My family (husband, two kids, and mom) just returned from an 11 day stay with Sandos Playacar.
There were positives and negatives. Having stayed at other all-inclusives in Playa del Carmen, I have something to compare this stay to. When booking our trip, we read many reviews on here and decided to go with Sandos Playacar based on our criteria. We wanted somewhere with a great beach, nice food, easily accessible excursions, and decent kids activities.
I honestly don't know if I ate the same food as some of the other reviewers on here. Every restaurant we tried was below average. While the wait staff were great and helpful, the food was not good. The fish was either always overcooked or raw, and not fresh, and the steak was always chewy. Nothing tasted freshly prepared. A lot of the dishes are not made to order, so word of advice: don't order any salads or vegetable sides. Chances are, they've been sitting out all day. At a couple places, I saw my cooked dinner sitting in the window for 15 minutes while the rest of our table's order was being cooked. One evening, we tried to get into the Mexican restaurant. The host told us it was full for the rest of the night, but we looked over at the restaurant later, and he was taking several other people's reservations. I felt like he was put off by the fact that we had kids with us. We also tried to get into the Brazilian place, but never were able to get reservations, despite asking every day. As for the buffet, the food was decent, and things were a bit more fresh tasting. It got kind of boring after a while, but the al a carte stuff was usually okay. I would have been able to look past the poor food quality had the rest of our stay been better. I will say though, there are some lovely wine selections (some, for a price). The basic white/red (included) table wine was surprisingly decent, though!
Aside from the food, check in took over an hour. Also, the rooms were cleaned daily, but several days our mini-fridge wasn't re-stocked. We mostly just wanted water, but ended up having to call for more several of the days we were there. We also had some kind of large cockroach looking thing crawling around in there. The bedding wasn't changed very often and my pillow smelled awful. I read some of the reviews complaining about that same thing, and thought "Ah, no big deal." However, wait till your bed is full of sand and you're getting what I can only describe as old man sweat stench wafting off the pillow all night, and you'll see what I mean. For the first half of our stay, the air conditioner didn't work well either, so the humidity in the room made everything damp and smell worse than it otherwise would have.
One night, they lined up all the managers on stage for pictures and for a raffle. A woman from Russia had her room number called, so she went on stage. The guy handing out the prizes asked her if she spoke Spanish or English. She nodded that she didn't speak either, and he acted kind of condescending about that.. He kind of seemed annoyed and put out by the all of the guests really. Actually, it was borderline rude.
Now, my last (and biggest) complaint: Some of the staff are incredibly annoying. The time share people, who insist they are not time share people, harassed us a few times. Including, when we first arrived, and were exhausted from spending hours in airports and on planes with small children. A few of the entertainment people work hard, but are pesky and drink all day. One gal came around trying to get us to join something, and reeked of booze at 10 in the morning. Anyway, when I go on a vacation, my main goal is to relax. We spend a lot of time working, taking care of our families, etc. When we go on vacation, we want a fair bit of calm leisure time to choose what we wanna do, and when we wanna do it. The biggest attraction to tropical destinations are beaches. Our favorite activity is lounging on the beach, playing in the sand, swimming, reading, etc. One day, I counted (all before noon) six hotel staff coming up to us, while trying to relax. The photo guy, a couple people from the entertainment staff, the spa people, etc. It would be one thing if all it took was to say, "No, thanks, I'm not interested in this or that activity." But they push, and push, and push. I don't like to be bothered over and over and then have to defend myself for not wanting to do something, or pose for a pic, or get in the ocean for water aerobics, etc. I understand it's their job, but a simple no, without explanation should suffice. I mean come on... Asking me to join a bikini contest while my two young children watch.. Umm.. really? Secondly, trying to read on the beach was difficult. I moved all the way down, even, but the music blares from morning to afternoon. I enjoyed the live local musicians during the afternoon, but the horrible techno-trash they played all morning was horrendous. I thought I was going to be able to lounge, read, and listen to the gentle sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline.. But nope! It's Call Me Maybe re-mixed into boom-cha-boom-cha crap. The need to be trendy was a bit much.
All of the staff work very, very hard. Entertainment staff (while often pushy) were always lovely and sweet to all of the kids. Never did I see any hotel employee standing around. The hotel grounds, while slightly outdated, were beautiful and clean. I liked the snack bar on the beach idea, even though I never actually made use of it. I also love that the Sandos chain works to be as eco-friendly as a resort can possibly be. The animals on the grounds were neat, and I appreciate the re-use of the cups. However, they often wouldn't be cleaned properly.. So, just simply ask for another one if it doesn't look clean. Also, the drinks were strong, and great! They were pretty heavy handed on the booze, which is appreciated in an all-inclusive resort. As for the construction, our room was very close to many of the renovations near the beach, and never did I find that off putting. The porto-bathroom was clean, and the construction areas were blocked off.. so never was it unsightly or loud. Lastly, the beach is truly the best that I've stayed at along the strip. The jungle next to it made for some wonderful photos, and there was always plenty of room to swim, lounge, or build sand castles. Really, really lovely view. The available kayaks and catamarans were loads of fun, too. Also, check out was very quick and easy.
Side note: We went to check out Sandos Caracol for a day, and thought that it was really, really cool. The grounds were really exotic, the ruins there were cool, the mangrove was awesome to walk through, and there were loads of animals. I can definitely see the attraction there, but understand the reviews about the rotten egg smell and rocky beaches deterring people. Cool spot nonetheless.
Random tip: Bring more sunscreen/after sun then you think you'll need. It's 15-20 USD in the gift shop for small bottles.
In summation, for the amount we spent, I would probably not come back. We always look for redeeming qualities, and while Sandos Playacar had some, we just simply didn't feel welcome.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is an all-Inclusive hotel in Playa del Carmen with both family and adult sections. We are ideally located on a magnificent white sandy beach in the gated community of Playacar, within walking distance to downtown Playa and Fifth Avenue. Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is located only forty-five minutes from the Cancun International Airport, and the pier serving ferries to Cozumel is a short distance from our property.Playacar is a private, master-planned community situated on the southern edge of downtown Playa del Carmen. Guests at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa enjoy this exclusive community’s impressive infrastructure, including an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Von Hagge, the Xaman-Ha Aviary, pristine biking paths, and Mayan ruins, accessible to the public for hiking.Riviera Maya is a protected region where many remaining artifacts from the fascinating Mayan civilization can be found. Surrounded by Mayan archeological zones, such as those at Tulum, Coba, and Chicen-Itza, this Playa del Carmen hotel successfully preserves a strong sense of Mayan culture onsite, adding an authentic feel and flavor to the vacation experience in Playacar. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandos Playacar Beach Hotel
- Hotel Sandos Playacar Beach
- Beach Playacar Resort Sandos
- Sandos Playacar Resort
- Sandos Playa Del Carmen
- Gala Resort Playacar
- Sandos Gala Playacar
- Sandos Playacar Mexico
- Sandos Resort
- Playacar Sandos