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“Amazing beach!”
Review of The Reef Playacar

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The Reef Playacar
Ranked #95 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Reviewed April 11, 2013 via mobile

This is a small resort! Great for a short stay! We figured everything out in a day no trams or shuttle not needed! The entertainment was a little cheesy but the beach was truly amazing !!! Food was good late night tacos were Ohhhh so good!!

  • Stayed: November 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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3  Thank hairfairy17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 10, 2013

Just returned from a 7 day stay at the Reef. All in all it was a good stay, but not perfect. I felt overall this was a good value for the price point and none of the imperfections were deal-breakers, just minor annoyances. I paid $800 more a couple years back for the same beach at a neighbouring hotel so to me, this was a deal. I’ve stayed in a variety of all inclusives from 5 star to 3 star and I think this one is accurately billed as a 3-3.5 star.

The Food- better than expected. Really had some tasty dishes, especially from the Mexican station at the buffet. Did seem the veggies were repeated daily, same broccoli and cauliflower. But they were steamed and fresh. I also experienced a few dishes that were as others said, bland but overall more good than bland. My issue was the replenishing of food and constantly having to wait for the cooks to man their stations. Countless times at breakfast there were empty tubs of honey, maple syrup, etc that were never refilled. The poor woman at the omellete station had a line-up most every morning. You had to time it so that you weren’t standing with your other food getting cold. And no BACON! As a Canadian, I need my bacon! Lol I asked for it every day and only got some once. But the omelets were tasty once obtained, and the French toast and fruit made up for no bacon. Plus our favorite waiter, Paulino and his charming smile had me smiling back and I never left hungry.

At dinner, we actually got into the habit of grabbing our desserts as we walked in because we knew that what we saw, might not be there again. And again, a lot of time we were waiting for someone to show up at the stations to serve the food or waiting for a new tray of something to appear. I found a decent dinner variety at the buffet but the breakfasts really had no variations except a couple of Mexican veg dishes that changed color daily.

We did do both the speciality restaurants. Had a nice grilled bass at the Terraza Grill. The salmon I had at Bottecellis was overdone, but the coconut ice cream rocked.

Snack bar was handy for a burger, pizza or wings during the day or late at night. Had decent guacamole with homemade chips. But there were 2 nights it wasn’t open at all.

Never made it for ice cream but I did try the special coffee station set-up in the middle of the resort each evening between 4-6p. Try the Mayan Coffee. . mmmm

Note* On Thursday evenings there is NO buffet or snack bar as they do a special Mexican show and buffet in a different location at a specific time. If you missed the little sign posted at the beach(as we and a bunch of others did) you will be waiting 40minutes to an hour at the specialty restaurant for a table. So Thursdays it’s dinner at 7 for the Mexican show or plan for the wait at the speciality restaurants.

The Room – We booked Superior Rooms. We had a coffee maker and fixings, 2 robes, and our fridge was stocked daily with pop and a couple of beers. But we did not get updated rooms. I think I had the same room as a previous poster as I too had the big hump in the bathtub and it was a bit of a challenge standing while showering as it kind of shifted as you stood. The blow dryer worked but the 1 plug didn’t. And yes, the bathroom could use an update. Hot water was plentiful and pressure was fine. The mattresses are new with pillowtops but I did find it quite firm, and I like a firm bed. The a/c was great. Flatscreen had a few Spanglish channels. Maid did her thing about 2-3p each day and left towel treats and lots of toiletries, including q-tips , sewing kit, shower cap, lotion and shampoo.

I lucked out and got a top floor room with a garden view. I can see why previous posters mention the ground floor rooms facing the garden do not offer much privacy. The resort is very small and the pathways are but a couple of feet from your balcony. Other posters have also mentioned the rolling carts in the wee hours of the morning. I noticed that the rooms facing the outside of the resort are in front of the employees pathway and yes, they start quite early in the morning. (Rubber wheels would fix that.) I also had an issue with my key not working. One negative was being scolded by the front desk for carrying my key with my camera as it demagnitizes the strip. But I gotta say, who doesn't carry their camera and hotel key together when on vacation??!

Because of the smallness of the resort and the way it was constructed, sound was a bit of an issue. At night people walking to their rooms or large parties just walking by could be really loud as they were so close. Someone mentioned bumpers for the doors and I’d like to add, felt stickers for the bottom of chair legs, etc, in the room would go a long way for sound buffering. Wood doors shutting at 6am within a stucco/concrete/marble setting, makes for a loud morning. Thank god for earplugs! My friends room was on the second floor and they could hear the maid dragging furniture across the marble floors and the ‘elephant family’ stomping as they called it, lol. I could hear the neighbours tv and chatting. I should mention this is not just The Reef, we experienced this at a 5star too.

The Beach – I’m a sun/sand lover and the amazing beach is the main reason I travel here. I’m used to the towel game in the morning but I have never seen it as bad as here. I’m down at the beach at the crack of dawn and most were already claimed with towels! So people came down when it was dark!!! There are a limited number of umbrellas for shade so they go first. I was floored to see people reserving chairs and never showing up!!! Really, really inconsiderate. First time I’d experienced it like this. And as others have mentioned, replacing the broken chairs and adding some more along with a few more umbrellas would go a long way.

Overall this was one of the busiest resorts I’ve visited. There were people everywhere all the time. You’ll notice all different colored wrist bands. White, pink, blue, gold, black. Some are day visitors, some are being recruited via timeshare, some were people from the residential area next door. Apparently some of the rentals in the community include access to The Reef. This resort is really popular with Europeans and French Canadians . . . . we had a hard time finding guests that spoke English. Another first for us. WIFI sucked in the rooms. Was slow at best even though it showed full bars for reception.

Like I said, it wasn’t a perfect week but it was a great vacation. We loved the location, just a short walk to 5th Ave and shopping. What really made it for us, was the staff. As everyone says, they work really, really hard and try to please as best they can. The wait staff in the buffet and cooks in the snack bar were attentive and service was great. This is an older, well used and well liked resort. For the price-point, I can see why. It’s the location and beach that brings them back.

Room Tip: Top floor, garden view is your best bet for quiet and privacy!
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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11  Thank Canadian2_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2013

My family and I just returned from the Reef. I am a travel agent for Montrose Travel Company (monrovia travel and cruise)and I went to the Reef for spring break and also booked this hotel for another family of four. upon check in we were given our rooms and ours faced the Riu Palace, which I thought was a weird room to give a travel agent and the resort knew I'd be writing a review when I got home(not much to look at). We were in one of the updated rooms, as a whole the room was nice and our maid did a great job everyday, but the doors are so thin we were woke up everyday at 5am by our neighbors. The resort is small and the lay out is very nice. The show every night was ok, but good for the size of the resort. The entertainment staff were incredible, between vollyeball and bingo etc.the did a great job and were very friendly. The wait staff was great I can not say enough nice things about Mario and Phillpanio. Let's not forget Wilberth, he was always there to help and take care of any of our needs. The food is just ok, at times we waited up to 15 to 20 minutes at restaurants to even get our drinks. They need more options on the buffet. The food at the snack bar was good. They need to upgrade the alcohol without the upcharge, been to several all-inclusive resorts and this is the first time I've ever had to pay more to get decent alcohol. They also need to give u more than 2 beers at a time in your room fridge. It also seemed if you lost anything there was a 35.00 charge, I've never had to worry if someone took my towel of the beach I would be charged 35.00. As a whole the Reef is a nice small resort and for the money u r getting what you paid for. The location to 5th street is great.

Room Tip: Ask for an upgraded room, they are very nice.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank cooper1231
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2013

Just spent March 31st through April 7th at the Reef Playacar. We have been to the big resorts - Princess, Riu, but we love the coziness of the smaller resorts. Having only 202 rooms, you get to meet people and see the same people every day. The staff was always smiling specifically Paulino and the pool bartender, Victor, was very efficient. We had a room near the pool, which was great having a 6 year old. He was never bored. The beach is phenomenal - always a lounger available. The breakfast at the buffet was good, especially the fruit however no bacon(?), lunches were always at the snack bar and were excellent. Dinner buffet was all right, nothing special however we never went hungry. The a la cartes are not worth the extra effort in my opinion, specifically Botecelli's - very slow service and the food was blah! Rooms were always clean. We paid for the upgrade and did take advantage of Nico's (the bar for superior premium) and the top shelf alcohol. The coffee bar and ice cream bar were only open between 4 and 6, which confused me. Kids like ice cream all day, and the coffee bar would be more enjoyed in the evening however we did take advantage of both. Enjoyed seeing the agoutis (some kind of animal that hangs out there) and the lemurs. Didn't get to see the monkey though. We would go there again, however our bathing suits got stained green by the pools - don't know why. I would just make sure to bring dark coloured suits.

Room Tip: We had a room closer to the pool - room 1424. They were quiet at night, but central to everything...
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Shawzee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2013

My wife and I just spent 4 great days at the Reef. The layout of the property is fabulous with the pools and pool bars located right next to the beach. This makes it easy to hang at the beach and get drinks or jump in the pool very convenient. The view of the beach is also spectacular from the pool area. Food was excellent. Buffet was good and quick and Boticeli's has great quality and taste. The waiter at Boticeli's, Abraham, gave great service and has a funny personality. We ate dinner at Boticeli's twice and made sure we requested Abraham. For the most part, the whole staff at the Reef was very good. Always smiling and happy to say hello to you. Hector, at front desk, did a fantastic job when we had a minor issue with our room; he was very quick to make sure we were taken care of. Overall, we will come back to stay at the Reef and we highly recommend it to others. With only 200 rooms, you get the resort amenaties without the hassle of staying at a Big resort. A few things we would suggest the Reef do to improve: Offer a little higher quality beer, eliminate the sales pitch by the concierge (annoying when we're on vacation to get away from a that garbage) and improve/include wi-fi service.

  • Stayed: April 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank kschayltz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReefPlayacarResort, Director of Sales at The Reef Playacar, responded to this reviewResponded April 12, 2013

We would like to thank you for your fantastic review. We are very happy you and your wife enjoyed your vacation with us. We appreciate your comments regarding the hotel, the pools, the food, the restaurants and wonderful staff. We will share your special thanks with Abraham and Hector
Thanks to reviews like yours we have been able to get the Certificate of Excellence 2012 from Tripadvisor
We offer special rates to our returning guests, so if you plan to come back, let us know directly! We are looking forward to welcoming you once more.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013

If you can get past needed any help this is a great hotel. The location, size and facilities are perfect. And we had some great experiences with a few of the people in the restaurants . . but other than that the staff is very poor. If you are fine waiting on yourself and don't want to be bothered by anyone asking to help you this is a great place.

The rooms were nice, the pool good and the beach fantastic. But probably the best part was the dive shop. They are on the hotel property, but not really affiliated with the hotel. It shows because the team there is absolutely fantastic and really care about ensuring you have fun.

Room Tip: I would buy the second level of the all inclusive package. It gets better food and the newer remold...
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank robbp826
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReefPlayacarResort, Director of Sales at The Reef Playacar, responded to this reviewResponded April 23, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to write a review of your recent stay at our Resort. We are very happy to know that you had a good vacation at our resort!

We appreciate your comments regarding the good location, the beach, the pool and the dive shop.

We would like to apologize on behalf of the hotel for the inconveniences you experienced with our staff and we discuss this matter with the involved departments.

We offer special rates to our returning guests, so if you plan to come back, let us know directly! We are looking forward to welcoming you once more

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2013

I was staying in a home rental next door to Reef Playacar that included access to the Reef as part of the cost of our stay. So I was not a guest of the resort, but spent time there over the course of a week and wanted to review what I experienced.

First of all, because the quality of the gym facilities are so important to me when I travel and I often have a hard time finding information on them when I search reviews, I want to write about this gym. In a word, TERRIBLE. It is tiny, with only two treadmills from the stone age, one elliptical, and one weight center with one barbell. No room or mats for floor exercises, core work or stretching. Adding insult to injury, much of the precious little room is taken up by some sort of indoor jungle that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It was definitely a new problem to have – trying to avoid getting multiple mosquito bites as I worked out – they were everywhere! The only good thing is that the road around the Playacar neighborhood is on is exactly 3.5 mile loop, so you can run on that or the beach. Because the gym is worthless.

Otherwise, every time we came to attempt to use the facilities as we had the right to, we alternately encountered unfriendly desk staff who would only allow four of us to enter despite the fact that there are 6 of us in the family, a really aggressive timeshare pitch (that they of course insisted was NOT a timeshare pitch) wherein they repeatedly tried to get us to give them our credit cards, the more the better, and one time made us wait 25 minutes in the lobby for the gym to open at 9 AM (obviously before I’d been there and knew better than to go again), and when I pointed out that their literature showed the hours as being 7 AM open, they told us “no that’s wrong” but when we went to the gym at 9, it had indeed been open since 7.

Finally, the tiki hut bar at the front of the hotel blasts music into the wee hours of the morning making it difficult for anyone in the vicinity to get any sleep.

So again, I did not stay there, maybe the staff treats you better as a full-fledged guest, but I would certainly not recommend it based on my experience.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
3  Thank charchar399
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Reef Playacar

Address: Paseo Xaman-Ha, Ret. Sayil s/n | Fracc. Playacar, 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 Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#49 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#55 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#64 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#64 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#80 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: $159 - $429 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Reef Playacar 3.5*
Number of rooms: 196
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This boutique style all-inclusive resort is located on a beautiful white sandy beach just steps away from the famous 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico. The hotel offers all food and domestic drinks, 1 buffet restaurant, 2 a la carte restaurants, Italian & Gourmet($), snack bar, ice cream parlor, various bars including a swim up bar, 2 pools, kids club, daily activities & nightly entertainment. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Reef Playacar Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Reef Club Playacar
Reef Playacar Mexico
Reef Playacar Playa Del Carmen
The Reef Playacar Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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