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“Amazing experience, would return in a heartbeat!” 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
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Amazing experience, would return in a heartbeat!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2010

I cannot rave about this hotel enough. From beginning to end, our experience was perfect. I traveled with my boyfriend and his parents last August. Between the four of us, we've traveled to dozens of countries across the globe, and we all agree that this is the most beautiful hotel we have ever stayed in.

There's never a lack of things to do. Your wristband allows you to go to all the other Iberostar properties. We spent an afternoon at the Maya (they have a wavepool, which was fun to watch!).

The food was much better than some have described it. I enjoyed everything, and I'm not always easy to please. If you don't like the offerings at the Grand, you can make reservations at any of the other hotels on property. There's a Mexican restuarant at the Maya that was amazing.

There's not much left to be said; the other reviews are correct in saying that this place is gorgeous, well maintained, and has amazing service (thank you Alberto and Eder). I often have dreams about going back!

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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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
Toronto, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2010

1st time at this hotel, was concerned if would be as enjoyable as the Grand Velas RM which was over the top service, food and accommodations. Pleasantly surprised though - although not as good as Velas, it certainly was good value for money. Food was not bad, Sun & Wed buffet's were very good, and very nice staff - although they could use more, especially for the restaurants - was told a couple nights no reservations available due to lack of staff? Ocean front room has great view, and golf course was better than expected. Vacation could have turned out much differently though if not for response of lifeguards and fellow tourists that rescued my friend and I from an unexpectedly strong undertow when swimming out in the ocean on a very choppy day. Heartfelt thanks to our known and unknown benefactors who rescued us - you guys are heroes! Ocean is nice but be careful and pay attention to flags.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Leeds UK
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2010

Firstly a couple of caveats about my review.
I was lucky enough to win a week at the Grand, including flights. So i can't say whether it was good value. Obviously at £0 it was great for me.
Also, this was my first experience of Mexico, all inclusives and was my first beach holiday since i was a child around 20 years ago. I normally take city breaks.

Following on from most other reviews, i don't have much to add about this excellent hotel. The large rooms, amazing buildings, great beach, wonderful pools and, above all, exceptional staff.

Our trip was from 6th-13th November. We stayed in room 7336. On the top floor with a view of the indoor pool/spa and a miniscule view of the ocean. I don't know if this room was classed as oceanview. If so, it certainly wasn't worth paying any extra for the view. Irrespective of this, we often enjoyed just spending time on the balcony making use of the minibar, room service, very comfortable sofa and swing.

Food is a subjective matter. Overall we found it excellent - with a couple of exceptions;
I like to have either a bacon or sausage sandwich for breakfast. They had bacon here but it was nothing like English back bacon, and the selection of sausages all seemed pretty strange. I appreciate that i was in Mexico so it was never going to be like home. I just found it a shame personally. On the plus side i just had fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, which removed any guilt about the rest of the food i'd eat throughout the day.
Lunch was great every day. I generally ordered from the a la carte menu and almost always picked the fish of the day, and sometimes the steak if i'd had a particularly tough time lying in the sun.

From earlier research on here, we made dinner reservations before we left by email. I'm glad we did this as i noticed a couple of guests trying to make reservations with the concierge, to be told there were no restaurants available for the next 3-4 days. I think this is the one area where the hotel has a problem. Guests really should be made aware when booking that they can, and should book their evening meals before they travel. It's something that could ruin somebody's holiday.

We ate at the Surf and Turf twice, enjoyed it both times. The Japanese once, again very nice. The international buffet on a Wednesday was probably our favourite as it provided the best of all the a la cartes in one place.
We also ate at the Gourmet once. If i'd just had the starter and main course this would have easily been my favourite, it really was superb. Unfortunately the dessert seemed like it had simply been opened from a packet rather than been prepared by a chef. A fancy pattern with the sauce couldn't hide that. I would still recommend the Gourmet, just not the desserts.
We had some good, and some indifferent wines throughout our stay. I particularly enjoyed the Australian Cabernet Sauvignon (Can't remember the name but it's at the bottom of the red wine list)

Most of our days were spent at the tranquility pool. We loved it there. Never a problem to find a spot whether you wanted shade or not. And Mirna the pool waitress was an absolute superstar, always making sure we never had an empty glass. Absolute heaven.

In the evening we'd head to the lobby bar. Always had a fun evening sat at the bar with Daniel, a great bartender, and meeting other guests from around the world. Spoke to some really lovely people and had a great time. Many were repeat visitors to the Grand which i think says something towards how good the hotel is.
As a smoker i really appreciated the smoking room/cigar bar next to the lobby bar. It was nice to have a drink and smoke in comfortable surroundings without annoying other guests.

We had an amazing time at the Grand. I think the highlight (amongst many other highlights) are the staff who work incredibly hard to make sure your stay is as near to perfect as possible.
I'm not sure if i'll ever be able to afford a trip here if i paid myself. I never thought i could be converted to a beach or poolside holiday person. But i'm already saving for a return visit.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
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Houston, Texas
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2010

We visited the Grand between November 8-13, 2010. After reading some of the reviews we were a little nervous that we would never see our butler or that the food would be mediocre, but we were so thrilled with our experience! We came on our honeymoon. I'm 25 and my husband is 34, so we wanted someplace nice, but also somewhere we could have a great time.

First of all, I highly reccommend USA Transfers to get you from Cancun Airport to the Iberostar complex. I was freaked out about all of the kidnappings we had heard about (even though we were far from the border) and they were prompt and professional!

We had a corner ocean front room, which I would DEFINITELY reccommend to other honeymooners because your balcony is bigger and comes with a jacuzzi outside on the balcony. We had no problems with the room. It was made up daily and none of our things appeared rifled through.

Our butlers (especially Victor) were FABULOUS! I cannot say enough good things about them. They brought us more alcohol than we ever could have consumed in 5 nights, and were always willing and ready to drive us wherever we needed to go around the complex. I wonder if perhaps those with bad butler experiences either were located in the standard rooms, which appeared to have a much different butler to guest ratio than we had in the ocean front rooms. Also, we did a lot of tipping. Tip your butler and you should be fine. In fact, on our last night at the hotel, we were drawn a bubble bath on our outdoor jacuzzi with champagne. It was a total surprise and such a sweet gesture to finish out our stay!

I thought, for the most part, the food was outstanding! Don't get me wrong, the sushi at the Japanese restaurant seemed more like U.S. chinese buffet sushi, but everything else was fantastic! The Japanese was our least favorite, but the Surf and Turf was perfect! The filet and lobster pairing was comparable to a dish I'd eaten at Morton's. The International buffet on Wednesdays was great, too! They have little stations set up from all of the restaurants. I have never eaten as much lobster and kobe beef burgers in my life! The desserts, on the other hand, are nothing to write home about, but that didn't spoil the experience for us!

Now to the best part- the alcohol. Drinks were wonderful and never-ending. Had a few snafoos with the wine at dinner, but overall the dinner wine wasn't bad. The first night we were there was pretty low-key. They have a theatre, but it was pretty lame, so we tried out the music bar. Not really happening, either. Had better luck at the cigar bar, but the real place to go at night is Galaxy. I don't know if it was all the shots or all the dancing or that I felt like I was in a weird NASA/Star Wars hybrid dimension, but that place was the best! Plenty of other cool people there, too, since it is open to all of the Iberostar hotels in the area. Definitely a nice change from the more laid-back Grand.

Ultimately, this was the perfect honeymoon. It was lazy and relaxing during the day, and a party at night. I would definitely reccommend this place! The only reason this place didn't earn the full five stars in our book probably had something to do with our Four Seasons wedding experience the day before. You just can't top the Four Seasons, but they certainly came close!

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Norman, Oklahoma
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2010

My husband and I returned to the Grand for our second time this past November, and while the experience was overall very good, certain things stuck out this time.

We were checking in from the Lindo next door. A golf cart arrived to pick us up and took us to the lobby, where we received a cold drink, a cool lemon-scented towel and an efficient check-in. We did mention that this was our second time at the Grand. After fiddling on her computer for a bit, the clerk told us that since it was our second time at the Grand, they were going to upgrade us to ocean front for free. We were very excited about it! Since our room was not yet ready (we arrived before check-in time), we left our luggage with the bellboys and headed out to the Tranquility Pool for some relaxing.

An overview of the facilities:
Main pool: If you're looking for the drunk, rowdy, tacky American tourists, they can be found at the main pool's swim up bars. Activities at the pool are fun but more low-key. Drinks service was good and all drinks were delicious and well-made.
Tranquility pool: This is my favorite pool here. Quiet and beautiful, with one extremely hard-working waitress who does a great job bringing drinks from the main pool bar.
Beach: The beach is again, beautiful and quiet. I was saddened at the number of people playing the "put hat on chair and reserve for the entire day just in case I want to sit there at some point" game. All of the front row beach chairs were taken early. However, there was plenty of seating in the other two rows. Drink service was noticeably more spotty this time, compared to last time. Wading in the ocean is fun, but do watch out for rocks.

Room: Our oceanfront room was beautiful and the bed was SO comfortable. The pillows were a little too plush for us, so we ordered from the pillow menu and found our exact fit. We ordered room service breakfast one day - the poor waiter was gasping and running around because two other waiters had not come in that day. Our butler made a cursory appearance and then we never saw him again. I mentioned that it was our anniversary, and he said he would "make a party," which consisted of giving us a little bottle of special tequila and two hugely oversized Iberostar polo shirts. I had mentioned before arriving that it was an anniversary, and they said they would do something special for us. They never did. I asked for an Internet cable (free) and it was delivered quickly.

Food:
The breakfast buffet has a much more limited selection than the Lindo next door, but it was all edible and the fruit and pastries were delicious.
For lunch each day, we headed to the pool-side restaurant. After checking out the tired-looking buffet food, we ordered off the menu. I tried both the shrimp and chicken fajitas and they were delicious. My husband had a hamburger which he also said was good.

We never tried the dinner buffet as we had a la carte reservations each night:
Japanese/Haiku: We LOVE this one. It's a great way to meet new people on your first night, and the food was delicious. My husband had sushi for appetizer and I had the noodle soup which was really good. He had steak teppenyaki and I had chicken and shrimp, both with grilled veggies and fried rice. It was amazingly good, and the banana tempura for dessert is awesome. Our cook, Giovanni, also did an amazing show for us with his knives and spatulas.
Gourmet French/Atelier: When we were seated in our table by the window, I noticed tiny bugs running all over the place (they were coming from the flowers). We had sat there for perhaps ten minutes before a waiter came over and we asked to be moved. We were dissappointed when the wine we ordered was served chilled - NOT the way to serve red wine and the only time that happened to us at the resort. For appetizer my husband had the pheasant tart, which he liked. I had onion soup, which was good but required a great deal of salt and pepper for the broth to have a bit more flavor. We both had beef tenderloin, which was good if not quite rare enough for our medium rare specifications. The sides we so-so. The desserts were AMAZING.
Italian/La Venezia: Skip this one. Our appetizers were fine - minestrone soup and calamari. They brought a great huge plate of fried calamari with a tiny swipe of tomato sauce on the side - nothing to dip it in. I had osso buco, which was so bad it made me gag. The meat was fatty, greasy and flavorless, the rice a nasty texture. My husband didn't care for his entree either. Desserts were fine.
Surf and Turf/Toni's: Delicious! I had a chicken and shrimp appetizer which was delicious. My husband had a seafood platter which was also very good. The Caesar salad dressing was a bit different but still good. My ribeye came cooked to perfection although they did not include the lobster tail I had ordered. By that time I was too full to care. Deserts were delicious again.
However, after eating a Toni's I woke up the next morning with persistent diahrrea that is still giving me problems even today, a week later.

Shows: The theater is amazing, like a high-class movie theatre with great drinks service. We only caught the pre-Hispanic show but we loved it!

Spa: I had an amazing lavendar oil massage from the on-site spa at the Grand which I loved and was a reasonable price.

Bars: The Lobby Bar was a fun place to hang out, with great cocktail menus and drinks service. We even went to a cocktail demonstration at the Music Bar, which was fun.

Thoughts:
This place is like a marble palace, so all of the restaurants are veru loud and echo-y. There were, sadly, a couple of really large, obnoxious groups there who didn't bother to attempt to have any manners and were shouting, whooping and drinking. It certainly could ruin a romantic dinner experience. Luckily, we went to the later dinner seatings and by the time we were settled most of the larger groups were leaving.

WHY must they pipe the same insipid pop music into the a la carte restaurants as well? WHY? These places need some soft classical music playing, not the dance club version of "Pomp and Circumstance" (which we heard MANY times).

Not sure if we will return to the Grand. I would really like to try a resort that has TRUE 5-star food as well as all of the other 5-star amenities. If you know of any good ones, let me know!

  • Stayed November 2010, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Glen Gardner, New Jersey
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2010

Grand is the word for this hotel.Traveled with a large group Nov.4-8,our third trip here and we never tire of this place.We had some problems with dinner reservations but understand thats its the off season and a bad economy.After some prodding ,reservations were made.Absolutely a great vaue!

  • Stayed November 2010
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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out east
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2010

Returned from the Grand in October 2010 and I hope my observations may be helpful to a potential traveler.

Transport: Flights were not a problem. Flew directly into Cancun with no layovers. Customs and luggage were very quick and easy on the Cancun side. Wife was stopped and had her backpack searched by a customs official and his dog. Smart dog. Our attempt to smuggle bananas into the country was foiled. My dream of forming the Cowboy Cartel for banana smuggling was dashed by this dedicated 4 legged public servant. Used USA Transfers for the ground transport to the hotel. Excellent service and Brant who runs the operation could not have been more helpful in answering my numerous questions. Will certainly use them in the future.

Check in: Check in was very smooth and without drama. We arrived at 1:45pm and was told the room would not be ready until 2:30pm. We received our bands and a cool drink (Choice of champagne or a Mango Sour) A cart was summoned and we were taken to the lunch buffet. After lunch a cart was called and we were returned to the desk at 2:30pm. Room was ready. I had requested room 7255 based upon a prior review. This room was not available but the hotel gave us the adjoining room which was fine. More on the reasoning behind this choice shortly. Impressed by the fact that the hotel does not ask for a credit card at check in for incidentals. Nice touch. Also no pressure to upgrade rooms and the prices for each level of upgrade were posted at the desk. We did not ask for an upgrade nor was any attempt made by the desk to induce us into one.

Grounds: The grounds are lovely and the landscape design plan is wonderful. Much thought was obviously given to the variety of trees and plants along with their location. A botanist (which I am not) would have a sturdy challenge to identify all the different types of fauna. It really was amazing. The grounds also provide a habitat for many species of animals. Observed peacocks, birds, lizards, Mexican raccoons (really neat) and a family of cats. The animals really add to the natural beauty of the premises.

Room: We had requested room 7255 based upon a prior review. The reasoning was we wanted a quiet room on a higher floor close to everything. We received the room next door which was fine. If you do not want or need an ocean view or oceanfront, seriously consider this room or a similar one. This room is centrally located between the front desk area and the dining rooms. It has a peaceful balcony with a view of the quiet pool which is great for late afternoon cocktails or reading. The room is also close to the gym and the spa. Room itself has a seating area, desk, mini bar, coffee maker, ironing board and iron and safe. There is also an ipod dock next to the bed along with a master light switch which allows you turn off the lights with out arising. The bathroom has double doors which open unto the jacuzzi tub. To each side are sinks with the shower stall being on one side and an enclosed toilet on the other. The toilet enclosure was a bit strange and the shower size precludes anything more than solo bathing. The room upon arrival did exhibit a bit of a musty smell. I had ordered from the butler tea candles which I used each evening. The candles come 3 to an order for about $1.50 and this remedied the musty smell. The only problem with the room occurred on the first day when we had no hot water. Wife was forced to take a cold shower but after the water had been running for 45 mins the hot water made an appearance and we never had this problem again. I have no explanation for this but we did not have to report the problem.

Butler: Butler service was exceptional and exceeded my expectations. My expectation being after I passed a gratuity to the butler on the first day he would do his best Houdini impression and disappear. This was not the case. Shortly after arrival, the butler arrived and asked what requests we had and explained what his role was. I ordered a bottle of wine as well as a bottle of Havana Club and some limes. I also ordered bananas for each morning as a pre-gym snack. These were delivered promptly. Your butler will draw your bath and will be the person to bring your ice. The butler will also make sure your selections from the pillow menu are delivered. I asked on the first day for candles each day and a bath for the wife to be drawn every evening prior to dinner. This was done without having to ask a second time. Our two butlers also made it a point to ask us each day if there was anything we needed without being intrusive. I am grateful for their caring service.

Drinks/Drink Service: Never an issue. Top shelf liquors and palatable wines on the inclusive list. Try the Mandarin Sours if you need a break from whiskey. Very tasty. Never a problem getting a drink whether it be by the activity pool, swim up bar, beach or tranquility pool. I, as a cowboy, tend to drink early and often and I never waited for a drink. As the alcohol flows freely, the Bubba kegs can remain at home. I will note, that I used the gym and spa pool quite a bit and the juice bar was frequently unattended. So it was hit or miss for an after work out smoothie.

Pools: Three pools, a large salt water activity pool, a quiet pool and indoor pool in the spa building. The outdoor pools had ample seating, and although played by some the towel game was not necessary. That being said the hotel had about 40% occupancy so it may be different at 100%. Plenty of shaded spots as well at both pools. Indoor pool was great and offered a variety of hydro massages at no charge. The indoor pool also came in handy when we had a rainy morning. Set up shop there until the sun returned. A nice option also in the event you catch to much sun. Also note, the activity pools jacuzzi was not a hot tub. Temp was the same as the pool. You need to go to the quiet pool for a true hot tub.

Beach: We spent the majority of our time on the beach. Plenty of shaded palapas and comfy loungers. If you want to imagine this beach, think of the Corona commercials. I performed a personal reenactment with a bucket of Coronas and limes each day. We had the beach almost to ourselves each day and still received great service. Hint. At present it appears that the building on the right if you are facing the ocean is not being used in the slow season while the left side building is occupied. The beach on the left, closest to the Maya was crowded with nearly every palapa taken. The beach on the right was pretty deserted. In order to swim, however, you must walk down the beach toward the Maya. We did take a long walk down to Secrets at Maroma Beach. Secrets was much more crowded and I think Playa Paraiso is as nice as Maroma but decide for yourself. Maroma had more seaweed in front of Secrets and it seemed much more active as you have a few other resorts in the vicinity whereas at the Iberostar to the right of the Grand is deserted. Also check out the Maroma Resort and Spa on the way to Secrets. You will know it when you see it. The walk should take about 30-45 mins each way and you might want to wear sandals as parts can be rocky.

Gym: We used the gym each morning except for the last day. The gym is small. Three treadmills and three other cardio machines as well as one bike. Gym can be crowded before breakfast but we got in around 8am each morning and usually got the equipment we wanted. After 8am all bets are off. Also, one free bench only and limited dumbbells. Heaviest weight being 60 pounds. The machines were in good working order but limited in nature. Two chest, one shoulder, one dip, one bicep, one tri, two leg, an ab machine and one station round out the equipment. The gym had a problem cooling down. Temp was always 23.5C or hot in English. Cowboy was forced on a couple of days to dig out a fan hidden behind some equipment to try to cool the place down. Please note the sauna and steam room in the mens and womens locker rooms are not operating at present. Best guess from staff is they will be operational again in December.

Spa: Did not use it and did not see it. Although I've never been there they tell me it's nice. Wife did use it for a massage and an exfoliation and enjoyed both. She had her services in the on site spa. There is also a spa for the complex near the commercial center. Additionally, on the beach there is a palapa where you can receive a massage with the ocean in the background.

Entertainment/Shows: Only attended two shows but they exceeded my expectations. The magic show had a world class magician and the Broadway revue had some great singers. The resort hires talent as the headliners and the star friends supplement the group. I had no intention of attending any of the shows prior to arrival but they really were much better than expected.

Staff: The staff are really what makes this resort special. Service is impeccable and they try very hard to get to know your names and your preferences. After the first two days Humberto, our breakfast waiter knew what coffees and juices we liked and brought them over to the table without asking. Chef Olivia is charming and thoughtful. Eder and David of the Star Friends have a great sense of humor and put up my teasing. Alejandra the hostess and Luis the table captain were also exceptional. In addition to your gratuities you can also return the kindness of the staff by singling them out to management. I did this in two ways. First, on the Wednesday buffet, you will be given a customer satisfaction survey. I learned from the staff that it is very helpful for their prospects of promotion if you single them out by name. Iberostar really does want your comments and does use them in evaluating staff. The second way is to introduce yourself to the managers and tell them if someone gave you exceptional service. If you pay attention you can figure out who the higher ups are. I met the head of the Star Friends and the Head Chef of the resort told them about certain employees who went above and beyond. These people work 12 hour days, six days a week and never fail to have a smile or a kind word. I cannot express my gratitude for their hospitality enough.

Resort Complex: The complex itself is large and a world unto itself. That being said, I saw very little of the other hotels. If you are interested in what the complex has to offer, I suggest taking a bike tour. Twice a day, at 10am and 4pm, the Star Friends will lead those interested on a guided bike tour of the complex. The wife took the tour and enjoyed it. I was precluded from joining her as I have a medical condition which requires my blood alcohol to remain at a high level when I am on vacation. My physician prescribed a regime that included five drinks per hour, every hour, every afternoon. Thus it was inadvisable for me to stray to far from a bartender.

Activities: The hotel offers just about any activity you can imagine. An active person will never be bored. Two rounds of golf are included in your stay along with tennis, sailing kayaking, beach volleyball, pool basketball, dive lessons...the list is enormous. The ocean activities are located at a hut between the Grand and the Maya. Further down the beach you can parasail or jet ski. If the red flag is up you cannot kayak. If the water is rougher, they will not allow you to sail. Sadly, due to the medical condition described above, I was unable to participate in these activities.

Excursions: There are numerous excursions you can purchase from the tour operators in the hotel lobby. You can also purchase prior to departure diving and snorkeling trips from Dressel Divers who has two locations on the complex. We were torn about leaving the resort for an excursion but finally decided on a trip to Isla Mujeres. For about $100 per person you receive transport to and from the hotel to the Cancun Marina, you sail from Cancun to the Isla, snorkel offshore for 45 mins, shop for 1.5 hours, sail again for 30 mins, have a buffet lunch on the beach and sail back to Cancun. All food and drinks are included. If you are looking for a pure snorkeling experience you should probably try a different excursion as I have snorkeled twice off Isla and I can only describe it as decent at best. However, the other parts of this excursion make it worthwhile. It is adult only and the crew is terrific. The drinks flow freely and if conditions are right you can do a mini parasail right from the boat. Really cool. Special thanks to our new friends from Canada, Jenny and Jason who helped make it such a great time. I purchased this excursion right from the resort. It will be an all day excursion.

Food: This is for me the most difficult part of the review. Palates, like opinions can vary. I will only describe to you what I observed and felt during the meals. To sum it up in a sentence, the presentation was perfect but the execution of the dishes failed at times.

Breakfast: We only did the buffet and not a la carte or room service. Standard choices, eggs cooked to order, mini waffles, mini pancakes, breakfast meats, etc. Also available are many Mexican dishes, salads, fruits, juices, cereals and breads. You can ask Chef Olivia to make you a fresh fruit smoothie as well. Only breakfast issue was some undercooked eggs on the first day.

Lunch: We did a combo each day of the a la carte lunch along with the buffet. Best thing I ate at the resort were the jumbo grilled shrimp on the a la carte lunch menu. Had them every day except for the first day. First day, I tried the lobster and it was over cooked and rubbery. Shrimp was always grilled perfectly. These suckers are messy so ask for extra napkins. Also a word of caution, they are served European style with the head attached and the shell intact. This turned off some other diners. Wife ordered the fresh fish every day from the a la carte. The grouper and red snapper were excellent. Probably he best red snapper i have tried. The swordfish and salmon were not so great. Swordfish was overcooked and the salmon undercooked. Wife also had a Kobe burger the first day that was also overcooked. The buffet offers a selection of meat, fish and Mexican dishes as well as salads, fruit, paella, rice, potatoes, etc. Buffet items can be hit or miss depending on your taste. The cheese selection was great and the resort offers an amazing Brie and an amazing Blue on a daily basis. Service was excellent. On a personal note we dined outside each day for lunch and were befriended by a family of cats who inhabit the resort. You would be doing this cowboy a great service if you would look after these friends by sharing your lunch with them as well as some affection. They certainly appreciate it.

Dinners: Consistency and execution were the biggest problems dinner wise. Some dishes were good others not so much. I would not consider any of the food great. The first night we tried the Japanese. The tuna sashimi was more like a carpaccio but pretty good nonetheless. The shrimp tempura also good. The hibachi steak and lobster not so good. Both were under seasoned and overcooked. The veggies and fried rice were good. This pretty much set the tone for most dinners. Great service, great atmosphere and inconsistent food. We did make friends with the two other couples at the table and stayed so late they almost threw us out, so overall a good night.

Second night we tried the Steakhouse. The spouse had a double cut fillet cooked perfectly, I had a rib eye that was over cooked despite telling the waiter I wanted it muy rojo. They also forgot my lobster tail. They have an interesting interpretation of Caesar salad about which I cannot make up my mind as to whether I liked it despite having it twice. They also forgot our intermezzo. We made up for this by ordering the sorbet as a dessert and it was delicious. Service again excellent. Nice atmosphere but try to be seated away from large parties as the noise can carry in the dining rooms. We observed one couple actually walk out before being served because of the noise from a large group. Probably an over reaction but the group was a bit rowdy. This happened one another occasion but was the exception rather than the rule. The second time we ate here on the last night, the meal was more consistent and the meat was cooked properly. They also brought me an extra tail after I requested another to go with my fillet. I think you will do better with the fillet here than the other cuts of beef.

Italian: Again inconsistent. The caprese salad was good. The risotto, both the lobster and the mushroom (we each tried one) very good. The lamb, not so good. We both prefer our lamb rare. Her's was mid rare at best and mine was mid well. Presentation wonderful as was the service. Very pretty dining room and you can also dine outdoors as well.

Gourmet: My least favorite. In fact we were scheduled for two dinners here and changed back to the steak house after the first. The room is very elegant and the service as usual excellent but the execution of the dishes was a problem. For example, I started with their interpretation of onion soup. The broth was bland and the soup was room temp, not hot. I will eat soup that is hot and soup that is cold but you lose me on room temp. soup. Also had the lamb again, and again overcooked. Trust me when I tell you I was being clear on my cooking preferences so it is kind of inexplicable that we had these problems. The potatoes served with the lamb were excellent and worthy of any gourmet dining room. That is what was most frustrating about the a la carte dining rooms. On the same plate you can have such inconsistency.

Interestingly enough, the buffets were the two best dinners we had. Interesting in the sense we are not buffet diners and did not realize prior to departure that on Wednesday and Sunday you do not have the choice of any a la carte dining and must use the buffets. This is my fault for not asking but the buffets are great. Sunday is the Mexican buffet and Wednesday the International. Both offer a myriad of choices and everything I tried both nights was very good. On the international night you can even have your steak cooked to order while you wait. Chef Olivia is wonderful.

Overall, I would say the a la carte dining is about two notches below Grand Velas and maybe a notch below a good cruise line. This is not to say that the food was inedible. Quite the opposite. It was the inconsistency that was frustrating. You will receive great service and you will dine in an elegant and romantic setting and this goes a long way to off set problems with the execution of the dishes.

Business Center: The business center is really more of a library with internet access. There is no printer in the room. However, if you need to print boarding passes here is a tip. Get the desk clerk to give you the email to the front desk (sorry I did not save it) and then email the boarding passes to the front desk. The clerk can then print them for you. Staff is always willing to assist in any way possible which makes this hotel so special. Please note if you want to change dollars into pesos at the desk you will need your passport. I forgot this fact twice.

Check out: The night prior to departure you are presented with a bill for review of any incidental expenses or spa charges. The bill was accurate and no issues paying it the next day. Ground transport from USA was right on time and no issues returning to the airport.

Stay at this hotel. Stay here if you want a great beach, a relaxing atmosphere, a place to re-connect with a loved one and great service. The service here is as good as anywhere I have ever stayed. It is also more personal as the staff makes an effort to get to know you as an individual. I am telling you that despite my observations regarding the food, we intend to return here as soon as possible. We generally like to try new places each vacation but we will be hard pressed not to return here as soon as we are able.

  • Stayed October 2010, 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
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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 On the Beach Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#1 Romantic Hotel in Playa Paraiso
#1 Family 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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