I posted this review a few months back when we returned from the RPR. Looking through recent posts I see a lot of questions that I answered in my posts so I decided to "repost". Beware, it's a super long review, but I hope it helps!
To give some perspective, my husband and I are both 29 years old, from Ohio. This was our 6th trip to Mexico, all previous trips we have stayed in Cancun. As far as other tropical vacations, we have also been to Punta Cana and Maui. As I read other reviews of the RPR, many said “not a 4 star hotel”….I am the first to say that a 4 star in Mexico is NOT a 4 star in the US. But, the RPR comes very close. There are a few differences between a 4 star in the US and the Royal because it’s in Mexico and it’s an all-inclusive, but overall it was great. When going to Mexico, we have always gone with AppleVacations or FunJet, this time we ended up using FunJet.
We have never had a problem using Apple or Funjet, it is always great. We did pay an extra $19 per person for the non-stop transfer. From the airport to the resort we were in a van with other people, but were the first to get dropped off. On the way back to the airport we had a private car. If you’re going to the Playa area it may be worth it to pay the extra $....other people who did not do the non-stop said it took up to 3 hours to get to their resort.
There was a definite WOW factor when entering this hotel. It is brand new, all marble, and has very tasteful décor….something you don’t often see at other resorts in Mexico. I thought the set-up was great, and it was very easy to find your way around.
CHECK-IN: We also read all of the reviews about overbooking and not getting your requested room. We had reserved a junior suite ocean view. We arrived at the hotel at 11am…we received friendly, fast service at the front desk…AND we were able to go to our rooms immediately. This is the very first time out of all of our vacations that we could get into our room before 3pm. We were VERY happy!!! From reading other reviews, we knew that we would not have a full ocean room, but we were very happy with our room. It was room 726…this is in the “new building” on the second floor. It is not in the main “U” section of the hotel. We were facing the courtyard and had an ok view of the ocean.
I tried to look around for “good rooms” and here’s what I found. Most rooms are not street side, I would say less than 1/4th of the rooms. To get oceanview, which is directly in front of the ocean, they told us it would be an additional $120 per person, per night….the per person sounded weird, but that’s what they said. Some of the oceanview rooms are 524-529, 735-738 on the 2nd floor, 514-518, 635-638 on 1st floor.
Like I said, our room was 726, on the second floor, facing the courtyard….as the number gets higher, you get closer to the ocean….so 726-735 would be facing courtyard, on the second floor, 735 being closest to the ocean. The 600’s would be on the first floor, and the 800’s on the third floor.
I saw that many people complained about timeshare people…but we did NOT get approached once. They will slide a card in your room saying “we missed you”….ignore this card, this is to meet with someone who will try to sell you timeshare. Some of the hotel staff is located in the lobby area and they are there to sell timeshares….for some reason we did not get approached (maybe because we look very young, dressed in flips with a beer).
The 24 hour lounge had cookies and cheeses…liquor and soft drinks, along with pool and ping pong tables. This was great if you wanted a quick drink.
The gym was actually very nice, MUCH better than other resorts!
ROOM: The rooms was wonderful, it honestly looked like we were the very first people to have stayed in our room. We got a king size bed as requested…and yes, the beds are firm, but they always are in Mexico. We laughed when we saw the Jacuzzi, it was HUGE. Unfortunately, we never found the time to use it. Everything worked just fine in the room…the water got hot very quickly, and the air conditioning was GREAT. Our balcony had a small table, 2 chairs, and a wonderful hammock. We don’t spend much time in the room, but it was very nice that there were so many American stations. In other Mexican resorts there are very few, this one had: 3 HBO’s, Cinemax, TNT, Animal Planet, A&E, and for those of you with kids…Disney and Cartoon Network. It was weird, there were times when these stations were in Spanish, but most times they were in English. I heard a couple people complain that their remotes did not work…press “TV” and it will, some people will complain about everything. There was also a small table in the entry, and a small couch in the couch by the Jacuzzi. The bathroom was great, there was a little hallway with a sink and large area for toiletries and then an bathroom with the toilet and large shower, and the tiniest sink ever. I don’t have any complaints about the room. There is a hair dryer and iron/ironing board. The minfridge was great, compared to other resorts it actually keeps drinks cold.
At other resorts we tip the maids and ask certain or extra drinks…but, at this resort the maids do not restock, there is a separate cart that delivers the drinks. I think they come by your room everyday, but if you’re not there when they stop by, you don’t really get anything. Stocked in the fridge is tonic water, bottled water, coke, diet coke, XX beer, orange and tomato juice, and sprite. There was also a bottle of whiskey, rum, and vodka. Our bottles were sealed so they were new. If you miss the cart or want something different/additional you can call room service and they will deliver. We did this when we knew we would be in the room a while, and within 20 minutes they arrived. We did order food room service a couple times and it was GREAT. They always got our orders correct, and it was there within 25 minutes. They don’t use the little door thingy….no big deal, tip the guy a couple bucks, they work very hard. I can understand that people may complain about noise, but we did not find it a problem. Maybe we were tired…and/or drunk …but we did not have a problem falling asleep and we were never awaken by noise.
PELICANOS: This is an open-air, a la carte restaurant located right by the beach. Breakfast hours are 7-10:30am, Lunch from 11:30-5pm, and Dinner from 6-11pm. You do not need reservations, just show up and they will seat you. We ate here a couple times for lunch, and the food and service was great. Keep in mind, the menu is kind of limited, but you can order whatever you want. For example, my husband really wanted a cheeseburger and fries and it was not on the menu….did not matter, they served it and it was great. This restaurant was never crowded, and was really nice to sit outside.
SPICE: This is the buffet. Breakfast hours are 1-11:30am, Lunch from 12:30-5pm, and Dinner from 6-11pm. LUNCH: There was always a pasta bar…you choose what they put in your pasta, and choose your sauce. There was a large salad bar with several different dressings to choose from. I have been reluctant to eat too much salad in Mexico, but I had a salad everyday and never got sick. The veggies were VERY fresh and tasted great. There was also a large cheese/cracker bar, and a dessert bar. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but the deserts were AWESOME. Then there were 2 stations, cooking fish, steak, pork for dinner. BREAKFAST: There was a juice bar, and 2 stations where you could have omelets made. The omelets were great, I think my husband could have eaten them for every meal. There were pancakes and my favorite, the french toast. There were some weird items, and the typical hash browns and scrambled eggs.
DINNER: The food selection was similar to lunch. We only ate at the buffet 2 times for dinner…after breakfast and lunch we wanted a change.
The service at the buffet….this was really the only time we had “bad” service. Basically, you wait to be seated and once you’re at your table you wait for the waiter to get your drink orders. Sometimes this took a while, and many times it took a long time to get your drinks and the refills were very slow. This is nothing to get worried about, it wasn’t a big deal, I just thought I would mention it.
ASIANA: This is an ala carte restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner. We LOVED this restaurant. We did NOT have a problem with reservations….we walked into the restaurant at noon and made reservations for that same evening at 7:30. We loved it so much that we made another reservation for a couple nights later. This restaurant basically has a cook in the center of the restaurant cooking the meat/seafood and veggies on a large grill…you get the choice of teriyaki meals and sushi. We had spring rolls and sushi for an appetizer….both were great. We got a combination sushi platter and really liked everything, that could have been a meal by itself. The actual teriyaki meal was awesome. The atmosphere was really nice…very modern, not super fancy, but was a nice change from the buffet. It indicates that men should wear slacks, but my husband had nice shorts and a polo shirt and was dressed just fine. Service was EXCELLENT.
MARIA MARIE: Unfortunately we never ate here, but heard it was great!
LOBBY BAR: This was open 9-12am. There were several chairs around the bar, and you could always find a seat. There were also several chairs, couches, and tables in the lobby area...it was a huge area, and there was a pool table. Service here was “ok”…at times it did take a while to get a drink…and we are friendly and always tip.
TEQUILA & CIGAR BAR: This was open 5pm-1am. It was outside near the lobby….small bar with only a few seat, but several chairs and tables on the patio. We found this bar to have great service and very friendly bartenders.
TRADE WINDS: This is open 10am-7pm. There are actually 2 bars…one with swings near the pool, and the other was the swim-up bar. Honestly, the service was slow because so many people wanted drinks. It got frustrating at times, but it by no means upset us.
DRINKS: Looking at the different bottles of alcohol, it would be difficult for you not to find something you like. To us, it looked like they had several top shelf selections.
We are both beer drinkers, and every other hotel we have stayed at has only had XX draft. They had XX in bottles or draft, XX Lagar, Tecate, Tecate Light, and our favorite… Sol in bottles. For those of you who haven’t had Sol and prefer American light beer, you will love this beer. And, to actually have bottles, we were in heaven. The only beer in your room was XX, if you want something else call room service. Also, the pool bars don’t serve bottles…for obvious reasons.
Again, the bar service in some areas was slow….I don’t want this to deter anyone from this resort, but it was the only noticeable fault we could find.
POOL: As other’s have said, the areas with shade are saved very early in the morning. But overall there were plenty of chairs. Many people have complained about the pool being cold…I actually found it to be very refreshing. Right next to the main (HUGE) pool was a hot tub and kiddie pool. Then there was a separate pool for activities and where the swim-up bar is located.
BEACH: The reason we love Cancun is because of the beautiful beaches and water, I was very nervous that we would be disappointed, but we were NOT. The water near the pier, to the right, was rocky…but the left side of the beach had the clear beautiful water we have always enjoyed in Cancun. The only difference was it was much calmer. On a couple days there were hardly any waves, and others just mild waves. If you walk to the right you go over the pier and to the Gran Porto Real….this area was a little difficult to walk. To the left you could walk for miles! But, be aware…walking to the left there are several public beaches and there were several topless women (we don’t care, but I know some do). On our actual beach there were very few topless women and none at the pool.
A couple pictures I have make it seem like the beach was very crowded, but it was actually much less crowded than the pool….plenty of chairs.
We did not use the spa, sorry no feedback.
GUEST: I would say a very diverse crowd. About 50% were European…speedos first clue, language the second. About 30% Canadian, and 20% American. There were lots of families with kids, couples, and people of all ages. There was one large group of high school kids with a few parents and they did drive us a little crazy. It was strange seeing someone who looked 13 years old ordering a Crown and Coke while smoking a cigar…I would have hated to be the parents responsible.
LOCATION: This was the primary reason we chose this resort and we were NOT disappointed. You are steps away from 5th avenue and we made several trips into Playa Del Carmen. If you are worried that it is unsafe, do not be!!! I am a female and went for a long run down 5th avenue at 8am and felt very safe. Even though we did all-inclusive, we did eat on 5th a few times and it was GREAT. The restaurants are not “Americanized” and may look a little dingy, but they were so fun and you got a true feel that you would in Mexico. Walking down 5th avenue was awesome….it is a brick street closed to traffic that is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. You could walk up and down all night. We found a favorite bar, Tequila Barrel and we sat there for hours drinking and people watching.
If you are trying to choose between Playa Del Carmen and Cancun, I would highly recommend Playa. Cancun was our annual vacation, now it is Playa. Directly in Playa you will not see many large resorts (really there are only the Royal and Gran Porto Real)…and they do look a little out of place. We did find there was more of a language barrier in Playa, than in Cancun, but it really wasn’t a problem.
We walked into Playacar one day, where most of the other AI resorts are located….and it would be quite a walk to 5th if you are staying at these other resorts. If you want an AI and want to be near Playa, than the Royal is the place for you!! The Gran looked nice, but I thought their beach was horrible.
After reading reviews and now having stayed at the Royal, I think that some people are not meant to visit Mexico. We stayed at a 4 star in Maui and had a good time…but it was not the laid-back, fun time that Mexico provides. They do speak another language, their hamburgers don’t taste like McDonald’s, they don’t serve Bud Light…but that’s what I like. I want to disregard makeup for a week, wear flip flops to dinner, and still get great service.