Here's the real scoop on the Grand, good and average, but I hope none of it will deter you from staying there. I'm writing this as Trip Advisor was the basis for our own stay, and I wanted to be fair and balanced....you should also note that I am EXTREMELY picky and want high-end all the way;
a) Beach - lovely beach, yes it is a natural one so there are a few rocks. Expect a fair amount of red flag days, as that's just how the sea is on that side - the tides can be deadly. The Grand is part of a multi-complex of Iberostars, so if the beach is VERY important to you, just walk a few steps and the beach is much nicer. I hope you will not let a few criticisms of the beach deter you, it's still very beautiful. We also had food and drink service on the beach, so how can you possibly complain about that?! It was amazing!
b) Food - As vegetarians, my friend and I had no problem whatsoever finding meals that suit us. That includes the buffet. I don't understand some of the food criticisms posted, as there was SO much to choose from, as well as chefs to make almost anything you wanted on the spot. The Italian restaurant was our fav, the caprese salad and porcini mushroom risotto was excellent. The Japanese food was also very very good. It's obvious the Iberostar has invested in chefs to come and train their staff. The ONLY very small comment I will make, is that we lacked authentic mexican food, but to their credit, I believe they are trying to appeal to foreigners by giving us "western" foods. No problem - we took a day trip to Playa and ate authentic mexican that was delicious. I want to point out how immensely difficult it must be to maintain a 5-star standard while offering a buffet - I give them the benefit of the dout. Yes, some selections weren't as hot as I would have liked, so then I either asked for the chef to make me one, or waited until they put out a fresh platter. (usually within mins) If you've travelled a fair bit, as I have, you will not be disappointed with the food - I promise you! Oh and the liquor is top notch, all the way! All the super premium brands you want, but didn't expect to find.
c) Service - ok, I don't disagree with some of the comments, especially those directed to a certain someone who I will not name, although some have named him....however, if I can put some perspective on the situation; There are over 2 thousand employees at the Grand. Not every single one of them will show up every day in the best mood ever. (do you, at your job?) Yes, I had issues with 1 or 2 of the staff, but overall, they were incredibly kind, gracious and more than eager to help us out. If something was forgotten, a quick call to remind remedied the situation. Again, as someone who has travelled, I have experienced lousy service - but I dare say you will have alot more positives at the Grand than you ever will have with negatives. Not perfect, but very very close. As far as tipping goes - NOT ONCE did anyone expect a tip....ever.....but we did tip, often, knowing how much of a difference it can make for some of them. Also please don't forget that some people just like to complain and some are perhaps, not so kind to others. These people waited on me hand and foot for 7 days - with only 1 or 2 small blips, I say that is stellar. Compare that to any hotel in Mexico or all of the Caribbean and this one is STILL tops.
d) Pools - As someone who detests cold pools, I personally, did not find the pool that cold. In fact, we laid out on the loungers in the main salt-water infinity pool all week, with 1 day exception for the beach. The pool really shouldn't be any warmer, since you need to cool off from the hot sun. Within that main pool, are 4 hottubs, that you could warm up in as the sun set, which we adored! There is, however, a warmer tranquility pool, if that is what you're after, which is just as nice. Lastly, there is a super heated massage pool in the spa building which is absolutely stunning. We stumbled on the spa building by accident and stayed for hours! One note of interest; everyday, between 4-5, a beautiful cart was wheeled out for coffee and cake to residents by the pool/hottub. A very nice touch!
e) Rooms - Stunningly beautiful. That is not an understatement at all. Marble everywhere, I thought the venetian plaster in the bathroom was a faux finish, but it is not! It's real and gorgeous!
Enormous bathroom, with 2 sinks, large jacuzzi tub, good sized sitting room with lounger. The patios/balconies were over the top! Not satisfied with mere cedar decking, they are cut into mitre corners to mimic the old parisan parquet style. The hanging swings were awesome, the couch was an overstuffed, plush futon and the tables out there were also marble topped. Just a beautiful room! And the beds!!! Super duper comfy.
Wanted to comment on our FABULOUS butler (Rodolpho)and concierge (Angelica) whom we embarrassingly forgot to tip as we ended up drinking way too much by the pool, prior to leaving....we are going to return and will absolutely make it up to you! I know you read these Rodolpho, so I wanted to note that to you....promise!
Lastly, with all things considered, do not discount this hotel. I have stayed in a true 5-star before and it's very difficult to find that standard anywhere, let alone in Mexico. But this will not disappoint. It's not by accident that this is in TA's top 5 hotels in all of Mexico. I've stayed in a stunning Iberostar before, so I knew I would have issues anywhere else. Don't be nervous about selecting this one....it's as good as it gets in Mexico. Your biggest problem will be where to stay NEXT, as this one raises the bar.
A final note to fellow cat/dog lovers;
Someone posted a scathing review to avoid this place if you love animals. I cannot dispute what she said - the strays are everywhere and it's absolutely heartbreaking. (every resort on every island has them) However, it was very nice to see the cats being fed by the guests. I, too, participated, and it felt good to be able to help. I suspect the management also doesn't mind, as cats help to keep the inevitable rats at bay. (would you rather see cats or rats?!) The stray dogs at the beach were tough to take. I also fed them and hope you will consider the same.
I will say this - do not let any staff try to tell you not to feed them. The only incident I had, was with the aforementioned-nameless person, and I blasted him good. (incidentally, he was lovely about it on one day, then did a 180, turning into Mr. Hyde the next) I paid an awful lot of money for this week, and since I don't eat meat, I felt entitled to do what I wanted with my weekly allocation. If any Iberostar insists on a 'no feeding' rule, then I would like you to consider all my comments null and void and urge you to stay elsewhere.
- 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