Just a little background to start with, First if I could of given the resort a 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 stars it would of been more acurate. Second I am giving them this rating based upon the price we paid and that this is a mid-range resort, not luxury. When I compare this resort I do so after staying in Iberostar, Sandos, Real Resorts (Grand Caribe and Royal), Princess, Barcelo
Palace, Paradisus and many more as well as mid-range and luxury hotels in the United States and Europe. So I had no expectation service wouldbe the same as a Hyatt Regency or Four Seasons.
Originally we were booked into the Grand Palladium White Sands but to accomodate our room request they moved us to the Riviera but completed the booking process at the White Sands and gave us exactly what we asked for: a connecting Suite and Junior suite 3rd floor with ocen view, please note that in any resort room requests can be hit or miss, this is our 4th time at the Grand Palladium White Sand/Riviera, 2 of these times they have been able to fill our request a third time we had to negotiate to make changes after we arrived. the front desk staff was nice and friendly, but we did not catch them at the end of the shift. could they be better, yes, but in this price range much more than competent. Note this is one the few resorts we have returned to, sometimes we also rent condos or houses.
This is a large resort with a lot of walking, they do have shuttles from the different lobbies and to the rooms, the latter did not exist when we first stayed at this resort, they do honestly try to make improvements on a on-going basis. There are also bridges with stairs from most of the rooms to the pool and the restaurants. If you are travelling with small children(strollers), have physical impairments, do not like walking or prefer high rise resorts, this miight not be the place for you. Also if you are looking for an Americanized resort, you might want to think twice, since the Palladium tries to accommodate the needs of many nationalities and seems to do it better than most. With that being said, the resort is located in a natural setting surounded by mangroves and with very good to excellent landscaping by the staff.
The rooms at the resort are mid-range and comfortable, they could use some modest ungrading,
but nothing that would deter us from staying here again. The beds are more comfortable than average for a mid-range resort, but they are shorter than a normal bed. the sheets and comforter again are little better than average (do not expect 1200 count cotton satin), but the pillows are quite hard and could used to be replaced, there is a for-fee pillow menu. The rooms are pleasantly decorated with fairly good materials and do have a Jacuzzi in the bathroom that is slow to fill but works well, water pressure is good and the availablity of hot water is consistant. The lighting in the bathrooms is a little overpowering (not romantic), but is was easier to shave and for my wife to apply makeup than most resorts. The floors and most of the bathroom are marble not luxury but very tastefully done. Please note there are no Elevators at this hotel and except for the Laguna Suites, all other buildings have three floors.
The food quality is better than average and food handling and hygene is among the best I have seen at any all inclusive and at no time did I see anyone getting sick from the food, keeping in mind that change of climate, different spices and excessive drinking might have an effect on this.
The buffets were very good with a good variety, among the best I have seen at any resort, the exception to this is; any deserts that use a mousse base that was quite mediocre and somewhat rubbery, the rest were fairly good, after a week it can get a little redundant but still better than most resorts. Breakfast and dinner tend to be the best meals at the buffets, Lunch tends to be limited, but there are fresh grilling stations for Fish, Chicken, Steak, and Veal a Carving station for the roast of the day and a better than average salad bar, about 12 hot dishes and the normal burgers, hotdogs Pasta and pizza. Keep in mind they are trying to cater to the palate of over 20 different nationalities.
The a la carte restaurants vary in quality from fair to very good (if I want great, I go to one of the better restaurants in Playa del Carmen), rarely do restaurants in any all in inclusive rise to greatness (Yes, I am guilty of being a Foodie). The Brazilian Rodizio was good with most of the meat being tender, there were one or two items that were a little overcooked out of 9 that we sampled. The Mediterranean was very good almost excellent on some dishes, the Lamb Chops were actually Rack of Lamb (not from New Zealand) that was very nicely spiced and my daughters Sirloin was actually Filet Mignon, non exact menu descriptions is very normal at all inclusives due to language differences (other resorts have jam on the menu, actually Ham). The mushroom soup was good, but they were trying to do a bisque and they would have acheived it by removing a spice that did not work, adding fresh cut red pepper and more cream (whoops).The Italian was very good, with a very good appertizer bar (note: in Mexico and most countries with a Romance based Language "Entree" is usually the first course or appetizer). The main course's were better than one would expect at an all inclusive and except for the Pasta most dishs tended to be Northern Italian. I had a stuffed Chicken with a Wine reduction sauce that was not fried and much better than one would expect. By the way the house wine is better than average for most all-inclusives (much better than the out of the spigot wine at Barcello'sand Viva Wyndham) and they have one of the best wine lists that I have seen at a midrange resort
The entertainment is much better than it was 4 years ago at the theatre, this is not a Broadway production and they are not working with a live band (Iberostar and Barcelo do) but for this price sector of resort, better than average. They have live music in the lobbies that range from fair to very good depending on the Band or Entertainer, over the course of the evening most nights you have 4 different ones to choose from at the different lobbies. The alcohol quality at the bars is average for an all inclusive with some top shelf but not as good a variety as more expensive resorts, so do not expect Grey Goose or Remy Martin and like most resorts they serve what is known in the industry as hotel brand alcohol including name brands, that have a lower proof than you would find at you local neighborhood tavern. the espresso's tend to be better than average for a resort and if you get someone that knows how to make them properly, better than Starbucks.
The beach here is a little rocky to get into the water, with areas that are relatively rock free in front of the Colonial. But just off shore there is a live reef that it is enjoyable to snorkel, a totally sandy beach would not have this. There is a salt water pool that tends to be quiet and the main pool is a lake size pool that is much larger than average and much cleaner with plenty of Palapas for shade, the Palapas on the beach usually fill up early, yes they do play the towel game here. The staff on the most part is hard working and very good to excellent, depending on the individual server and if you show up at crunch time, but they are better organized and better managed than most resorts. The bartenders tended to be very good with the head bartender Daniel at the Riviera being Excellent, he mixes very good drinks, is fast very good natured and handles almost every situation with a smile and effortlessly, he might be the best all around bartender that I have encountered at any resort and this is usually the strong point of these resorts, Jose was very good as well with a little more maturity he could be excellent, some of the other bartenders acted a little foolish falling all over themselves to serve my daughter (very pretty, petit and 20 years old), maybe I am just a little more aware because she is my daugter.
The common areas and landscaping are quite beautifull and very well maintained, the beach is too, even if it is a little rocky when you walk in at some points. Even though we tend not to go back to the same resort again, I would return here without any reservation.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.