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“Absolutely LOVED Shangri-La!”

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Mahekal Beach Resort
Ranked #29 of 213 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 28, 2005

We had the greatest time at Shangri-La!

Plan on getting lost when trying to locate the hotel for the first time. It's in a very tricky location. Once you find it, it's pure heaven though!

Boyfriend and I stayed in a garden view cabana, which was perfect for us. I think you have more privacy than beach front, and are still only steps away from the beach.

The public beach access through the middle of the resort was our only negative at first, but we met many incredibly friendly locals this way. One little boy sat on the beach in front of me all afternoon and chatted up my boyfriend for a good 15 minutes even though he spoke no english and boyfriend spoke no spanish. I think they both thought the other was just too funny.

The rooms aren't lavish, but they're comfortable and adequate. We actually enjoyed the food. That may be because all the reviews I had read didn't set my expectations very high. There's a selection each night of 2 soups, 2 entrees and 2 desserts. With all that food, you never go hungry and can usually find something to please the tastebuds, unless you're just a picky eater. Lunch was over priced as were the drinks. We went to the grocery store and picked up a couple six packs and some snacks, one of those foam coolers, and were set for the week.

The staff is extremely friendly and very attentive. There's free wi-fi access in the lobby in case you need to check out what's going on outside Shangri-La. With no TV, we brought my laptop to watch DVD's on at night which worked out very well.

If you're looking for a relaxing, quiet, non-hoity toity hotel, I would definitely recommend Shangri-La. If you want marble bathrooms, constant entertainment, someone to fluff your pillows, etc, this is not the place for you.

  • Stayed: September 2005
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13  Thank CadyHomes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,168 - 2,174 of 2,883 reviews

Reviewed September 26, 2005

We loved this hotel, we had a fantastic cababa on the beach - 31P - and the beach was white sand and gently shelving. Some rocks directly in front of us but plenty of rock free beach also. My family also had 2 of the garden rooms which were also spacious and lovely. The hotel is very clean and attractive, all cabana style set in sandy grounds. The sand is raked every day and the paths are swept. The waiters in the restaurant were really pleasant especially with our 3 children. The mexican theme night on Sunday was fun and the food was good, but the dinners apart from that meal were only average. The breakfast buffets were always good and plentiful. We would definitely go back.

14  Thank snoozysooz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reston, VA
17
Reviewed September 2, 2005

We stayed at the Shangri-La Caribe from August 27 through September 2. It has a beautiful beach and our family had a relaxing vacation. The rooms are rustic but pretty private and very clean. The meals were great and the staff was so friendly and accomodating.

  • Stayed: August 2005
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7  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2005

My husband and I and our 3 kids have just returned from an amazing vacation in Mexico. We flew to Mexico City, where we hired a car and slowly travelled through Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula staying in 8 different hotels until we finally spent 8 glorious days and nights at Shangri-la in Playa del Carmen. We finished our vacation with 4 days & nights at the AI Iberostar Quetzal. Travelling with our children (aged 6, 8 & 11), I carefully selected our hotels, but although they were all nice, none came close to the magical experience of Shangri la. We had originally booked a Penthouse Suite for us and an ocean view room for the kids which I had asked to be right next to the suite. As we arrived just 5 days after the hurricane, all the Penthouse suites had been damaged and so we were put in a beachfront cabana (31) on the Aventura side with our kids in another right next to us (32). The room we had really made the vacation, it was amazing, huge, right on the beach shaded by palm trees with a very large veranda. The ceiling was incredible, it had a very big bathroom and was spotlessly clean. We also had the best towel art we experienced during our entire vacation. I didn't find the bed to be any harder than any other I slept in in Mexico. I will never forget the sound of the ocean waves, lulling me to sleep each night - wonderful!

As for the food, I had read other reviews and wasn't expecting too much. I was pleasantly surprised. We are from Switzerland right near the French border and are used to French cuisine. I found the food to be very tasty and varied and far better than at any of the other hotels we stayed in. My kids are still talking about Ivan, our waiter, who was wonderful and even taught them a few magic tricks. The staff were all fantastic, I was so impressed by the number of employees and how hard everyone worked to get the place up and running again after the hurricane. 4 penthouse roofs were completely redone during our stay and each day that passed saw immense improvement to the grounds.
We were all very sad to leave Shangri la, including the children. I had booked the Iberostar as I was worried that the kids would be a little bored after 8 days with not much activities. How wrong I was, they loved playing ping pong and pool at the Shangri la bar and had made several friends amongst the very international clientele (particularly lots of French). Going to the Iberostar was a bit of a shock after Shangri la. It was our first experience of an AI and although it was more luxurious, we found it to be far too crowded and noisy and it lacked the personalized service we had loved at Shangri la. Also to have to hunt down transits amongst rows and rows after the beautiful and empty beach at Shangri la was very annoying. If we went back to Playa del Carmen we would spend our entire vacation at Shangri la without a doubt. Having said that, the beachfront cabana definitely added a huge plus to our vacation and can't compare with some of the other smaller, less private rooms in other sections. If anyone has any questions I will be pleased to answer by email.

  • Stayed: July 2005
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31  Thank Swisschick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2005

A most relaxing holiday spot..the staff worked so hard to repair the hurricane damage,but in such a unobtrusive way that one's stay there was not impaired in the least.The beach area was always tidy,ample beds and shade,good service at all times and the room was directly facing the sand...blissful.I confess I didn't want to do anything but take to my sunbed,read,swim,bask and take refreshment..I felt secure there at all times;there was always an attendant around even at night but again without having a strong-arm presence.The hotel guests were obviously having a good time;the friendly approach of the dining attendants ensured this at meal-times.The towels in the rooms were "sculptured" into an array of animals,with a new piece of artwork appearing at every room service.
And as a final touch...on the morning of our departure,we were given a breakfast box;this contained appetising food and drink.
I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough....a credit to Mexico and a jewel in the Yucatan!

  • Stayed: July 2005
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18  Thank GoodluckTom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2005

Just got back from a Post-Emily week at the Shangi La Caribe. Had a wonderful time, and all the reviews are pretty accurate. We arrived just 4 days after the storm hit and I’ve posted some comments about damage on the Playa Del Carmen Forum in response to some queries. The management and staff did an outstanding job of minimizing the effects on our vacation.
This was a wonderful location for relaxation and beach fun. If you want a hotel to “entertain you”, or want Jacuzzi tubs, pampered hotel rooms, and fancy marble common areas – this isn’t the place. But if you want to be treated wonderfully, surrounded by nice guests, feel like you are a world away from typical urban/suburban life, and have a great beach vacation – check out the SLC. I do wish the beds were softer – but I read most hotel beds in Mexico are not soft. We took our teenagers and gave them their own “grass shack” as they called it. They loved it even without a TV, Radio, fridge, microwave, internet and clocks. They spent hours reading in the hammocks on the porch. In comparison to reviews of other PDC beach hotels, we saw very few bugs in our rooms. The languages of the guests were pretty evenly spread across English, Spanish, French and German, with some Italian tossed in; and everyone seemed to respect each other.
The staff was incredible – whatever SLC has done should be a textbook for other hotels. The staff was the friendliest and most team oriented I have ever seen anywhere – the restaurant staff all seemed to be having a fun time even when interacting only with themselves and in spite of the long hours. They welcomed everyone – leaning our names, always having jokes, and were kind, happy and friendly with each other. Our rooms were always spotless and the front desk was very helpful. The hotel conducts language training for their staff and it shows. It would be good if the management explained the tipping policy, some degree of tip/service charge is built into the rates. We always added some more tip as well in appreciation for their outstanding service, but were told once not to add a tip to the check (which we got for drinks or lunches) so we switched to leaving cash. However, the quality of service didn’t seem to be significantly affected by tipping – they treated everyone very well. The front desk said something about we could leave a tip at the end in an envelope and they spread those across the staff. That might explain why everyone works so well together.
After reading other reviews on the food, we were very pleasantly surprised by the dinners. The first dinner was fabulous – both the fish and the roasted chicken (always had 2 choices except for the buffets). Their sauces are wonderful and unique and the soups were uniformly excellent. The meals weren’t “fancy”, but generally very tasty and different than the usual experience – using mayan and other unique flavors. I’m sure that some of the town restaurants offered better meals (along with more choices) and 5th Ave was a 15 min. walk down the beach or a 30 peso cab ride. But the family enjoyed the dinners so much we never went into town, and our family is used to excellent (but not pretentious) restaurants. Their chocolate ice cream and chocolate mousse were wonderful – full of real chocolate flavor as befits the Yucatan. And if you wanted something different for breakfast or lunch, the Monkey Cave was a block away – a very unique little place. If you need water, munchies, beer, etc. – there is a little corner supermarket a block past the monkey cave that even has used books organized by language. We really enjoyed the music at SLC, they had live dinner music 3 nights with different styled Mexican groups: 2 were strings based plus the Maraichis for the Mexican fiesta and all were very polished and played at appropriate levels for an enjoyable and fun dinner. The rest of the time they had MP3/CD based background music in the restaurant and bar that was very eclectic, wide ranging and very enjoyable; spanning Spanish, modern, blues, jazz, “unplugged”, reggae, country, Buffet, etc. The Casa Bar was a great place to gather during an all day rainstorm from the tropical depression that lagged behind Emily or during the heat of the afternoons, playing pool, ping pong and cards.
As for beach time, the beach is the best we’ve seen and was only 30 yds from our room. It was so nice falling asleep and waking to the surf with the off shore breezes. The fans help a lot, but in July, its still hot and humid. We did have Air Conditioning which was nice for the nights there wasn’t much breeze. The Ocean View rooms were great – close to the beach and the breezes; but still pretty basic (2 beds, closet, desk, bathroom). The high thatch roofs of the single units and 2nd floor units made it feel bigger. The Ocean Fronts and Penthouses are a bit bigger with some extra sitting space. There were lots of space both under palapas and palms for shade and on the beach. It was a short 5 min walk north to just before the Reef Coco Beach where there are a couple of beach bars and folks providing jet ski, parasail, and fishing opportunities. We hired some guys to take us fishing for 2 hours at a pretty decent rate, and caught over 40 yellow snappers and other fish. Lots of guests were taking advantage of the Dive Shop and dive training provided at the hotel. I was disappointed with the Turquoise Reef Travel agents that came by daily, they basically offered the usual high priced lengthy tours or expeditions. All day excursions cut into our beach time. Their fishing offerings were out of Puerto Adventura (30 min. away) and high priced. Instead, walk the 5 minutes down to Coco Beach and ask for Ruben – he’s real nice, speaks fair English and can set up whatever you want. The front desk arranged a reliable driver to take us to the Coba ruins, on our schedule – the “tours make it a 13 hr trip with extra stops. It was cool being able to climb up the 2nd tallest pyramid in Central America – built back when the Europeans were in the Dark Ages.
I hope this description helps capture the flavor of the Shangri La Caribe – its not for everybody, but it was a home run for our family and its on our list for a return visit some day.

  • Stayed: July 2005
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43  Thank wanderingbadger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Walnut Creek, California
115
Reviewed July 26, 2005

Wow... what an amazing week we had at Shangri La! The beaches, property, and character of the palapas was everything we could have asked for. The staff were all so kind and helpful, and always tried to accomodate our needs. The feel of Shangri la is simple relaxation! How great it was to lay in our hammacks or just sit out on the veranda enjoying the views- or of course, we could relax on the beach. We were beachfront -and we couldn't have been happier! I highly recommend spending the extra dollars for this. We had 33P, and I would request that palapa if you can. It was the perfect location, and seemed to have the most beach space. Our room was wonderful, although the beds really are HARD. It takes a little getting used to. The palapa rooms have so much character and personality- that they make up for the the few ammenities and luxury that a hotel offers.

The food was o.k. - not fabulous, but not bad. It was great having both breakfast and dinner included in the price - and as most other reviews expressed - the breakfast was the best.

We went down to Shangri-La to get married on the beach - and the entire experience exceeded my hopes and dreams. They (Beatriz!) handled everything - so we were able to just enjoy the end result. I couldn't have been happier. We had about 38 guests with us, and everyone had a wonderful time- and enjoyed their stay. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful wedding.
Although I had no idea what my flowers were going to look like, what the wedding cake was going to look like, or what we were having for our wedding dinner.... it was all great - and I was pleasantly surprised with everything.

If you're looking for a luxury hotel with all the ammenities, this would not be the place for you... no tv's, no telephones in the room... but if you're looking for a unique, charming, and special place to relax on an incredibly beautiful beach without the crowds- where noone wears a watch - this is the place!

This truly is the most beautiful beach front that we visited, and after walking down the beach to find nothing but crowds, we were amazed at how quiet and secluded Shangri la was. We will definitely be back, and truly enjoyed our time there. We left the day of Hurricane Emily - and we hope the resort is back up and running quickly.

Enjoy!

  • Stayed: July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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15  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mahekal Beach Resort

Address: Calle 38, Entre Avenida 5a y Zona Federal Maritima, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico (Formerly Shangri-La Caribe)
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 Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#12 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#20 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#24 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#30 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $210 - $499 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Mahekal Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 196
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Mahekal Beach Resort is a legendary resort village located on 800 feet of white sand beach in the heart of vibrant Playa del Carmen. It has 198 thatched roof, palapa-style bungalows within steps of Fifth Avenue, the celebrated entertainment, shopping, and restaurant district of Playa del Carmen. The thousands of loyal repeat guests at Mahekal Beach Resort describe it as magical, memorable, and authentically Yucatecan. Our style is friendly and relaxed, a unique Caribbean experience where you can rock gently in a hammock on your private terrace and enjoy undoubtedly the best beach in Playa. Our guests love the fact that we have never compromised our truly unique ambiance and style. In keeping with that style, our rooms do not offer televisions. Instead, they feature original, brightly colored, Mexican tile bathrooms, private terraces with hammocks for siestas and star gazing, and locally-crafted Mexican wood furniture in an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy our magical sanctuary. The Resort offers meal plans that include breakfast daily and lunch or dinner. This choice gives our guests the opportunity to explore the many dining options in Playa del Carmen. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mahekal Beach Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Shangri La Caribe Hotel
Shangri La Caribe Playa Del Carmen
Mahekal Beach Resort Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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