We recently returned from a 10 day stay at the Royal Hideaway and are already planning our next visit. If you are looking for long, relaxing days by the pool or on the beach, elegant, leisurely dinners with multiple courses, romantic little nooks and crannies, and outstanding service all around, this is the place. If you want loud music, frenzied beach games, and nightly partying, stop reading now and look elsewhere. You won't find that here!
Like many others, we have visited Royal Hideaway several times and have seen changes throughout the years, some for the good, some for the not-so-good. I'll try to break things down:
The Beach and Pools
The beach is beautiful. After a hurricane caused major erosion several years ago that took most of the beach, the Mexican government funded a beach reclamation project that resulted in one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen - miles of pure white sand fringed by palm trees on one side and the turquoise Caribbean on the other. There are comfortable lounges available either in the sun or under the palms, and RH provides sun tents if desired.
The resort has two main pools, a stunning infinity pool that sits right on the beach (you can sit by the pool and still enjoy the view over the beach and the sea all the way to Cozumel) and another right behind it. Scattered throughout the property are smaller relaxation pools, private and secluded, a perfect place to end an afternoon with a glass of wine before getting ready for dinner.
The bad? The towel game can be fierce when the resort is near capacity. If you want a lounge at the pool, you have to be out there by 7 saving your seats by covering them with towels, book, magazines, etc. It's especially frustrating to see seats "saved" and empty until after noon, or worse, all day.
The grounds are beautiful and beautifully kept. When we were there, we noticed that there was major replanting going on throughout the property. Early each morning, workers were out raking, removing fallen palm fronds, and sweeping the paths. There are flowers and foliage everywhere along the paths that weave their way throughout the grounds.
The Villas and Rooms
The villas are octagonal with an open courtyard in the middle with the rooms, on either two or three stories, surrounding them. Each villa has a concierge who takes care of booking your dinner reservations, travel arrangements, or excursions. Additionally, he or she will fulfill any requests you might have for your room, such as what you like stocked in the fridge, or extra towels, toiletries, etc.
The rooms are attractive and good sized, but not overly opulent. The beds are quite comfortable, although the management should invest in better linens and pillows. The bathroom has a separate shower with a rain shower head and a jacuzzi bathtub. Water pressure is good, although one morning we lost the water briefly. The rooms and the villas themselves are beginning to show their age and are in need of cosmetic touch ups such as new paint, wallpaper, etc. The paint on the balconies is peeling and the balconies are getting rusty in places. While we were there, we did observe a lot of painting, etc., going on, so the management seems to be aware of the problems.
The Food and Drink
This is where the RH gains major points. The food is outstanding, not only for an AI resort, but for any hotel anywhere. You have a choice of 5 restaurants, plus a bi-weekly dinner show. Other than the dinner show, which I do not recommend (but that's just me), the dining experience here is wonderful. Each restaurant is beautiful, the food is wonderful, and the service is attentive. I have read other reviews in which people have complained of the length of the meal, but I have never felt this was a problem. When you are having 5 or 6 courses, you expect to have it stretch out for a couple of hours. When at Azia, don't hesitate to order the sushi - it's great. At Las Ventanas, the lamb is wonderful. Palazzo does a great proscuitto/fig salad. The Grill has good steaks, and the sea bass at Spices is beautifully prepared. If you really love food, by all means try the Chef's Table. Either 6 or 12 courses, paired with different wines, prepared right in front of you and presented by the chef, who will discuss each course. Extra money, by well worth it. It was by far the most outstanding meal I have ever eaten anywhere.
Breakfast is either a buffet at Spices or an a la carte meal at Ventanas. Both are very good. The buffet has a variety of hot and cold items, all fresh and attractively presented, and an omelet station. At peak times, you may have to wait, but we never waited more than 5 minutes for a table.
Lunch choices are either a daily cookout buffet with a different type of food each day paella day is great) , casual lunch at the Deck, ordering from a menu that includes salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pizza, and Mexican items, or a more formal sit down lunch upstairs at Spices. You can even have your lunch delivered to you around the pool or on the beach.
The drinks are good, top shelf (if you request it). They will make anything you want if you can tell them the ingredients. Some people have written the the drinks seem weak. I have never found that, but if you think so, order a double. They're more than happy to accommodate you.
The staff is the main thing that keeps us coming back year after year. They are truly second to none. From the groundskeepers through housekeeping to the concierge, the pool staff, and the waitstaff, everyone makes your comfort a priority. I'd like to thank our concierge, Victor, for arranging a bottle of champagne to help us celebrate our 40th anniversary. Special thanks to Laura and Christian, who, despite long busy days, are always ready with a smile and a friendly comment, to Luis in Spices, who still remembers my husband's fondness for sake, and Isis, Frey, Mariano, and Luis around the pool and beach, who seem to know just when you need a refill. We do tip, because we feel that hard work deserves a reward, but it seems we are in a minority. And we notice that everyone gets the same treatment, regardless of whether or not a tip is involved. My only complaint about the staff, if you could call it a complaint, is the front lobby. They seem only minimally interested in the guests and more concerned with corporate policy. Also, the employees here seem to change frequently. We have often wondered if this serves as a training ground for Occidental and they rotate people in and out. As we have had little contact with them other than checking in or out, this is a minor problem, although I know people who have had major complaints about the front desk.
Contact the resort via email the week before you go to make reservations for your first two nights' dinners at least. If you don't, you run the risk of either getting a very early or very late reservation, or worse still, none at all and have to resort to room service. (Yes, the reservation system is a bit of a pain, but it can be worked around). As soon as possible, sit down with your concierge and make all of your reservations for your stay.
Request a room facing the resort rather than the resorts to the north and south (especially the south - that resort has loud music that continues until 11 each night). Also, rooms on the first floor tend to be musty (something you'll find anywhere in the tropics), so if that bothers you, ask for a room on a higher floor. Again, do this before you arrive. They will tell you they will honor your requests if possible, but our requests have always been accommodated.
Despite its few failings,Royal Hideaway is truly the best resort I have even been to. We have tried other places, some of which cost more, but we have never found anything that tops this.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Award winning luxury all inclusive resort set along the beautiful beaches of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Ideal setting in a serene environment for complete rest and relaxation. Adults only. Member of The Leading Hotels of the World. 2008 winner of the coveted AAA 5 Diamond Award. 11 villas with private concierge are spread throughout the property's immaculate grounds. Six gourmet restaurants serve delicasies in menu-style dining. A full service spa offers the ultimate in papmering and body treatments. Personalzied service and attention to detail set this resort a world apart. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with BookIt.com, Expedia, Barcelo, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire, Travelocity, getaroom.com, HotelsforEveryone, Cancelon and TripOnline SA so you can book your Royal Hideaway Playacar reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Royal Hideaway Playacar & Occidental Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Royal Hideaway Playacar And Occidental Resorts
- Royal Hideaway Playa Del Carmen
- Royal Hideaway Mexico
- Occidental Royal Hideaway
- Royal Hideaway Playacar Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico