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“Superb Hotel” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso

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Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso
4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Carr. Chetumal-Pto Juarez km 309, Playa Paraiso, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 10 hotels in Playa Paraiso
Buckley, Wales
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Superb Hotel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2013

What can I say for a perfect holiday, in what must be one of the best 'AI' hotels in world. Iberostar have 3 other 'Grand' Hotels!
Building - Magnificent
Situation - Perfect
Room - Above what was expected
Food - Nectar of the Gods (Lobster, Shrimps twice a day, meat, tender and even better than home)
Staff - Above average, all got to know your name, made you feel very special.
Drinks - Every variety of International Brands (e.g.. 4Gins)
Entertainment - Best shows I have ever seen, real Professional standard




HighlightsWellbeing/spa/gym, Internet access, Onsite restaurants & bars, All-inclusive options, Welcoming staff, In-room amenities, Pool/water sports, Entertainment, The view


Yes, I recommend this accommodation.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 23, 2013
Dear Guest,

Thank you for your generous review. We are pleased to know that we exceeded your expectations on your visit with our resort. We pride ourselves on being conveniently located, offering a wide array of food and beverage, and the very best in personalized service.

We thank you sincerely for having chosen the Iberostar Grand Paraiso for your recent Mexican vacation and we trust that we will have the opportunity to welcome you again in the near future!

Best Regards,

Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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English first
Va Beach, VA
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

We visited Grand Hotel with a group. The resort is very large so although there were many rooms and guests, it never felt crowded. The service, accommodations and food were outstanding. I highly recommend getting an ocean view junior suite. Being right next to the ocean was great.
There are several restaurants to choose from. Make reservations as soon as you can as they book up quickly. The italian and surf and turf were favorites. The buffets are wonderful.
I loved the swim up salt water pool.
The chairs around the pool fill up quick so an early morning plant of your towels and magazines are a good idea to guarantee a good spot.
I cannot wait to go again next year!

Room Tip: Ocean front junior suite - we were 7012 - great room and location.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 30, 2013
Dear Guest,

Thank you for writing your kind review of your special stay with your group. We are delighted to know that you had a great experience and you took home so many good memories of your vacations in this paradise; our main goal is to make you feel at home.

It is always exciting to read your positive impressions and your compliments regarding our different room categories as well as our specialty restaurants and our main pool.

Thank you for recommending our 4 diamond hotel and it would be a great pleasure for us to welcome you in the near future.

Best regards,

Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
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Sarasota, Florida
Top Contributor
160 reviews 160 reviews
67 hotel reviews
Reviews in 67 cities Reviews in 67 cities
115 helpful votes 115 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

Just returned from one week at the Iberostar Grand Hotel. Very mixed feelings on this one.

We have been to Mexico on many occasions. This property was recommended by a client and they had been there twice. So we decided to stay outside of Cancun and try a new location. I did lots of research on TA and found the reveiws very helpful. Will try to pass along what we learned.

The property is very nice. Very well manicured. Great setting on the beach. Lots of activities for everyone. We do not do a lot of all-inclusives so i was unsure what to expect. Will break this down into a couple of key sections:

Rooms - for the price we were disappointed. After our day of traveling we arrived and were looking to retire a bit early so we ordered dinner in the room. When we went to turn off the lights one set of lights above the bed stayed on. I tried every switch and am a seasoned traveler - so i called to ask which switch turned them off. First answer was they were on a timer and would go off at 11pm (knew the language barrier was to blame). So i called the "butler" we met. He came down and confirmed something was wrong. The switch was not turning them off. Long story short, he said maintenance would be there in 5 minutes or call him back. 45 minutes later my wife helped slide back the lighting panel and we turned them off via the wiring. Not what you expect for the rate we were paying. The rooms are not quite as nice as depicted on their website. Rooms are very noisy as well - were were in one of the ocean front suites and it was the loudest room i have ever had - you can hear noise in other rooms all around you.

Meals - Buffets were generally better than the fine dining restaurants. Food was very good quality all around. The selection at the buffets was incredible and well done. Fine dining was good - just very limited menus. Wine poured with every meal was a very good value. Food overall was above average. Don't miss international buffet night - very good food.

Pool - The pool is beautiful - both pools. Only problem is they need four times as many chairs and capacity was light when we were there. To get anything other than low loungers in the water you have to be out at 5 or 6 am in the morning and mark your spot with a towel and book. i found this very annoying - had the same experience on the beach. you simply cant wait until 8am as they are all taken. i found this to be quite frustrating.

Bar service - was good and above average. lobby bar is a fun spot to hang out and meet other guests. also don't miss the music bar and karaoke night.

Entertainment - it is kind of like a cruise on land with nightly entertainment in the coliseum. Entertainment is good, right on property and changes nightly. Don't miss the Wednesday night pool party - that was a lot of fun. Beatlemania show as great. Would probably suggest one night to leave property and head to Cozumel or Playa just because.

Overall - we enjoyed the location, service is good overall, but probably will not return strictly based on rate.

Room Tip: Ocean front rooms have terrific views. worth the walk.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 23, 2013
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for choosing our property and for your compliments!

We are happy to see that there are elements of the Iberostar Grand Paraiso that you quite enjoyed, however we are very concerned to read that your experience with us did not live up to our usual level of service concerning the comfort rooms and lounge chairs. We have already shared these points with the head departments in order to improve. Indeed, your well being and entire satisfaction is our primary goal.

It would be a pleasure for us to welcome you back and provide you with a great stay showing that we have improved our service for you.

Best regards,

Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
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Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013 via mobile

My wife and I (both in our upper 20s) usually like to go to an AI in this area once a year. Cant go wrong with the beaches here! In the past we have been to the Valentin, Secrets Maroma, and Riu Palace. We stayed here for 7 days in early May.

PROS
Nice rooms (pretty much the same as the other resorts I mentioned)
Good food (highly recommend the Porterhouse at the Surf and Turf!)
Great beach (was expecting it to be more rocky from other reviews, was not bad at all!)
Good shows, We only went to a couple shows at night but the Boogie Nights one we went to was probably one of the best shows I have seen down at a resort.

CONS
Service on the beach, barely ever saw any. I liked the beach at this resort but only went to it 2 days because of the lack service. I usually like to have a drink beside me when I am there (reason for an all inclusive right?) and only got asked twice in 6-7 hours I was on the beach. And there is not a bar near the beach so your pretty much out of luck. We assumed that was the reason the servers didnt come out there often. The service by the pool didn't seem much better but there is a pool bar so that was no big deal.
Really warm in the restaurants, me and my wife were almost swetting at a couple of dinners. Which usually made us tired and we would skip the show and go to sleep early (reason we only went to 2 shows). Never had that issue at other resorts.
Golf course was getting ariated while we were there. Has to happen to sometime...
The pool bottom was a little slimy in spots. Read that in a couple other reviews and wife told me that a couple times there. Really didn't bother me that much though.


Like others reviews mention the crowd is a little older here, not a big deal, was pretty quiet and relaxing. Maybe a little slow nightlife though.

OVERALL
Really nice resort. Had a great time. Good food, good rooms, great beach, great property. But will probably be going back to different resort we like better in the future (SM). We like going to beach while we are come down to Mexico (main reason we choose this area) and lack of service there and not having a beach bar was disappointing. I knew going down there wasn't a beach bar but expected the service would make up for it.

Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 23, 2013
Dear Guest,

We highly appreciate that you took your precious time to write a detailed review. Both your pros and cons comments have been forwarded to the responsible managers. Kindly allow us to apologize for the inconveniences you have experienced during your stay.

We regret that, based on a first impression, our Resort did not correspond to your expectations. We are confident that this will change if you give us the opportunity to stay again with us and we assure you that you will spend enjoyable days with a quality service and high standards of cleanliness, which usually are the points guests appreciate most about us.

We thank you sincerely for choosing the Iberostar Grand Paraiso and we trust that we will have the opportunity to welcome you again in the near future.

Best regards,

Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fremont, Wisconsin
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
168 helpful votes 168 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2013

....and what it is - IS EXCELLENCE personified!

My wife and I are 50 somethings and we have been to several AIs in the Riviera Maya now – 3 of them adults only. This was also our 4th visit to this Iberostar complex, but first to Grand. We normally do two AI vacations a year – one in Spring and one in Fall. The Grand is in a price point that is not normal for us, but we were both celebrating birthdays and my wife’s was a “milestone” birthday, so we splurged and chose Grand. Since we had been to this resort complex 3 times before we knew what to expect from the property in general, and the staff as well. Our stay was for 8 nights the first week of May.

We were NOT disappointed…

SUMMARY

If you don’t want to read a detailed review, then just trust me (and pretty much everyone else on TA) that this is a great resort and you WILL have a fantastic experience here. Anyone writing a negative review on this place is either A) impossible to please – or – B) WAY more fortunate than the rest of us and are used to an existence most can only dream about…

Was it perfect? NO. We haven’t been to an AI yet that was, and I don’t expect that we ever will, but the Grand surpassed all of the prior AIs in many areas both big and small. On our second day there my wife asked me if we had spoiled ourselves for all future AIs (in our normal price point), and the answer was YES. If we did just one vacation a year, I could easily see us picking Grand forever more. We met LOTS of nice people that were multiple time visitors and it’s really easy to see why…

TRANSFERS

I always throw a quick thing into my reviews about transfers for those new to the Cancun experience. I highly recommend a private transfer so you do not have to stop for other guests going to different resorts. Based on my research, you can get a private transfer for pretty much the same price you pay for a non-private through companies like Expedia, Apple, FunJet, etc… We have used AGI Tours and Entertainment Plus (aka USA Transfers) in the past and both were excellent in all regards….

RESORT BACKGROUND

Iberostar Grand is one of 5 AIs in this particular complex and is the cream of the Iberostar crop. The other 4 AIs are all family friendly and are from north to south: Del Mar, Beach, Lindo, and Maya. The entire complex is quite large and you can do some walking here if you wish. My wife and I do a ton of walking on vacation and visited the other 4 resorts on a daily basis to get some exercise and a little change of pace. If you choose Grand and enjoy a good walk, I recommend visiting all of the other properties. They all have unique features to them and there are lots of great picture opportunities throughout…

CHECK IN

A lot of AIs get blasted for their check-in with many reviewers claiming the staff was rude or indifferent. We personally have never had that kind of experience at any AI and Grand was no different. We did receive a cool washcloth upon arrival and then led to reception where we were immediately asked if we wanted a welcome drink. That was a nice touch, but if we hadn’t gotten that treatment we still would have been very happy. The front desk staff were all very friendly and seemed genuinely pleased we were visiting with them. We arrived on my birthday and they noticed that on my passport and everyone wished me a happy birthday.

The person checking us in told us about a special deal they had on oceanfront rooms and asked if I was interested. I asked her if we could possibly get a free upgrade for my birthday and since it was our 4th time at this complex and all… She told me to wait a minute, and when she came back she asked me to sign on the dotted line to indicate I was getting a free upgrade. Since we had paid so much for the trip in the first place I was ready to just pay for the oceanfront out of pocket, but free was so much better! If you go and book a standard room (which we did) I would just politely ask for an upgrade and if you get one – bonus – and if not – either pay for one – or – be super happy in the regular rooms, as I’m sure we would have been…

In summary – the front desk staff were a pleasure to meet and deal with…

GROUNDS

Grand is the smallest of the AIs in this complex but there is still some walking involved – unless you choose cart service. I would guesstimate the beach to lobby walk is about 10 minutes at a leisurely pace. The entire complex is immaculate and WELL cared for. You cannot go anywhere without seeing workers pruning, mowing, scrubbing, sweeping, and so on… I’m not talking just Grand here either – this is EVERYWHERE in the complex.

If you have mobility issues the Grand is a great place for you. You can call for a cart any time you want from anywhere on the property and the bell team are excellent. We did request a couple of rides during our stay and they never took long at all to come get us and the drivers were all super friendly and great to talk too.

I’m not up on my architecture, so I’m not sure what you would call it there, but “palatial” comes to mind. Magnificence everywhere you go. I have read reviews whereby the people were disappointed because they were in Mexico and it wasn’t Mexican enough for them… Yikes…

CROWD

I’m sure this varies week to week, but while we were there, the crowd was very diverse with ages anywhere from 20 somethings to 70 somethings. As with all the AIs in that area you will find people from all over the world, but there seemed to be a lot of folk from the USA. We got to talk to a lot of people around the pool area and really enjoyed that part of it. Everyone was very respectful of others and there was no loud rudeness from anyone the entire stay. I read one review here that said the main pool area was like Spring Break. I could see how that might happen if a large group of people came down and got lit up at the pool bar, but it seemed that most visitors were couples of one form or the other and more into quiet relaxation than raucous partying. Overall, the pool area had a really nice quiet vibe about it and we spent a lot of time there.

To our lady friends from Chile…. CHEE CHEE CHEE – LAY LAY LAY!!!!

ROOM

The room was easily the nicest we have stayed in yet. The size was maybe slightly larger than a normal AI, but it had plenty of drawer space (not normal) and lots of closet space with hangars (also not normal based on our experience). We had a king sized bed and it was as comfortable as our bed at home. A great sleep every night… We were on the first floor and I had read about noise from above in other reviews, but I never heard a peep the entire stay. It was QUIET… Iberostar puts a 2nd door between the entry door and the bedroom area which would be sweet if you were located in an area where traffic was passing by, but we were in building 70 at the end of the hallway and we never had to close the 2nd door for quiet… If you want privacy in the bathroom area or you get up earlier than your travel companion, the 2nd door is very handy…

The room had a fairly standard sized mini fridge, which can be stocked pretty much any way you want. There were mini bottles of hard liquor in it along with water, soda, and beer. But, once again, you can have it stocked any way you desire… There was a safe, which was pretty standard and did the job just fine. The bathroom was way above average and had his/her sinks, a Jacuzzi tub, a walk-in shower, and a separate glassed in commode. The towels were nothing to write home about, but always rolled up which was a nice touch and one not found in other AIs (at least by us)…

What else? Flat screen TV that we never turned on. Nice sitting area. A small desk with 2 electrical outlets and an Ethernet port for your laptop. Pillow menu – we didn’t use it but its there if you want… Room service menu for breakfast – check what you want – hang it on your door before you turn in and in the morning it’s done… And…

THE BALCONY! We spent every morning before breakfast out there and every evening before we went to bed. It had a nice little couch / table / end table and the best part of all – a hanging swing chair for two! My wife LOVED that thing and I have spent time looking for one for our home. Super great balcony and since we were oceanfront, the added bonus of listening to the waves. An oceanfront isn’t necessary but if you can get one I would HIGHLY recommend. I think that part alone made our trip more special than any other – although – the rest of the Grand experience did as well…

Tip: Mexico doesn’t have electrical code like we have in the USA and other countries I’m sure – so there are very few outlets that are not in use. I bring two short extension cords with me and plug one into the other giving me ample outlets for charging stuff like phones, cameras, iPads, etc…

One final note on the room… They have a coffee station, as they all do… One day I woke up and the coffee hadn’t been replenished, so I walked to the concierge station and told them they forgot to give me new coffee packets and if they could send me one that would be great. The guy asked me “is this for one or two?”. I thought he meant how many coffee packets do I need, so I said just one. Fifteen minutes later a guy arrived with a cart that had: a plate of fresh fruit, 2 hard boiled eggs, a plate of pastries, a pot of coffee, a small pot of espresso, a pot of hot water, and several different kinds of teas! The Grand experience indeed my friends!

OK – one REALLY final note (sorry - keep thinking of this stuff)… As I mentioned above we arrived on my birthday. I’m not sure if that was the reason, or it was our first day, or what, but when we came back to the room late on the first day there was a path of rose petals leading from the door to the drawn bath with rose petals floating on it, and also to the bed where there was towel art decorated with rose petals and a single rose. They also left us a bottle of champagne…

That leaves an impression….

Wi-Fi

I thought I would address the Wi-Fi issue because there have been a lot of complaints about it. We have been to ONE AI previously that had Wi-Fi in the room – ONE… So, this isn’t a Grand issue, it’s pretty much an AI issue in general. And YES – I get it complainers – this is 2013 and we SHOULD have Wi-Fi at this price point, but we don’t and it doesn’t subtract from the experience (unless you let it). There is Wi-Fi in the lobby and based on Speedtest.Net it is around 6 megabits / second for those techies out there – very usable... Every concierge desk also has a wireless router so you can pick it up there as well if you want a shorter walk than to the lobby.

Tip: I bought a portable wireless router (fits in a shirt pocket) on Newegg.com for $25 USD and it was the best purchase I have made in a while. I just plugged it into the Ethernet port in the room and BOOM – wireless! A lot of hotels and AIs only have Ethernet connection in the rooms so we will definitely use it again, but if not, it was still money well spent. We are Apple people and don’t have Ethernet connections on our devices, so we were free to access the Interworld from our room and balcony.

Tip for Apple people only: In the past we have added international calling and global messaging to our phone plan before leaving but this time we just used FaceTime and iMessage to communicate with friends and family (Apple friends and family) back home. Its all totally free over wireless and worked great. We could send videos/pictures back home for free and talk to our son and daughter face to face as well…

BUTLER

Here’s another area I thought I would address because there has been a lot written about this as well… I’m not sure, but based on prior reviews, I’m thinking some people may be expecting a “personal butler” to wait on them hand and foot 24-7?

Our “butler” showed his face within minutes after we arrived to inquire about any special needs we may have with the room. My wife had nothing and the only thing I asked was that my fridge be stocked with Heineken. That request was taken care of immediately and for the rest of our stay without another word said. We ran into him the next day and once again he asked us how things were going and what he could do to make our room more comfortable. After that, we never saw him again, but we didn’t need too. There are several “butlers” assigned to each building and we saw one or more of them every day, but once you make your initial requests I don’t see what else you would need them for. I look at them as basically being roaming concierges, because if you see one and need anything, all you have to do is ask and the mission will be accomplished. On the other hand, the concierge desk is manned from very early in the morning to late in the evening and he/she can handle your requests as well.

Some reviewers have complained that they never saw their butler. I think everything is about timing… When you check-in if nobody else is checking in at that time you get great service – otherwise you wait a little… Same with the butler – if several guests are arriving in the building at the same time you may not see your man within seconds or minutes… Don’t sweat it – whatever you need will be taken care of with a phone call, a visit to the concierge, or by stopping a passing butler (they are easily recognizable)…

MAID SERVICE

For the most part – top notch. I will say that there is basically a team that caters to the room – and this is every AI – not just Grand. There will be the maid of course, and then the fridge guy, and someone else (maybe?) that replenishes the snacks. This part of the “experience” wasn’t 100% - but also – didn’t detract from the overall in any way shape or form…

They do a great job cleaning the room and with the turn down service. There were 2 days that we didn’t receive fresh towels, but the room already had so many towels (we were each taking 2 showers a day) that we could go a day without…
Also, the coffee wasn’t restocked the one day, and the snacks (chips and peanuts) were missed on one day. We received turn down service on probably 4 of the 8 nights we were there, but there were 2 nights when they knocked after 10PM and we just said no. The turn down service was nice, but not something we need…

Anyway – like I said, there is no such thing as perfection, and these very MINOR things didn’t bother us in the least – but if they may bother you – now you know…

STAFF

As I mentioned above, we are more or less “Iberostar people” at this point, and it has a LOT to do with the staff. Of all the AIs we have been too, Iberostar stands above – and – once again I’m not talking just Grand here – its Iberostar in general. It’s very obvious that Iberostar has an excellent hiring and training program. I can’t say that we didn’t encounter employees that weren’t “super friendly” during our stay (not at Grand – but at the other resorts) – but NEVER EVER did we encounter rudeness or bad attitude from anyone – anywhere. I’m guessing to become an employee at Grand you have to be the best of the best, because they were all just a pleasure to deal with.

We are pool people by nature and there were 3-4 waitresses working the main pool and tranquility pool all day long. We got to know them by name and they would literally make eye contact with you from across the pool to see how you were doing. It was unbelievable and definitely set the Grand apart from others we have visited. Special thanks to Leticia, Maribel, and Esperanza – we hope to see you again…

Now – the BIG difference I found at Grand as compared to all other AIs (including the neighboring Iberostar AIs) is the Staff/Guest ratio. When we visited Del Mar, Beach, Lindo, and Maya – which are all EXCELLENT by the way – we just noticed the server/guest ratio was down some compared to Grand. You WILL get great service at the other resorts – but NOT Grand service – and that is a difference that cannot be overlooked… When dining at Grand we couldn’t finish a water or drink without someone magically appearing to refill or ask if we needed more. As soon as a dish was finished it was removed from the table. That was our experience at any rate, and it was well above and beyond any AI we have been to before…

One final staff story I want to share – and this is not even Grand related as the experience happened in the pool next door at Lindo/Maya. My wife likes to “float” and I’m her engine… The Lindo/Maya pool is a better floating pool, plus has music going on which we kind of like so we went there several days… On our first day we floated up to the pool bar and Pablo took our order… We did the entire pool “walk” and visited Pablo one more time before heading back to Grand. Two days later we were back at Lindo/Maya and Pablo saw us coming and by the time we got to the bar he had not only remembered our drink orders from 2 days prior, but also had them blended and waiting for us. That is the type of service that, for us, has set Iberostar apart from others. NO – this won’t happen with every employee – only the exceptional – but – we have found Iberostar hires WAY more exceptional employees than any other AI we have been too… I know I’m starting to sound like I work in the Iberostar marketing department, but I don’t (although maybe I should!)…

STAR FRIENDS

These are the people that organize the daily entertainment (and participate in the nightly as well) and they are outstanding. They will meet you once and call you by name the rest of your stay. They have a few activities going on in the main pool area throughout the day, and they will ask you if you want to participate, but if you aren’t feeling it at the moment they happily move on to the next customer. I can’t remember all of their names, but Abraham and Eduardo stood out and definitely enhanced our Grand experience.

FOOD

If you read any other AI review I have written my overriding philosophy has always been: hey – its AI food – don’t expect much and don’t be disappointed – OR – DO NOT go to an AI. Truly every other AI we have been to in the past has had some really good food, some really mediocre food, and some close to inedible food. We always found that acceptable and part of the AI experience. If you figure out how much you are paying, and what you are getting in return – we always figured any food that was decent was a GREAT deal for us…

I WAS WRONG!

If you upgrade to the Grand experience – and – YES – it is an upgrade compared to other AIs you could visit – you WILL NOT be disappointed in the food. Or at least I HOPE NOT! Because, seriously, if you are, I want your life, and I’m not kidding about that – YOU are eating WAY better than me, my wife, and everyone else I know…

When we checked in and got our upgrade, Samanya told us the room wasn’t ready and to come back in an hour or so… We were both starved from not eating all day so we went exploring and found the luncheon grill at the top of the pool area. Grilled lobster tails and steaks along with potatoes, vegetables, rice, etc… To quote a prior reviewer here, I ate my body weight in lobster for the 8 days we were there. There is grilled lobster for lunch and dinner and so much more!

There are only 4 restaurants here (Surf & Turf, Italian, Gourmet, and Japanese)… This is less than other AIs we have been too, but it simply doesn’t matter… I was talking with another guest there and I told him we could literally dine at Toni’s Surf and Turf EVERY night and he totally agreed. I won’t bore you with the dining experience at each, but we did visit them all and so should you if you go…

Every other AI we have visited in the past had a “Gourmet” restaurant or something to that effect, which basically meant – quiet atmosphere and NO children. I would equate EVERY restaurant at Grand to that type of experience… They were all very quiet, and you felt like you were in a fine restaurant… The service and presentation of the food, was, in my humble opinion, as good as you will get… BUT – we are just normal people, not fine diners by nature… On the other hand, if Toni’s were a local restaurant we would dine there often and happily pay for it…

Now regarding the buffets…

Breakfast was pretty standard AI fare as far as I’m concerned and didn’t distinguish itself from other AIs in any way. But, breakfast is pretty easy, so that’s no big deal – just give me some coffee, eggs to order, bacon and potato and lets get this day started! We did try the Maya breakfast buffet a couple of days and the Lindo as well just to compare and they were all very equal in my mind, except, at the omelet station at Grand they cracked and mixed the eggs in front of you, whereas, at Lindo/Maya, they used a pre-blended egg mix from a pitcher…

The lunch buffet was beyond our expectations from any AI… Grilled lobster aside, they had enough to please pretty much any palette… Every day there was a cold seafood buffet that had lobster tails, mussels, and crab claws… Good luck finding that at any other AI…

We did do the supper buffet twice at the end of our trip when we didn’t make dinner reservations and the buffet is nice if you want to just “go as you are”… Pretty much any attire is acceptable at the buffets, but at night people still wear mostly collared shirts and nice shorts at the very least. The restaurants, on the other hand, require long pants for men and a sleeved shirt. That isn’t asking much to be honest, but some people seem to complain about that so be prepared…

Tip: make your reservations before you arrive via e-mail. We only did that for our first night but it guaranteed we could dine on night one at a restaurant instead of the buffet (which, as it turned out, would NOT have been a bad thing)…

Bottom line: The food at Grand was significantly above and beyond anything we have encountered in our previous AI travels – SIGNIFICANTLY!!! To paraphrase from above – if you visit Grand and you aren’t happy with the food – either you can’t be satisfied, or you have a life way beyond the rest of us and shouldn’t have been visiting Grand in the first place…

One final story (sorry again)…. Our first night we had reservations for Toni’s Surf & Turf, which I had made prior to departure… After having grilled lobster for lunch, I decided I needed me some more grilled lobster… Toni’s has a “surf and turf” on the menu that includes a lobster tail and a fillet of some sort. It didn’t specify the type of cut but I ordered it thinking the steak wouldn’t be too good – being part of a combination and all… The fillet itself was literally to die for…. Cut like butter and with great flavor you would expect from a 5 star restaurant back home…

So yeah – if you go here and the food disappoints - not sure what to tell you….

RESERVATIONS

Another area I wanted to address quickly due to the negative press… First off, we had ZERO problems getting reservations for our stay, and, we only made one prior to arrival… Make them all on your first day though… We did, and got every restaurant we wanted at the time we wanted…

A LOT of people complain about not getting reservations and seeing the restaurants “half empty”… My take on this is simple… If I was running a restaurant at an AI I would try to staff for expectations… So – YES – there IS a reservation system so the resort can manage expectations… If the complainers showed up and didn’t get the service they expected because the restaurant was understaffed, what would they do? COMPLAIN!

Zackly…

DRINKS

Excellent. At this price point this should be expected and it was delivered. At prior AIs we found the drinks to be hit and miss based on bartender, but here if I ordered one thing at one bar, I got the same tasting drink at the next. Also, top of the line brands… BUT, and this is true of all other AIs we have been too – if you do not ask specifically for a brand of liquor, they will make it with the cheapest they have. When we arrived I ordered a margarita rocks with Don Julio and it was fantastic. The next day, I ordered the same thing with the same bartender and just to see, I didn’t specify brand… He made it with Jose Cuervo instead… So on the one hand, you should be specific about your order if that is something you require, but on the other hand, Jose Cuervo would have been TOP OF THE LINE at pretty much all of the other resorts we have been too previously!

SEAT RESERVING / TOWEL GAME

Before I even get into pools/beach I want to do a brief blurb on the whole “seat reservation” thing – because – once again – this is a MAJOR complaint amongst MANY…

EVERY other AI we have been to in the past has a “no seat reserving ” policy and not a single one of them enforced it - NONE. So – yes – people get up early and reserve the prime spots, and by prime I’m speaking about the shaded spots. Since we move around so much during the day we were just grabbing what was available in the sun around 9AM or so, and there were LOTS open in the sun. The shaded spots were probably gone by 7 – 7:30 while we were there around the pool. From our balcony in the morning I could see TONS of loungers under palapas open around 7 or so at the beach. We only used a palapa at the beach once, and found one open around 10 or so – so it’s not as bad as some people here have made it out to be. But the magnitude of the issue is tied directly to the occupancy of any given resort at any given time. When we go to the RM in October, you can find prime spots at the beach or pool at any time of the day. During high season, you will need to get up early if you want shade and that is ALL AIs – not just Grand…

Tip: If you want or need shade and want a “prime” spot I would go to breakfast early on your first day (7:30-ish) and see how many spots are taken in the area you have in mind. Then just adjust accordingly… We found that the main pool was the hot spot and those chairs went first, followed by the beach, and finally the quiet pool. We were over at the quiet pool later in the morning one day and there were still plenty of seats available in the shade…

POOLS

We spent the majority of our time at the main pool and while we were there, it was pretty much as quiet as the “quiet” pools at other AIs we have been too. No crazy party scene here. There is a swim up bar and great drink service everywhere in the pool area. There are four “hot tubs” in the main pool area – one in each corner of the pool. One of them was broken while we were there, so no hot – just bubbles, but every other AI we have been too previously just had Jacuzzis with no “hot”, so it was really nice to relax in a true hot tub…

We spent some time at the tranquility pool as well, and you can literally hear a pin drop over there – so if quiet is your thing, you have come to the right place. The tranquility pool does not have a bar, but the wait staff do come around regularly so if you want to hang loose in the quiet area, there is no need to get up – you will be served… There are also a couple of hot tubs in the tranquility pool area…

As I mentioned, my wife likes to float and the neighboring resorts have great pools for a float. The activity pools in the other resorts are also livelier, so if you want some banging bass for a change of pace it’s a very short walk… As a Grand guest you have MANY pool options available to you on the property, but if you don’t feel like moving very far, the pools at the Grand will definitely keep you happy for your stay…

My wife always brings her own floatie, but they had them at the towel shack so there is no need. They also have an air compressor there so if you do bring your own, you can inflate it at the shack…

Tip: Bring your own insulated mugs – they come in handy and everywhere we go others always ask us where we bought them… Target or Walmart – really cheap…

SPA

The Grand has its own Spa area which includes an indoor pool, gym, hot tubs, and of course Spa treatments for $$$ if you are interested. We visited a couple of times to check it out and the place would be great if it ever rained during the day and it is also VERY quiet, so more relaxation here… The gym wasn’t great, but it had several treadmills and weight machines if you are into working out on vacation. There is a main gym on the property shared by all the resorts, but it isn’t much better than Grand’s gym so if you want to exercise while here there is no need to leave Grand…

BEACH

We spent time at the beach every day for a change of pace and IMO it is a great beach. Certainly as good as any other beach we have been to in our travels. Grand has it’s own loungers and drink service in the front of buildings 70 and 71. The one day we lounged for a short time, the drink service seemed quite prompt, but we didn’t spend much time sitting so I can’t confirm how good or bad it would be if you were there all day. Based on the rest of the service at Grand, I can only imagine that it would be outstanding as well…

As others here have mentioned, there are some rocky areas in the water right in front of the Grand. However, if you want to wade in and enjoy the waves its maybe 50 yards to the left towards Lindo/Maya to find smooth sand to walk in on… No need for water shoes here….

ENTERTAINMENT

The daytime activities are coordinated by the Star Friends and there is always plenty to do if you are interested. At night there is live music in the lobby bar (not sure how often), and a show most every night in the theatre. The lobby bar seemed like the place to hang out for many in the evening and the service is great as expected. We only went to one show, because they are all pretty much the same as the last times we were at this property (shows rotate through the resorts). In my opinion the shows are fairly professionally done and quite entertaining. If you are expecting Vegas quality shows, you will be disappointed - but for what you are paying - it’s very good entertainment. Most of the shows are song and dance type shows and are put on by professionals – not the Iberostar Star Friends, so their only job is to rehearse and do their show. The Star Friends do participate in the shows, but they are not the main event…

The Grand theatre was the first we have encountered that was air-conditioned. Usually the AI theatres are open air and if it is 100% humidity (it happens) you will be super thankful you are at the Grand. We have sweated through many a show in our past AI lives… And, of course, drink service surpassed by none…

Overall we have found the nightly shows at Iberostar to be of a much higher quality than the rest of the AIs we have been too…

MISCELLANEOUS

There is a small shopping center on the property that is available to all the resorts. It isn’t anything special, but worth a look…

There is a separate Spa in the shopping center area for all resorts, but only Grand and Maya guests have free access to it. We checked into massages when we were there and it was actually cheaper at the main Spa versus the Spa at Grand, so if you are going to use Spa services you may want to check them out…

Next to the shopping mall is the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club. For you golfers out there, the course is currently being featured on Big Break Mexico on the Golf Channel. I didn’t play this time because my wife isn’t a golfer, but I have played it twice before, and it is a very nice course designed by PB Dye (son of Pete) so it has a lot of Dye design features to it. For an 8 night stay I could have played twice for free (included greens fees and cart rental). If you plan on playing you can rent decent clubs there for $40 USD, but bring your own shoes/gloves/tees/balls, because they will gouge you for that stuff…

As mentioned previously, there is another gym that is available to all resorts. If you plan on using gym facilities you might want to take a look, but IMO the Grand gym is plenty sufficient for a vacation workout…

CONCLUSION

We would LOVE to visit Grand again, but until we start doing just one AI a year, we will probably go back to our old price point, which includes the neighboring Lindo and Maya resorts. It is about $185 / night difference to stay at Grand versus Lindo and I found myself wondering if we were getting that much return in value. I never did come up with an answer, but if money weren’t of consequence it would be the proverbial no-brainer… Grand is GRAND and a cut above any other AI we have visited in the past. If you go I think you will have the time of your life there.

If you have any questions about Grand / Iberostar, or the AI experience in general feel free to ask. Good luck with your trip planning!

Room Tip: Oceanfront if you can get one...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 21, 2013
Dear Guest,

First of all we would like to thank you for the time that you have invested in sharing your experience during your stay in our hotel , and as a repetitive guest we double thank you for the loyalty and for choosing us again and again! We hope that you had a pleasant return back home.

We appreciate all your wonderful comments regarding the room and bathroom and especially we are happy to hear the sleep quality was good. We are also happy to know that breakfast was of your liking. Your wonderful words are the best compliments for us. Please rest assured that we will extend your compliments to the entire staff.

It is our constant goal to keep impressing you on every visit and make it even better than last time. Your suggestions have been duly noted and we assure you that we will bear them in mind.

We thank you sincerely for choosing the Iberostar Grand Paraiso and we trust that we will have the opportunity to welcome you again in the near future.

Best regards,
Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
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Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2013

We were extremely impressed with the grounds, location, service and amenities. We have travelled to Mexico many times and it was our first time with the Iberostar Hotel group. Staying at the Adult only was so very restful and enjoyable. The food was absolutely wonderful. The grounds are exquisite. The nightly entertainment in the theatre was extremely high end quality. The staff and butler service was top notch. Probably one of the best holidays we have ever taken!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with Iberostar

Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 21, 2013
Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your nice review with other travelers, we are grateful for your visit at Iberostar Grand Paraiso.

It is very pleasant to read that you had a wonderful stay and that you enjoyed our facilities and services including our entertainment and butler service making this stay one of the best holidays!

We are delighted that you underlined aspects as food; it is fantastic to know that you went back home satisfied.

Please feel free to contact us in case you need any further assistance. We hope you give us the opportunity to welcome you back in the near future.

Best regards,

Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
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Alpharetta, Georgia
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2013

This is our fifth visit to the overall property and third stop at the Grand, thus they must be doing something right but it is not what it was with respect to both physical plant and service.

One of the reasons we return is the golf course is excellent, in excellent condition, and sees little use so it is a great place to "learn" how to play without annoying others. It used to be the green fees were linked directly to your room, now you have to get a voucher from the concierge but no one tells you when you check in or try to schedule a tee time through the concierge....they let you know at the pro shop and it is a hassle to get the voucher and drag back to the course.

This time we were upgraded to beachfront rooms and while the rooms are the same as in the main building being on the beach makes it so much nicer and I am not a beach person. The constant breeze - more a constant wind - and the white noise from the surf makes sitting on the balcony a wonderful experience. The morning sun hits the balcon so in the heat of the afternoon the balcony is in the shade....perfect.

The rooms are spacious with adequate closet space for an extended stay. They are nicely appointed and well serviced, although service was late in the day.

The bathroom has two separate sinks and this would be perfect except both the glass shower door and the toilet alcove door interfere with the use of the sinks. Robes are adequate but slippers max out at about a men's size 10....but who cares, the marble floors are cool, smooth and pleasant. Towels are adequate in size, could be plusher if this really is a 5 star hotel.

Bed is fine. Linens and covers are fine, nothing remarkable.

The all inclusive minifridge is stocked with beverages; beer (domestic and imported like Coors Light), wine, distilled spirits, and soft drinks. The snacks used to be jars of pistachio nuts now they are foil pouches of Lay's potato chips and lime/chile flavor peanuts.

The grounds are well maintained and very pretty but some of the infrastructure is showing cracks and could probably be better maintained.

The specialty restaurants are quite good, serving three course meals with adequate portions unless ou are a big eater. The wine list is fine, favoring Spanish wines, the Iberostar heritage but with enough alternative to find a good pairing with dinner. The dining problem....there are more tables than reservations. It can be difficult to get a reservation during prime dining time 6-8 pm but when you do half the room is empty.

The beach front grill is great, to be able to walk in and get a good grilled lobster and a glass - a coupel of glasses - of chilled chardonnay is very nice, very nice.

Room Tip: Beachfront is great although a short walk to the main building and a long walk to the front desk and...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IberostarMexico, Quality Manager at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, responded to this review, May 21, 2013
Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to communicate us your feedback during your recent stay at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso. We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to serve you.

We appreciate that you took the time to specify the highlights of your trip: food, drinks, rooms and facilities. We take our guests' comments very seriously as they help us pinpoint areas that have room for improvement. We really appreciate it, we can assure that your review will be seriously considered to achieve our constant goal: to exceed our guests' expectations.

Regarding dinner reservations for the “a la carte” restaurants, our main goal is to offer our guests with a unique and special experience where meals are made-to-order, so we can provide freshness and quality along with a personalized service. As we have four seatings (6.30, 7.00, 8.30 and 9.00), filling up the restaurant completely would result into the first clients being rushed to finish their meals, which would spoil the whole experience, and new clients to suffer delays. We thank you for your understanding on this matter, and are happy you enjoyed your meals at the restaurants.

We do hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you again in the very near future and so we remain at your disposal.

Best regards,
Quality Manager
Iberostar Mexico
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Additional Information about Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso

Address: Carr. Chetumal-Pto Juarez km 309, Playa Paraiso, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen > Playa Paraiso
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#1 Family Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#1 Romantic Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#1 Luxury Hotel in Playa Paraiso
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso 4.5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Directly on the long, fine, sandy beach of Playa Paraiso in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Top 5-star luxury. Quiet and relaxing. Personal butler and concierge service. 24 hours all inclusive service. 4 a la carte restaurants. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Iberostar Playa Paraiso
Playa Paraiso Iberostar
Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso Playa Paraiso, Riviera Maya, Mexico

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