My husband and I along with our 12 year old daughter visited with some friends and their kids ages 12-18. Our family travels to Mexico usually about 2 times a year and has stayed at many different all-inclusive resorts (ex. Barceló Maya Palace, Dreams-Cancun, Dreams-Puerto Vallarta, Fiesta Americana Condesa-Cancun, etc.). I would say Iberostar Maya is comparable to most, but not as good as compared to the Barceló Maya Palace which has remained as our favorite family resort.
Rooms: Our room was wonderful and spacious. I read that some felt the beds were too hard, but we found ours to be just fine. The seating area has two more tables and a coffee table, a couch and a desk with yet another chair. The balcony was furnished with two chairs and a table and a hammock style swing which was nice, but no real view except for some trees\jungle. We had a visit from a Coati one morning as he climbed up a tree to take a peek at us on the 2nd floor. We were in building 60 closest to the beach which fit us just fine as we are beach and pool people who like to be in the action.
Beach, Ocean, Pools: You do have to wake up really early to “reserve” a palapa if you want any shade (the first row of palapas were all reserved by 6:30am and second row was usually gone by 7:30am). There are quite a few to choose from so that is nice. The ocean had lots of waves to jump which was a plus for my kiddo, but there were quite a few areas with large rocks and we all stubbed our toes jumping those waves. The only other drawback was that there was a ton of seaweed in the ocean. I know that the resort can’t control this, but I never really seemed to notice that much seaweed when we stayed at our other resorts so it must be the area here in Playa Paraiso. The Star Friends (activity directors) do have a lot of activities planned and because the resort is so large, we didn’t know about many of them unless we asked so if you want to participate, just go find them and ask what that particular days activities are! A few of the activities like archery and air rifle shooting are somewhat hidden. The main pool is HUGE! A man-made cave gives you some shade by the swim up bar. The water was extremely warm (like bath water), but I like it that way. We tried out the wave pool too which didn’t have very big waves, but still pretty fun to visit.
Food: I think this was one of the biggest cons of this resort. The food in general was better at most other all – inclusive resorts we have stayed at and unfortunately more than 1\2 of us got sick this trip. Ugh! Again, as I have mentioned before, my family travels at least 2 times a year to Mexico, the DR, etc. and have never gotten sick before so feel we have some pretty strong stomachs. Unfortunately, there were quite a few things at the buffets that didn’t really taste right, but who knows what did it. Like everyone else says, email the resort before you go to try and get the dinner reservations. We did and were able to sample 6 different dinner restaurants. I personally witnessed another family getting turned down for dinner reservations for the first 2 nights they were there because the concierge said they just “didn’t have room”, but the restaurants were half empty every night we went. My personal favorite restaurant was the gourmet restaurant called “El Museo”. Their lobster bisque was wonderful, drinks were made with perfection and the service was outstanding, not to mention the atmosphere was very nice. Then the Japanese restaurant Geisha was definitely a great restaurant too. We were lucky to receive a very fun chef who interacted with our entire group. The fried rice was flavorful, the chicken was juicy, the shrimp was great as was the vegetable tempura appetizer. The other gourmet restaurant, L’Etoile, had a mixture of reviews. I really enjoyed my sea bass meal and believe this was the restaurant which had a fabulous chocolate lava cake. Others ordered a stuffed lobster and did not like that. We also ate at the El Rancho Steakhouse and the La Marina which were better than eating at the buffet, but not great.
Maintenance: Yes, the huge fountain at the entry of the lobby and the hot tubs in the middle of the pool area were not functioning and had yellow caution tape around them our entire stay, but little things like that don’t really bother us. Workers were constantly cleaning the resort—we even witnessed a worker scrubbing the grout in a food service line with a toothbrush on the beach in the extremely hot sun!
Management/Staff: Most of the staff was wonderful. Our maid was great. Every time we came back to the room, it was all made up with extra bottled water that we requested and new towels if needed. 95% of the waiters we encountered were extremely friendly also. The check-in attendant was very efficient and our room requests were honored. We did come across a very upsetting end to our trip though…. My daughter always gets her hair half-braided when we go to Mexico. That last 5-6 times we went, the price quoted from different braiders was around $35-$40. I didn’t find any of the hair braiders walking the beach this trip though so I asked one of the staff where we could get her hair braided and they said that they are the only ones that do it on their beach so I asked the price in US dollars. She spoke very good English and advised a half head was $75 U.S. dollars. Yes, that price was double what we are used to paying, but we went ahead and got it done. My husband tried to hand her the $75 (US) dollars plus her tip and she said that they would just put it on the room charge and couldn’t accept the money there, besides the tip. The next day when we went to check out, the front desk person told us we had an $88 charge for the braids. What? He said that it was $75 in Mexican pesos, not US dollars and wouldn’t even listen to us when we told him that we asked numerous times the cost in US dollars (PS...the price is not posted in writing anywhere). Then we still couldn’t figure out where he got that US dollar figure as it didn’t match the exchange rate. He proceeded to tell my husband that the exchange rate had just changed that day (making it more expensive for us of course) to which my husband replied that he should use the exchange rate from the day before since we had the service completed the day before, which doesn’t even take into account the fact that we were not even willing to pay over the $75 US dollars that was quoted. Of course, he knew that we had to catch our transfers to get to the airport so we stopped arguing, paid whatever Iberostar wanted, and left with a bad memory. So sad.