I will apologize in advance for being so long winded. I am the family vacation planner and just want to give the best info that I can as I depend heavily upon reviews when I am planning. So here goes.
I will start slightly off topic with, BUY THE INSURANCE! It was one of those things that I questioned every time I booked something. Is it worth it? I've never used it, do I REALLY need it? Yes, yes you do. We had a cruise planned in May of this year (booked 2 cabins through Royal Caribbean and one through Expedia) when my brother-in-law passed away untimely and unexpectedly 18 days before we were to leave. (he was traveling with us) Because we all had the insurance the total cost of our trip was refunded and we were able to plan something for later in the year. BUY THE INSURANCE! Also for that trip I had air travel booked through AirTran and they issued a credit for their airline to be used anytime within one year for the full price of the tickets.
We are a family of four. My husband and I (44 and 42) and our children (23 and 21)
So for a myriad of reasons we settled on all-inclusive resort, Riviera Maya, and eventually the Paraiso Maya. We traveled Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st. as this one of the cheaper weeks of the year to travel to a tropical destination and we were able to get more bang for our buck. Beware that it is also the rainy season but we were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather with most of the rain being short lived and in the evening.
The resort in general- There are five buildings that make up entire complex. The Beach and the Del-mar share facilities , the Lindo and the Maya share facilities and then the Grand which is the most luxurious, adults only, is a private building. (It is stunning from the outside). We were at the Maya, which gave us access to all the other buildings except the Grand. The Maya and the Lindo share a large main pool,(there were a couple small pools exclusive to the Maya but we didn't use them.) most restaurants and buffets, and a theater. Be prepared to do a lot of walking! Like I said it's a really big place and the "you are here" maps are few and far between. The ones that you can find are not well marked and are hard to follow. We spent a lot of time the first few days just wandering aimlessly hoping to see something familiar. Finally started to get it figured out a few days in. There is a "mini mall" onsite which was nice to meander through in the evenings. Don't miss the tacos, burgers, and ice cream down here! There is a really pervasive odor of sewage at times in different locations all around the resort.
The rooms- The rooms are really large, all with balconies that are great for morning coffee. The bathrooms are huge with a separate shower, Jacuzzi tub, and double sinks. This made getting ready to leave really easy. Girls the closet space is great!! We each had our own closet. There were a few petty issues. Not deal breakers for us but some people are bothered by small things like this. Only one room had robes, only one room had a coffee maker (requested another), only one of the two safes worked, the lock on one bathroom was broken, the rooms smelled really musty at times. Again nothing significant enough to affect our vacation but little things just the same. The rooms were cleaned really well in the morning and there was turn down service each evening. It is up to you to find out what is going on at the resort each day if you want to participate in the games and such.
The POOLS. The main pools were amazing people!! Really large so you never felt crowded. Liked the wave pool. Didn't use the lazy river as we chose to be lazy beside the pool in the sun but it looked really nice. It was a tad difficult to get a premium spot by the pools as it seemed like people came down early and saved chairs with their towels. But still were able to get chairs everyday and just moved them to or from the sun as we wished. The water was warm enough without being overly so, just right. The buffets being right there is nice. You can leave your towels, run in and have a great lunch, then right back to sun and water. The pool bar ROCKS, what a great way to cool off and meet a lot of great people. Also the ice cream parlor above the bar is a great little bonus.
The BEACH- Great beach! Soft white sand, chairs are plentiful and the ocean is just beautiful!! We just chose to be lazy in the sun but if it is adventure that suits you there were things like para sailing and wave runners you could rent. Henna tattoos, hair braiding, and the likes. If you want to eat here get there early. We ended up deciding to go back to the buffet because there was a limited amount of food and long lines for lunch at the beach. There is a bar as well.
The BARS and The DRINKS- There is a bar pretty much anywhere you are, so drinks are never far away. They are not mixed very strong but I don't think that is a great surprise since they are included. You only need ask for them a little stronger or for top shelf if that is what you wish. We are not power drinkers so this really wasn't a huge issue for us. A few special mentions here, Filiberto and Javier at the pool bar, Johhny, Luis, Yessenia at the lobby bar, and Jenny, waitress at the pool. Kept a drink in our hand and a smile on our face.
The FOOD- Overall I would say pretty standard fare. Not bad but not exceptional. Not many things that were served really hot. There wasn't anytime during our stay that any of us were hungry. There was always somewhere and something good to eat. We had reservations 5 nights at the specialty restaurants . Have to say that I wasn't crazy about having to make a reservation, get dressed up, ( dress code is pretty laid back) and I love to get dressed up, being seated only to be sent to the buffet to make my salad and get my own appetizers next to someone in a swimsuit fresh from the beach or pool. I guess it just felt sorta pointless. Again not the end of the world just a little strange. DO NOT MISS La Geisha Japanese food. Great food and even better "show" at the grill. Had a wonderful time here. Take note the ordering process is a little rushed and confusing here. Make them stop and make sure that they know everything that you want! Don't be shy, you paid for this.
OK SO THE STAND OUT FOR THIS RESORT- The STAFF
Exceptional in every way possible! They seem happy to be meet your every desire. Everyone has smile and "Hola." I don't even know how to say enough. They staff really made this vacation wonderful! Please people, tip them. They depend a great deal on your tips! Doesn't have to be a lot, but a little goes along way. PLEASE TIP THEM, they deserve it.
OFF THE RESORT-
We decided not to go to Chichen Itza because it was three hours away. We settled on Coba and booked a tour through Olympus at the resort. The ruins at Coba are the last that are open to climb. Our tour guide Pablo was great and really gave a great history of the Mayan people and then turned us loose to go climb. Take the "taxi", a bike with a basket, back to the temple. It is worth the money. It is 1 and 1/2 miles back. If you are physically able don't miss climbing the temple, the view is worth it and you might not get the chance again.
Spent a few hours in Playa Del Carmen- Nice way to spend a few hours. A shuttle to and from the resort several times a day $5. per person. The shop owners are pretty pushy so unless you want to return with a ton of overpriced, useless trinkets, Just Say No unless you are truly interested.
Okay to sum it all up what a wonderfully beautiful place this was. A great time for all of us. Someone always there to meet your every want and need almost before you could think it.
Would definitely return. Great resort!