Let me start by issuing a warning. If you come to this hotel looking for things to complain about, you are going to have to work hard at it. I have read some of the negative reviews and I cannot endorse most of those comments. I will also apologise for a long report but if we had read this early on, our decision would have been much easier to make.
First, location: if you have not visited Yucatan before, it is not the vision of sombreros, tequila, burros and cacti conjured up when thinking of Mexico. Its Caribbean coast to the east and proximity to Belize and Guatemala are much more of a hint to its feel and a still strong Mayan influence lends a more relaxed and somehow genteel atmosphere. The very busy areas around Cancun and Playa del Carmen are in the north if the peninsula. The further south you travel down the excellent highway, the less intense the developments, the more relaxed the atmosphere and a growing Mayan influence which, when you get to know them, is a great bonus. Local people are mostly friendly and courteous and have a full understanding of the importance of tourism to their livelihoods.
If you are minded to be just a tiny bit adventurous, communications along the highway are fantastic with the local 'Collectivo' minibus service running every 5 minutes or so, picking you up and dropping you off anywhere you like and are very inexpensive Taxis are also reasonably priced and a price menu is on display in the foyer. If you plan to hire a car, look very carefully at insurance. The statutory minimum 3rd party cover is only £21,000 and the best you can buy still has an excess of 10% of the value of the car!
There are plenty of attractions and sites of interest within an hour’s travelling. There are no local amenities but we were so well catered for we had no need for them. There are two shops on site offering the usual basics. There are good tourist shops in Tulum and Akumal. Playa del Carmen is much busier with a greater selection.
The concept of the development is to be applauded. Many people will come to the Yucatan without appreciating it is mostly tropical forest or indeed jungle. On this site, only sufficient clearance was made to site the buildings and amenities, the rest of it is not only unmolested but a multitude of tropical plants trees and shrubs are carefully managed to ensure healthy growth. As a result, you get the feeling you are somehow living in the jungle. One of my favourite pleasures was drinking my morning coffee on the balcony and communing with the considerable nature on show.
The management is extremely good with a high set of standards applied through excellent staff training and supervision. The staff are friendly, helpful and courteous to a fault. Nothing, but nothing was too much trouble for them. Cleanliness appeared to be virtually an obsession and a small army of staff worked very hard to maintain that standard.
This was only our second all inclusive holiday and it had one fundamental advantage over the first. On that occasion, a large number of guests were on half board and continually being asked whether we were A-I when ordering a drink, as if that made any difference (and we suspected it did), became immensely irritating. The CRT is totally A-I and not once was there any hint of any reluctance to serve.
With an unlimited choice of 5 a la carte restaurants plus a buffet restaurant, the choice of food was very good indeed. The range of dishes available at the buffet breakfasts and dinners was staggering and I can appreciate how difficult it is to maintain high standards with such a large offering. It is therefore difficult to rate the food. I have given 4 stars for this which is how I see it, being one notch short of gourmet standards. We did, however, eat very well and enjoyed every single meal. Meal service was top notch.
The room was fitted out to a high standard, very spacious, comfortable and well serviced. I cannot comment on the upgraded rooms in blocks 5 and 6 but see my comments on room choice.
For daytime relaxation there is a wide variety of different choices but one area of comment is the availability of sunbeds. Other reviewers criticise the hotel for not policing this. I take a very different view. If guests are prepared to not only ignore the signs prohibiting reserving beds with a towel, bat also reserving 2 lots, one for the morning and one for later when the sun has moved round, then my criticism is aimed fairly and squarely at the guests. What is the hotel supposed to do? Create conflict with guests by removing their belongings from the beds? It saddens me deeply to witness such selfish behaviour. That is my single whinge over but for all that, we always managed to find something which suited us, if not exactly in pole position.
The acid test of any holiday is always would we come again? On this occasion, the resounding answer is absolutely! The area is without doubt one of the most beautiful we have visited and the hotel is not just a great place to stay. It really is a trip to paradise.
Wildlife: If you’re into it, it will blow you away! If you’re not, it will enchant you.
5 adjoining cenotes are within 2 miles of the hotel and one really should be on the bucket list
Tulum Mayan citadel about 30 minutes
Coba Mayan city about 1 hour (once a city of 50, 000!)
Tulum itself is a laid back town with limited tourist influence and an hour spent at a roadside cantina offers an interesting (if noisy!) insight into daily life for residents
Akumal beach offers snorkelling with turtles! The dive centre and ecological centre are well worth visiting.
Yal ku lagoon just north of Akumal is a pleasant and interesting visit. You can easily spend quite a lot of time here and if that is your plan, you may want to spend the extra 250 pesos (about £13) for a thatched shelter, which also gives quite a lot of privacy
The furthest we went was Puerto Morellos to take a (mandatory) boat trip out to snorkel the pristine reef. The variety and intensity of the life was nothing short of bewildering. If you like snorkelling, it’s well worth the 1.3 hours travelling each way and the relatively modest cost of the mandatory guides and boat (300 pesos each for boat, guides and 2 hours of snorkelling). All doable on the collectivos for the grand total of 120 pesos, about £6 each way
The massive Sian Kaan wildlife reserve (about 45 minutes to the south) is highly protected and has very limited access - and only with guides and by boat.. However, the opportunity to see crocodiles, manatee and a myriad of wild birds in their natural environment is well worth it if that’s your thing.
There are plenty of livelier attractions towards and around Playa del Carmen (about 30 minutes north) if that’s your thing. It isn’t ours so can’t comment on them
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Adults only all-inclusive resort, located in Xpu-Ha, Riviera Maya, on the Caribbean coastline. It is surrounded by native jungle trees, local plants, mangroves and cenotes - water springs where a diverse variety of flora and fauna can be found in an unspoiled habitat. It is just 25km from Playa del Carmen and Tulum's archaeological site, and 85 km south of Cancun International airport, in Quintana Roo State, Mexico. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Royal Tulum Xpuha
- Riviera Maya Copacabana
- Copacabana Riviera Maya
- Catalonia Royal Tulum Riviera Maya, Mexico - Xpuha