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Reviewed November 4, 2008

We stayed at the Shangri La Caribe for 9 nights in October for our honeymoon. We had booked a partial ocean view, and were in room 3 Playa.

Our room was on the ground floor of a three storey hacienda, located in the separate section of the hotel. We were close to the breakfast and dining room and also the second pool.

We decided our room was probably the pick of the lot. The rooms are so well constructed, we didn’t have any noise from our neighbours or those above us. Also, the way our room faced we had the most amazing beach view – I would consider it beach front as opposed to ‘partial ocean view’!

Our room had a massive verandah, half was covered and the other half was open to the sun, so good for drying clothes or sun baking. We had two hammocks as well as deck chairs and a table.

The room was massive – fabulous king bed that was very comfy, a couch, desk and wardrobe with safe.

The bathroom had a Mexican tiled basin, toilet and shower.

Yes, the room was very simple and sparse. It took us a few minutes to get used to it. But, the clean, honest decoration was so welcomed and made me feel like I was in real Mexico – not a generic hotel that could have been anywhere.

The hotel has a great bar and happy hour runs from 5 to 6pm – on the dot. Sensational pina coladas with a lot of rum! Two billiard tables and two table tennis tables as well. There was a TV in the corner but I only ever saw this on twice.

The hotel had a good tour desk and internet room with 4 stations.


Breakfast at the hotel was good – great selection of fruit and the hot cakes were particularly good. On Sunday and Wednesday nights there was a Mexican buffet – unbelievable guacamole! And the grilled fish was great too. I would be quite happy eating their guacamole for dinner every night.

When the hotel did Mexican food they did it really well – when they tried to do other cuisine (i.e. spaghetti carbonara), it wasn’t so good. In the lobby they put up the menu for the coming days, so we could plan when we’d go out to eat on 5th ave.

I recommend ‘Kool Fish’ near the hotel, walking up toward 5th ave. It’s next door to the mini mart that has been noted so many times (great variety of stock if you run out of anything!) Kool Fish did some nice seafood meals and it was a very chic setting. Locals were eating there, which is always a good sign.

We didn’t find the need to get a cooler from the mini mart – some bars on 5th ave have MXN$19 beers, so that was cheap enough for us!

Walking to 5th avenue was easy and very safe, though the store keepers trying to get you into their shops can get a little much.

I was disappointed to see not one but two Starbucks along 5th, as well as a Burger King.

We booked a Chichen Itza tour and liked Chichen Itza, but would not do a tour again and would much rather fork out more money for a taxi. The tour stopped off at a souvenir shop on the way, then stopped at a restaurant for dinner (ok, but not great food) when they then brought out kids to do some dancing that then requested tips. I’ve got no problem with that, but I didn’t get the feeling that the kids were seeing any of the pesos being provided. On top of this, as we were leaving, the restauranteur kept reminding us that gratuities were not included in drink prices – even though his drink prices were three times the price of anywhere else. We didn’t tip him after that.

Chichen Itza was good – but do it by taxi and get a guide there.

We did our Advance diving certification at the Cyan Ha dive shop, located on the hotel beach. The team there were very nice and took us to some great spots. If you do go diving, check to see if Tavo (‘the fish paparazzi’) will be filming you. $50 for a DVD of your dive and it’s all very well edited with great music. A fabulous keepsake.

I love Playa Del Carmen and I love the Shangri La. I would definetly stay there again. After leaving the Shangri La we then had one night in Cancun before our flight and wish we hadn’t done this – the noise (telephones ringing, mobile phones, tvs, cars!) from Cancun was almost deafening after the serenity of PDC.

If you want your all inclusive, tv, mini bar type of place all the best to you, but to me, this place epitomised what a honeymoon should be – just the two of us with a strong pina colada and the sound of waves crashing at night.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank AussieBecs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2008

This is a really nice, friendly hotel. The guest mix is very international which gives a nice atmosphere. Low rise, well spaced out villas and bungalows give a feeling of space and privacy. The location is perfect. Having walked up and down the beach, I'd say it's the best spot in Playa del Carmen (along with Las Palapas next door). Beach is lovely - very quiet and reasonable snorkelling if you swim a little way out. I was surprised at the number of diving/fishing boats moored off the beach in other areas of Playa directly North and South of the hotel but there were no boats moored on the Shangri La stretch which made it much pleasanter and less hazardous for swimming. Facilities were pretty good: nice bars (great cocktails!!), massage and swimming pools although I was a bit disgruntled at having to pay to use the internet on top of the high-ish room rate.

Our beachfront room (27P) was spacious and nicely decorated with a large sundeck and hammocks on the porch. Bed was really comfy with lovely soft blankets.

The hotel offers half board (i.e. breakfast and dinner) only. Breakfasts were excellent. Fantastic buffet with delicious fresh fruits, pastries, cereals etc + hot breakfasts cooked to order. Dinners were OK but were mostly buffet-style and this got repetitive after a while. Drinks and snacks were rather overpriced (you can buy bottled water at the supermarket up the road for a quarter of the price).

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank KateB2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2008

After visiting this hotel over 20 years ago and loving it the first time, I decided to return with my daughter and her husband.
We can only say that the only thing that changed about the hotel
was the growth of the area around it. Shangri-la was totally the same wonderful, clean, beautiful, non Americanized place to relax. In fact, everything including the food, cleanliness of rooms, friendliness of staff, and beauty of the beach, water was perfect.
I only hope and pray it does not close next year and I have heard it might. There is no place like it. In fact, my daughter and husband cancelled a trip to Italy next year just so they can return for more true relaxation. The hotel gets my highest recommendation .

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank UNC68girl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2008

I am sorry but all the other reviews on this hotel must have pretty low expectations of a resort that costs north of $300USD a night. I travel 150 nights a year and stay all over the world and found this hotel to be underwhelming at best and fraudulent at worst. What a con the website is; the pictures sucker you in and the experience is anything but a relaxing paradise.

We arrived with our 2 month old baby at 2:00pm having flown from Australia (27 hours) and were told to sit in a filthy bar that had cigarettes in ash trays at every single table. We were rudely told that check-in was not until 3:00pm. When I enquired as to whether the room was ready they just pointed to the sign that said check-in was 3:0pm. They told us our room number so I walked down to see if indeed it was still being cleaned. The steam started to come out of my ears when I realised they were just making us wait for no reason at all. It was stinking hot and we were not in summer clothes having flown from cool weather at home.

The rooms are a disgrace. A bed, shower and toilet is the only thing you get. We stayed in a beach front bungalow expecting a pretty impressive outfit based on the cost but the rooms are dirty, smell and the beds are like sleeping on timber slats. There is a day bed that has cigarette holes all through it and the cushion is so well worn that it may as well not be there. The hammocks have been ruined and are so uncomfortable that I sat on the wooden chair instead.

The first impressions are not improved by the rest of the experience. After been very upset at the events of the first day we had a sleep and after taking care of the baby we went to the restaurant at 9:25pm (not that late for dining) but were told that the restaurant was closed. Indeed the advertised closing time is 9:30 but the all the food service had been cleared away and the staff were all sitting down eating their meal even thought there were still 5 or more tables with guests still eating..I was so mad that I walked (there is no phone in the room to call the front desk) the considerable distance to the front desk to speak to the manager. I was given the biggest brush off possible and my wife and I were forced to walk up the street in the dark to try and find somewhere to eat.

The beach is nothing like the pictures on their web page. It is narrow, rocky and altogether very low grade. The water is dirty and smells strongly of sulphur (rotten egg gas).

The pool is also massively over rated. It is small, old and not well kept.

This resort has clearly dropped the bundle as based on other reviews it appears that they are planning on closing. Couldn't be sooner if you ask me.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled with family
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10  Thank firsttimeuser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2008

This is my second trip to Shangri-La Caribe. I wanted to squeeze in another trip before it's anticipated April 2009 closure. I'm happy to say it doesn't look as likely that it is going to close as it did earlier in the year. The front desk said the final agreement was to have been signed in April 2008 with Marriott and it didn't happen. I hope that means it will remain open.

This place is very peaceful and has great service. The food is okay (breakfast fantastic, dinner okay) and the rooms are fine. This place is not extravagant by any means but the bed and pillows are comfortable and we found it to be very charming. We LOVED the porches with hammocks. We were on the second floor so we felt totally secluded.

During our stay, you would hear an occasional quite conversation but no rowdy shouting until an American wedding party arrived the day before our departure. The guests were probably 80% Europeans and 20% Americans during both my stays. Prior to the arrival of the loud wedding party, it was heavenly.

We found the beach more interesting than the typical resort beach because a few locals use it for sunbathing. We enjoyed the people watching. They were beautiful and many seemed to just come out for a few hours of siesta. It is very unlike the typical American beach scene because people didn't bring chairs, sandtoys, boomboxes, umbrellas, food for an army, etc, etc, etc. They just came with a best friend or loved one, a sarong to put down as a blanket and a swim suit.

The ocean was gorgeous and the sand was white and totally free of debris. You might want to bring snorkel and mask because there are lovely fish right off the beach in a rocky area. You can also rent them from the dive shop without fins for about $6 per day.

The dive shop arranges snorkel trips. Ours was great. The sea was calm and like glass. The boat ride out was pleasant and the guide was enjoyable.

We met several couples who were on their fourth, fifth, sixth trip to Shangri-La. That probably tells you all you need to know. We are not the type to keep going back to the same place but we will find it very hard to go to any other tropical beach as long as Shangri-La exists.

I also can not say enough nice things about the staff. The same people have been there for years (one guy said 13 years) and they act like they remember you from last time. I remember all the guys in the restaurant from my trip 3 years ago. The service at all levels feels genuinely hospitable. You almost feel like you are a guest in their home.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank SavannahGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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