Well, we stayed here from 8th September 2013 for 14 nights. Unfortunately, we had freakish weather and pretty much had rain for 12/14 days which totally spoiled our holiday. This was obviously nothing to do with the resort but may skew peoples opinions when looking back to write reviews. This is a long one so forgive me in advance, but I'm trying to be detailed!
The hotel itself was beautiful. The rooms were amazing and huge. Our bed was twice the size of a double bed and it was perfect to sleep on. The bathroom was lovely with a power shower and a huge double Jacuzzi. House cleaning did a great job and the room was always cleaned to a very high standard thanks to Lydia Garcia. She was really nice and helpful and always restocked our mini bar and coffee and tea facilities. The noises in the morning are the grackles (crow like birds) not the maids and their trolleys as some people thought!
The hotel grounds were brilliantly maintained and very beautiful. Gardeners were always wandering around clearing up leaves and pruning, picking up seaweed from the beach etc. The wildlife at the hotel was pretty amazing. We saw plenty of raccoons and coatis, agoutis, iguanas and basilisks, several other lizards, spiders, huge butterflies and moths and plenty of tropical birds including orioles and mocking birds and sea birds like pelicans, frigate birds and sea eagles and turkey vultures overhead. If you like wildlife and photography it's a great place!
When it rained, which was most of our holiday (never seen rain like it!), the hotel grounds became very slippery. We saw a lot of people fall and hurt themselves. The floor is like granite and marble everywhere so it is pretty hairy during the rain. The staff do try to push the standing water away with squeegees but it is still hazardous so be careful!
The pools and pool bars were pretty good. We tended to stick to the quiet pool and the pool with the Jacuzzi. The other pool was pretty rowdy and hard to get served at the bar. There was a huge group of Spanish students there at the time and they were just clogging up the bar continuously ordering 10-15 drinks at a time. We gave up in the end and just stuck to the other pools. There is a waitress service in all areas of the pools/ beach anyway but this can take some time and they work so hard, non stop all day! The name that really stood out for me was Leydi who was very polite and chatty and a really hard working woman.
The beach was beautiful. I think It would have been perfect if the weather had been nice. Our first day we had a yellow flag and from then on it was red everyday. That was a shame but we still managed a swim in the sheltered bit in the middle (by the ruins) pretty much everyday. This beach is not soft white sand, it can be a bit stony and has bits of coral but come on, it is off the second largest coral reef in the world so a bit of coral and rocks really should be expected! This type of rocky beach as opposed to long white and sandy makes for perfect snorkelling- that is why we chose this hotel. Unfortunately, we didn't really get to snorkel until the last day but it was fabulous. There were about 3 turtles that turned up and in the bit where people feed the fish I was amazed how many different types there were. When you feed them, it just looks like the 2 types but stick a snorkel on and have a look and you will be surprised.
They say Akumal beach is wonderful for snorkelling. our plan was to go there but the weather was just so bad we never made it. If the weather is good however, you will likely see turtles at the hotel.
The beach bar was ok if you fancied a snack without going all the way back to the hotel and getting changed etc... They had nice tacos and nachos, hotdogs, chips, burgers etc.
The poolside restaurants were like small buffet restaurants and were fine on the odd occasion if you get up late for breakfast or if you don't want to change fully for lunch. You can just put your cover up on and go in. Men need to put on a tshirt. The food was alright in these restaurants but I preferred the main buffet.
The main restaurant was pretty big. They always had loads and loads of choices. the food was brilliant. They serve a lot of meat and you can have steaks at every meal cooked to order but be prepared to queue. I never bothered because I liked all the other stuff too much to eat boring meat but my partner just ate a lot of meat the whole time and he loved it.
I LOVE Mexican food so I was really pleased to see chilaquiles everyday for breakfast. And refried beans. There was a vegetarian section, international, pasta, cheese and biscuits, toasties, fruit, cakes, pastries, desserts, bread, soup, salads etc... it was brilliant. I always found way too much to eat at every meal!
The a la cartes we ate at were good. The Japanese was lovely and we had octopus and prawn tepan yaki. The chef was fab and the food tasted great. The Mediterranean was really nice- huge prawns, fish and scallop soup and a massive mixed paella. It was really lovely. Also the Brazilian was good but we've recently been to a fantastic Brazilian restaurant and it just wasn't as good... but it was ok. They only give you one piece of each meat that comes out and no chicken hearts!
The lobby bar 'Tequila' was quite busy in the evenings. People are correct when they say there isn't enough seating for everyone. But it was ok, we never really struggled to get a drink. They have Corona on tap at the bars but down at the beach, near the exclusive area, the bar has Modelo on tap if you don't like Corona. They have international brands for drinks but you need to ask for them. The drinks were fine though- I mostly stuck to beer and lemon daiquiris. Ask for the decent gin if you want gin and tonic because apparently the rubbish stuff is horrible.
The barman Luis was brilliant. Once I'd asked him for an extra bit of lemon, every time he got our drinks (without asking!) he gave me 2 bits. I like how he remembered everyone's orders and he was always there all day, working so hard. We didn't tip until the end of our stay and we had great service all the way through. Our service was lovely and courteous anyway. It does help that I speak Spanish and can have a nice chat with people I think rather than just barking orders at the staff like some people do. I was amazed at the rudeness I saw from many of the different nationalities there (British, Canadian, Spanish and Russian)
We were there during the Independence day celebrations and I loved what the hotel did to celebrate. The theatre was full of street food stalls and flavoured tequila stalls etc... and all the market stalls too. We really enjoyed it. The animation team made a good effort and the traditional dancing they did was great- the best of all the shows. The guy with the lasso was awesome- so talented! The other shows were ok but not amazing. As you'd expect I guess, it's not Broadway!! Freddie was my favourite dancer. He was great and did some pretty amazing things. They even had him doing a show in the lobby with some fabric high up in the building frame. It was impressive!
Money- if you're English, don't bother bringing dollars. The rules have changed in Mexico about changing US currency so a lot of places don't take them. It was weird though as the cash machine at the hotel spat out dollars (so we were told) and loads of prices are in dollars. We took pounds to change at the hotel and changed a few pesos before we left the UK. The rate was better in the UK than it was at the hotel.
We only did 2 trips as the weather meant most of the others we chose were cancelled. We did the classic Chichen Itza tour (I'd recommend this one because you get to visit Ik Kil cenote for a swim- breath-taking place). It was a long day but we felt we had to do it as we were there and it is one of the new 7 wonders. It was worth the effort and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We booked through Guadalupe at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby- thank you! Our guide for the day Marguerita was fantastic and so knowledgeable. She really made it interesting for us.
The other trip we managed was Coba and Tulum with a swim in a cenote. This was a lovely day too. Both sites were beautiful and the cave swim was fabulous too. (We like that sort of stuff!) Unfortunately, our last visit was to a stunning beach by Tulum called Santa Fe. We managed a swim but the entire visible sky was jet black so we decided to cut it short and get changed at the bus. Our guide asked us if we wanted to go home and we did which was lucky because the place flooded within minutes of us leaving! We had to drive through a puddle over a foot deep and only just made it out! Our friends did the trip the following day and they couldn't even get to the site at Tulum because the way in was flooded. Our guide Oscar was awesome. He was so funny doing voice overs the whole time but he was also very knowledgeable and helpful. The Coba/ Tulum trip was expensive but we decided to pay for a tour instead of do it ourselves seeing as we were only going to do the 2 trips. We only had 3 couples in the group which was great. The same for Chichen Itza actually, only 4 couples. Made it almost private.
All in all, I would say that this hotel was great. Unfortunately, the weather made it one of my worst holidays ever as it was just so depressing to have bad weather for 12/14 days. The last 2 were so beautiful it depressed us even more giving us a glimpse of how fantastic and near on perfect it could have been.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.