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“Great Place For Families~Riviera Rooms Are the Way to Go!”

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Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Ranked #61 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Reviewed April 15, 2009

Hola!
We just got back at 2 am and I want to write this review while everything is fresh in my mind! Thanks so much to everyone who takes the time to write reviews and answer questions...it makes all the difference in a vacation and I love this site! Thanks JAMM!
Alright, we travelled from 4/8-4/14. First, I must say that this was our first time to Mexico with the whole family (boys ages 14,12,10 and 7), previously we have gone with couples and stayed in adults-only resorts, which admittedly probably skewed our first impressions. I thought the price was really good~$2800 for two rooms/2 adults 4 kids/ 6 nts. air separate. This really is a family resort and if my husband and I were going alone we wouldn't stay here. For one thing, we miss our kids too much when we see all the kids.
I think we have been really spoiled by the rooms in our previous stays because we were first placed in the Beach section, standard rooms (requested Riviera section) and I actually shed a few tears(alot actually) when we entered our rooms the first night. By the way, we did send several emails with room requests, but just got what we got when we arrived. So be prepared, especially if you stay when it is busy.
My husband said the rooms made him "homesick!" I know that some people have been happy with the Beach rooms, but we really hated them,honestly. Even though the baths have been redone, the rest of the room just seemed very old, very small and dated.
(I know the Royal Elite rooms in that section are probably great.)The elevator to the rooms was our first impression of that section and it was tiny,old and just yuck. The best part of this section was the partial ocean view, but the balconies were very small too. We had also requested adjoining rooms, and our rooms were about five rooms away from each other. In fairness, it was a busy time though, and I think that they have very few adjoining rooms, which I think they actually call "connecting", so be sure and request with that wording. I don't think they have any "connecting" rooms in the Riviera section, at least that's what I was told at the Front Desk.
Please bear with me as this place gets much better!!
So, without unpacking our bags, I rode with the bellboy right back up to the main check-in (Rivera Section) to see what we could do.
We booked with a travel agent through Funjet so I went right to the Lomas Travel guy (Luis) who is in charge of Funjet guests at the hotel. I was still in tears mind you! I really didn't think I was a room snob...we are from Iowa for Heaven Sakes, but we hated those rooms enough that I was asking about the possibility of changing resorts! Thank goodness the other resorts were all full, because this really does turn out great. Luis was awesome and even though nothing could be done that first night, it was 7 pm by now, he went to the front desk and requested room changes for the next day. We were tired, and bummed that first night, we ate at the Festival Buffet, and found a few tasty things, but didn't love it. The kids didn't find much they liked that night either.
We went to bed and awoke to a letter that we would be changing rooms and to please have bags ready to be picked up at 10. Our new rooms (in the 9000~New) section would be ready at 2. Things were looking up and we hit the beach and pool. The resort grounds were really beautiful and weather gorgeous and sunny the entire time. Loved seeing the occasional iguana and squirrel-badger type creature. I have read the name, but can't recall.
From the awesome breakfast that morning through the rest of our stay we found the
rest of the food really great!
And then at 2 we went to our new rooms and fell in love with Sandos! For our stay ,the Riviera section rooms made the whole difference in our vacation. The rooms were beautiful. They were sparkling clean,new, large, with whirpool tubs, gorgeous bathrooms with two sinks and large patios. We were on the ground level facing the Riviera section pool. (IMO the best rooms would be in the 9000 section, pool view,high floor.) Still not connecting, but next to each other. Some of the 8000 section rooms are right next to the cart path, which I would think could get annoying.
The vacation we had pictured had begun and here is our take...
Food: Ended up being really great! We liked the Riviera section buffet or Mexican rest. buffet for breakfast, Festival was nice too though. They all had about the same selection, just different atmosphere. The made to order omelettes, bacon, french toast, black beans, breads and fresh juices were some of our favorites. The bloody marys/caesars were really good too. (They have the best tasting butter I have ever had!) Oh yes, and the fresh fruits were wonderful.
For lunch, our favorite was the Mexican restaurant because of the ocean view-open air location. Loved the pico de gallo, guacamole and grilled chicken breast. The boys really liked the hamburgers which is surprising because we have great beef in Iowa. I tried one though, and they were really good. Their fries, mashed potatoes and red potatoes were really good too. We also liked eating lunch at the Riviera Blue (next to the 8000 section). I wouldn't even have found that place were it not for someone's TAdvisor review.
For dinner, we personally would not recommend the Oriental. That is one of the reservation-only places. It may be a personal preference thing, and there were a couple things we liked, but overall it was definitely the worst meal we had. No worries though, we went to the Italian buffet and ate after the Oriental.
Surprisingly, we really liked the Italian Buffet. Just pasta with choice of sauces, but the beef and tomato sauces were really tasty. They also had some great soups...cream of corn was really good. And of course the breads again were really good and the salads, although we were cautious with the salads as to avoid Montezuma's Revenge! We were all great by the way, which was a big concern with taking the kids. Festival buffet was nice too and wish we had tried the Mexican buffet for dinner, but ran out of time and room.HA
We also made reservations at El Gaucho (steakhouse) and really enjoyed it. The boys really liked the ribs and our t-bones were pretty tough, but tasty. Didn't expect a Midwest steak though. The sit down service and dressing up (long pants for the men/boys) was nice. (They do enforce that, as we saw one husband sent back to his room to change.) It wasn't fancy, but very pleasant. Our dessert there was something that I found ocassionally at the buffets too, a chocolate dessert with layers of something whipped and strawberry sauce. Delicious! Alot of the desserts at Sandos were really good.
I wish we would have tried the Brazilian instead of the Oriental, but someone told us that it was very hot in there and they didn't enjoy it. The French is supposed to be great too, but adults only.
Drinks: Terrific~the boys loved the mochaccinos at the sports bar and virgin straw/banana daiquiris. I thought that some of the staff would get so tired of making them different drinks, but they were so friendly. We never had bad service. The staff were great. I don't understand the comments about watered down drinks because you could always ask for a double if you wanted it. They had some topshelf liquor, but mostly medium to less expensive. You just had to request the namebrand or of course they just use the well brand. No complaints about drinks though. They had great drink menus for trying something new. We liked the Hawaiian Margs. and Banana Daiquiris/Dirty Monkeys.
Pools: The main pool (beach section) was kind of small for the amount of people at the resort, but again it was a busy time. You had to play the towel game by about 7-7:30, especially if like us, you needed six chairs. The pools were very nice though. We liked to go back to the Riviera section(9000) pool in the afternoon for a break from all the people and action. They also had a swim-up bar there and not at the main pool. One small thing though, even one of our boys noticed that the pools(water) could get really dirty. May be unavoidable with all the sand, blowing debris.
Rooms: Like I said, the Riviera section was great! We talked to someone who stayed in the Haciendas and enjoyed their location, rooms OK they said. The carts to Riviera section (7 min. walk) ran more frequently at night than during the day. The walk was nice though. As other people have stated, if you could move the Rivera section to beachfront it would be PERFECTO. Also, there are groups of people from?? who will ignore the lines for the golf carts and just walk right around the other side and get on! We couldn't believe it, but whatever. If you were in a hurry you just needed to be bold and jump right on in there.
To Do: We went to Selvatica in Puerto Moreles (booked through their website online) and loved it. It was zipling, riding a mountain bike, and swimming in a Cenote(fresh,clear water). Awesome! We even left the picture that we had purchased with our family holding parrots in the van and they are going to Fed-Ex it as well as my son's cap to us! The only downside was the hour drive in a herky jerky van both ways and my hubby got a little carsick.
Wouldn't recommend taking kids to the Fosse show at night~definitely inappropriate for kids under 16. The Disney show was nice, but the 14-year-old and husband snuck out early. The animacion team was pretty good~maybe not great~except for one gal with long brownish blond hair that was super friendly...wish I remembered her name. There were some spring breakers there, but not many, and only once did I want to give an obnoxious,drunk 18ish-year old a piece of my mind for being so lewd and bad-mouthed.
The kids enjoyed playing tennis (make reservations the day before), playing pool, playing in the waves. We also checked out their bikes and rode to 5th Avenue one morning. That was fun, and got a few good trinkets and tequila, headed back before it got too hot. Only about a 15 min. bike ride. We really liked this location. You're also only about an 8 min. walk to a little shopping plaza with Starbucks if you need a fix.lol
Beach: OK, now since we were never here before the erosion we thought it was great! We walked down in front of the Rius and Ibersostars and thought the Sandos beach was so much better. The loungers at the Riu were all pushed together and had no palapas. The Ibersostar beach had a big drop off (although we talked to one guy through the bushes the first night when were looking for a way out, and he loved it there!)
You had to reserve loungers early if you wanted to hang by the beach even though there were signs stating that you couldn't do this. It was very windy the whole time we were there, with only one yellow flag day and the rest red. So, you couldn't venture too far in to the water, just far enough to play in some waves. The sand whales didn't bother us in the least. Bring sand toys for the beach and rafts( for the Riviera pool). The main pool would be too crowded for floaties. You can leave them there for someone else to enjoy when you leave.
Sorry, this is turning into a smal novel, I just know how very much these reviews helped me, and hope to help someone else too.
All in All, we had an amazing family vacation, loved the Riviera rooms, staff,location, turqoise ocean, and food. We probably would not stay again as we like to try new places, but Sandos really won a place in our hearts.
Tips: There are a group of monkeys by the 9000 section rooms between Sandos and Ibero. You can usually see/hear them in the morning or late afternoon...really cool.
Also, if you're taking kids, get them an hour block for tennis and go to the jacuzzi tub by the spa, you can see them through the bushes and regroup with your spouse.
Paint a piece of pottery by the pool for a great souvenir. The woman who runs it will touch it up and glaze it and bring it back the next day. Around $17-$30 depending on what you choose to paint. Bring a wad of dollars for tipping...they really deserve it.
They have room service which is very fun for the kids...good club sandwiches.
Have fun in Mexico...it is beautiful and the people that live there are unbelievably friendly!
Tourism seems to be down as we encountered barely any lines at the airport this trip.
I'd be happy to help with any questions!
PS Sandos is building a new resort to the left when looking from the beach, that will open in 2011!

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with family
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17  Thank PJ S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 14, 2009

Sandos Playacar is a great vacation spot with kids. I would not recommend it for couples or singles. The food was excellent (for an all-inclusive resort). The beach and location were wonderful. The rooms were spacious but the beds were hard and they should have put either two queen beds (not doubles) or a king bed with a queen size pull out couch (not a double couch) the current set up is too small for families with two kids. The kids club was not much fun for my 6 & 9 year olds but they were happy to be on the beach with us and participate in some of the poolside activities. The nightly shows were cheezy but the kids enjoyed them. The staff as great and always ready to assist.

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with family
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3  Thank travel72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2009

I just returned from a week at the Sandos Playacar with my 3 1/2 year old. We got a great deal on the trip and upon arrival were upgraded to a Riviera Junior Suite which was great - beautiful room and I much preferred the location to the Beach room we had booked. I assume we were upgraded because our travel agent signed us up for the the Sandos4u program (as a side note, I highly recommend using an agent or a reputable company to book - it made big differences when I had questions or concerns and my agent assured me that I would not get bumped if they were overbooked, etc...). The service overall and especially the room cleaning crew was great and the staff very helpful for the most part. We had no issues whatsoever checking in and no timeshare people approached me but I knew to watch for them going in to it.

I found the Riviera section to be quieter, which was to my liking but would not be for everybody. Getting to the beach was a long walk but I didn't mind it at all. We took the golf carts a few times and that was not an issue, although sometimes people cut us in line and we had to wait longer, which was not ideal with a young child but oh well. I was basically there to relax and enjoy time with my son and was able to do that. He loved the pools and the beach but the water was pretty rough when we were there and one day they didn't allow people to swim, except in one area for safety reasons.

I thought the food was just fine. I am a vegetarian and found plenty of variety and plenty of good, healthy food. My son is not picky and ate well the whole trip. I never tried one of the reservations-only places, just the buffets. Personally, I liked the Mexican and the Italian the best. We ate lunch at Riviera Blue by the pool most days and enjoyed the atmosphere. Service at the restaurants was hit or miss, especially for drinks/cocktails.

My son used the Kids Club one or two hours most days. For ages 2-4, the times that kids can use the club are limited but that was fine with me. My son liked it the first few times and then didn't want to go back. One of the women in charge was not the best (cranky and even mean at times) but the others were fine and seemed to enjoy their jobs. there are lots of activities for kids and the staff makes an effort to "entertain" and provide games, dancing, etc... around dinnertime.

I did use the gym a bit and it had everything that I needed. I also attended a few spin classes and they were fine. All the equipment was clean and new-ish.

We took a taxi in to Playa del Carmen one day and other than a few runs that I took outside of the grounds, that was the only time we left the resort. Next time I would like to check out Tulum.

My only complaint is that the resort is HUGE and it was super crowded when we were there which made it less of a relaxing experience for me. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and the size of the resort from time to time. Lots of crazy, rambuctious tourists, but it was spring break after all so I expected this to some extent but I had no idea how large the resort was. The whole reserve your chair with a towel thing got old and there were times when I was annoyed that I could not use one of the 20 empty chairs around me to watch my son in the kids pool because they were "reserved".

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with family
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5  Thank waggles15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2009

In reading some reviews I was concerned but we had absolutely no problems or issues...even with check in. Our first room was a little dreary and small. We requested a new room and were given one the following day with a partial oceanview and it was wonderful!!! The staff was very accomodating. Food excellent. I gained 5lbs if that tells you anything. Kids had a wonderful time. Beach and water is beautiful. I would definitely recommend this place and will return!! You make it what you want. You can stay busy or just relax. We had a wonderful relaxing family vacation.

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with family
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4  Thank ribijeni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2009

I traveled with my husband and three kids 7.5,4.5, and 2.5 and we had a blast at Sandos. This was our first AI, first time traveling out of the country, but second time traveling with all the kids in tow. Getting to the resort was easier than I thought since our transportation was already taken care of (highly recommend). Check-in was 30 minutes max (no waiting in long lines) and we were off to our Hacienda suite.

We stayed in the 6500 block which is very close to the entry gate and a little noisy since the golf cart passed our room everyday. I did not recommend a specific room, but we decided to tough it out and the room ended up meeting our needs since we didn't really didn't stay in the room, but to sleep. The beds are a little hard, but ended up getting used to it as days passed. My request for a roll-away bed was met and they even put a pack-in-play in our room, but didn't need it. I'm not saying that I hated the room, but I wish that I had choosen differently and was more knowledgeable about the layout of the resort. The walk to the Meeting Point and beach area was a walk, but found it very peaceful (what a great way to burn off all the food we ate). I did this walk with the kids too.

My family mostly stuck to the buffets since we wanted to roam around the resort at our own pace as we were still adjusting to being on vacation. Our favorite place for breakfast was the Riviera and Festival and both places had very similar food. We ate at the Mexican buffet one night, but there was more of a selection at the other two buffets. Even the pickiest eater will find something to eat. The only restaurant that we were able to eat at was the Brazillian and the food was okay. Also, we ate at the Riviera Blue for lunch. I liked that place since it was small and had a great server named Ana-Iris who served us two times. She always got the extra dollar from us. None of my family members got sick at any of the eateries.

We did send all three of our kids to the kids club, but only for a short time since we were on vacation to spend time together. I will make a review of that on the forum.

Night entertainment at the Meeting Point was great. Tuesday night was the best (Mexican Fiesta night) and the show in the threatre was great.

Overall, I had a great experience at this resort and would return again. My kids were crying because they didn't want to leave and that was hard, but I'm happy to be home.

The weather was great and again we had a great family moment together. Please enjoy this place and don't let the little things bother you.

Great beach and turquoise warm water!

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled as a couple
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13  Thank quadriders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2009

Our family just returned last night from this resort(we stayed from 6th-9th). We had a wonderful time. My six year old did not want to leave the kids club. The room we had was awesome. We stayed in the 8000 buliding of the riviera section. It was a junior suite with a jacuzzi tub for two. The buffets were good, but the selection became redundant after a few days. We only had a chance to eat at El Gaucho"s steakhouse. It was just ok. Reservation process for the ala carte dining was stupid. My suggestion would be to request a reservation before arrival through your travel agent as they are able to leave special requests with the hotels. This place is huge so be prepared to walk. The drinks here are by far the worst that i ever had. They all were watered down. Overall, we had and a great time and would definetly return again!

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
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9  Thank Natrice
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2009

The rooms, amenities, and service were very good overall. I would say that this is a 4 star (out of 5) resort. We booked our vacation through vacationstogo.com and their supplier was Funjet. Our representative with vacationstogo, Ken Lutz ([--]), was extremely helpful and very patient dealing with my many questions leading up to the trip. Once there, the Funjet representatives had a big presence at the airport and the resort and were likewise extremely helpful. Below, I have pointed out several things about the resort in light of my experience there.

Ground Transportation and Check-in--We had absolutely no problems getting from the airport to the resort, and check-in was quick and painless. That being said, for future reference, you may want to tell people that the ground transportation from the airport to Sandos Playacar can be anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. We had a full shuttle with several stops in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and given that Sandos Playacar is one of the last stops in Playa, it took about an hour and a half to get there. I was concerned with several reviews I had read dealing with people who had been moved upon arrival at the resort due to overbooking. We had no issues whatsoever, and I would speculate that our lack of problems was due in major part to the fact that we booked through Funjet, who is one of the major brokers for this resort. If you go through a broker, I would strongly recommend vacationstogo.com and Funjet.

Upon arrival, the front desk people were very nice and accommodating, and they also spoke relatively good English (unlike some of the reviews I read indicated). We arrived at the resort a little after 2:00 pm, went directly to the front desk, checked-in, and were told to come back at 3:00 to get our keys, as the cleaning crew were finishing our room. We had not eaten any lunch, so this was no problem for us. We left our luggage with the bell boys at the front door and went to the Festival buffet for lunch. We had absolutely no problems with time share people. I do not know if it was because we arrived on a Sunday, or if it was the time of day that we arrived, but we were not hassled at all. We did receive a note one day at our room, which, although in Spanish, I could make out enough words to discern that it was a solicitation to attend a time-share meeting. We ignored the letter and were not "bothered" again.

Beach and Pool--The main pool by the beach is a good size, but you need to get your towels and other items on the chairs by 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning to make sure that you have chairs for the day. The same goes for the beach as well (assuming you want to have chairs). My kids had a great time in the pool, but the water was chilly, especially for a tropical climate resort. This could be because we went relatively early in the year, and maybe, by late spring, the temperature will not be a problem, but people should be aware of this. There are plenty of bars near the pool and beach, so getting drinks was not really a problem. There are few waiters that come around for drink orders, but that did not bother me. The pools were very kid friendly, and the staff did a good job of having daily activities for the kids around and in the pool, although our children were a little too young for the most part to participate. With respect to the beach, the sand was beautiful, given the amount of erosion that has occurred, but the sea was a little rough during our stay--no fault of the resort of course.

Bars and Restaurants--The bars are great, and there are a lot of them. The mixed drinks are relatively weak, but if you want more alcohol, all you have to do is ask. A few people pointed this out in other reviews I read online, but the resort only serves two brands of beer, Dos Equis and Sol. Also, at the bars, they only have draft served in cafeteria glasses (not cold mugs or glasses), so no cans or bottles. The mini-refrigerators in your rooms are stocked with cans, so you can always bring those out with you. My brother and I prefer beer over liquor, so it was good to know this going into the trip, so that my expectations were not very high. For the wine afficionados, other reviews that I have read are correct in that the resort only serves one brand of Mexican vino tinto (red wine) and vino blanco (white wine) at no additional cost. A couple of the bars (i.e., the main lobby bar) and the reservation restaurants serve other brands for an additional premium charge (i.e., a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay normally priced at $14-15 in the U.S. costs $45 at the resort). My wife and sister-in-law are wine drinkers, and although I think they found the Mexican wine palatable, it definitely tasted like box wine (which I'm sure it was or directly from some sort of tap, as I never saw a bottle of wine in the restaurants or bars). That being said, again, being armed with these facts beforehand made it easier to deal with once we got there.

With respect to the restaurants, we spent most of our time at the buffets. We found that the Riviera (located underneath the main lobby) had the best breakfast, the Mexican and Festival were the best for lunch (both located near the main pool), and the Italian and Festival were the best for dinner (the Italian buffet is adjacent to the Festival and is not open for lunch). As some other reviews have pointed out, there is not a lot of variety from day to day with each buffet, but in my opinion, there was enough variety among the various buffet restaurants that you did not have to eat the same thing for every meal. Although I would not say the food was excellent, it was definitely very edible (contrary to some reviews I have read) and actually pretty good. The one complaint I would have is that the desserts (other than the soft-serve ice cream machines) were not very good--not enough chocolate.

My biggest complaint is with the reservation-only restaurants. First, you should know that the Asian, Brazilian, French (does not allow kids), and Steakhouse restaurants all require reservations in advance. If your stay at the resort is for a week, you get 3 reservations total during the week. If your stay is for less than a week, then you get 1 or 2 reservations depending on your length of stay. In my opinion, there should be no limitations on the number of reservations you can make during the week, although since we had kids, the policy really did not effect us. There is a dress code at these restaurants--basically no swimsuits and men must wear long pants (they do not have to be slacks or dress pants)--and really, given the atmosphere and decor of the restaurants, it is not an unreasonable policy to have. Again, as long as you know this prior to arrival, then I think most people will not have a problem with it. You can only make reservations in-person at the Meeting Point (big hut looking building between the hacienda suites and the pool) from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. It took me a little over a day to figure out all of the rules (while also getting settled in at the resort), and by that time, a lot of the reservations for the week were gone. Do not expect to get same day reservations, especially if you have a big party, and then, if you do get them, you will be pleasantly surprised. The restaurants do not take walk-up reservations, even if you look around and there appears to be space available. I am not opposed to reservation-only restaurants at all-inclusive resorts, but the process at Sandos Playacar is not efficient and has the effect (whether intended or not) of being very exclusive, so that ultimately, the resort customers do not get to fully experience all that the resort has to offer. Our families went to the Brazilian and Asian restaurants, and although we preferred the food at the Asian restaurant, the service and food at the Brazilian restaurant was good, although the restaurant was very hot and stuffy.

Layout of Resort and Rooms
As pointed out in several other reviews I have read, the resort is basically laid out in three sections: (1) the Riviera section (the newer addition to the resort), which consists of the main lobby, 2-3 buildings with rooms, the Asian and Brazilian restaurants along with the Riviera buffet, and a pool with swim-up bar; (2) the Hacienda section, which consists of several 2-story buildings with 8-10 units (can't remember) in each building with each building having its own small private pool; and (3) the Beach section, which is the oldest portion of the resort and located near the beach, pool, and most of the main action on the resort. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the Riviera section to the beach, depending on your gait. They have golf carts that continously carry people from the Riviera Buffet to the Meeting Point (right by the pool) for those that do not want to walk. Of course, you may have to wait 5 minutes or so for a golf cart, so if you are disabled or lazy, be aware of this inconvenience when making your vacation decision. Having been to the resort, it is very hard to believe that some people were so outraged about the distance between amenities at the resort or the lack of sufficient golf carts to shorten the wait time. It actually is very good exercise, and as a walker, I felt inconvenienced having to move my kids and myself off the path for the oncoming golf carts every time, which seemed to be a lot, and thus, I could not imagine any more golf carts being trafficked through the resort. This is meant to be helpful and not to offend anyone, but if you are a disabled person or an older person, who prefers everything to be centrally located instead of being spread out like a compound, then Sandos Playacar is not for you.

We stayed in the Hacienda section in a junior suite--building 7300, which is one of the first buildings after the Riviera section. We had plenty of room for the four of us. The maid (Ivonne) changed our bedsheets everyday (except one) and provided fresh towels everyday as well--great service. The TV was your basic 23-25" cable TV --no flat screen, plasma, etc.--with some U.S. cable channels, mostly voiced-over in Spanish, but I did not come to Mexico to watch television anyway. It is my understanding that the Riviera rooms have more modern decor, including a jacuzzi tub and a flat screen, plasma TV in case that is more appealing to you. The beds may not have been the most comfortable I had ever slept on, but I managed to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, which was plenty for me. We did order room service one evening (it is open 24 hours and included), and the food was pretty decent. The late night menu does not have a lot of variety, but that did not really affect us, as we were not up that late anyway. They kept our mini-refrigerator stocked with water and beer (as requested) everyday. The room may have had a faint musty odor, and we did have some mosquitos, but it really did not bother me, because I knew that I had planned a vacation to a tropical destination near the ocean in an underdeveloped country. Again, it is all about expectations.

The rooms have thin walls, so you can hear your neighbors. There was a family with several college girls in the ground-floor rooms next to ours (I presume on Spring Break), and although they did not bother us, we apparently bothered them to the extent that they felt compelled to call us at 7:00 am in the morning to tell us to make our 1 yr old baby be quiet. Admittedly, our baby was crying at that time, as most hungry babies do at that time of the morning, but it was 7:00 am and not 2:00 or 4:00 am, and I cannot think of one instance in which she cried during the middle of the night. My point in mentioning this is that Sandos Playacar caters to families with young kids, and if you conduct any research on the resort you will find this out. Consequently, the resort is full of families with young kids. If you do not want to be subjected to kids splashing around in the pool while you are trying to sun, kids interrupting your romantic meal with some noise, or the possibility of being woken up at 7:00 am by a hungry baby, then you may want to look at another resort destination. There are many resorts in Cancun or Playa del Carmen that are adults-only or specifically cater to Spring Breakers. Again, I am not trying to offend anyone, but if you read this review, you can at the very least modify your expectations accordingly.

On a side note, our agent specifically requested the resort two months in advance to put my brother's family and mine in adjacent suites with further notation that we were celebrating a wedding anniversary on our trip in hopes that it might make a difference. The resort specifically stated that they could not guarantee room requests, and of course, we did not end up with adjacent rooms. However, they were placed in the building next to ours, and it really did not negatively affect our experience. I mention this only so that others are armed with this knowledge in advance, so that if their room requests are not granted when they arrive, they do not allow that to ruin their vacation.

Kids and Teen Clubs--The resort does offer a kids club (ages 4 and up) and teens club where you can drop off the kids. They are located near the Meeting Point and main pool. My brother's kids were old enough, but since mine were not, we just kept everybody together. If we come back in a few years, I could see where this would be a good potential option for our children to interact with other kids their age, and my understanding is that they actually do have some good planned activities for them everyday. We did not utilize this service either, but the resort does offer a babysitting service in case you wanted to go to eat at the French restaurant (no kids allowed) or do something else sans kids.

Night Activities--With young children, we did not really get the full experience of the nightlife on the resort. We went to two shows at the main theater, which were very good--the Disney show and the Michael Jackson impersonator show. There is one dance club near the Meeting Point, but for reasons mentioned above, we did not go there. Other than that, the bars stay open until 11:00 or midnight, I believe, but there is not a lot of other things to do for the night owls.If you main or primary vacation concern is the available nightlife activities, then Sandos Playacar may not be for you. You are likely to going to need to travel into Playa, where there is Senor Frog's and Carlos n' Charley's and other bars, but if you are going to spend all the money on that, why go to an all-inclusive resort. Having experienced Spring Break in Cancun (albeit a long time ago), I would suggest you stay in a hotel or even cheaper all-inclusive in Cancun, where there are a lot more bars and people with your interests.

Excursions and Playa--I will not spend much time on this, since it really is not relevant to your choice of Sandos Playacar versus any other resort in Playa del Carmen. That being said, I would strongly recommend that you take the opportunity to get off the resort grounds and experience some of what the Mayan Peninsula has to offer. The Funjet representatives were extremely helpful at the resort (Karen, David, William, and Julio) with respect to booking excursions (Xcaret was awesome) and finding good local restaurants in Playa. For those with kids (and really those without kids also), I highly recommend going to Xcaret, which is an eco-park that is located about 10 minutes (cab ride--$15 one-way) from Sandos. It is about $69.00 for an adult 1-day admission, 1/2 off for kids 40 inches to about 55 inches tall, and free for kids under 40 inches tall. There are a lot of indigenous animals to see and other things to do there (i.e., swimming, snorkeling, etc.)--enough activities for a full day and at the very least you should spend a half-day. I would also recommend taking the ferry to Cozumel. The snorkeling and diving there is great (or so I've heard) in Cozumel, and for those non-divers, there are a lot of shops, bars, and restaurants. It is approx. $20 for adult (roundtrip) and free for children. The ride takes about 40-45 minutes from embarkment to disembarkment. The ferry leaves from downtown Playa, which is about a 5 minute, $5 cab ride from Sandos. I would also recommend venturing into downtown Playa--if you do not want to take a cab, I am told it is about a 45 minute walk. In addition to the shops, we ate at a local restaurant named Ajua, which was awesome and relatively inexpensive. For the history buffs, Tulum, an ancient Mayan ruin site, is about a 50 minute bus ride away, and Chichen Itza (sp?), another ruin site, is about a 2 1/2 hour ride away. We booked an excursion to Tulum for $39.00 per adult, 1/2 price for children 5-11, and free for kids under 5, which included transportation to and from the site and admission. My brother and I enjoyed the trip, but if you have young children, this might not be for you.

All in all, I would recommend Sandos Playacar to anyone who desires to visit the Mayan Peninsula for their vacation and stay at an all-inclusive resort for a reasonable price, and would strongly recommend it for families (especially those with young children) with the same vacation interests. I would definitely consider going to Sandos Playacar again, if my family decides to travel to the Mayan Peninsula.

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
20  Thank cherrybombs
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

Address: Paseo Xaman-Ha | Manzana 1, Lote 1 Fracc.Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
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:
#32 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#35 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#42 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#43 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#45 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#53 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $193 - $541 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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