I am a single parent and traveled with my 19 & 17 years old in August 2013. This was our first trip to an Iberostar Resort. It is a nice resort and we would go back but in my opinion the Del Mar is not a "5-star" resort as indicated on their website. Maybe I don't know what would qualify for 5-star. When I think of 5-star I think of hot tubs in the rooms with thick luxurious bath towels (this is not the case).
We booked with Paraiso Beach but ended up on the Del Mar side which did not make a difference. I actually was very pleased with the location of our building (20). It was close to the lobby, the theater, and buffet restaurants. Our building was the furthest from the beach but that did not bother us. It was a nice leisurely walk on a shaded path with nice scenery and well maintained grounds.
SIZE: When we first arrived the resort seemed large and overwhelming but after a day or so I got my bearings and it was really not that bad. Yes, there will be walking involved but nothing to complain about. I don't understand the people that complained on TripAdvisor about the walking. Maybe they were elderly? In any case, not an issue for us. We did see trams passing but I can't comment on their schedule or frequency since we didn't use them.
ROOM: The room was nice (marble floors and showers) and spacious with a sliding door that lets you out onto your own little private balcony. The bed was comfortable. TV in the room but we couldn't find an English speaking channel so it just stayed off. My fridge was stocked every day (even though the website says every other day). The maid did a great job cleaning and leaving towel sculptures each day. Sidenote: If you use conditioner for your hair, bring your own as they do not supply it.
FOOD: The buffets were good with a nice variety of food. Yes, there are some foods that you will find at each meal - usually the foods catering to children - such a pizza, french fries, hamburgers, etc. Of course there is also chicken, fish, meats, etc at each meal but they were cooked differently and used in different recipes. We were satisfied with the food at the buffets but did get old after 4 days straight. When we booked our trip we didn't realize you are only allowed a certain number of reservations at the ala carte dinners based on the number of nights you stay. We stay 6 nights and only allowed 2 reservations. I think more than 2 should be granted for a six-night stay. We put our name on a wait list for a 3rd night but nothing ever opened. Our 2 reservations were on our last 2 nights (that's all that was available) with the Italian Restaurant and the Steakhouse. It would've been nice if we could have separated those 2 nights throughout the trip. Food was good in both but both restaurants were open air (no air conditioning). That may not be the case with the others. The waiter was very friendly and worked hard to please you ... always smiling. Sidenote: Make sure you check ahead of time which food stations are open when. Although you can get food any time they are not all open all the time.
BEACH: The beach is beautiful. White soft sand and turquoise water. We would arrive to the beach around 9:30-10am and could not get a palapa even though no one was sitting on the chairs beneath them. They were reserved with towels on them (many with just towels - no shoes or other items around) so it does seem as if people go to the beach very early in the morning to stake their claim. Plenty of beach chairs available - not a problem finding empty ones. Bali beds, hammocks, and massages all available on the beach. There is also a bar and a food station which served lunch along with activities (volleyball, soccer, airgun, archery, etc). The dive center offered both free activities and activities for a fee. We had a couple of days of "red flag" water .. it was a little rough so they would not let us use the snorkel gear. We rented jet skis one day - that was a lot of fun.
POOL: Pool is HUGE. Plenty of room and never felt crowded. A nice swim from one side to the other with a couple of swim up bars. there is a "quiet" section and a "game section". The waterfall was pretty but there was some debris around (leaves from the trees) that accumulated in that area (probably because it was were the pool ends). Palapas, bali beds, and beach loungers all available at the pool. There are 2 ice scream stations behind the swim up bars. Worth it to stop by for one.
STAR FRIENDS: I cannot say enough about the "Star Friends".... I don't remember all the names but they were absolutely THE BEST!! They were friendly, outgoing, and took the time to ask (and remember) your name. They always had a huge smile on their face and it seemed that they loved their jobs. They took care of all the activities around the beach and pool areas with lots of positive energy. We miss them the most.
THEATER: We really enjoyed the nightly shows and attended almost every one while we were there. The music was upbeat and the dancers, singers, and band worked really hard to entertain you. Before the show they have Bingo every night at 8:30. I even won myself a bottle of Tequila! :)
WILDLIFE: I have read some negative comments about the wildlife on the property. Yes, there is wildlife and we personally enjoyed it all. The peacocks, flamingos, swans, iguanas, birds, cats, and yes, even the coati! All just added to the pleasant experience.
INTERNET: No internet in the rooms - only in the lobby (on your device) and for a fee. There is an area in the billiard room where you can pay to use their computer and internet.
TIPS: Yes, if they serviced us, we tipped... the maid, person who stocked our fridge, our waiters, waitresses, bellhop, etc. Not mandatory and they do not seem to expect it but it does put a nice smile on their face when you tip. A dollar, two, or three here and there goes a long way for them.
TOURS: There are tour desks available in the lobby utilized by several companies. I would advise DO NOT USE Olympus Tours (they wear the bright orange shirts). We had a couple of negative experiences with them and would not use them again. Use one of the other companies there if you're interested in an off site excursion.
All in all, we all agreed we would go back to Iberostar Del Mar.
We were in building 20 facing away from the theater so no late night noise. It was close to the lob...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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We would like to thank you for choosing Iberostar for your vacations; it satisfies us that you manifested that you felt like a Star at our Hotel.
We will show all your nice and generous comments to the people that made this vacation such a special experience for you, the best reward that we can receive is our guests’ recognition.
It is great to know that everything was amazing during your stay and that you enjoyed the grounds, the beach, the pools and the service provided by our Staff. That way we know we are on the right track to achieve our main goal.
It would be a pleasure to welcome you back in the near future.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.