My husband and I stayed at PA, along with his cousin and cousin’s wife, Sept 8-15. This review is a long one, but I tried to make it easy to read. Here goes!
Getting There: We flew into Cancun and used the hotel’s transfer service to get to Isla Mujeres; they use AGI Tours. The tour rep was waiting for us at the airport, ready with a van even though our flight arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule. The transportation was seamless; van to ferry, ferry to taxi, and taxi to hotel.
Check-in: Jesus greeted us warmly at the front desk, and confirmed our booking was correct. Since we’d arrived at the hotel even earlier than we thought we would (I think it wasn’t even 1pm yet), we weren’t expecting our room to be ready yet. Luckily, it was. Jesus handed us off to Guillermo, who greeted us with welcome drinks and showed us around the property a little before escorting us to our room.
The Room: We stayed in a Grand Platinum Suite on the fifth floor (it was room 353). It had a king-sized bed, two full bathrooms, living room, kitchen, two balconies on the lower level and a rooftop terrace with a private pool. Our building was set back a bit, so it wasn’t the closest one to the beach. One of our balconies looked over the pool, and then to the ocean beyond, and the other one looked down on the school right next door (more on that later). Our rooftop terrace yielded 360-degree views of the island. One side looked directly down on the cemetery and gave us a sort of city view of the island, and the other side looked out over the pool and beach. We watched the sunset from our private pool almost every evening; it was beautiful. Our room was comfortable; we enjoyed hanging out with our cousins in the living room and the rooftop terrace. We had plenty of hot water and good water pressure. The mini-fridge stayed well stocked with drinks and snacks (including water). Our room was cleaned daily, even when we got a later start and had the “do not disturb” sign on for part of the day. Our bed was firm but not uncomfortable, and we had tons of pillows. There were some seriously effective black-out curtains in the bedroom; our first morning we woke up at 9am, thinking it was still the middle of the night. The AC worked amazingly well. We loved the iPod dock. We never turned on the TVs, but we had two flat screens. The WiFi worked intermittently in our room, but it worked great everywhere else on the grounds (even on the beach-which was perfect for consulting TA for excursions and dinners out). It worked in our cousins’ room, and they were in the same building, just a couple of floors down from us, so I’m thinking maybe we were a little too high for the signal to reach us. I honestly have zero complaints about the room. I’ll admit it was a little musty smelling at times, but I just attribute that to being on the beach. There was a little incense burner in our room but we never felt the need to use it.
I will say this: because we were situated in the middle building of the hotel, none of our views were very private. This didn’t bother us, but it might be helpful to know. I think if you got an end building, you’d have more privacy, but even then you could still see the balconies below yours. This didn’t seem to dissuade other couples from enjoying their own balconies “au naturel,” so just be aware that if your eyes wander, you might get a view you weren’t expecting. :)
Room Service: We ordered room service twice; once for a midnight snack and drinks, and once for breakfast before our whale shark tour. Both times everything arrived quickly, the food was fresh and our orders were correct. Breakfast was supposed to be delivered between 6-6:30am, and it arrived at 5:55am. I don’t know how much more efficient you can get than that.
The Beach: So, you do have to cross a tiny street to get from the main hotel grounds to the beach. I don’t even know that the word “street” accurately describes it. It’s more like a sandy golf cart path. It’s not a long walk by any means. And the beach is beautiful. Wide, plenty of loungers with palapas (i.e., no towel game). I think it’s the prettiest beach in the area. We loved that it was private so the vendors can’t walk up to you and pester you. They can call as they pass by, but they’re always looking out for security, so they know the deal. The ocean is calm and swimmable; some days it was a little wavy, but the waves never really broke. There is a pretty good current that sort of pushes you down the beach; it was fun to float away on it and swim back. You can snorkel a little; there’s a patch of sea grass in the swimming area that has some fish. (Admittedly, there’s much better snorkeling elsewhere on the island.) The swimming area is roped off pretty close to the shore, and boats do go right along that line. We had fun watching them go by and bobbing in their wake.
The Food: We chose the all-inclusive plan. Some people will tell you there’s no reason to go AI because there are so many good restaurants on Isla. For us, it was reasonable to go AI because we spent most of our days on the beach. (The upgrade to AI was worth it for drinks alone.) We did eat a few dinners and one lunch outside of the resort, but it was great to know that anything we wanted on the resort was included. So we ate at Sabor every day for breakfast. The buffet had a good assortment of items, and we always found something yummy (chilaquiles? Don’t mind if I do!). You could go as light or as heavy as you wanted for breakfast, which was perfect (ok, I ate chilaquiles and eggs every day, and I loved it!). We never made it to Sabor for any dinners, though. We walked through it on grill night (each night they have a different theme), but we didn’t see anything that appealed to us, so we ended up at Café del Mar instead. Café del Mar was where we ate the majority of our meals, and we really loved it. They brought lunch (and/or afternoon snacks) right out to your beach lounger, how can you not like that? Stand out lunch favorites were pork tacos, calamari, house arrachera (grilled steak with tortillas and beans), guacamole, coconut ice cream (SUPER delicious), and believe it or not, the burger (no judging! It was really good). For dinner, they have two menus that they alternate day to day, so you have more variety. This place is really cute at night. Right on the beach and they usually have live music. The ambience is lovely. Favorite dinner dishes were risotto (one night I had the mushroom risotto and it was good, but another night I had creamy risotto with pork and steak, and that was amazing), gnocchi, calamari (different presentation than lunch, just as good), these chicken and eggplant towers, gazpacho, tiramisu, and chocolate cake. We never made it to Satay (our cousins tried to go one night, but it was already booked). Overall I would say that the food is better than average, fresh and well-prepared. I loved the a la carte dining options, and how you didn’t have to make reservations (Satay being the only exception). I think there was enough variety that you didn’t get bored (you could eat something different every day), and some of the dishes were so good that we chose to eat them more than once because we loved them. Keep in mind though, as with any all-inclusive, there is going to be some repetition. If you’re a picky eater or you need an abundance of variety, maybe the all-inclusive plan isn’t for you.
The Drinks: We were happy with the drinks, and I feel like we sampled a good variety. Beer was Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial, Montejo and Corona (there may be others, but that’s what we saw). I love Negra Modelo, so I stuck with that. The fruity drinks were a little too sweet for me, but I did have a couple – Pina Colada, Miami Vice and Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya was my favorite of the three. We much preferred the cuba libres (rum and coke), mojitos and caipirinhas (similar to a mojito but without mint and made with cachaça instead of rum). Shots flowed like water, especially if you sat at one of the bars. They would just appear even if you hadn’t ordered them (or maybe our reputation followed us? I’ll never tell!). I thought the house white wine was pretty good. I never had the red, but the hubby seemed fine with it. Mini fridges were stocked with Corona and Corona Light. Not my personal favorites, but I know they’re popular, and we drank them just the same.
The Service: I read a lot of reviews before I booked this place, so I’m aware that some guests have had issues with customer service. My husband and I said to each other throughout our stay that customer service is where this resort excels. Jesus at the front desk was particularly nice (he also helped me with my booking). The servers on the beach were fantastic. I wish I took note of all of their names, but all I can remember is Sergio. We never lacked for food or drink on the beach. There were several times when we all took a dip in the ocean, and when we returned to our loungers, there our server was, with cold drinks ready for us. And every day they told us when the beach service was getting ready to end, so we could put in last minute orders. Signing for our orders was never an issue. The only exception to this was at breakfast. Sometimes we’d have to wait a little for someone to come and take our coffee order, and there were a few times when we wanted to leave but couldn’t find anyone to ask for our check. But we never had to wait long, and I don’t think the issue was that people weren’t working hard, but that there wasn’t enough staff working. I will say there was a manager walking around at breakfast, making sure everyone got what they needed, so I think improvements can only come of that.
The School: Our bedroom balcony looked out over the school, and we could clearly hear the teachers over the loudspeaker every morning. It started anywhere between 7:30-7:45, and gradually got louder until it reached a volume that surely would have woken us up at around 8:15-8:30. We are early risers, so we were typically already awake when the noise started. We considered it our wake-up call to get out of bed and get moving. If you have a room facing the school and you are a late sleeper, I’d recommend bringing some earplugs. The black-out curtains would help some with the noise, I’m sure, but we stopped using ours after that first morning when we slept too late (and it was a Sunday, so no school).
The only big negative for me was the behavior I witnessed from some of the other guests. And I want to say that not all of them were native-English-speaking guests, in order to avoid the “Americans behaving badly” blanket statements (I know, not all Americans are native English speakers, so I’m still making assumptions). One day we witnessed a couple fighting in the pool; the man was screaming at the top of his lungs at the woman. And our last night there, we heard a party in an adjacent room that started after midnight (we’d gone to bed at 11pm), and then at around 2am, turned bad. We heard a woman wailing for someone to let her back into her room. Then from 2am until I don’t know when, there was intermittent yelling. I think the group I traveled with can attest to how quickly those AI plan drinks can sneak up on you, but there’s a line between partying a little too much and making a complete idiot out of yourself. I deliberately chose not to stay in Cancun because of the obnoxious party atmosphere, and overall I think that PA is a low key, relaxing kind of place. I really hope it stays that way, because nothing spoils a romantic relaxing getaway like obnoxious people who don’t know how to control themselves in public.
Overall we had a wonderful stay, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. It seems to me, from reading the reviews and experiencing the hotel first-hand, that PA pays attention to things that their guests say they need to improve upon. That service-oriented attitude, plus the value I think you get for what you pay are what will bring me back there. And I really hope I get to go back soon!
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