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“Wonderful Place”

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Mahekal Beach Resort
Ranked #28 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 18, 2010

We stayed 4 nights at Mahekal followed by 3 nights at an all inclusive and our family (husband, me and our 20-year old daughter) all liked Mahekal much better. The people at the Mahekal are part of the reason, the other is the beautiful beach and the cute bungalo type rooms. We had the same waiter for most of our stay. His name was Juan and he was so sweet, friendly, and attentive. I felt like we were leaving a friend by the end of our stay. Boli at the concierge desk went above and beyond in helping us plan our activities--again, more like a friend. Vincenti at the bar was also the greatest. Location: perfect beach, uncrowded, hammocks on your private covered deck, nice jungle feel throughout the resort yet right at the ocean and close to downtown. The towel art that greeted us each day when we returned to our rooms was ADORABLE. I never thought we would get such a kick out of towel art! The lady at the front desk when we arrived was a bit uncommunicative but the one there as we were leaving was sweet as could be. It was quite a contrast when we moved to the all inclusive which was loud, crowded, impersonal and the beach was not nearly as nice. Mahekal was worth every penny, and we thought pretty reasonably priced.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
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8  Thank Debrakadebra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 16, 2010

This was our first family vacation abroad. As such, I read and studied and reviewed others' input about Mahekal before booking it. Two friends joined us. They have many overseas experiences and affirmed the Mahekal decision was a good one. Where to start?

1. Service: The service by the wait staff was unmatched by anything in my 44 years of living. The wait staff consisted of local men who worked to calm every fear, service any need, and address any concern. The language barrier of English-Spanish was cheerfully met with patience and calmness to educate each other. My family befriended Rogelio and Ignacio (wait staff) throughout our stay. They were part of a class act at Mahekal. I have no bad reviews or negative comments to offer readers of this review. All of the folks at Mahekal were top notch but the wait staff were the ones with whom you interacted the most.

2. Rooms: The rooms give you a sense of ownership. They are simple cabana types structures with three important features: a comfortable bed, a cold air conditioner, and a shower. We expected a traditional room (like any chain hotel/motel) but that's not what Mahekal is about. If you find yourself wanting to stay in the room, you ain't living the experience. The room was secondary to the beach. We resorted to our rooms to sleep, get cleaned up quickly and head back out. For that the rooms were great. There are no TV's, no radios, no phones, no nada! You don't need, or want, all of that when you are there. The rooms are a place to sleep and get cleaned up.

3. Beach and Ocean: Awesome, incredible, missing it all ready, clean, seductive, and every other good word that goes with the beach experience. There are plenty of beach lounge chairs under palm trees. The salty air gives the edge you need to stay cool and comfortable. The people are beautiful, the sand is white, the water is blue, and the swimming is relaxing.

4. Security: There are several men dressed in professional uniforms who oversee the security of vacationers. I wasn't sure who they were at first, but I learned they are your version of community protectors. They watch over the beaches being mindful of your presence and needs while staying alert for any problems that may come to the beach and resort. Their presence is subdued by their ability to blend into the background, but it is appreciated because they truly watch out for the vacationers. No complaints from me about them.

5. Food at Mahekal: All inclusive? No! I made the decision to not go all inclusive when I weighed the cost and benefit. At Mahekal, you get two meals as part of your experience. Breakfast was awesome. They offer so much--it was great! The second meal could be either lunch or supper. We chose to make our second meal supper because the day was consumed with beach sitting or fulfilling other plans in Playa. The dining facilities are beautiful, well-kept, soothing, quiet with live music, and simply unparalleled in my experiences. You won't be disappointed.

What does "Mahekal" mean? In our last day, we asked. The word "magical" is phonetically pronounced "mahekal" so the resort owners creatively named the resort "Mahekal" to match the phonetic sound while giving it a Mayan-name appearance. The experience matched the name--it was a magical visit. We will be going back for more.

The Jones family (Cibolo, TX) and friends (San Antonio, TX).

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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10  Thank Kayaking-Flatwater
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2010

We were so happy with this hotel. This was our first time to the Yucatan Peninsula. We used this trip as our last hoorah before our 2nd child is born.... so it was mostly just a relaxing time and we didn't go there planning on doing much of anything.

A few things that you should know:

There is no wifi in the rooms. If you want to connect ot the Internet you should go to the lobby or the swing bar.

Breakfast and Dinner is included. If you want to switch your dinner to lunch, go to the main desk and ask to switch before 12:00. You can always eat lunch in the restaurant anyway, and just charge it to your room. Try the shrimp fajitas! You can also order lunch/drinks on the beach.. they have a waiter out there who will take your order.

We took the ADO bus from the Cancun airport and a cab from the bus stop to the resort. Total was about $30. If you take a cab from the airport it's $90 and a shuttle will be $60. We arranged a cab through the hotel to get us back to the airport. We just went the day before and told them we wanted a cab to take us back to the airport. It was $45.

The swimming pool near the breakfast area tends to be cooler because of the ocean breeze. We liked both pools, but during the hottest hours definitely use the pool with the ocean view.

There are plenty of lounges with Palapas. You don't need to get there early to 'save one'.

We didn't spring for an ocean view room, and didn't feel like we were missing out. It was about a 3 minute walk to the beach, and at 6 months pregnant, it was fine.

It's about a 10 minute walk to 5th Ave. It's a long walk when it's really hot.. but when it cools down at night, it's not a problem.

We took a cab to Walmart to get big jugs of water for the week. There are cabs waiting at Walmart to take you back to the hotel... so don't worry about transportation.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank wendrobn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2010

This is a beautiful and very unique place to stay. There were only a few minor flaws, but the overall charm of the resort more than make up for them. If you don't mind going without phone and TV, this is the place to be. I am a TV-Facebook addict and I did just fine without them for a week. Instead, I read a ton of books and just enjoyed the sounds of the ocean. You will never have a more beautiful view from your room.


ROOM: We stayed in Casita 31P, which is a little more expensive than the other beachfront bungalows, but very much worth it for the location. We were directly on the beach. Walk off the cute deck (complete with hammocks and a table and chairs) and you are on the beach. The ocean is just yards away. You could not ask for a better view. Any closer and you'd be afraid a shark might eat you in your sleep.

The bungalow was really neat. It has a super high thatched roof and is decorated with beautiful handpainted tiles throughout. The a/c works OK, but there are two fans which help out a bit. The bathroom is pretty, but not fancy. The sheets are scratchy. Other than that, it's perfect.

BEACH: We had no trouble finding a palapa on the beach except our first day there when there was a wedding right in front of our bungalow. The locals come down on the beach, which would be fine, except they tend to sprawl out directly in front of the beach chairs and block the view. Luckily, they are only around on the weekend. The beach had a sulphur-ish smell certain days and if you walked a ways down the beach past the resort to the left, the smell was so bad it is vomit-inducing. Thankfully, it is only mild at the resort and occasional. The ocean was very warm, but it was not crystal clear like you'd see in Aruba.

POOLS: The pools are nice when there are no kids in them.

FOOD: Breakfast is like a buffet from your dreams. Fantastic. You have your choice of lunch or dinner. Lunch was a la carte and good. Dinner was good, although people seem to complain about it on here. I am a vegetarian and I always had something to eat on the dinner buffets. A few more options for vegetarians certainly wouldn't hurt. There was a cat that wandered around and begs off of you. She only likes meat. Give her bread and she'll turn her nose up at you!

BAR: Drinks are good and cheap. Really cheap. Yeah!

CHECK-IN: We got there after a long day of travel and were told our room wasn't ready, which ticked us off because it was after 3 p.m. check in and we had the most expensive bungalow. Plus, we were really tired. Someone checked out late so we didn't get into our room until after 4 which stunk.

CELL PHONES: My husband's phone got no reception, but mine did. Make sure you authorize international calling before you leave though because I could receive calls but couldn't place them.

LIZARDS: You see a few here and there but not as many as Aruba.

DOWNTOWN: It is just a short walk. Like 5 minutes to the top of the main strip. The strip is so long you'll never walk it all and it is loaded with bars, restaurants and shops. After awhile you'll get really sick of the "Come look in my shop. Just browsing." And they even bug you to come in their restaurants which is odd. The restaurants were never busy and there is a delicious pizza shop called "That's Amore" I forced my husband to eat at three times. Also, there is a really beautiful shop full of authentic shells this American artist turned into light fixtures, called Maya-xel.

BUGS: Mosquitos and other evil beasts are all over at night. Bring tons of bug spray. Like four bottles. Not kidding.

TULUM: We loved our day trip to Tulum. Got a cab at the hotel and he waited for us for two hours to view the ruins -- and didn't charge a fee to wait.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank LennyLovesSpaghetti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2010

Stayed here for 5 days and we did not want to leave! The resort is very quiet, very clean and well maintained. You are not overwhelmed with tons of people and activity, just relaxation! If you are looking for shopping or nightlife then 5th ave. is a short walk away.
There are always plenty of chairs and umbrellas on the beach. The pools are never over-crowded. The beach was very clean and is by far the best beach in this area. I had stayed at the Royal once before and was surprised how much of the beach is gone and what is left is overcrowded with lounge beds. The resort staff was great and very accommodating. The food here is good, we did the breakfast and dinner plan but we did have lunch a few days too. Drinks are cheap, good margharitas and the happy hour was great...2 for 1. Don't miss out on the outdoor massages, Nora and Diana are the best!! Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank EGigs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 7, 2010

I recently stayed for 5 days at the Mahekal with family and I can tell you that it is the best hotel on the beach! My brother and I did extensive research on the internet before deciding on the Mahekal. Because it's the low season, we paid bargain prices. Of course, it's hurricane season, so we knew the risk, and sure enough, Tropical Storm Alex hit the beach the same day we arrived! But, regardless of the rain and wind for the first 3 days, we had a great time in the water, at the resort and around town and a lot of that was due to the incredible staff at the Mahekal. The resort has a very familial feel to it.

I have travelled enough to foreign areas to know that things don't always look the same in real life as they do on the internet. The Mahekal looks just like the pictures on it's website. It is about a 45 minute taxi ride from the airport at Cancun. The resort is well kept, incredibly clean, has very friendly staff, excellent food with a nice selection...even some for vegetarians such as myself, good drinks, convenient location to the main strip for shopping, the most gorgeous stretch of beach in Playa, 24 hr. security around the resort and on the beach, a great concierge who will be glad to arrange tours for you and if you have any concerns, the front desk will do their best to take care of your needs with a warm smile.

One thing to note...there are no T.V.'s in the rooms or phones, which we knew ahead of time. That didn't bother me, even through 3 days of drenching rain and wind from the tropical storm. If you like to read before bed, then bring a book! If you forget... like I did..there's a library in the lobby with many interesting novels left by previous visitors that you can borrow.

The bungalows are unique and more natural than your usual hotel room, because of the palm thatched roof. The roof is quite tall and goes up to a peak, so you have a feeling of spaciousness. The floors are lovely ceramic tiles. The bathrooms have beautiful painted tiles in the showers. The towels are plush and new looking. The beds are clean and very comfortable. The windows are louvered wooden slats that you can open to let the nice breeze in. There are screens on the windows. There were no mosquitoes while we were there...perhaps because of the wind from the storm. There's also A/C in the rooms, if you prefer that and ceiling fans. There are 2 hammocks on each balcony. The resort provides a free, large bottle of drinking water everyday when they clean the room. You can buy more for $2.00 a bottle. The maids make cool towel sculptures each time they change your bed. There's a safe in the closet. There are 2 swimming pools that are clean with beautiful landscaping and the occasional iguana peeking out at you. You can eat breakfast and lunch at one of the resort restaurants that has a thatched roof and faces the beach with large, open windows. Tons of fresh fruit, cereal, croissants, sweet breads, yogurt, juices, oatmeal, sausages and more are at the breakfast buffet and you can order eggs, omelets, pancakes, etc.. We ate lunch out everyday and then ate dinner at the resort. There's a separate restaurant for the night meal that has a natural rain forest feel to it, surrounded by large palm trees and other landscaped vegetation. It has no walls, but a large thatched roof, ceramic tile floors, white table cloths, nice selection of food at the buffet or you can order from the menu, lovely music which is sometimes live, candlelight..very romantic feel to it. The Mahekal is the pearl of the beach. You will not be disappointed!

P.S. Just F.Y.I...The only con of our trip that I would add has nothing to do with the Mahekal but sadly with our tour to Chichen Itza which is a 3 hour bus ride from Playa. I have seen other Mayan ruins and was looking forward to the tour, but there are so many vendors/gypsy types all over the site that they ruin the experience. It's hard to take a photo without someone trying to sell some tourist trinket to you. It would be fine if the vendors were corralled near the entrance, but they are free to go wherever they want, apparently, and there seems to be hundreds of them. I have heard that Coba is the better ruin to visit and it's only 45 minutes from Playa, which includes a stop at Tulum.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
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8  Thank Mountainlover15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 7, 2010

I loved everything about Mexico and the Mahekal Beach Resort. Everyone we met there was friendly. It was nice being away from TV and computer. If you do bring a laptop there is computer access in the bar and lobby.

Transportation to Hotel :
We booked ahead with Cancun Transfers. I would recommend them. Paid with credit card when booking and tipped with US cash. Driver stopped along the way to the hotel so we could get a cold beer for the ride.
[insert link]

Mahekal Beach Resort:
Beautiful smaller hotel with bungalows. We stayed in an oceanfront bungalow on the beach, 1C. Loved it. We never felt we didn't have privacy. We loved that we could just step out onto the beach. We could hang out on our porch to look at the beautiful ocean, watch the sunrise and people watch.

Our bungalow had two queen beds and a bathroom. There was a small safe in the room that opens/locks with a key. Air conditioning was fine. Our housekeeper left beautiful towel art every day.

There was a hairdryer provided. We asked for an iron and ironing board and kept it in our room all week.

There are two pools (medium-sized), that never seemed to be crowded.

Two restaurants, one which served breakfast and lunch. The other dinner. One bar with pool table and ping pong table.

The staff , Gabriel, Boli, Jorge, Vicente (bartender), and everyone else were so nice and helpful.

Coffee is served in the AM at the bar and in the Aventura restaurant. It usually was out by 6:30. We bought a coffee maker, coffee, sugar, sweetener, and non-refrigerated cream at Mega and used it in our room for the week. We are early risers.

From the resort we could walk to 5th Ave in a few minutes. Very safe. We walked to Mega also. Taxis are always available and are inexpensive. Cab drivers took pesos or US dollars.

Beach:
Beautiful beach with no rocks and very little seaweed. The beach is raked daily. Water ranged from very calm to having some pretty good waves.

There were no issues with getting a chaise lounge every day. There are plenty.
The beach is good for walking and/or jogging. We took a walk every morning. You can also have your lunch served on the beach as well as drinks.

Security:
Always had two security guards on the beach (24x7). Never felt any concerns about security at the hotel or in town.

Places to Eat - Recommended
Mahekal - Breakfast Buffet which had fresh juice and fruit; eggs (including Mexican skillet egg dishes), pancakes, french toast to order; sausages, hash browns, toast, croissants, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal. Wonderful!

Mahekal - Dinner - Sunday nights is Mexican night with buffet and band. It was fun!

El Fogon - We went twice and loved it. Authentic, non-touristy, inexpensive and great food. Very casual. We had the frijoles charros (bean soup), tacos el pastor (tacos with pork), and arrachera (flank steak). We washed it down with cold Mexican beer.

Piola - This is right up the road from the Mahekal. Great margharitas, bruschetta, and pizza. The salads were good as well. Great atmosphere and service.
http://www.piola.it/mondo2.php?menu_number=3&lang=en&id=32

Origenes- Also right up the road from the Mahekal. We stopped in for drinks and appetizers. Great service and live music. We wanted to go back for dinner but ran out of time.

Tour:
We did the Tulum and Beyond Tour and had a great time. We would definitely recommend this company! They pick up / drop off at your hotel. They provide drinks and snacks. We toured the Tulum ruins, snorkeled in two cenotes, and hung out on a secluded Tulum beach. Our guides set-up and served us lunch on the beach at Tulum. We booked it the day before and paid in US cash. We also included a tip for our tour guide Ader and driver Pablo.
http://www.yucatreks.com/

Stores:
There is a store right across the street from the Mahekal that sells ice, beer, soda, water, snacks, etc. Opens at 9:00AM. They took pesos or US dollars. There is a store that opens earlier that sells the same (and throw-away cameras). Go up the street to the circle and make a right. The store is down a bit on the left side of the street.

Mega is like a Walmart. They have food, clothes, appliances, etc. Can walk there in about 15 minutes or take a cab for a few dollars. There are cabs lined up in front when you leave.

Money / ATMs:
Used an ATM at the Cancun airport and Mega to get out pesos.

Tipping:
We tipped Mahekal employees in either pesos or US dollars - no issues. We tipped daily for housekeeping, breakfast, lunch, and drinks.

Sunscreen:
Brought high SPF sunscreen with us and needed it. Purchased additional at a store on 5th Ave.

Bug Spray:
Brought bug spray with us just in case. Used one day only on our porch for some mosquitos. We also needed it on the Tulum trip.

A relaxing vacation at a wonderful resort.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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8  Thank ClaudiaJo
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:
#17 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#20 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#30 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $191 - $417 (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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