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“Great for a real family vacation”

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Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Ranked #60 of 214 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Wayne, New Jersey
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Great for a real family vacation”
Reviewed August 20, 2004

The Gala is our third all-inclusive resort. We've been to the Almond Beach Village in Barbados and Barcelo Bavaro Palace in Punta Cana, D.R.

We chose the Gala because my sister-in-law, who was there in April with her family, recommended it. We were a little nervous about going there in August (August 10th-17th), but figured the humidity can be countered by the ocean breeze. We were also worried that our kids 4 and 2 might get sick from the water, but we were assured they had a water purification system. Anyway, my kids didn't get sick, but my husband and I did. I also learned from other people that certain members of their families got a taste of Montezuma's revenge as well. But I think that somehow just goes with the territory.

We had a run-of-the house room with a pool and garden view. It was great sitting in the balcony and enjoying the sights. The beds, however, are hard as a rock. It's a mattress on a concrete slab. The pillows (some hard, some soft) and blankets (very pilly) were not that great either.

I liked the fact that all the amenities are within close proximity. We didn't have to walk far to get to the restaurants, pool, ocean, kids' club, gym, etc. The pools are nice, not gigantic, and at certain times can get too crowded. The towel cards are a little annoying, but we just made sure we returned the towels every night. The beach is breathtaking. It's true the Gala has the best beach area among the resorts there. Ordering drinks from your lounge chair at the pool or beach was great, I prefer that to a swim-up bar (the Gala doesn't have one). There are plenty of lounge chairs at the pool, but the choice ones were mostly taken before 8:00 a.m. We rarely went to the beach before 10:00 a.m., because we had to register our kids at the kids club first, and by then all the lounge chairs and palapas are taken. But the hammocks were not, and it's a nice place to relax.

The food at the buffet was good - not fantastic, but all-inclusive resorts rarely shine in their cuisine. They did have very good desserts. We ate at the Italian restaurant 3 times and that was worth it. They had a very good antipasto station and some noteworthy dishes. We had to cancel our reservation at the Mexican restaurant because it was the night I got sick. We didn't even try the Mediterranean one because we were forewarned that the only good thing was the chicken kebobs.

They had a theme every night, but clearly the best one is Mexican night. They have vendors come in selling souvenirs. They had a cotton candy and churro stand, which my kids enjoyed. They also had Mexican Carnival games. Some very aggressive photographers try to get your picture taken with a donkey and dress you in Mexican garb. They charge $10. My husband only had $7 on him, but they took our picture anyway and we got it the next day. So never accept the first price they quote you.

The nightly entertainment is nowhere close to what you'd find on a cruise ship. But the Galavants (entertainment crew) were very enthusiastic and worked really hard. The kids' club attendants were very nice and accomodating. My 4 yr old loved being there, not everyday though and at most 3 hours. My two yr old went once, but preferred being with us at the pool.

Overall, the Gala is great when you have kids with you. If it were just my husband and I, I'd probably choose a cruise or a more couple-oriented resort.

2 Thank aecamwes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 10, 2004

My husband and I went to the Gala this past Febuary. I have been meaning to write a review. We loved it and had a wonderful time. We at first stayed in a room on ground floor too close to the pool and asked to be moved. We do not like to stay on a bottom floor as you can hear people above you. They could not move us for two days and then we upgraded ( this is where they get you, or where I should say you can possibly get a room that you want) for a $100.00 more a day it was great. We got a room on the second floor in the building closest to the water. It was wonderful sitting out on the deck. It was so peaceful. I think if we didn't change rooms I would have been very unhappy. The food, restaurants, service, bar pools, disco, shows, the room and staff were great. I would highly recomment this place to anyone and we want to go their again. The beach was the best as we walked many of them in the area. We did not have our children with us but I was very impressed with the staff of the kids club. They were great and it looked as though they made sure the kids had safe fun. The Gala was above average and we are so glad that we stayed their.

2 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Lenox, Illinois
Level Contributor
31 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2004

For reference I have stayed at Allegro Playacar (2002) and Bahia Principe Akumal (Oct 03). My family along with another stayed at the Gala July 22-30. We booked the Hacienda Jr. Suites and we're not disappointed. We requested ground floor rooms next to each other closer to the lobby and that's what we got (block #62). Some of the suites were very far away and I can see these not being convenient. The rooms were big and very clean although 1 of our rooms had a broken air conditioner and there was some unsightly construction going on right next to the pool. We brought this to the managments attention and were told we could not be moved due to the resort being at full capacity. We came to a happy medium, the manager upgraded us to the Royal Club without actually moving our rooms (we didn't want to give up the Hacienda although they do have upgraded Hacienda Rooms that have a hot tub and 4 hammocks - but these were all occupied ). The upgrade gave us the benefits of no towel cards, shade and upgraded bar service on the beach, access to the ice cold Gala Royal Club and priority reservations at the restaurants. By the way they managed to sort of fix the air conditioner. It ran but was not nearly as cold as the other room. And the construction was completed after 4 days although they did clean it up a bit and make it safer after we complained.

Although it would have been great to have ocean view rooms with the upgrade, we loved having the small pool outside of the hacienda. It came in handy when the main pool got too crowded and we wanted to escape all of the noise. The kids (ages 3,7,7,7 and 9) also liked being able to swim first thing in the morning while one of us was still getting ready for breakfast. They also liked being able to get out of the heat and play games, watch tv, color, etc when the afternoon sun got too hot. We also used it for late evening swimming after the shows. The main theater is very hot with little to no ventilation so some evenings we needed to cool off before calling it a night. Yes the floors do get slippery with everyone in and out of the pool outside the room but I just put bath towels on the floor. When we ran short of towels I just helped myself to the maids supply closet located in the front of every hacienda. Ours was left open all day. So we never had a towel shortage problem.

The food was was good to above average. As stated breakfast is very good but my main complaint was with the pancake/french toast grill. They are cooked to order and the chef takes only 2 maybe 3 orders at a time. So with 10 people waiting he's only cooking 4 pancakes on a griddle that holds 20. I know it's petty but it was annoying, sometimes we were in line 20+ minutes for 2 pancakes. But at least they were good. Back to the food. The lunch and dinner buffets were fine, nothing outstanding. We ate at the Italian and Mexican restaurants. I think the Italian was the better of the two. Our friends ate at the Mediterrian and did not care for it. We were a little disappointed in the room service menu. Not much of a selection but what we did order was very good. No burgers, fries, pizza, or nachos. Although we did use room service quite a bit. One thing I have to say is they had a very large selection of deserts at lunch and dinner. The chocolate cake was outstanding and the praline cake in the Italian restaurant was very good.

The main pools are nice but not very big considering how may people were there. Lines did tend to get a little long for the pool bar but not bad. Never made it over to the adult pool, but it did appear only adults were in it. The beach is just as everyone says, beautiful and very large.

Kids Club. What can I say, it gave us some much needed adult time. All of the kids took well to it and asked to go there. Even my 3 year old demanded to go and he doesn't like very many people. Granted there were times they wanted nothing to do with it which was fine we let them make the call. But we felt comfortable with the supervision they provided and didn't worry about them.

Overall I have to give this vacation very high marks. We read all of the reviews and had an open mind going into it. We felt the Gala does a great job trying to please everyone and I would not hesitate to recommend this as a family resort. Would I go back with my family - yes. But if my husband and I were looking for a resort for the 2 of us - no. Way too many kids for an adult vacation. But that's why we picked it because of the family friendly atmosphere. If you have any questions or want to see pictures of the resort, email me.

12 Thank BDKBS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2004

We have just this afternoon returned from a 7 day stay at the Gala, so I thought I'd share our experiences. We have two children, boy 8, girl 6, who thoroughly enjoyed their stay and did NOT want to leave! The Kids Club was good - they post their daily activities on a board out front and the children preferred to pick and choose what activities they wanted to join in. We just went down and registered them at 10 am each day and had the freedom to drop them/pick them up whenever it suited (they do "close" the front door between 1 and 3pm when they settle the kids for lunch and a move/nap/quiet time). Some of the activites for the older kids (8 - 12yrs) were wicked - archery, windsurfing, beach baseball etc. I cannot speak more highly of the Land Sports/Entertainment crew. These are the hardest working, talented people I've ever encountered at these types of resorts. They are out there participating in the heat, sand and humidity from 8am and ALWAYS had a smile and a mile of patience for everyone they came across (even the most tenacious of youngsters!!) Add to that the hours of rehearsal every day for their evening shows which didn't finish til around 10:30 pm....... My kids adored the nightly shows, especially watching their "fave" Land Sports person costume up and strut their stuff! The beach was clean and beautiful, and being the first resort into the Playacar area has its advantages - you are not "boxed in" at all on the beach as there is nothing but free space to one side of you. The beach is spacious and the lounges plentiful, but you do need to get in early to "reserve" your spot for the day, especially if you want to be under one of the little huts! There always seemed to be lounges available by the pool whenever I needed one, so had no dramas there. There is also a pool reserved strictly for adults - and everyone obeyed this doctrine! It provided a nice, child free (and splash free!) zone for those wanting less disturbance! Being a fitness nut, I was out running every morning at 6:30 am before hitting the gym. The round trip into PDC would be roughly 6 k's on flat and paved footpaths - pretty easy going. The gym was small, but had all the bits and pieces I needed to get in a good workout. There were two treadmills (which looked almost new) for those who prefer running inside, and about 10 Reebok "spinning" cycles. Aqua aerobics at midday in the main pool is more for fun than fitness, but I had a blast mingling with others and having a good laugh with the staff. They "enjoyed" the fact that, being an Australian, I had absolutely NO IDEA what they were saying in any of their four spoken languages, LOL!!! Step/low impact classes are also available daily, as are Spinning classes. There is a constant hum of activity on the beach volleyball courts and the beach soccer field - all good fun if you want it! The Water Sports area seemed a little disorganised at times with bits of equipment coming and going and no reservation system in place which meant lots of time wasted waiting around. Guests did not respect the time allotments for equipment and the staff didn't do much to follow things up! The highlight of our water borne experience was when our catamaran flipped then sunk quite a ways offshore! Frightened the heck out of our two kids to be honest, but we can all laugh about it now. Turns out that fitting the "plugs" to the hulls had been overlooked that morning ....... lol! Got a free ride on the jetski as part of the "rescue mission"!

Restaurants/Buffets and bars were all pretty good and quite clean. The service was reliable. Plenty of healthy stuff if you want it - nice fresh fruits, smoothies, yoghurts etc. for breakfast, as well as all the usual breakfast fare. Had to eat at lunchtimes in the Festival buffet - no so much healthy stuff in the Oo La La by the pool BUT there is great stuff for those that want it - hamburgers, pizzas, paellas, hot dogs, fries etc.etc. You are only allowed to make one reservation per day for any of the three a la carte restaurants and we didn't have too many problems with this system. There is truth in comments from other reviewers about reservations being difficult to come by then the restaurant being half empty! Must be a reason for it ..... The dinners in the Festival Buffet were of fairly good quality and followed a theme every night. There were always reasonably reliable "staples" for the kids wherever you ate. Most importantly, nobody became unwell due to food borne issues, a pleasant change from our past trips to Bali!!! The wines were OK, the bar service was fine. We didn't bother with tipping waiters/bar staff etc. being as that we were always more than happy to lift off the lounge for a two minute walk to the nearest bar every now and again - just to stretch! Plus, with two youngsters constantly in the water, one can't really hit the alcoholic stuff too early in the day! Some people took their own insulated cups - brilliant idea and I would recommend people do that. Not only do they hold more than the plastic cups offered, but most importantly, they are lidded and would provide some respite from the pesky, persistent and ever present BEES!!!! Can't tell you how many drinks my kids dropped because they were getting swarmed walking back to the chairs!!! Hubby even managed a sting to the finger!

We stayed in the Hacienda section and, yes, it is a little bit of a walk but nothing like the "15 minutes" to the beach that some people have mentioned - these people either crawled down there or stopped off for a few quiet ones in the bar and lost track of all time, lol!! Anyhow, after all that eating, why not walk some??? If you really couldn't manage the walk for whatever reason, they would happily give you a ride in a golf cart. The room was always clean and everything was in good working order. The suites have their own plunge pool and sunlounges etc., and for those who like peace and quiet, it would be perfect. We left the room by 8 am each day and returned around 6 - - the room mattered little to us. We enjoyed good weather and after a day in the sun, followed by a big dinner, drinks and sitting sweating through the evening show, we were happy to hit the hay - can't offer any comment at all about sports bars or nightclubs post 10:30pm!

In summary, if you're after the true 5-star experience with all the la-de-da trimmings, head to a Four Seasons or like property. If you're like us, where happy and settled kids equal a reasonable parental 'rest', then the Gala should work just fine!

20 Thank KarenCoco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 6, 2004

My husband and I spent 4 days at the Gala in June 2004. Admittedly, I wanted to stay at the Iberostar since I had heard so much about it. Thank goodness that did not work out! We had a great 4 days at the Gala. Everyone seems to admit, the beach is beautiful, but what rarely seems to be said is that the Gala has the best beach on that strip. It is wider and not nearly as crowded. Also, it is the last resort on the strip so past it is nothing but open beach and quiet walking if you want it. Not true elsewhere. My husband and I walked one day up the beach and could not believe how crowded it was at all the other resorts. The food was quite good. We stayed at one of the hacienda's and it was very quiet and clean.

We are not novice travelers - my husband travels all over the world on business and we have vacationed in many places in the caribbean and in Mexico. We will definitely go back to the Gala - next year we are taking our kids because they seemed to have such a great kids program. Anyone can find something to grip about (and honestly we can be kind of grippy ourselves), but overall we were very pleased.

3 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2004

My husband, myself and two boys (10&7) just returned from seven nights at the gala. After much research and trying to book the Iberostar next door (more on that later) which has been booked solid for quite some time we settled on the Gala resort. We had a good time but quite frankly we felt we were settling most of the time. You get that feeling immediately as you pass all of the other hotels on the way into Playacar. The Gala is ok but not impressive. That goes for the grounds, the rooms, the food and the service. I give them an "A" for trying but it does fall short. Let me preface this by saying that I typically like to stay at top of the line places so I was very disappointed the first day and the look on my husbands face upon checking in was a real killer. We decided to make the best of it and this is when things started to get better.

The good: clean grounds, beautiful blue water, decent drinks, requests for more towels (every day I had to call for more), fix the thermostat, reprogram the safe were quick. the boys had fun learning to shoot pool, got to try archery which they love, afternoon games of water polo, lots of hammocks, the mexican restaurant where we had a delicious dinner, the fact that none of us got sick!

The bad: bare bones rooms, slippery tile floors with no mats, calls every day for more towels, room that was either freezing or so damp that your clothes were wet if you left your room with the air off, one bottled water per day period, buffet food that was just ok( it is a real treat to eat in the restaurants after so much of the same buffet food), grounds that were pretty but not spectacular. I felt sorry for the people in the hacienda section, they look like apartment buildings out near the fence and main driveway and so far from the main pool and beach.

I would like to say that as a family we enjoyed our day at Xel-ha and our morning on the ATV tour through the jungle. The tour operator in the lobby beats the prices of Apple and American Express and they do a good job. We never had to wait and we always had a small car to travel in so we were not picking up hoards of people.

Now for the Iberostar- we did walk through that property to check it out. The jungle, the monkeys, roosters, peacocks, flamingos and restaurants surrounded by fountains and koi ponds were beautiful. This was probably what I had been looking for but the Gala met the kids expectations just fine and this was a family vacation after all.

The verdict- my husband and I will not return, the boys are talking about coming here with their own kids one day! They had a great time and I had a ball watching them have so much fun.

4 Thank ranchomom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed July 27, 2004

Just returned from the Gala, Let me first say I was a bit skeptical as this was my first time in Mexico & by reading some previous reviews from others who stayed.
First and foremost this place was CLEAN at that is very important to me! At any hour day or night you would see staff cleaning outside. The Beach is CLEAN and the water is Crystal clear, calm and beautiful the best on the that stretch of beach is size and things to do and NOT CROWDED it is right next door to the Iberostar Tucan their beach is crowded in comparison they have smaller beach and 300 more rooms! they have no activities beachwith no volleyball on beach not enough room just lounges and a few papayas? (straw umbrellas). Gala in comparison to Iberostar is smaller Iberostar has huge Pools but I go for the Ocean I can swim in a pool anywhere, but in my opinion as I did walk through the Iberostar Tucan you may have a 20-30 min walk to the beach in 90 humid degrees that is not for me, especially if you have little ones. The Gala has a haceinda section which is about 10 min to beach. Unless you request hacienda you will be close to beach 2 min walk and right on top of the pool they pool was never overcrowded there are 3 at Gala.
The Food was Good not gourmet but it was good something for everyone without a doubt kids & adults, Breakfast was the best (at least the most american as in tasting to me).
This is all inclusive but TIPS will go a long way here bring lots of singles and you will be pampered BIG TIME! while you dont have to Tip and they are not expected they really work hard for you in 90-100 degrees with always a smile I felt they deserved it and your beach waiter will come as soon as your drink is empty ;).
The Room was very nice clean and the beds are a bit hard but I have a bad back so it was great for me (hehe) not my husband..but with so much to do you have no problem going to sleep you are exhausted.
Room Service is good My Kids say the BLT's are the best they used room service ALOT, they were 14,14,17,18, They had the best time there are plenty of kids of all ages 1 thru 18 yrs old and the staff invites teens to do stuff with them also they are very friendly and helpful.
Dont be shocked by topless women cause you will see a few im sure, alot of europeans.
Telephoning US is expensive and Gala charges you $10 per call on top of what you pay for call, I bought a $20 Phone card in Gift Shop she told me 30 mins i would get I got 8 mins and they are only good in the hotel lobby? The Gift shop is a Rip-Off big time. We went to the Playacar Plaza just down the road and bought Calling cards for $10 US dollars for 31 mins to US it is the best deal and only a 15 min walk or 5 min Bike ride there or $4.00 Taxi and you can always get a taxi there. In my opinion the GALA ROYAL CLUB is a waste of $ you really get nothing just a small area on beach roped off and they will reserve a chair & towel for you. My husband just got up early 6:30am to reserve a straw umbrella just through a few towels on some chairs and thats "reserved".
We did the dolphin swim in Peurto Adventura I would suggest going elsewhere it is a man made area and the water is well..kinda gross and you have to snorkel/swim in it..try Isle Mujeous or the other place you can chose from 3 locations its great but the other locations are farther but better.
Snorkeling is Fantastic a must do they have free at Gala but not much to see we paid $49.00 pp and went to the reef Porta Morelos with a guide it was GREAT worth the $ we seen barracudas/stingrays the reef is awesome with tons of different fish swimming with you cant wait to get my pictures back (buy an underwater camera before you go as they want alot more in Mexico).
As far as underage drinking there if you can see the bar they will serve you a drink, so if you dont want your teens drinking you have to keep a sharp eye as it is available to them.
Nightlife, they have 1 disco thats opens at 11:00 my kids liked it, but for a crazier time and more variety I suggest you take a $4.00 cab ride 10mins to 5th Ave and there is Senor Frogs, carlos & charlies, and the Blue Parrot all great and more Clubs to dance and party (even a gay bar Playa69 if you are so inclined) The Gala has it all and what they dont have is only a 20 min walk or 4.00 cab ride away it will not disappoint you! My one complaint was the maids they would show up and all different times but never at least at my room before 4pm and sometimes you wanted to shower and you dont have clean towels so we would call and within minutes they would bring them, so not a big deal not enough not to go back, we will be going back. We booked through Apple and flew USA 3000 they were ontime there and back nice planes I was a little concerned as I never heard of them (apple owns them) but not worries smooth flight and nice equipment. If you have any questions please email me and I will be happy to answer I tried to cover everything....... Iknow I was a bit scared before I went and some reviews are bad? that i cant understand it really was the BEST vacation!

11 Thank aprilnj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member 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
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:
#33 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#35 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#41 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#42 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#45 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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