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“Make sure you are clear about your expectations. Sandos Playacar, does what it says on the tin.”

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Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Ranked #61 of 209 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
BritAbroad
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Make sure you are clear about your expectations. Sandos Playacar, does what it says on the tin.”
Reviewed August 13, 2013

Firstly, if you have read negative reviews you should look up the definition of Resort - "a place that is popular for recreation and holidays and provides accommodation and entertainment".

Thats exactly what Sandos Playacar Offers, along with all the other resorts on this stretch of Coast no doubt.
Our first time in Mexico and well pleased. Let's face it, not everything is perfect in a Resort because they have to cater for all ages and types of visitors.Young, old, families, quiet romantic getaway, adults only etc....
RECEPTION - Booking In and Out was easy, although when booking in you can get info overload as they are keen to try and explain all. Let the bell boys sort your cases, they will also tell you bits as you walk with them. Well organised.

WRISTBAND - You need to find out what your particular colour or wristband entitles you to. I think they were light blue, dark blue, black, purple, silver and gold.

LOCATION - Sandos sits at the end of a row of Resort Hotels and has nothing but beach, jungle and sea on one side - good. Each hotel has its own slot of beach but Sandos enjoys opens views to one side.
Our group consisted of 4 adults and 1 'almost adult' - which was slightly frustrating because the 'almost adult' could not access the adult only facilities - but our exectations were not diminished by this in any way, we just adapted. With this in mind, the Gym is do-able but you have to be accompanied by an adult and sign a responsibility form - fair enough.
The ladies used the Spa which they said was lovely.
Yes the site is large - surely this is a good thing - it gives you space and in our opinion it never felt too crowded. One or two more battery buggies would be useful. But the walking was good to be honest, 10 - 15mins to the beach.
Whatever floats your holiday boat you can probably find it here.
A point for SANDOS. Sandos do have a booklet in most Rooms with a site layout plan - this would serve well displayed on their website as it would make choosing accomodation easier and you could familiarise yourself with the layout prior to arrival, hence making your first day easier and save you some valuable holiday time.
THE MEETING POINT - the central thatched building - a good idea - most excursion pick ups and drop offs are from here, Guest Services very helpful, Holiday Rep info in here too.
HOWEVER, watch out for the Beige dressed people from the Royal Elite Club, they swoop on newby arrivals meandering through the meeting point and mention that you are a VIP and you will get a tour and a VIP breakfast. If you just want to enjoy your holiday and are not interested in joining The Elite Club you have to be politely firm and say NO thankyou. I was pre-warned about this and still got collared - I had to be firm and say "I'm going for my breakfast thankyou". They were charming but very persistent. Could have done without that.

FOOD - the Festival is the Main buffet - we are quite fussy and we couldn't fault it - get to know the Staff - they are brilliant - a little tip here and there. Carlos - great man.
You get the odd bird flying in looking for scraps but no problem. Breakfast, something to suit all tastes, fresh fruit, yoghurt, waffles, pancakes, omlettes, fry up...its all there. Adults Only can also have breakfast in the Snack Bar Buffet near the family pool but we didn't try it.
There are themed buffet nights in The Festival - i.e Chinese, USA, Mexican
See comment below under Entertainment.....(can get noisy in Festival at Evening Ent time)

Italian - this is a buffet so no need to book, again no complaints decent food.

The Al La Cartes are OK, not top notch but still good.
Book any of the following Al la Carte's when you arrive with the concierge in the lobby - we did and got our 3 choices. Casual dress.
French - Need to book, didnt try but its the only one the men need long trousers for.
Mexican - Need to book - good night - great waiters (again good to build some rapport with them)
Brazilian - Need to book didnt try.
Mediterranean - Need to book - food was good.
Steak House - Need to Book - good but one chewy T-bone out of 5 steaks. We were in a rush so let it go.
Asian - didn't try.
CUP CAKE CAFE - Great coffees and baguettes - not sure if the Cup Cakes tasted best from the chiller cabinet though, probably got abit dry.


BEACH AREA - Great. Sea and beach lovely. We had no problem getting loungers on the beach, we just had to look for some affording us some shade. Waitress up and down all day on the beach but its only 50 - 100m to fetch your own food / drink should you wish - no problem.
We hired Jet Ski's for 30mins - just read the disclaimer before you sign and check the machine for damage -no problems but could be expensive if you cause damage.
Snorkels free for 30mins? or was it an hour??. The Water Sports people are not Sandos people, I think they operate along the whole beach but they were fine - Pedro was very helpful.
Edwins cocktails in the Beach Bar at night were excellent - we found it a great place to sit, relax and enjoy the evening and get away from it all.

ENTERTAINMENT - Always something going on in various places within the Resort, pool ent, beach ent, some involve loud music, but generally you can escape it on the beach, apart from aerobics which is good to watch! Evening entertainment looked OK but not really our thing.
Some decent local Arty stalls were set up one evening.
Entertainment team seemed to be good at what they do.
CAUTION - the Evening Ents are very close to the Festival Buffet and it can get very loud as the sides are open with netting. Either eat early or ask for a table away from the Speakers.

MOZZIES - not too bad but latterly developed a taste for the English flesh, just use plenty of repellent outside at night.


Overall, the staff make this place what it is - they appeared to be mostly very happy and helpful. Great people.

EXCURSONS - We went to Chichen Itza with a bonus of a swim in the Cenote at Ik Kill. Long day but worth it. Good Tour with Es Skill - a great guide Beto (Alberto).
IMPORTANT - Suggest using one of the hired bouyancy aids at Ik Kill Cenote, as you can be a long time treading water, it's deep and if there are a few people in you can struggle to get to the ladders or the side. Im a decent swimmer, didn't use one but wish I had. Could have laid back and enjoyed it abit more.

Half Day with the Dolphins - only half an hour away from Sandos - worth doing, even for those who 'aren't really bothered' or are maybe apprehensive.....do it.

Room Tip: The brouchures can be confusing at UK Travel Agents. Room wise, again it depends what you are lookin...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled on business
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16 Thank Lou067
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Dallas, Tx
Level 3 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2013

We recently returned from a 9 night stay at beautiful Sandos Playacar. I was there with my wife and 17 year old son from June 27th-July 6th, 2013.

I must begin this review by stating that we have been to Mexico, and specifically the Mayan Riviera, EVERY year for the last 20 years. My wife and I fell in love with Mexico and its culture at a young age, and we have never tired of it.

Prior to this trip, we have been to a vast array of all inclusives. We have been to Iberostar Resorts double digit times (virtually every Iberostar Property in MX), Barcelo Resorts (Including Barcelo Palace), RIU, Bahia Principe, El Cid, Catalonia and several others. Besides the multitude of Iberostar adventures, we were also repeaters at many of the other resorts as well. When we find a good product, we typically explore it with more than one visit, and when things are fantastic, we become very loyal repeaters. I mention all of this only to express one thing; that we have a pretty good basis and pre-experienced standard when it comes to the All Inclusive Concept. Although opinions vary vividly among vacationers, I think we have experienced a wide variety of resorts and we have experienced many different interpretations of the All Inclusive Vacation.

I also want to mention, before I begin, that I place great value on exemplary service. I believe that impeccable service at a resort is a resort culture that begins with Top Management and flows down to each and every member of the resort staff. It is not random or happenstance. It is an entire service oriented attitude and you know it when you see it in abundance.

I think I should also mention that some not so pleasant things transpired in our lives after our last year’s vacation; things that made this trip a monumental trip of remembrance, and a trip of celebration on a few levels. It was to be one our most important vacations ever.

So here we go: 

Prior to this vacation, like most of you, we spent a great deal of time looking on this site and reading reviews, and reviews, and more reviews! We wanted to try something new, and we wanted, above all else, a beach that would knock our socks off!

After an abundance of good reviews, we chose Sandos Playacar, and we were immediately thrilled with the choice! After booking, I had begun to read and ask questions on the Trip Advisor forums, and I was delighted to get great timely answers and great attentive service from the Sandos staff member that services the Trip Advisor forum. Daniela, if you are reading this, we say thanks again! Your information and assistance was top notch, and it was a great pleasure to meet you in person!

Folks, if you haven’t already, I highly advise you to check out the Sandos Playacar Facebook Page. It is a delightful source of great information, and the daily photos that are posted will readily show you the beauty of this resort and show you images of one of the most beautiful beachfronts in the World! The picturesque daily display will show you many of the happenings, events, and activities at the resort. It will also show you the many great offerings of places you will want to visit at the resort, and things that are upcoming at the resort. The Social Network Concierge that runs this most awesome Facebook page is a delightful lady named Kiani. She has impeccable energy for this endeavor, and she takes it very seriously. She works exceedingly hard to show the world all of the great happenings at Sandos Playacar, and I really think her work is cutting edge as far as Resort Facebook Pages go. The page is very intuitive, interactive and very informative. I believe that the Sandos Facebook Page is one of the very best out there, if not the very best! Kiani, is a very important part of what makes Sandos special, and I truly think she is helping the world notice the great Goodwill and World-class Service that Sandos Playacar offers. Social Networking is here to stay, and Kiani is providing real time information and visuals that is very useful for vacation planning. It is truly awesome to see the resort through a real time lens. Kiani helped us with too many things to mention or list, and Moreover, she is a super bright caring person, and my little family will cherish her friendship for a long long time. You are super special Kiani!

Given our many Mayan adventures over the years, we truly like to eventually meet the many great Leaders that these resorts offer. The Director of Sandos Playacar caught my eye immediately as he responds to many of the Trip Reports that are written here. That is always a very good sign, when top management acknowledges and speaks to these reports no matter how they are written. Mr. Tapia, is a very valuable leader, and he is inspiring great work amongst the staff. He is very visible throughout the resort making sure things are running at full speed, and that things are as they should be. Make no mistake, service attitude and service culture starts from the top and trickles down to the very last staff member. I am 100% sure that this is in play here. It’s very obvious as you watch the resort in action. Additionally, I had the distinct privilege to speak with him a few times, and he graciously stopped by our Anniversary Dinner to check in on us. We had previously alluded to the vast sentimental importance of this event, and he understood that, and took some time to spend with us. That is just enormously meaningful, and we thank you so much Mr. Tapia. You are one of the most gracious Directors or GM’s that we have encountered, and it is clear that your fine resort and service attitude is duplicated by all those that work for you. Great Great Work, my Friend.

Additionally, given the nature of our upcoming vacation, I really needed to speak to someone and specifically talk about some things of great importance to us. Through communication, I came in contact with Chief Concierge Giovanna, and she was magnificent, along with her PR Managers Jhon and Tomas. Before we departed, they communicated nicely with us, and put our minds at ease. They are a fabulous crew, and were very attentive to us while on vacation. They remembered our names, and said hello to us throughout our Holiday and always asked how things were going! Jhon and Tomas are very visible within the resort, constantly checking on things, checking on the guests, and always with a huge smile on their faces. In my opinion, they take guest relations to a whole new level and both of these guys have incredible caring sensibilities, and they have incredible futures ahead of them! They are Golden. Thank you my Friends!

Chief Concierge Giovanna is simply just a pure class act and wonderfully caring person. And although she is in top management, she is still so very attentive to guests needs. She is vastly busy, but, Giovanna, specifically, is the person that made our important vacation, a sentimental off-the-charts special one. Based on all her kindness and understanding, this vacation will stand as our favorite for years to come (well until next year when we come back). Giovanna, words can’t express our gratitude! Thank you for all the notes and we can’t thank you enough for your kindness.

OK, now for our resort experience:

We stayed in the Hacienda section, in a 2 room suite. These units are in a fantastic location within the resort proper and they provided ease of maneuvering to all areas of the resort. I must stop here immediately and say that the online resort map, or whatever source you use, TOTALLY over exaggerates the actual size of this resort as far as walking times and distance. We have stayed at Mega Resorts that look similar in size, but it is just nowhere NEAR the same. The Sandos property was a very easy walk for us. We would go back to the room from the beach numerous times a day, and we also made these trips with ease from as far away as the Adult Pool in the Riviera Section and back to the beach. From the farthest distance at the Riviera Section, it is max 10 minutes of a slow paced beautiful walk among pathways that direct you. You could make it much faster with a brisk walk. Those that think this is a long long walk must be staying previously at very small boutique resorts. Resorts in Mexico with significant amenities, are just simply going to have some 5-10 minute walks. We are in our mid 40’s, not exactly the workout types, and the walking at Sandos was a ZERO issue.

Anyway, our room was fantastic! It was made up each and every day so beautifully with towel art etc, and it was always impeccable pristine clean. Our mini fridge was stocked daily, but if you ever needed something more, all you have to do is make a simple phone call, and they are there within 30 minutes. Us Parents had the King bed in the main room, and our teenage son had the second room and it worked out fabulously. We even had wifi in the room and used it a Ton. If the signal got weak, we could step outside next to the private hacienda pool and get a strong signal there.

Overall, this was one incredible accommodation. All the marble was magnificent, and it just was a splendid upscale suite.

*Note: we did get to walk into a Jr. Suite in the Riviera Section. These Jr. Suites are much larger than the single room junior suites we have experienced at other resorts. These are very Nice Larger Rooms. Also, the Riviera Section is very new looking with new pristine pools (as it is the newest section at Sandos), and this section of Sandos compares very favorably to other structures and pools at more upscale and pricey resorts. Although we loved the Hacienda set-up for our family, we would not hesitate for a second to recommend the newer Riviera Section to others.


The Beach, The Beach, The Beach! Although we have stayed in Playa Del Carmen several times before, the Sandos wide beautiful beachfront is by far the best we have encountered. We have stayed at the Iberostar Tucan/Quetzal next door to Sandos a couple of times in past years, and always noticed the Sandos beach. It is wide, clean, and with perfect ocean access (No rocks or coral here!) Sandos is the last resort in this line of resorts, and there is no resort on the other side of it. This beautiful beach goes on and on and allows for much exploring!

We spent 80% of our time at the beach parked on the beach beds. The view is Spectacular, and the drink delivery is astonishing. Our favorite waitress bringing drinks to us from the Bagel Beach Bar was Yazmin! What a doll and great person. She works Very Hard all day, trekking all over the beach delivering a big tray of drinks one after another; And Always with great spirit and a smile. When you go to the beach bar, please check out Carlos, he is one of the best around! He makes the best drinks and has a great attitude. A super fun guy. We miss Carlos and Yazmin a great deal. When you go, make sure and say Hello to them for us. 

Like I said, the vast majority of our time was spent on the beach, and our son played beach volleyball every day and we really enjoyed watching these matches. The beach Zumba classes were well attended every day, and it was also fun to watch. lol. I really should try for some exercise on one of these vacations. In all seriousness, the Sandos staff took these workouts serious and it was a real-deal workout.

When not at the beach, we spent time at the Main Activity pool at the end of each day. Mostly, this was to watch the amazing activity staff do their thing and for us to cool off! If you want more privacy and calm, make sure to go to the Riviera Section Pool. Like I have mentioned, it is very very nice and newer, with not a lot going on, but we went there to chill on several occasions. There is a great snack bar up there as well, in addition to the one down by the main pool in the Beach Section.

I am not going to touch base on food a great deal because it is so subjective. I will say this, we are picky eaters and our son is beyond picky, and we thought the food was some of the best in all of our All Inclusive adventures. We are very cognitive of the difficulty in trying to please the palate of many nationalities, and I always give a little leeway in this regard, and I have never starved at any all inclusive as a result. I will never concur with anyone that totally rates a resort based on food. That is asking a tremendous amount and expectations will never be met. The food we found at Sandos was good quality, very tasty, and in plenty abundance, with multiple choices. You have to be fair and try and consider the varied cultures and backgrounds that they are trying to feed.

During the day we ate at the snack bar and the buffet and were very pleased. Good variety, good lunchtime food. At night we enjoyed the buffet and the ala carte restaurants. Our son very much enjoyed the pasta station at the buffet and he thought the spaghetti was to die for.  Indeed, we thought the night time buffet was well stocked with many fresh choices. As far as buffets at an all inclusive, we think this one was near the very top of our list. Make sure and notice that on the opposite side of the buffet, there is another counterpart buffet, and it is air conditioned! While seated here, you can utilize both buffets. I believe they call this adjoining buffet the “Italian Restaurant” and it does not require reservations.

The Ala Cartes are Amazing and it would take too much of your time for me to describe each of them. We went to all of them except the Gourmet. We could not go to the Gourmet because our son was just 17, and the Gourmet is Adult Only. We thoroughly enjoyed The Gaucho (steak house), The Asiana, The Mediterraneo, The Fogodejanerio (Brazilian), and The Riviera Maya (Mexican). The steaks were excellent at the Gaucho, the fajitas great at Riviera Maya, the Shrimp are succulent at Mediterraneo, and all the meats at Fogodejanerio were yummy! (Nix the sweet breads, however,wink).

We NEVER had anything but quick attentive staff in all the eating areas. Never once did we feel like we waited the slightest amount of time for drinks, sodas, coffee, etc. Again, read “great service” here, as it was some of the best service we have ever encountered. As far as tipping goes, we do that of course. Sometimes I would have been riddled with guilt if I didn’t tip, because the service was Crazy GOOD! I will also say that I do not believe that tips drive the service attitude at Sandos. They are going to do what they are going to do…..regardless…..but they truly deserve all the thanks they get, monetarily or otherwise!

The Activity Staff at Sandos is top notch; some of the best we have come across. They are very energetic, very friendly, but also very conscientious about guest privacy. I totally believe that we interacted with and met each and every one of them, but it would be impossible to list all of their names. They are all splendid, nice, young people that thoroughly love working at Sandos. The energetic friendly spirit exudes from each of them. I really appreciate them for coming to see us and saying hello to us wherever they found us. Those in the activity staff at Sandos work really hard to make you feel at home.

We went to virtually all the shows, with the Michael Jackson show being the best! I highly recommend going to the Theater and seeing some of the shows because it is a superb theater, it is comfortable, relaxing, and the shows are remarkably well done. Another perk was that the drink service was stellar and our favorite server was a sweet lady named Diony! She is another special one that we will never forget. If you are ever feeling up for a late nighter, get to the Disco when it opens at 11, as Diony is also the main waitress there. As we are night owls, we spent several nights at the disco getting to know Diony and listening to good music. Diony is an angel and Sandos is blessed to have her. We miss you Diony!

The Entertainment Director at Sandos is a stellar guy named Victor! We had met him in a previous year at another resort, and we became quick friends. I could write pages and pages about our interactions with Victor, because he tried so hard each day to make sure we were having a good time, but I will just suggest to you… to just watch him. He does so many things in the entertainment venues at Sandos, and he does impeccable work. Make sure and go to the Beach Party on Sunday nights that Victor designed, and developed. When he is not behind a Microphone…..do say hello to him. He’s a Star and a Gentleman, he is great at what he does, and he has a rock solid personality to boot!

Do go see bartender Fabian in the select club lounge; another great guy and a very helpful person. Efrain and Arely in the Disco also really stood out to us. They all work so hard, they are all so courteous, and I just wish I wrote down more names 

La Bambola, the Bar with the swings is fantastic! We had many great times there and caught some baseball games on the TV’s. Again, the bartenders here worked very hard to please us.


In closing, I do want to apologize for the length of this ramble. We had such a spectacular Service Oriented Trip, that I was just compelled to mention all of these people and tell you about them. It became abundantly clear to us, upon arrival, and throughout our stay, that Sandos Playacar has developed a sincerely ingrained culture of World Class Service. The Management Staff and the entire Resort Staff were the best we have seen. Any resort can be dissected by amenities, but great service, to us, is not always universal. It is this Great Service that is interwoven throughout Sandos Playacar that sets it apart!

And it has the Best Beach Around!!! 

Room Tip: Riviera Section, Or Haciendas
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank KeeferTL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandos_Playacar, General Manager at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, responded to this review, August 17, 2013
Dear KeeferTL,

We would like to thank you for your review published on Trip Advisor.

It honors us to receive such a compliment and encourages us to continue exceeding our clients’ expectations.

We really appreciate you taking the time to let us know we are providing a good service.
We look forward to welcome you back for your 2nd visit .

Please do not hesitate to contact us prior to your arrival so we can assist with all pre arrival requests and be sure that your stay surpasses all expectations.
Warm Regards,
Ivan Tapia
General Manager
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa
director.playacar@sandos.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Teddington
Level 4 Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2013

We travelled from the UK with Thomas Cook 24th July - 7th August.

Check in: a fairly slow process, only one other family checking in at the same time. Very pleasant reception staff. We had contacted the hotel with a room request beforehand; we wanted a king Size bed and a sofa bed but unfortunately they only had a room with two double beds. They told us they would be able to change the room the next morning. Although the first room was fine overlooking a pathway and trees, we preferred the room they gave us the following day which had the king size bed and overlooked the family pool. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to lavender bands and had champagne, fruit and bathrobes etc in the room. Plus two extra beach towels.

Room: Spacious with a king size bed and a sofa bed for our 14 year old son. He's 6'2" and found it comfortable and big enough. A big bathroom with separate shower, loo (both with doors) and a large Jacuzzi bath. Shower gel, soap, body lotion and shampoo provided. Efficient air conditioning and ceiling fan. Fridge with water, beer and fizzy drinks filled every day. Room was cleaned early on each day to a high standard with plenty of towels and lots of towel sculptures, so many thanks to our cleaner, Daniel.

Beach: with our lavender band upgrade we were able to use the lovely Royal Elite part of the beach. This has comfortable Bali type beds, doubles and singles, with comfy pillows, with or without shade. We never had a problem getting beds. Beach waitress service available, but you're never far from a bar anyway! The sand is lovely, pale and plentiful. The sea was very warm, often crystal clear, but we had a few days with biggish waves which churned it up a bit. We spent most mornings at the beach.

Pools: we didn't really use the main pool, (very busy, activities held here). In the afternoons we returned to the family section and used the pool there. It was very quiet usually, we always got beds and the lunch restaurant was great for our needs. Water was also warm, like a bath in the afternoons! With our upgrade we could have used the Adult pool but didn't feel the need. That's a lovely big pool with a bar and some Bali beds.

Buffets: the main buffet is madly busy at breakfast, we used the smaller one, nearer the beach. A much more pleasant experience, but maybe less choice. Room service breakfast was just ok. For lunch we nearly always used the riviera restaurant at the family pool. We only used the buffet for dinner on one occasion and it was fine. Plenty of choice, just a bit busy.

A la Cartes: we visited them all and liked the steak house (el gaucho) best, then the Mediterranean (itzapalapa) - great food but needs air conditioning! Adults only was lovely too. Mexican was ok (honestly prefer Mexican here in London!), the Brazilian was good, Asian not great for us. Bagel beach (evenings only - during the day it's a snack bar) was lovely, we went a few times and really enjoyed it. Not many people seemed to use it.

Bars: the pool bar at the family pool was great and never too busy. La Bambola sports bar (also crepes and ice cream) was good too. We used the Premium bar in reception every evening. It was nice and cool, had wifi, and there were cookies and snacks available. At the beach there's a smoothie bar which was lovely and usually quite busy, our barman at the family pool made smoothies too.

That Walk: yes, it's a walk from the family section the the beach and the buffets, but it's an easy walk on mainly level ground and there's lots to see. Honestly it wasn't a problem to us, ever. In fact I was grateful for the exercise. The Asian, Brazilian and steakhouse were all near the family section.

Staff: almost without exception they were lovely (just one grumpy guy at reception one day). Daniela at web relations was undoubtedly the best, though. She contacted me via tripadvisor many months ago when I asked a question on the forums. From then on she was so helpful: sorting out our a la carte reservations, our room requests and always checking we were ok. What a lovely, friendly girl. I can't praise her enough. (Hey Sandos - give her a bonus!!)

Niggles:
- I think the different levels of guests here are a bit "in your face" - there's Royal Elite (timeshare), who get all the perks including a VIP bar, and a special pool. Everyone else has to pass this pool to get to the beach - it's not amazing or anything, just a bit obvious that its only for the "elite" few. Then there's Gold and Lavender - gold is Select, so get to use adults only pool, Premium bars, adults only breakfast, and a separate beach area (which I think is no different to the standard beach area?). Lavender bands get the above and can use the RE beach area too. Children of RE, Gold and Lavender get silver bands. Blue bands are standard. If I hadn't been upgraded (thank you Sandos) I may have felt a bit second class, although probably I'd have got over it!

- Teen club. The club itself is fantastic and no charge for anything. BUT it's meant to be for 12-17 year olds and was almost always overrun with much younger children (with or without adults), which meant my 14 yr old son and 12 yr old nephew weren't that keen. This definitely needs looking at.

- The beds are hard, which is standard in non-British hotels, I find - but the pillows are awful, lumpy and hard. I actually went to Walmart in PDC with my sister and bought myself a comfy one!

- The towels could do with replacing, both bathroom and beach. Some of them are a bit worn and thin.

- Sun loungers are a bit basic, no mattress and don't lie flat (essential for lying on your tummy and tanning your back!)

Weather: was amazing the whole two weeks, with just a couple of very short (10 minutes) downpours on one day, once in the morning before we were out and once that night whilst we were indoors eating.

All in all a lovely resort with something for everyone. We would definitely return. Any questions fell free to message me.

Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
6 Thank lilaclabrador
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandos_Playacar, General Manager at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, responded to this review, August 17, 2013
Dear lilaclabrador,

Thank you for sharing your experiences with the Trip advisor community; it was a pleasure to read your review and we are sure this has helped many travelers confirm that Sandos Playacar is the perfect hotel for their vacation.

We are pleased that you loved it here; we will share your positive comments with our staff; it encourages them to continue working hard.

Please do not forget that we will be pleased to welcome you back at any time.

Kind regards,
Ivan Tapia
General Manager
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa
director.playacar@sandos.com
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Lee's Summit, Missouri
Level 6 Contributor
181 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2013

This resort has the potential to be great but it is lacking in several areas.
I booked a Royal Elite Hacienda through Sandos directly. At check in they tried to give me a room other than a Hacienda. I told them I wanted what I booked and after MUCH time was given one. I requested a top floor room (several months in advance). Didn't get one, changed the room and was told it was a top floor and was told if I wasn't happy with the room we could change the next day. We got to the hacienda and it was a bottom floor (I was flat out lied to). I understand a request is just that, a request but please don't lie to me to get me out of the lobby. The next morning I tried to change rooms (bottom floor was terribly noisy from the guest above us) but was told I needed to tell them the night before to get a change. Set up a change for the next day. We had a tour scheduled. When we got back we were told it was too late to change rooms. Set up a change for the next day. Was told we must leave the room at 10am and could check into new room at 3pm. Well my daughter got at bad rash on her legs at breakfast and we had to call a doctor. No way could we leave the room for 5 hours in the heat. Argh! at that point we only had 2 more nights so just stayed in the noisy room and got little sleep.
The room was very pretty although it could have used a fresh coat of paint. Although the bed was pretty firm I did not find it too uncomfortably hard. Our door was in a corner on bottom floor and the mosquitos collected near it and flew in every time the door was opened. The patio door was the same. We killed dozens of them in our room during our stay. We came home with several bites each although we used repellent with deet in the evenings. Bring your own blow dryer- the one in the room is worthless. We had an iron but no ironing board. The shower was nice and big. Really the room itself overall was very nice.
The grounds are beautiful and the grounds staff were always working hard. Everything was very clean except the patio surrounding our hacienda pool. By our door it was VERY dirty (couldn't walk around there without shoes) and during our 6 day stay no one ever came to clean it. The pool and hot tub were cleaned daily and very nice.
All the pools were nice and clean. We could never find an empty chair by the main pool. Plenty of chairs at the beach and nice hammocks. The beach is very nice and the water is beautiful. We never had a waiter ask us if we would like a drink at the beach or pool for our entire stay. What a disappointment.
The food is the worst. I heard someone compare it to a Golden Corral. If we could have only been so lucky. We ate at the Steak House and I saw a roach crawling on the floor while placing my order. Yuck! The Mexican restaurant was just OK. The Italian restaurant was the worst! The cupcake café is so cute and air conditioned, too bad the baked goods and sandwiches are not good. They did have good Frappuccino's. The buffets are all fresh air and it was so hot it was miserable. I like my hot food hot and my cold food cold. Didn't find that here. I really was worried about getting sick and was very careful about what got put on our plates. My husband got an upset stomach and is still trying to get better (we have been home for 4 days now). Room service food is not any better.
The entertainment was really fun. Way to go! The Michael Jackson show was really impressive! The evening entertainment at the meeting point was fun to watch too.
We asked for a wakeup call one day and guess what- didn't get one.
The doctor on call was very nice and came to our room to see our daughter. She came to us because after several attempts to get a ride to her office and no one on the phone could understand English enough to help me she just said I will come to you. At night the doctor does not stay at the resort she is about 15 minutes away. She said Sandos is the only resort that does not provide her with a room. There were times when our in room phone did not work at all. Kinda scary when you have a sick child. I kept praying we would not have an emergency and not be able to reach help.
It was really hit and miss with the staff. Overall I did not find them to be overly helpful or friendly.
The wildlife was fun too look at when you could find it. I especially liked seeing Ponch the iguana and his "house" near our room. One of the donkeys had a bad foot and was limping. I was worried about it. They were changing the location of the donkeys while we were there and that one was not moved even when the fence was tore down. I'm sure due to the fact that he could not walk. Sad...
Sorry for such a long review but I had so much to share and wanted to pass this information on to those thinking about staying here. I will not be back....

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank psychrnm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandos_Playacar, General Manager at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, responded to this review, August 17, 2013
Dear psychrnm,

Thank you very much for your wonderful comments and for taking the time to post your review on Trip Advisor. We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your feedback and suggestions as they are very valuable to us.

We would be more than happy to welcome you back for a second holiday in our resort.

Warmest Regards,
Ivan Tapia
General Manager
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa
director.playacar@sandos.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Lee, New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed August 11, 2013

If you like bad food, watered down alcohol, bad customer service, 1/2 mile walk to restaurants and beach than this is the place for you. Otherwise find anywhere else but here to stay. I've been on many vacations and this is by far the worst I ever had. My family and I were counting the days until we could go home. No where do they tell you its a 1/2 mile walk to eat and lounge at the beach. We were walking 3-4 miles a day between my room and the beach. The food is the same thing day in and day out and its horrible. They only let you eat at the "good restaurants" 3 days and the rest they want you to eat at the awful buffet. When you go to the 1/2 empty restaurant be prepared to wait to be seated as your waiter is also the host. The drinks are completely watered down, as the alcohol, such as wine, vodka, tequila, etc., come out of the same dispenser as the sodas. The staff is completely clueless and not trained properly as to how to cater to peoples needs. When we were checking out we had a discrepancy in our room charge as we were trying to get it taken care of which took about 20 minutes, at which point we asked for a supervisor who never came. The room charge wasn't taken care of so we paid it, just so we could leave as our transportation to the airport was waiting. Thank goodness for credit cards so you can dispute bogus charges. DO NOT EVER GO TO THIS PLACE.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank vitaly s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandos_Playacar, General Manager at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, responded to this review, August 17, 2013
Dear Vitaly s,

On a behalf of the Staff and Management here at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort and Spa we would like to thank you for your review.

However, we feel sorry that our Hotel didn’t meet your expectation. We assure you that improvement, in all our services are an ongoing process and our priority is guests’ satisfaction. We do hope to have another opportunity in the near future, to make your holiday unforgettable. If you decide to give us another chance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best Regards,

Ivan Tapia
Director General
Hotel Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & SPA
E-Mail: director.playacar@sandos.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rochester, New York
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2013

We visited in February, it was a family trip. It was a first all-inclusive stay for us and a great learning experience. The staff was amazing, very friendly and helpful. However, the rooms were less then desirable. We would return to Mexico, but we were would not return back to this hotel. The pools were packed, and there were not enough chairs to sit at out by the pool. The food was OK. Good drinks! The bartenders were great.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Amber I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2013

They nailed it again! Near perfect trip - with a glitch or two - but it's why we've been visiting Sandos Playacar for about 15 years!

First of all, I reached out to the Hotel Manager (Ivan Tapia) about 2-weeks prior to our trip to request room locations for our party of 6, which included my wife and I, two sons and their girlfriends - - we secured 3 rooms: one beachfront and two standard rooms. I had requested our son's rooms be in reasonable proximity to our room (close but not too close!) rather than at some remote location on the other side of the resort. The manager put me in touch with the Chief Concierge, Giovanna - - who really came through for us! The rooms were all in a perfect location - reflecting preference that a 15 year loyal client "should" come to expect. Nicely done.

I'll breakdown the rest of the trip in paragraph sections for your reading convenience.

TRANSFER TO HOTEL: Lomas Travel (Funjet) really bombed on this one! We booked a private car (a van, actually) for our group of 6. When we got to the airport, Lomas showed a party of 2...not a party of 6! Bottom line, we had to wait 45 minutes for a replacement van - and then we were warned to make sure we connected with Victor Mendez at the hotel to get him correcting this for the return trip. I wasted time each morning and afternoon for our first 4 days of our trip trying to find Victor Mendez...who is never at his desk, doesn't take phone calls at the hotel, and is unknown to anyone in the hotel! When I finally did catch him randomly at his desk, his (un)able assistant also from Lomas explained he had other people waiting but that my issue required me speaking to him and that I should wait...I waited 60 minutes. left a note for him to call me...which never happened. Luckily, the following day, there was a lady complaining at the front desk coincidentally also about Victor Mendez! Somehow, now the front desk person now remembered who this is and contacted him via phone! She thankfully gave the phone to me to speak to him after she was done doing same - - He assured me he was on-top of things...I trusted him little, but got his cell number in case we had issues. People don't need this kind of stress while on vacation! Lomas failed, completely! Mendez failed, completely. We will definitely make other arrangements next time that do not include Lomas. Everyone who reads this might want to consider doing the same.

CHECK-IN: Close, but no cigar (again), Sandos Front Desk Staff! Ok, I contact Giovanna and Ivan several times prior to the trip...explain I'm a 15 year (beach-front/exclusive) client, make some simple requests for the room, explain the importance of a smooth check-in for our group, etc. Would of thought at the very least, there would be no issues at check-in. Well, they came very close to a flawless check-in, until the lady helping us attempted to switch our "gold-wrist-bands" to another color...after we had the gold ones affixed to our wrists! She went on and on about how it would be better for us...which was not the case - actually we would have received far less benefit had we switched! This is where 15 years experience comes in handy...I declined switching...argued with her...and we kept our gold bands. This was obviously an attempt to lessen our group benefits and conveniences and I found the experience to be in poor taste and very poorly handled by this lady. This is NOT what we have come to expect by Sandos and we were very disappointed and dismayed by her attitude and attempted deceit.

ROOMS/STUFF: Room 1114 (beachfront) has incredible air conditioning and in a perfect ground-level location. The room safe needs repair because the numbers stick, but other than that its a perfect room in every way! Our boys rooms were near the restaurant/beach and the air conditioning was good enough to cool them off, but clearly in need of attention. Other than that, those too were perfect. We were generous in our daily tipping of wait staff and they repaid that with some beautiful towel art, a well stocked fridge, and all around attention. The wait staff is terrific! My boys are piggy, so having them to help re-organize things each day was appreciated by everyone! Room service was excellent, as usual! A great benefit that all of us took full advantage of. The food was great, we didn't have to wait too long and just loved being able to grab a late night snack! Note: move any leftovers outside your room before going to sleep...having uncovered food in the room attracts critters...and we awoke to some nasty bugs eating our food!

FOOD/BUFFETS: We did the restaurant thing last year when it was just my wife and I. We didn't book any reservations this year being that the boys and their girlfriends preferred the buffets - so we ate at the buffets each day. The food selection and quality is definitely better at the Festival Restaurant rather than the one closest to the beach (forgot that ones name) - and that goes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! One really nice change is they now have basic snack food at the beach - including chips and salsa, burgers and hot dogs, fries, etc. This is a perfect addition and additional benefit that alot of people were really taking advantage of! The beach wait staff on the north side of the beach is non-existent! This was a real change and a real bummer for us! We all brought tons of single-dollars (USD) for tips, but only saw a beach waitress once over seven days! No big deal, I guess, because it wasn't too much of a hassle for us to get off our lazy butts and get our own drinks, but it was really nice when we could count on someone coming by every 30 minutes or so. Would have made a fortune in tips from our group too! The bars are average, at best. Don't count on getting any alcohol in your drinks so bring your own from the Duty Free. Made the mistake of ordering 6 shots of tequila from the La Bambola bar one evening because one of our kids girlfirends turned 21 that day...I think the shot was gasoline, not tequila! The worst shot I have ever had! For pete's sake, its Mexico! Could you serve a good local tequila, por favor? Just more corner cutting that really gives you an impression they're trying to rip you off.

BEACH: Still the best beach in PDC! Big and expansive, with plenty of chairs and palapa's for all! Noted issues included most of the palm trees are dead or dying from lack of watering. Saw them cut a couple down while we were there...which was sad. The sand is not well groomed anywhere on the resort! One poor employee is tasked with dragging two rakes behind him each day so it "looks" groomed, but there is absolutely no effort made to remove the "crap" in the sand (rocks, weeds, roots, cigarette butts, trash, animal feces, etc.). If you play a sport, you risk getting cut with all the crap in the sand...volleyball, soccer or just playing with your kids...the sand is dirty! That employee works about 2 hours making lines in the sand...for no other purpose than visual aesthetics. Somebody needs a lesson in efficiency...what a waste of time/effort. How about getting an ATV with a groom-attachment? You would free-up that employee and make for a much nicer beach-front. Next, the incessant head-pounding beach music is really obnoxious, unbearingly repetitive and appeals to a minute audience! I'n not suggesting there is one kind of music that everyone would like, but playing only one kind like what your hotel plays is enough to deter us/others from returning! Equally obnoxious are your staff people who yammer loudly on the speakers every 30 minutes or so. It used to be that the obnoxious music and yammering only happened at the pool. Now that its both at the pool and beach, there is subsequently no place to relax without the head-pounding sounds of local-pop/rap music and your staff. That will probably move us to venture to Iberostar or Riu next time. Yes, its that bad. Finally, what the heck happened to topless sunbathing in PDC? Its non existent at this hotel and we saw only a few as we walked past other hotels. Wonder if habits are changing....or if hotels are discouraging? Another disappointment.

MISCELLANEOUS: Asked the Meeting Place guy to hail a cab for our group of 6 one evening we were going to town. We waited near the doorway as a group. Then two other groups (both spanish-speaking groups of 4 and 6 respectively) also went to the same guy with the same request...and their cabs came before ours - asking for them by name! I went back to the guy who claimed ours is on the way. We waited 40 minutes for a cab - while the other two groups got theirs in under 5 minutes! Totally unacceptable! The Sandos-staff who participates in beach volleyball should NOT be playing with the guests. I understand their goal of getting people active, but they should not be making guests wait/watch while they play! Also, the soccer nets are too far away from the middle of the resort, which is why nobody plays there! They need to be moved. Its crazy to see guests use flip flop shoes as goals rather than the nets 200 yards away. Move them. Finally, the SPA-pool was dirty (used nearly daily) and bug-filled, the hot tub not hot, and whirlpool had 50% of its jets broken. Needs some attention. The shuttle that transports people from main entrance to meeting place needs to be bigger or you need two of them on the route during peak hours. You have a big resort now...transporting guests should be a priority.

CONCLUSION: The resort has made some improvements that we appreciate and some other changes we feel are detractions. I rated the resort as "Very Good" but noted more than a few frustrations. The condition of the resort has improved...the landscaping and general condition is really good and better than last year. The grounds are beautiful and it is still a great place to stay! I share the issues (good and bad) above because I believe the new management (Ivan and Giovanna) will take what I say to heart and maybe consider making some changes. As far as where we'll stay next year, I guess that will depend what we continue reading here on Tripdvisor. Good job overall, Ivan and Giovanna, our rooms were perfectly located and we all had a terrific time last week. Thank you for everything. See you next year...maybe.

Martin S.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank skuuzame2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandos_Playacar, General Manager at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, responded to this review, August 17, 2013
Dear skuuzame2,

Thank you very much for your wonderful comments and for taking the time to post your review on Trip Advisor. We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your feedback and suggestions as they are very valuable to us.

We would be more than happy to welcome you back for a second holiday in our resort.

Warmest Regards,
Ivan Tapia
General Manager
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa
director.playacar@sandos.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandos Playacar Beach Resort

Property: Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Address: Paseo Xaman-Ha | Manzana 1, Lote 1 Fracc.Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#34 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#35 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#43 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#43 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#46 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#53 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Sandos Playacar Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 819
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

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