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Reviewed February 27, 2011

This was our second visit to La Amada. During our first visit in March, 2010, we were in awe of the beauty of the hotel and the attentiveness of the staff, and we were amazed (but pleased) that this gem was not overrun with guests. Now, almost a year later, we were elated to see that much of what we loved remains the same (including staff, some of whom remembered us from our first visit), but were saddened to see that it is no loner the hidden gem we loved. We stayed 3 nights (arrived Thursday and left Sunday). Thursday night and Friday, everything was just as fabulous as we remembered. Then we learned that the hotel was expecting 100% occupancy for the weekend. Uh oh.

On Saturday and Sunday we saw no increase in staff, and the service deteriorated rapidly. They simply were not equipped to handle 100% occupancy. For breakfast, room service on Friday morning promised delivery in 25-30 minutes and delivered in 25. On Saturday room service promised delivery in 35-40 minutes and took over 2 hours.

On Friday we rented a cabana on the beach (which included champagne, water and a plate of fresh fruit) and had very attentive service. It was such a great experience, we reserved a cabana for Saturday as well. We got the cabana, a warm bottle of champagne with no ice and had to chase down a waiter to get ice or anything else. The third day we decided to stay at the main pool instead of the beach. Even though it is right next to Isla Grill, we still, we had to search for a waiter and beg for food or drink. Sometimes our order arrived (eventually), sometimes not.

When we called for dinner reservations we were told there were none available. Luckily we went to Aroma anyway and were seated promptly without a reservation. Isla Grill seemed to be overrun at dinner (probably full of people who were told Aroma was full). We never had dinner there, but understand it was good.

Some aspects of La Amada remain spectacular:
- The staff is incredible. Hardworking, sincerely friendly and helpful - just overwhelmed.
- The spa. Do not miss! Order your choice of spa treatment (I recommend a massage) and take advantage of the complementary agua viva. It's an experience you won't forget.
- Room service breakfast - definitely the way to go, even when it takes too long.
- The rooms. Impeccable.

Some things seem to have improved in the last year:
- The food was good but not outstanding last year. Still not outstanding, but improved. You won't be disappointed.
- The beach. This is not and will never be a world class beach. You won't see miles of sugary white sand, and you probably won't even want to swim or snorkel here. But there is always a nice cool breeze and the sight and sound of the waves are mesmerizing. What has improved is that they seem to be doing a great job of keeping the seaweed cleaned off the beach. Not a huge deal; just a nicer view. Also, the beach cabanas are a nice addition. Although I didn't take advantage of them, they now offer sea kayaks and catamarans for water sports.
- English. The staff's English is much improved. I actually preferred it last year when knowing a little Spanish was an advantage. No Spanish at all required now.

Some notes (could be good or bad, but at least it may cut down on surprises):

1. Dinner restaurants. They say they have three. That is technically accurate, but only two are open at a time. The Isla Grill (at the main pool) was open for lunch and dinner every day. The other 2 restaurants, Aroma and Lupita (one billed as their "Mexican restaurant") are open on alternate days. The odd thing is that, on the day we arrived, the bellman told us that Lupita restaurant would be the one open that night and suggested we make reservations right away so as not to miss the great Mexican food. We did, and it was good. The next night we at at Aroma, and it was literally the identical menu, and we had the same waiter. Only the location changed. Although not a restaurant, there is also Lupita Lounge that serves sushi and cocktails. I heard some complaining that it was substandard and not "real sushi" (whatever that means). I'm not a sushi connoisseur, but I found the sushi, drinks and nightly entertainment very enjoyable.

2. All inclusive. This was not an option a year ago. We read a few reviews that warned of expensive meals (and very expensive drinks) and were prepared for what to expect, but it might have been a shock if we had not. The prices are about the same now, but now all-inclusive is offered as an option. As one reviewer explained, it's a no-brainer. All food and drinks are included for one price per person per day, period. All meals, all snacks, all drinks, all room service, everything in your mini-bar, everything. If you want a bottle of wine rather than their house wines by the glass, that is not included. Otherwise, everything. You don't have to go hog wild to get your money's worth. If you have more than one meal a day and some drinks, you'll save money. Plus, it's nice to be able to just order what you want without thinking too much about it. Incidentally, no goofy bracelets or other identifiers are required. Everything gets charged to your room, but if you're on the all-inclusive plan, the charge goes away. Note that all-inclusive does not include tips. You should tip generously (at least as much as you would if you were paying the full tab, and probably more), and that tip will show up as a charge on your room.

3. Breakfast. Last year we ate breakfast at Aroma every day. Technically it's a buffet, but at least last year, it was a civilized affair as far as buffets go. This year, it was a zoo. Overcrowded, chaotic and decimated by people overloading their plates like it was going to be their only meal (and only trip through the line) for the day. We stayed as far away from Aroma as possible and ordered room service breakfast instead. Even when it took longer than promised, room service breakfast was amazing. With that as an option, nothing could make me brave the buffet line at Aroma.

4. Water temperature. The main pool is heated, but is not warm by my standards. It would be refreshing in the heat of summer, but is barely tolerable when air temperatures are in the 70s and low 80s. The other pools are not heated. Given the temperature of the heated pool, I did not brave the unheated ones. From what I saw, nobody else did, either. The spas at each pool are heated, but they are not hot. They are closer to what I would expect from a heated pool. Similarly, if you have a room with a plunge pool, don't expect it to be hot or even warm. Theoretically they are heated. Our thermostat was set on 38C (100F), but I'd be surprised if it ever got over about 86F. It looks like a hot tub, but it's not, so don't expect it to be one. If you want hot, the whirlpool tub in your room will get HOT. And by the way, it's a little shallow, but it holds two people comfortably. If you don't want to touch the other person, bathe alone. If it's too shallow for you by yourself, um, disregard my recommendation about the all-inclusive plan.

5. Bathrooms. The shower is world class. You won't want to leave it. We never ran out of hot water, and we tried. The shower door is frosted glass, and so is the door to the toilet. Probably not a good venue for a first date, but after that, get over it.

6. Wireless Internet. It's there, and it works. It works in your room, at the pool and even on the beach. I never had trouble connecting, getting my e-mail or browsing an occasional website. It's not fast. You probably have more Internet bandwidth in your home than is shared by the entire state of Quintana Roo. Don't expect to download movies, play online games, watch streaming video or your Slingbox, make VOIP phone calls or video chat on Skype.

7. Room Choice. Last year we stayed in a 2-story beachfront casita. This year we had the Oceanview Terrace Suite. Both seem to have about the same amount of usable space (the square footage figures include the private terrace). The main difference is that with the casita suite, the terrace and plunge pool are upstairs from the room - essentially the roof. With the Oceanview Terrace Suite, the room and terrace are on the same floor - much more convenient. On the other hand, the casita is a few steps from the beach, while the oceanview terrace suite is in the main hotel with a great view of the ocean (and the marina, too, in our case), but doesn't have the feeling of being AT the beach like the casita does. A room in the hotel is more convenient for the restaurants and the spa, while the casita is closer to the beach and the main pool.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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10  Thank TulsaTime918
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2011

I need to begin this review by stating that the best way to get to Excellence (EPM) or La Amada is via Cancun Transfers. I did my research and was hesitant on almost every company as there were mixed reviews (late picking up at airport or hotel, etc). I even called La Amada to find out what outside service was most dependable as paying $138 for the service by the hotel was outrageous and they recommended Hertz, which I decided against in the end. I live in NYC and I'm used to paying out of my ears for cabs/car service, but that rate is beyond steep. Anyway, I booked Cancun Transfers and they were amazing. After clearing customs, we met a liaison outside holding a board with my name on it. He radioed for the driver and in the meantime wrote me the ticket for the return trip. I didn't book the top car (I chose the $70 option round trip) and the driver pulls up in a Ford Explorer. Not bad, sure beats 75% of the vehicles on the road. Driver was excellent and got us to La Amada quickly, didn't make small talk the entire way. On the return, We arranged to have the car pick us up at the hotel at 9:00AM. The driver showed up at 9:02AM in an Escalade. Again, quick drive back to the airport, very nice driver. For $70 round trip, this cannot be beat. That's half the cost of the service that La Amada provides (their SUV is a GMC) and cab's will cost you $125 from the airport via Hertz. I couldn't be happier with this decision.

I have to agree with the previous post about the check in service. It was lacking the vital details about tipping policy, percent of bill, if we can tip on the check or needs to be in pesos or USD, how the all inclusive works, etc. I stayed in the 2 story casita, which was absolutely amazing. I've stayed at Beach Palace and Moon palace and this room beats the pants off of those. Mini bar is included in the all inclusive, which had Perrier, Coke, Fanta, Bud Light. Budweiser, Heneiken, Corona, Red Bull, Nips of Absolut, Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo and Johnnie Walker and featured snacks like M&Ms, twix, chips, and Ferrero Rocher. The plunge pool upstairs was very nice, but like most people said, very cold. I called the front desk on the first day and someone came to fix the heating timer to be on longer or earlier. Whatever he did, it worked for sure. If its cold, you need to call and have them adjust. There are 7 Casitas in total, 5 face the beach, 2 are behind and have terrible views of nothing (Bella & Bonita). If you're staying in a casita, request any other one but those two and ask for the #4 side as the #4 room has the most sun (for the plunge pool and laying out on the bed).

The service was good, not fantastic. Most employees do not greet you in passing unless you say Hi to them first, which is a turn off. The waitstaff overall were very nice and accommodating. I can't recall any of them saying no in regards to special requests on dishes. Jorge, Spencer and Yolanda were 3 people that really stood out to my girlfriend and I. One night I wasn't feeling too well and my girlfriend wanted desert, so Spencer suggested that we go back to the room and he would deliver the desert and check to us. About 20 minutes later after the restaurant closed, he showed up with desert and the check for us to sign. Little things like that, which was really out of the way for him, made us really appreciate it.

On the other hand, the hostess at Aroma and Lapita Lounge was always in a foul mood. I stopped by Lapita Lounge to make reservations on my way to the gym and as I was leaving, she looked me up and down and said "don't forget the dress code!" This really took me aback as yeah, i might be in a tshirt and shorts, but theres no need to say it with such tone like I look like a homeless person. The following night, we went to Aroma and she was at the hostess booth again. We arrived around 9pm (which is on the late side for dinner) and there were about 4 tables open with a nice view and much more private and quiet. Instead of sitting us there, she put us at the table under a bright light right next to her hostess booth where most of the staff congregate. I requested to sit in one of the more private tables and she said "did you make a reservation?" and I responded with "no I didn't" (since you don't need them even if its 100% full) so she replied with "then this is all I have for you". No one sat at those open tables for the rest of the night and we sat next to the waitstaff joking around and her phone ringing for room service. It would have been one thing if people who made reservations showed up and sat there, but we were the last arriving party that night.

The hotel seems too structured and not flexible in terms of accomodating to certain situations. One morning I was in the pool socializing with other guests and in the span of about 30-45 minutes about 5-6 parties of people went to the swim up bar to only find that it didn't open until noon. You had to exit the pool, walk into Isla Grill and order a drink. If the pool is busy and there are mass amounts of people to serve, management should recognize this and open up the swim up bar earlier instead of waiting for the clock to strike 12 on the dot. Service on the beach is terrible and its not the staff's fault. Most people go to the beach for relaxation to get away from the families of kids at the only heated pool in the resort and they have 1 to 2 staff members attending to everyone. Ordering a drink is a 30 minute process, whereas you could get it yourself if you go to the restaurant in 5 minutes. Again, management should recognize this and put more servers out there during peak times.

The resort has 3 main pools, 1 near the beach and 2 by the main block of rooms. The pool by the beach is quite small and is heated, which means everyone uses it. The other two are big but are frigid cold. No one uses them for this reason, which is unfortunate because it would spread everyone out and the staff could organize water sports in one of them to promote socializing among guests. Walk to EPM and use their pool, its huge. Lastly, the beach water isn't very nice. There are mass amounts of seaweed covering the entire shoreline and the first 10 feet in the water. The water is not aqua blue like the hotel zone and there are no waves, which is unfortunate as cancun has some of the best beaches.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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5  Thank DJGFunk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2011

Beautiful hotel, lovely wait staff, house keeping and bartenders. The absolute worst management ever. We received a daily letter in our room that was a complete joke. It discussed the next day's activities which never happened. Bonfire? Not exactly, and by that, I mean, not at all. Tequila tasting? 3 bottles set on a tiny bar with no explanation.

And, what was really special, there was a wedding that (God bless them) took over a third of the hotel and caused one of the three restaurants to be closed down each night--no one from the hotel communicated this to guests, and when questioned, had little remorse. When I called to ask how long the DJ would be playing music that reverberated all the way to my penthouse Ocean Suite ACROSS THE PROPERTY, I was told 1am--did I want to change rooms? Since I'm paying for one of the best rooms on property and would just be moved to an inferior room on a lower level after 8 days--this didn't exactly solve the problem. No apology, no clear plan communicated.

My problem is, it is not difficult to communicate with your guests, especially when you put a letter in their room every afternoon. So, learn how to do it, and do it honestly. If there is a wedding on property that will take over 1/3 of the hotel and disturb your guests into the wee hours of the morning, tell them.

High commendations go to the concierge team, who work hard to make up for management's complete lack of professionalism. I don't know who runs this hotel, but you are not doing it well.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
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7  Thank ccbrooklyn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2011

Where do I start? I was very excited for my time at La Amada based on the reviews and photos. When arriving, we were happy about the seclusion and safety of the setting. It is a beautiful quiet area.

BUT...
The check in was strange - they only had 1 person at the desk, it was very slow, they took our photos, not friendly or helpful. I had to ask the right questions to get answers. Worst part - we had to sign something saying we would not bring any outside FOOD OR DRINK into our room - not even water!! They do this so you feel you have to buy the all inclusive - which after reading reviews we chose not to do. We had a rental car and it was an easy drive into Cancun for food choices. But, water was $4.00 a bottle in your room! Tea and coffee cost in your room - everything was nickle and diming us!!

Anyway - an employee helped us with our luggage - took us to our room - which at first sight I was VERY impressed with - beautiful room with our own pool and private terrace. First thing I noticed - the photos on the website show that your pool is pretty much on the beach - that you walk out into the sand - NOT TRUE! There was not one like this!! There are huts and chairs and palm trees and landscaping all between you and the beach. We got lucky with the perfect location for our room though - we noticed most of these rooms with their own pools do not get any sun.

Anyway, the guy who helped us with our luggage and took us to our room told us a brief summary about the place on the walk there. We handed him a tip as he was about to leave, and he looked at it immediatley and looked angry at us! It was 50 pesos (around $4.50) and he acted as though we screwed him over! All he had done was haul our bags to our room - which we could have done ourselves. He stomped out of the room seemingly mad at us! We were shocked!

The room had an obvious problem with air conditioning. They have it set so you can't change it. We had maintenence come to fix it and he said it was fine, but the entire 5 days it barely cooled the room - we were always sticky and could not sleep at night. It barely worked at all.

The free internet service was AWFUL in our room - worked on and off the whole time - we called 4 TIMES and asked for someone to help us with it - they said they would send someone - they NEVER did after 4 calls!! That was one reason we wanted to stay there so we could keep in touch with kids back home. Internet cannot be relied on there.

Be prepared to hear and see everything when it comes to the toilet and shower in your room. Hope you don't want any privacy! Cold showers every morning before 8 am - I don't know if they shut off the hot water to conserve it or what, but if you are an early riser - don't shower!

Our private pool was freezing cold - all the time. It warmed up a tiny bit when the sun hit it for part of the day, but they don't heat anything. Most of the rooms with the pool get very little sun to even try to heat them, unless you have a pool on the roof.

Jacuzzis by the pools were not heated as well - not ever during our time there. Not even as warm as bath water - very cold.

Bed was hard - 3 small pillows - no box spring - it is built on a wooden frame and every time you turn over it sounds like you are moving around on packing bubbles.

Hot tub in your room is for 1 person, not deep, and no privacy shades to the people outside - only a see-through curtain. You have to pull the drapes shut around the inside of the tub to keep the room light out of the area or you are putting on a show! Then you can't see into your room and it is weird!! The first night I decided I would chance it, dropped my robe and spotted the pool boy on the edge of my pool, facing me, checking the pools chemicals. He saw everything. Wrong place, wrong time for sure, but still - where are the privacy curtains???

Park your own car!!! The valet was the same guy who was ticked at us for the first tip we gave him. He had parked our car and now had to retrieve it for us. He never said hello, acted crabby at us immediatley, and got our car with an attitude. This time we did not tip him at all for being so rude - we were fed up with him!!! Needless to say, he COMPLETEY ignored us the rest of the trip - never saying hello, or offering to get anything - he would walk past us as though we were not there. We did not care, but it was obvoius that very large tips are EXPECTED at all times. We had come from an all-inclusive in Riviera Maya where any amount of a tip was GREATLY appreciated. We were fed up with this guy.

There is a huge lack of service and staff everywhere in the resort. If you do see someone working, they are not attentive to you, or want to help you at all. The ghost town feeling is definately present when it comes to the staff. They are cold and not smiley or helpful at all. Such a huge difference from where we had been and yet this resort is beautiful and could be so much better with better service and attention to details.

I just was so dissappointed that I could never go back. Stay at El Dorado Royale on the Riviera Maya instead.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank cmunitleader
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2011

My boyfriend told me to take 2 days off from work in February & didn't tell me another detail until we were in the cab on our way to the airport, at which point he showed me a picture on his phone of our terrace suite at La Amada. Holy wow, not only was it amazing that he pulled off such an epic surprise, but boy did he make the right choice! From the minute we arrived, we were treated like VIPs--our terrace suite was, indeed, amazing, and the grounds were just goregous all around! We loved that it's a smaller resort, and it didn't hurt that it wasn't at full capacity while we were there--it was so peaceful and relaxing! We stayed for 3 nights but we decided the magic number was definitely 4--we felt like a week would have been too long, but 4 nights would have been just right. We will definitely recommend this place to family and friends, and we would definitely come back!!

Pros
- Beautiful grounds
- Friendly staff
- Comfortable & spacious rooms
- Almost every room has a private pool or plunge pool--some are not very private, however (ie: the casitas at the pool...our terrace suite in the 200 building had much more privacy!)
- All-inclusive is definitely the way to go!!
- Amazing "caribbean" ceviche w/ papaya (beach grill dinner menu)
- Very good breakfast buffet--this was definitely our favorite meal!
- LOVED the double chaises on the terrace (our favorite, of 3 on our terrace, ended up being the one that is standard with every room!)
- Yummy blended drinks menu--try the banana one!
- Jacuzzi with a view!

Cons
- Plunge pool had some serious heating problems--someone had to come twice to fix it, and it still didn't work properly
- We were shocked that some of the seafood was not cooked well--the grouper (we were disappointed that, for the 3.5 days we were there, grouper was the "catch of the day" every day) was overdone, as was the coconut shrimp. (Salmon was very good, though!)
- All-inclusive ends at 12pm on the day you check out, so if you plan on catching a late flight home like we did, plan on stocking up on room service beforehand! We felt a little jipped on this, as we paid for all-inclusive starting the first day we checked in, even though we didn't arrive until 8pm & only had room service dinner.
- The smoothie bar was never open
- The two restaurants in the main building alternate nights, and the one where breakfast is was somehow open 2 nights in a row, so we missed the "fancy" restaurant
- If you are a true sushi lover, don't bother here!
- WAY overpriced gift shop & too far away from civilization, so bring sunscreen & anything else you might need--because it was a surprise, I hadn't packed enough "beachy" things, so I had to buy a suit and dress, and we had to shell out $25 for a spray can of SPF...serious ripoff!!

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank MagsSoCal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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