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Reviewed December 11, 2006

We have just returned from Hotel Tucan and Qertzal ( we stayed in both ! ) The hotel was jampacked full. We went looking for a peaceful two weeks , but found it almost impossible to secure a lounger round the ONE pool if you arrived after 9.00am. The beach, whch is absolutely beautiful ( we visited the Rui Yucatan in June 2000 so were aware of what we wanted ) was also packed. The noise levels around the hotel in the bars and restaurants, was incessant.
The speciality restaurants were good but seemed to cater more for the American smokers than the " smokefree" Brits.
The food was plentiful but not 5 star. There was always plenty of choice but some mornings you felt like you were eating breakfast in the middle of Euston station.
During our second week, we took advantage of the offer to go and stay at the Iberostar in Cozomel. It was perfect, quiet pool and beautifyul beach and my husband ,who loves sailing the catarmarans, finally got the opportunity to sail.
The food was much better and the service was excellent.
We returned to the Tucan for our last night ( now our fourth room )
and were delighted to leave, in the torrential rain , on Sunday morning.
The best feature of the hotel are the staff. They are very hard working ( ie they do not employ enough staff for the number of guests ) very pleasant and will do anything to help.
For any English guests: its Butlins with the sun.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank AnneBun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 2, 2006

Stayed for a week in Oct. 2006 using Apple, arrived on a Sat. and left a week later. Transfers were definitely an hour and the airport was the typical pestering for services. The Tucan is a first class resort, with great food, clean and pleasant rooms, beautiful beach on your doorstep, and a short trip into Playa Del Carmen ($5 Taxi from the hotel lobby). The highlight of the hotel is definitely the jungle in the center of the hotel, we saw monkeys, turkeys, peacocks, flamingos, iguanas, lizards, tucans, praire dog like animals, spoonbills, herons, etc. Our 2-year old son was fascinated, many of the animals stood as tall as him, and he would gauk at them and squeal with joy. Well worth it.
The only unpleasantness is the smoking at the hotel, many Europeans (Dutch, Russians, Germans, Swiss, Brits) frequent the hotel and they smoke like chimney stacks. Particularly unpleasant when your in the dining room or at the beach.
Also, the tour organizers from Apple, or the others for that matter, tend to rip you off a bit with their tours. The tour agents quote a trip to Xel-Ha for hundreds of dollars for a family. We did the trip using a taxi from the hotel to the minibus in Playa del Carmen to Xel-Ha and back for way less than that. BTW Xel-Ha is well worth the money.
We had a wonderfull stay and would recommend without any hesitation.

  • Stayed: October 2006, traveled with family
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13  Thank Capejoller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2006

My husband and I first visited in December 2005
we loved it so much I went back in May 2006 with my
3 daughters, 30, 28 and 14 years old. They loved it
so much my oldest daughter is going back April 2007!
My husband and I just retruned about 2 weeks ago and
I'm looking in to planning another trip in May 2007 with some
good freinds. the best beach the best pool everything is great
Highly reccomend. Your nice and close to Playcar, and the
very nice town of Playa del Carmen. So much to do. Also
great just to chill by the pool all day or spend the whole day on the beautiful beach! Never does it feel like it is overcrowded
can always find a great spot at the pool or on the beach
Great place great hotel staff very friendly!!
GO IT'S GREAT!!

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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10  Thank ddial
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2006

I have been to many places in the area, but by far Iberstar is the best. You can't be the amazing service, free room service, incredible beaches, an AMAZING buffet, and much more. Everything is all inclusive, so you don't have to worry about tipping and all of that irritating stuff. When my family went, while we were checking in, I was talking to the girl at the front counter, and we she asked us a few questions. I requested an ocean view, so they gave my family a PRESIDENTIAL SUITE for FREE!!! We paid the same price as we would've for our regular tiny room. This is a place that caters to the people.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
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15  Thank pelican93
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2006

November 8-22, 2003

Never got around to submitting this review, but I am sure that nothing much has changed since.

Much of what we had read online on the various Playa boards were completely correct, but there was some important information that was not mentioned that I would like to share with you.

We had emailed the hotel in advance, requesting a second floor room in building 11 so that we would be near the beach area. We had read that we should definitely take a room on that floor. Unfortunately, they did exactly as I asked, except that the second floor is called the third floor there. (Ground, 1st, 2nd). In any case, since the fault was mine, I said nothing. As it turned out, since we arrived early, the room that they had allocated for us in building 11 was not yet empty. She apologized to me and offered me a room in building 12, which faced the rear pathway. I was in room 1248, and would suggest that you all take a room facing the rear as it is somewhat quieter than one facing the pool. You will also not have to worry about a monkey knocking on your window or visiting you! The top floor also had good points too, and we liked it. It might be hotter though, as you are higher up and possibly warmer.

I did not want to wait for their guys to bring my suitcases. Some folks had said that they had to wait for a while. We wheeled our bags to the building, and I dragged them up the three floors (heavy, but good exercise for the arm muscles). On first entry, the room felt very warm, but I figured that it had not been used for a while, and had not had a chance to cool down. I later found out different - all the electricity (and air conditioning) in the room is shut off the moment you leave. It comes back on when you return, with the lights, etc starting up as you open the door. Perhaps the folks who have been there did not realize this. They might have assumed that the hot room was due to their sun burns. There is also another problem for any of you that want an air conditioned room. They have the thermostat set to go no lower than 23C, so it can never really get very cool. Now, not everyone wants a cool room, but I sure expect it. They sent a repair man to check it out when I complained, but he said that he was not able to change it as the entire place was set that way. I accepted that and was too warm for the first week.

The second week our daughter and husband arrived for their vacation. In my email to the hotel, I had asked for them to get a room very close to ours. I checked with the front desk the night before and they assured me that it was all arranged which it was. They were put right across the hall from us in 1252. When I went in their room that night, it seemed much cooler than ours and their electricity seemed to have stayed on. I went to the front desk and asked that they fix our room to stay on all the time as well. I said that it was obvious I had been told a fib. That night it was fixed properly, the room eventually went down to 20C and stayed there. I suggest that you do the same, and when they say that it can’t be done, you will know that they are lying to you. Don’t bother doing this though if 23C is OK for you and you like a warm room. Oh, and don’t bother to try to plug in a clock, it will never keep the right time without electricity.

I had also asked the repair man why the fridge did not seem to work; nothing seemed to be getting colder either. He told me that it was on some sort of power saver and that it would eventually go down which it did in a few days.

The room itself was sparse, but attractive, just as it had been described. The bed was rock hard (a mattress on a slab of concrete). I personally found it very comfortable, as I like a harder bed. Our son in law had to put an air mattress on it for sleeping, as he found it very difficult. There was not much storage space, just a few shelves in the closet, but I guess it was enough as we managed fine. There are not a lot of electric plugs in the room, so if you need to charge batteries all the time (like I did for my MP3 player), plug it into the TV’s socket, the electricity stays on at this plug. I did not initially have a smell of smoke in the room. There is no bathtub, but that information is disclosed in their pamphlet. There was certainly a shortage of hot water. Most of the time, it was barely warm and without much pressure. There is a safe in the room, so you can keep your wallet, etc protected. The TV does not have many channels; don’t look for much except some cartoons and CNN. You are not there to watch TV, but some like to keep up with the news.

The maid in our building was not all that good; she came very late in the day every day and did not always put towels to replace those she took. I think that they had changed maids. The first day, I chatted with the lady doing the work. She knew no English, but we chatted in Spanish about her family and she was nice. After that, it was another woman, who did not seem as nice. It was not only our room; the whole building seemed to be done in an odd way and late.

The grounds of the resort were quite beautiful, among the nicest that we had seen. We were happy to see that there were a lot of palapas (huts) on the beach and also at the pool (something that you don’t see very often - almost no shade at the pool in most hotels). The place was very large and we got a bit lost the first night. Bring your map for the first days. The lobby is attractive, but un-air-conditioned and very smoky from all the people’s cigarettes.

You can eat in any one of three restaurants for lunch and two for supper (plus the four reservation-only places for suppers where you can eat twice each week). I will come back to the food later in this review.

There is a jungle walk going through the middle of the property to get you from top to bottom. You will see all sorts of wild-life in your travels here. We waited a whole week to see the monkeys that everyone talks about. I was able to get some photos of them close up, although they are grainy. They were high up in the trees, hidden in the branches and without a lot of light. Not easy for photos. There was also this rat-looking animal, that I photographed but still do not know the name of.

The beach was a pleasure in some ways. In many of the hotels there, we had to get up before dawn to be assured of getting a shady palapa. Here, 8AM is no problem, with plenty of spots left into the later part of the AM. We tried to position ourselves so that the wind would blow the very stinky Euro cigarette smell away from us. The place was packed, and there were people everywhere, but the beach is large and can fit them. The ocean front was nice and sandy and kept clean. You can reserve your spots but putting your towel on the chairs. Only once was my stuff touched, some lady stuck her baby on the seat and the kid peed on the towel. We changed it and that was that. You can also go to lunch and not worry about your place being disturbed.

You will get a Miami newspaper at your door each day, but it does not arrive until after 8:30 AM or so, so if you are an early bird, you will have to go back to your room to get it. Don’t count on using the exercise room, if you want a treadmill or such, there are only bikes and some weights. Talking about bikes, this hotel does not allow you to borrow bikes, they charge for them. I have not seen that at any hotel and was annoyed. You can take a tour - a fellow rides into town with you and you have about 1 hour or so to wander around. That is able to be done twice a day.

The Star friends are nice; we did not have any real contact with them though, as we do not participate in the pool games or other activities. You will have a group of mariachi musicians wandering around the pool twice a week. The drink lady wanders around all the time with a tray full to keep you wet inside. Many folks on the net had complained that they put very little booze in the drinks. I guess that is so, they seemed weak, but again, that was fine with us, we wanted them that way anyway. I prefer to get my liquor pure and unmixed. I tried Mezcal for the first time. I am a great lover of tequila straight. The Mezcal was really nice; I suggest that you try it out if you have never had the pleasure, although watch out for the worm!. I brought a big bottle home to enjoy. They will also mix a few specialty dinks in the bar too for you. Try the Mayan Sacrifice, and the tequila drink that had the three colors, (can’t think of the name). My wife loved the fantasia, tasted great.

Some folks complained that it was very far from the beach to the lobby. They felt that it was too much exercise. We found it nothing; in fact, we walked to Playa del Carmen about 8 times in the two weeks, walked around there and then back before supper. A nice 35 minute walk each way. (That helps you come home without too many extra pounds). By 2PM, it was time to leave the beach and go for some exercise.

The buffet restaurants were very attractive looking, with a number of selections for each meal. I personally found the food only average tasting. I don’t like vegetarian or seafood dishes, so the selection was not always very interesting to me. My wife liked it more than I did. There was an espresso machine there and I had one for many of the meals. Other than that, there was no real American coffee. It was way too strong and bitter for most folks I would imagine. When I drank it, I used about a third hot milk to two thirds coffee and it was OK, but more designed for the Euros, Russians, and Poles that were there. They had little steaks one night each week. I took some each week, and each time they were red and practically raw. Not my taste. I had a lot of pasta meals, but they also did not seem to put meat and noodles together enough. They were served the Italian way, with mostly a tomato sauce or white sauce. There was still lots to eat, even for those that are, like me, more fussy eaters.

I was surprised that you cannot get any coffee at the Tucan side of the beach before 10AM, only in the main restaurants (I was not aware until I came home that the Quetzal restaurant on the beach was open early). The breakfasts were nice, with plenty of stuff to eat. I had an omelet there twice. They had some sort of fruity type bread each day, which was soft and great. The Mexican donuts were nice as well, leaving no bad taste (only calories!). There was lots of cheese available for all the meals. Unfortunately, you cannot get any soft American rolls, only the hard-as-a-rock European kind.

The deserts were quite good, and probably contributed to most of the extra weight we gained there. The ice cream was tasty as well. Loved it!

We ate in the Tropical and Steak specialty restaurants. I was not all that impressed with the steak house, especially the last time, when I ordered the beef ribs. It appeared as if they had been taken out of the fridge and put on the grill for only a couple of minutes. They were still cold. I complained and they brought another rack back, not much warmer and also full of a lot of fat. I just left the whole plate and ate in the buffet restaurant.

The theatre offers a show each night, but personally, I found the place totally unusable for anyone who needs to breathe. The smoke from the cigars and cigarettes was intense, and you could not sit anywhere clear. About 70% of the non North Americans who were there smoked, and they did it EVERYWHERE. The two main restaurants, to their credit, had a lot of non-smoking tables, more than I had seen anywhere, but it was still pretty bad for a non-smoker, with second-hand smoke and stench. I also found that the music that they played in the restaurants was way too LOUD. If I want to visit a disco, I will go there, but I would prefer to eat in a quieter atmosphere, where I can chat with nice people that we met.

A lot of folks were sick there, for whatever reason, including my wife. In speaking to others, we heard similar stories from many. These were not folks who were drinking the water in their room. It must have been the food. For the first time, I also felt a bit queasy. We have been to Mexico about 10 times, and this was the first time that even I was distressed.

Anyway, that is about all that I have to say. I won’t bother to give you the day to day, mostly we got done to the beach at about 8AM and spent the day relaxing, swimming in the ocean, reading and then later in the day walking either to town or to the Plaza Playacar, a cute shopping center about 8 minutes from the hotel.

On the whole, I would give this resort about 7 out of 10. We had a nice time there, even though the weather was on the whole, kind of poor very often. Oh, and by the way, watch out for the tiles on the floor when it rains, they can be very slippery. After the fact, I read other reports about this resort who said pretty much the same thing about the food, which seems to have slipped in quality over the last year.

Please visit my webshots photo page where you can find some of the 200 photos that I took on this trip. Enjoy yourself; the Mexican people are very nice, wonderful folks. If you have any Spanish from school, try it out. I use it all the time there, and it makes things go even more enjoyable. I always feel very much at home there.

  • Stayed: November 2003, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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19  Thank michaelbyrns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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