
For lunch, there are the buffets, pool grills, and beach snack bars. The snack bars had some great guacamole, tacos, and hamburgers. The pool grills (we only tried the Gran Azul) had anything you could want including some wonderful cooked-to-order grouper, and the main buffets had even more. For lunch, we were usually full from breakfast and just had a salad and maybe some grouper.
For dinner, there are the buffets plus 9 a la carte restaurants (if you count the sea food option at Punta Emilia beachside grill) and we were only there for 7 days. You are able to get into any of the a la carte restaurants without reservations and if they are full, they will give you a beeper. We ate before 7:00 every night and we never had a wait. We tried all but Punta Emilia and the Italian restaurant. Our favorites were the La Adelita Mexican restaurant (great flank steak and shrimp with tequila sauce (5 of the largest shrimp I have ever seen and perfectly done), and the Mare Nosrum Mediterranean restaurant (excellent lamb with mint sauce and another great shrimp dish). We also liked Bamboo (good sushi before dinner, great sweet and sour shrimp and good beef with mushrooms), Ribs N More (good lamb chops but the barbeque sauce was too sweet, and great rib eye), and the El Dorado steak house (great rib eye and good t-bone – but the salmon salad on the salad bar was to die for). We thought the food at the Japanese restaurant, Sumptuori, was just okay but the Beni-Hana type show was good. Most of the food at the Rodezio Brazilian restaurant was dry, hard, tough, and very overcooked. They bring around food on swords and carve off a piece at your table – a nice show. The foods they offered were rabbit, beef tenderloin, brisket, pork, turkey, chicken wings, and a pineapple.
There is also a beach barbeque on Fridays but for numerous reasons, we did not attend this.
Drinks – The place has 27 bars but we were only there long enough to enjoy less than half of them. All bars serve Sol beer on tap and some also have Dos Equis dark. They all serve Havana Club rum as their bar rum (this is great stuff and is considered premium with an extra charge at the Barcelo up the street). All bars also had Jim Beam which is also unavailable at many of the other resorts we have visited. The really premium liquor such as Gran Marnier and Baileys is available at some of the lobby bars and at the a la carte restaurant bars. The restaurants had wines available for an extra charge but I thought the free house wine (especially the red) was just fine. I ordered a mojito at most of the bars I visited and was not disappointed in any of them – however the mojitos at the Colonial lobby bar were the best. We were really impressed with the drinks at the Palladium.
What we did during the day – We mainly ate, drank, bobbed around in the water, and snorkeled. Life was good. We occasionally went to the White Sand/Riviera pool and met some nice people at the pool bar. In the late afternoon, we would go to the salt water pool to just sit and enjoy the beauty of the place. On one day, we went to the spa – this place is incredible. The wife got a fantastic 80-minute massage while I enjoyed the free swimming pool and other complimentary goodies. On another day, we found the free lagoon boat ride leaving from the White Sand lobby area and had a very nice 30 minute tour of the White Sand/Riviera area.
Off resort excursions – One day, we went to the road outside the Colonial/Kantenah lobby area and caught a colectivo for Akumal (20 pesos per person per way – we cashed in $10 US for 120 pesos at the front desk). The van was very comfortable and had us at Akumal in about 5 minutes. It was about a 5 minute walk to the beach and we found a place under a palm tree in front of the Lol Ha restaurant to camp out for a while. I snorkeled for over an hour but the water was murky and I only saw one turtle the whole time. After doing some shopping, we were back at the Palladium by noon. You can also take the colectivo to Playa del Carmen for a very inexpensive price but we didn’t do that on this trip.
The end – Our included Apple van departed the resort at 11:30 AM for our 4:00 PM flight to Denver. After one stop at Dreams Puerto Aventuras, our van arrived at the airport. The AeroMexico agent offered us first class seating for $50 per person extra but we declined (after seeing the special service, meals, and seating, we wish we would have accepted the offer). At the airport duty free shop, we bought a couple of bottles of D’Aristi Xtabentium for our friends (a honey and anise liqueur) for $15 a bottle and just walked around for a while. Finally, our flight left on time and was uneventful.
Will we return to the Palladium? Absolutely!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa is located on a spectacular, private Caribbean beach-front complex that boasts of 800 meters of white, fine sand and turquoise blue waters. Guests of the Grand Palladium White Sand are invited to use the facilities provided by the adjoining Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa, the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa, and the Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa (excluding the Royal Suite facilities). ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Palladium White Sand Hotel Akumal
- Grand Palladium White Sand Resort And Spa
- Palladium White Sands
- Grand Palladium White Sands Resort
- Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa Riviera Maya/Akumal, Mexico