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“Playacar Palace is outstanding, Palace Resorts not so much”
Review of Playacar Palace

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Playacar Palace
Ranked #27 of 213 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 11, 2013

A bit of background: we stayed at the Playacar Palace May 1-8, 2013. My wife and I have been Palace Premiere members since 2008. This was our ninth stay at a Palace Resort in the last four and a half years - the first time at Playacar Palace.

All of the positive comments you have read about Playacar Palace in other reviews are true. In summary, it has good food, excellent service and an outstanding location.

The negatives appear to stem more from Palace Resorts than from Playacar. Palace Resorts is currently spending millions to rehab and improve the Moon Palace, while letting Playacar crumble in the dust like a poor step sister. While Moon Palace gets a new nightclub and a wave riding pool, Playacar has seats in its main dining room (Café Del Mar) that are 80% brown upholstery and 20% yellow (flea market purchases?). Every single one of the brown chairs had torn or cracked upholstery. Since this is the restaurant where you start your day with breakfast, have lunch and possibly even a Mexican dinner, I can't understand why Palace won't invest some money to upgrade the shabby seating. The rooms also need rehab work although we did notice that as people checked out, a painting crew went to their room and began painting the walls. Unfortunately, it will take more that a coat of paint to hide the previous repairs that were made to the walls, ceilings, etc.

Cost cutting was also quite evident. Toiletry items have been changed to "Lavarino", which my wife tells me is a more inferior brand to the one used previously. More importantly, the size of the bottles has been reduced to slightly larger than what you would get at LaQuinta or Motel 8. We were also disappointed to hear that the "Romantic Dinner" which used to consist of lobster, filet and a bottle of champagne at each table, was now a steak and shrimp (they still call it surf and turf) with a waiter who will fill your glass from a central location. For the first time ever, we declined to sign up for a Romantic Dinner.

As you probably know, a couple of years ago Palace Resorts split into Palace Resorts and Hard Rock Resorts. Palace Resorts went from 12 resorts down to seven (Aventura Spa, Aventura Cove, Cancun Palace, Punta Cana and Valarta Palace all became Hard Rock). We have been to the Hard Rock at Punta Cana and it was the worst trip to a (formerly) Palace Resort we have ever experienced (see my review on Punta Cana). In our opinion a themed resort revolving around rock and roll doesn't lend itself to a beautiful tropical paradise like Mexico. Neon lit guitars, drums and saxophones along with displays which might include Ringo Starr's smelly boots from the Beatles first American tour are more at home in Las Vegas or downtown New York than here. Since our membership pre-dates the split up, we are grandfathered at both resort groups (not so for new members). Even so, we are still affected - no one can use their resort credits at the Playacar golf course as that was turned over to Hard Rock. Instead of walking to the course for free golf, you now need to take a 40 minute cab ride to Moon Palace to use your credits at their course.

As is always the case, upon checking in we were turned over to our "Vacation Planner", Jesus. He asked what we would like to do during our stay. We replied "not much, we've seen and done just about everything, but we have heard that there is a "Fiesta de la Santa Cruz" going on in Cozumel and since we had never been to a Mexican fiesta, we might like to go to that". Jesus said he had never heard of it but he started making phone calls and finally told us it was a very small fiesta and we probably wouldn't like it. Rather than suggesting other activities on Cozumel, he asked us what else we would like to do. We told him we would like to go to Xcaret as we had never been there. His eyes lit up and he told us that normally the admission fee is $129 per person but Palace Resorts was currently running a promotion and we could go for just $17 per person. He then added that it was contingent on us attending a sales meeting with HIM to upgrade our membership. This was the first time the Vacation Planner was also the Sales Rep. We told him we weren't interested because A) we were getting tired of Mexico and wanted to see other parts of the world. B) we were very disappointed in the Palace decision to spin off Hard Rock resorts and C) the only thing we might be interested in is the ability to book a Presidential Suite two or three times in our life and we had inquired about that and had been told we would have to upgrade our membership at a cost of $34,000. (We have since found you can buy weeks from VIP members on the internet for $250 each - buy two and you can book a Presidential Suite; $250 vs $34,000 - we stayed at a Moon Palace Presidential Suite last fall). When we rejected his offer, he suddenly became cold and broke off the meeting. As we walked away, we realized he hadn't suggested or booked us into anything!

We took a trip to Cozumel and visited the Cozumel Palace. The Vacation Planners there were very accommodating. They suggested they might be able to arrange a private cab tour around the island. We would be able to see the San Gervasio ruins and the east coast of the island where most tourists do not go. The Vacation Planner went out to the cab stand and had a driver call his office and then negotiated a half day tour for $120 dollars. A brand new cab with an English speaking driver was sent out. As we entered the cab, the Vacation Planner brought out Cozumel Palace towels in case we decided to do some swimming. We had a marvelous time - saw the ruins (more impressive than I thought they'd be, visited a tequila factory and had lunch on the beach at the Chen Rios restaurant (freshest tastiest snapper and shrimp we have ever had). When we returned to the Cozumel Palace and thanked them, they just said maybe someday we would honor them with a stay at their resort!

The bottom line is simply this: if you are considering a stay at Playacar Palace, by all means go - you will have a very enjoyable time. But if you are approached to buy a Palace membership, run as fast as you can - it is a sinking ship!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank JackWKentucky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded May 28, 2013

Thank you very much for taking the time to give us and other travelers your impressions at Playacar Palace.

Is an honor to receive guests who become family during their stay. To pamper ir what we do.

I hope to be able to welcome you back at out home again.

Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 11, 2013

Just returned from week at Playacar Palace and 3 nights at a villa (Villa Paradiso - highly recommend. One year old on northwest coast line in Country Club Estates.) on Cozumel. Our time away from our hectic lives with six of our friends was needed and enjoyable. This was our second visit to Playa del Carmen (first at this resort) and first to Cozumel. The location is perfect, the amenities good, the spa top notch, and many of the staff we met during the week were so helpful. Prior to going on our trip we read many positive reviews about the high level of service. We experienced it and can't speak more highly of people such as Leonora, Berenice, Leonardo, Angel, Francisco, Paoloa, Javier, Nora, Israel, Gerardo, Eugeneio, and the outdoor activity staff. They work very hard to make your stay enjoyable.

We are planning another trip in a year to the same resort.

Room Tip: Avoid booking rooms on the south side next to the condos. Blocks view.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank gpkanhasty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded May 28, 2013

Thank you very much for taking the time to give us and other travelers your impressions at Playacar Palace.

Is an honor to receive guests who become family during their stay. To pamper ir what we do.

I hope to be able to welcome you back at out home again.

Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2013

We were so excited to visit this area again to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary. We had not stayed at this resort but had stayed up the beach a ways and liked the area. This resort got good reviews when we were doing our research and have to say in some ways we were disappointed and in others it was more than we expected. Overall we were very happy with the place and would stay here again.

Upon arrival we had an issue with our room and had to stay in a room that we did not want and did not reserve but it was the only room for the night which we thought was weird it's not like they didn't know we were coming we had booked several months prior but Nancy at the desk assured us that if we would stay in this room that night she would guarantee us that the next day we would get our room and she kept her word which was wonderful.

After we got over that inital disappointment we had a marvelous time. Most of the staff was extremely nice, helpful, friendly and went above and beyond to make us have a great time. The resort from the front side was not much to look at but when you get to the other side overlooking the beach and pool it was much better. For getting such high ratings it was a little run down, older than we expected and needs some upgrades and a little work in areas but for the most part it was nice and clean. The bed in our room was really comfortable. We did not use the Jacuzzi tub and the shower was different we ended up flooding everything but the shower head and water pressure were good. We loved the balcony and setting out there watching the water. Had a big TV in room but we never turned it on. Fridge was stocked nicely and liquor dispenser was nice it had Tequilla, Rum, Vodka and Skotch. We were however not impressed with the maid service. The made the bed everyday and gave us some towels but 6 out of the 8 nights we were there I had to call down to get more towels mostly handtowels and washclothes. If we were lucky they would give us one of each but several days we didn't get any washclothes which makes it a little hard to wash your face but they would bring them up shortly after we would call. They did not clean much mostly just did the bare minimum and most days did not wipe off the sink in bathroom.

The pool was great. Clean and temp was good. The wait staff around the pool and at the bars by the pool did a great job making sure that we had everything that we needed. The loungers were nice and comfortable and the towels were nicely sized as well. Loved the umbrellas and was impressed that they seemed to have a lot of them not just a few.

The beach itself was wonderful the sand was great the water was great it was some of the nicest beach along there we know because we took a walk and well we were really impressed with the beach at the resort and how well kept it was. The chairs and umbrellas out there were great as well.

The food at the resort was great compared to a couple other places we stayed and you only needed a reservation for the Tempanyaki place not all of them which was wonderful you could eat where you felt like that night. They did have a dress code for the Italian and the Asian but not too stuffy which was nice because you want to relax on vacation not have to get super dressed up. We loved the food at the Asian restaurnat and the Italian place ate at both of those places twice. We ate at the Tempanyaki place once and it was good but not super great flavor to the food but the guys at the table were nice and fun so more about the experience than the food. The Cafe or buffet had good food and a great selection for Breakfast and Dinner we did not make it for lunch and the staff was great.

Bars and drinks were good they had a good selection and did a great job. Also the staff was extremely friendly and attentive. We went to a couple of the nightly events and that was fun and the shows were good. The activites around the pool were fun we did not participate in many but observed and seemed like people were having a good time.

Spa was beautiful and was the newest and nicest place at the resort it was amazing. We had massages and we were treated like royalty and they were really good.

Close to 5th Ave which is nice so you can take a little walk and you are close to stores, bars and restaurants if you are so inclined. Close to the ferry dock to Cozumel which was nice we did take the ferry over and do some snorkling was a nice little day trip.

As always with all Inclusive places they attack you about the time shares which is major annoying but just tell them you are not interested and they leave you alone which was nice.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Dorks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded May 29, 2013

We truly appreciate your review, it is lovely! Thank you so much! Our top priority is to offer an exceptional service to each of our guest and it is very satisfying to read that this was your case.
Thank you for your kind words about our staff, this motivates them to keep putting their best effort in their daily job. All the Playacar Family will really proud and happy to see this review.
Thank you again and we hope to see you again very soon!


Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2013

We had a nice stay here, the property could use a little sprucing up as it is looking a little worn out. Our room was nice and the staff was great. They have a beautiful large beach, wish we could have stayed longer.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tammlt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded May 29, 2013

We truly appreciate your review, it is lovely! Thank you so much! Our top priority is to offer an exceptional service to each of our guest and it is very satisfying to read that this was your case.
Thank you for your kind words about our staff, this motivates them to keep putting their best effort in their daily job. All the Playacar Family will really proud and happy to see this review.
Thank you again and we hope to see you again very soon!


Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2013

We stayed at Playacar for my wedding on April 20th, 2013. It was really a perfect stay. We had a total of 47 guests (well, 43 stayed at the resort) and not one of them had a complaint! I'd say that is a success! We were very focused on making sure that everyone would have a good time and enjoy their vacations that we asked them to take on our behalf....and we feel very satisfied with the results!

The bellmen and house cleaning staff were wonderful and very attentive. The staff at all the restaurants were also very attentive and friendly. The bar and wait staff at the pool were great and very fun (I can only imagine how tiring their jobs must be sometimes). Bernice was wonderful, she took care of us all 4 days and was very quick and attentive. The bartenders at the pool bar were awesome and always smiling.

Yazmin, was on our onsite wedding coordinator (Dulce was off site and equally as wonderful and detail oriented). She and her team were excellent. She was so friendly and sweet and made sure she had our every need and wish taken care of. Her team really exceeded our expectations. The wedding was gorgeous and of course I was a little nervous planning from afar. Our DJ and photographer (Marco) were awesome. Everyone that I spoke to to coordinate these details were extremely attentive and efficient. I can honestly say I have no complaints!

The only problem we encountered was that the spa scheduling was a bit off, but I think it was more of a computer glitch than the Spa's fault. They worked very hard to make sure everything was fixed. The spa is gorgeous and Nidia was wonderful. I was a bit stressed and she made me feel calm and my hair and makeup were just as I asked for.

This resort was the perfect location for a destination wedding. We were blown away by the service and so happy with our decision to stay here.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Emily C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded May 29, 2013

We truly appreciate your review, was lovely o receive you at Playacar Palace for such an unforgetable day like your wedding's! Thank you so much! Our top priority is to offer an exceptional service to each of our guest and it is very satisfying to read that this was your case.

Thank you for your kind words about our staff, this motivates them to keep putting their best effort in their daily job.

All the Playacar Family will really proud and happy to see this review.
Thank you again and we hope to see you again very soon!


Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

This hotel is fantastic! Leonardo took care of us by the pool all week and he was the most attentive and on-the-ball server I have ever had!!!! Everyone there was super friendly and the place was great all around!

  • Stayed: May 2013
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Thank lindsaygreen916
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded May 29, 2013

We truly appreciate your review, it is lovely! Thank you so much! Our top priority is to offer an exceptional service to each of our guest and it is very satisfying to read that this was your case.
Thank you for your kind words about our staff, this motivates them to keep putting their best effort in their daily job. All the Playacar Family will really proud and happy to see this review.
Thank you again and we hope to see you again very soon!


Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

Location is the main feature of this resort. Within a couple of blocks of the ferry to Cozumel and the fun of Playa del Carmen. White power sand beach with enough chairs and umbrellas. We come for the ocean, so didn't use the pool, but it looked nice.

The resort itself is smaller and older. Everything was clean and worked okay, but there was a bit of shabbiness; portions of walls closed with painted rough plywood panels, service area doors left open all day, abandoned air conditioning equipment on clearly visible roof tops. We've stayed in several resorts in the general area and this was the least well kept. Likewise, the staff was friendly and helpful, but again, didn't go the extra mile as experienced elsewhere.

The rooms were nice, sort of medium sized, and the beds were good.

The food was good, but not exceptional. I read rave reviews of the Italian restaurant, but I found it pretentious and mediocre. It doesn't take reservations and if you are not there at 6:00 pm in-person to sign-up, you will be waiting until 8 or 9 to eat. The buffet is at least as good, and the Asian restaurant takes reservations and is also good.

The nightly entertainment was fine, but they really don't have a good venue to present it. It was done at the pool or in an open area in the lobby.

I would go back just because of the location.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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Thank sadiedad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Playacar Palace

Address: Bahia del Espiritu Santo | Esq. Abraira de Arriva, 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 High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#10 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#11 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#15 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#19 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#21 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#22 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $416 - $842 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Playacar Palace 4*
Number of rooms: 201
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Playacar Palace, a trendy beachfront resort located steps away from Playa del Carmen's famous 5th Avenue and the Cozumel Ferry Dock. Our all-inclusive, luxury resort features 201 appointed rooms, 3 restaurants and 4 bars. This resort is considered the perfect spot to relax during the day and enjoy the nightlife and charms of "Playa" at night. Playacar Palace is perfect for families, couples, and group getaways. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playacar Palace Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Playacar Palace Mexico
Playacar Palace Resort
Playacar Palace Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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