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Reviewed April 16, 2019

This was our first time to the Caribbean side. Hotel was lovely, though a little 'shiny' for my liking- I'm a bit partial to the more authentic and rough around the edges types of places :) My only complaints about the room itself are the same as I have for every hotel: 1) if a room has a shower without a tub, please put in a ledge! Do you know how hard it is to shave your legs with one leg propped up on the wall? Very precarious. Deadly situation. 2) the sink area was poorly lit. In this case, with dark cabinets behind me, doing my (dark) hair every day was a crapshoot- no idea what I looked like. Probably a good thing. 3) the pillows were way too big and puffy. I like a flat-ish squishy pillow. Maybe hotels should offer 2 types? I slept without a pillow, which was fine, but a good pillow would be preferred. (Mattress was very comfy.)
We had a swim-up room which was lovely but very intimate. I.e., you really can't avoid the people in the rooms around you, which can be a good or a bad thing. The main pool was party city- I guess it would be ideal if you're single and looking for a hook-up. To be honest, it made my skin itch just walking past. Not my bag. We'd requested a quiet room prior to arriving and were happily granted one.
Service was great from everyone- couldn't pass an employee without receiving a friendly 'hola' and the staff were constantly cleaning everywhere. Drink service to the swim-up rooms is a bit slow as they have a lot of ground to cover- sometimes would take half an hour to see someone, sometimes longer than an hour. Best bet is to order more than one at a time. Buffet staff were incredibly attentive- I've never been to a resort where they're so present and helpful. We really liked Hector at the pasta bar. The man the next night was equally as good, just not quite as jovial. (Not a problem- different personalities- we just enjoy jovial :) Also buffet servers Guillermo and Armando were lovely. They honestly all were- hard to single any out. Oh- and the hostesses were great! Don't forget to tip them too!
Now to the important part- is this a good resort for vegans? I'd give it a 3.5/10. To be honest, I was expecting much worse.
There's a pasta station at the buffet each evening- none of the sauces are vegan but you can just get garlic oil. This is very tasty but quite oily (use the bread to sop up the little puddle of oil that's left behind:). There's a salad bar with oil and vinegar as well as fries, chips, salsas and fruit.There's also a variety of breads and sometimes hash browns for breakfast. This sounds like a decent amount but does get repetitive after a few days. Also, there would be little signs saying that stars beside items denoted certain inclusions (milk, cheese, gluten, pork, chicken etc.) but then you'd find an item without a star that clearly contained one (cheese on the chilaquiles, for example). Approaching this trip I was super excited to eat corn tortillas with beans and salsa every day, but I did not see one corn tortilla this whole trip. They used flour tortillas (probably thinking they'd appease the westerners) and even those were often stuffed with or wrapped around a meat product (my husband accidentally ate a tortilla that was folded over and had a bit of chorizo inside, but not enough that you could easily see it. He was super upset when he realized it.)
The churros are just flour, water, sugar and cinnamon so definitely indulge if you find those (which, sadly, we only did once). Also, AMAZINGLY, the lobby bar carries soy milk! I had a couple of soy lattes and they were delicious. (Side-note, one evening we went to get one and the bartender (who seemed preoccupied) said they just had regular milk. My husband went back 30 minutes later to ask someone else and she pulled out a drawer filled with soy milk. So be (politely) persistent, I'd say.)
If you're into going off-resort, Playa del Carmen has a very decent vegan scene, with 10 entirely vegan restaurants on happycow. We went to The Pitted Date twice and it was SO good. We recommend the bagelwhich and the breakfast burrito, especially. You can take a shuttle to and from PdC many times throughout the day for $4 USD or 50 pesos (each way). If you go at 9 you can come back at 11:30. By the time they drop you off and you walk to The Pitted Date, eat, and walk back down 5th ave to the pick up location, 11:30 is just about perfect. Also, a taxi one-way was $20 USD or $300 pesos, which didn't seem outrageous to us. (Nothing was denoted in Canadian dollars but we had exchanged for pesos at our bank before we left.)
We saw geckos, iguanas, and zillions of coaties (pronounced co-ah-tee- we checked) which were super cute, kinda like a red panda. Lots of greenery and birds and flowers. Very lovely looking resort. Adults only (YAY).
About the AC, many reviews complain about the setting going no lower than 22. This is true, but still, somehow, I was cold the first night and had to turn it off. From that night on we left it on and it was perfectly comfortable. Everyone else we spoke to said the same, so maybe don't let that scare you too much. Also, true to the comments, the beach was LOADED with sea weed. No worries- just walk a couple minutes down and you're fine :)
I'd recommend this place. I might not go there again, but I like variety. It was lovely.
PS- the molded lounge chairs in the swim-up rooms were a lovely, fancy idea but are not at all functional. You can lie in one position only, and good luck rolling onto your front!

Room tip: Call ahead to request a 'quiet' room if you're not keen on party noise.
Date of stay: April 2019
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
4  Thank Driddel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2019 via mobile

Spent 5 days at this resort. Overall it was good but far from great.

Pros:

Large very clean room
Most staff is very friendly (but some language barriers)
Very quiet relaxing pools (except main pool)
Tao Restaurant - very tasty and quite entertaining.
Resort is very clean overall
Prompt service overall

Cons:

Beach and Ocean swim areas are terrible ... the seaweed problem is extreme. The beach area smells terrible.

Food quality overall was so-so, especially Rodeo and the Italian restaurant. Steaks were smothered in salt and about 1/4 in thick. Chorizo dish was terrible.

Buffet was ok but not up to their proclaimed 5 star rating. Food quality was average. Very slow to refill empty buffet dishes ... especially at breakfast.

LOT’S of people smoking in the main pool (constantly) with no regard for non smokers.

Alcohol selection was mediocre/mid quality at best. No premium liquor anywhere... even at an additional cost.

Internet signal was intermittent for a couple days.

Overall, we had an enjoyable stay but will go elsewhere next time ... likely another carribean cruise with higher quality food and beverage and access to better beaches on port days.

Date of stay: April 2019
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Thank bradh888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2019

Our Visit: April 6th to the 13th.

This hotel is absolutely stunning and cannot for the life of me understand the negative reviews. My boyfriend and I just wanted a nice calm vacation so we can relax and enjoy our anniversary. Our travel agent booked us one of the swimout suites in a secluded sunny area and it was absolutely stunning. Close enough to the main pool incase we felt like partying a little but just around the corner so we could also have some quiet relaxing time if we didn't feel like partying it up. If you plan on booking a swim out suite, be sure to ask for what you are looking for. If you do not want to be directly facing the party pool you might want to specify that in your booking. But we would have been happy either way.

The hotel was so clean and beautiful, the staff worked extremely hard making sure the entire grounds was spotless. Our maid was great although I regret I do not remember her name.

Honestly, the entire staff at this resort is so kind and helpful and extremely friendly. From the front desk to the maids and servers, we did not have a single bad encounter.

The food... my lord, we ate like royalty for the entire week. We had breakfast everyday at the buffet. Very standard breakfast foods so everything was great and we had mimosas every day for breakfast which really started our day off right. The buffet was not busy at all at any point of the trip which was great. And after breakfast we would head over to the main lobby bar for a latte and americano coffee to take back to the room and enjoy in our outdoor lounge area. Lunch we did every day at the buffet also, whether it was fresh served tacos or their enormous burgers, everything was so flavourful and delicious. I had the hotdogs once and was not a big fan but thankfully there are plenty other options. One of the days they had a rotisserie steak for tacos.. to die for! they were so delicious!!

The restaurants: You do not need a reservation which is great. Only for Tao you have to show up around 6 to reserve for that day which is super fast and easy so no big deal. out of 5 restaurants we went to 3 of them (twice for all 3). One of them (SKYLIGHT i believe is the name) is not part of the all-inclusive so you have to pay, we decided to opt out of that one. The other which was AROMA, we did not go to this one as it was mostly sea-food and my boyfriend is allergic. RODEO GRILL - amazing service and delicious food. the guac to start is delicious. Had the cheese and chorizo fondue as an app as well as the tacos - both delicious. And then the beef main and shrimp for myself.. both were soooo flavourful and incredible. BRUSCHETTA - the pasta dishes and chicken parm are delicious. TAO - suchhhhhh an amazing time, great show and even better food. Brought my own bottle of wine one of the days and they were so helpful, and kind.

Right in between the restaurants bruchetta and tao there is a bar area and let me tell you.. this bartender ABNER JUAREZ was one of the best Master Bartenders I have met in quite some time. I would always start my night off with an amaretto sour at his bar and would give him free reign for the rest of the night and every single drink he made me was absolutely incredible. I would compare him to the master bartenders in Ireland at the Jameson factory, that is how good he is. And all the drinks were made with fresh ingredients and jsut blended to perfection. If you come to this resort you have to stop by and have him make you a drink.

Beach was small and there is a seaweed problem but we kenw this before coming and I'm more of a pool person anyways so it didn't really bother me at all. And the staff works hard to try and clear the seaweed.

Visited the connecting resorts. Obviously there were alot of kids as this is not an adults only so I can't complain. Went to the sports bar on a rainy day and played some pool which was nice. Did not spend much time over there though. And concierge did mention that if we wanted to go to one of their restaurants to jsut let them know and they would make us a reservation. We did not do that however as we could not imagine the food over there being better than at our resort.

would 1000% recommend this hotel to every one I know. Such a great experience and I'm already dying to go back. Thank you to the staff for such a wonderful week!

Room tip: just ask if you prefer a quiet room away from the main pool or one right infront of it if you are there to party!
Date of stay: April 2019
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Ceecee514
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2019

Overall, we’d rate this resort as 3.9/5. There are so many reviews that I thought it might be more useful to just cover some tips:

Tennis – one of the key reasons we chose this resort (and the same was apparently true of a number of people we met) was the number/quality of tennis courts, and the tennis pro, Luis. Our daily tennis lessons (free btw) from 9-10 were truly a highlight. Luis is a great guy and the classes varied from 8 people to 2 depending on the day. The club has very decent racquets and balls, face towels and bottled water. Tip: We didn’t bring our request because we figured they’d have good equipment – which they did. But if you want to play before 9 am, you have to bring your own as the clubhouse is locked up. It’s so hot, you probably don’t want to play after 10, though some people do. Btw, it truly is about a 7-10 min walk to the tennis courts, depending on which building your room is in.

Lobby & concierge – the lobby we checked into was on the left – there is another one on the right, but somehow it looked “off limits” or like one of those time share type places. Tip: It’s not – so feel free to use it. Better still, we only found out near the end that there are 2 concierges who sit behind the wall in the lobby on the right – they are awesome. We needed urgent medications for “GI issues” and they were able to procure me prescription medication without a prescription and they didn’t rip us off. It only cost $10 US. When I would have paid $100 I was pretty impressed that they were super decent about our situation.

Food – Ok, here’s the truth from our perspective. The resort itself (ie rooms, maintained grounds, overall infrastructure) is a 5 for sure! Which was why we were a bit disappointed that the food was a 4. Truly, it was good. It just wasn’t fabulous. And I kind of expected fabulous at a 5 star resort, because we’ve experienced that at other 5 star resorts. Tip: Ourselves and others rated the restaurants from best as: 1) Japanese Tepanyaki place (though the experience is highly dependent on who else sits at your table) 2) Rodeo Grill steak place 3) Aroma 4) Italian (pretty bland). Overall, the buffet is quite good and the only place for breakfast. For lunch, there is also a grill on the beach which is quite good (burgers, fries, etc.). Sky Lights you have to pay extra for but honestly, we never saw anyone go in there – we walked around and it looked lovely, but we had no desire to pay extra at an all-inclusive resort with so many other restaurants.

Rooms – The rooms were actually huge and fabulous. Tip: The pools directly in front of the “swim-up” rooms are significantly colder than the main pool. So if you’re like me and like warmer water, it may not be worth paying extra when the main pool is warmer, and frankly, more fun. Also, we noticed a lot of people on the lower levels (swim-up level) were smokers and kind of hung out outside their rooms – which I totally get, but if you’re a non-smoker, you may be safer with a room on the 2nd level.

Activities – Tip: Do yourself a favour and take the time to walk over to the activities area (2 mins before the tennis courts) and try some of the cool things you don’t normally get to try. We shot air rifles, hit baseballs in a batting cage and tried archery – it’s a nice break from just lying by the pool and offers some great photo ops! The young ladies there do a great job. Unfortunately, when we were there, the lagoon was closed, which was disappointing as we had been looking forward to paddleboarding.

Beach – As others have written, the beach kind of sucks. It’s very narrow so not really great for walking along. Tip: If you go right instead of left at the end of the bridge, the beach at the next hotel is much better and offers a much more appealing experience for those who like beaches and ocean swimming.

Hidden gem area – Tip: right outside the buffet area, there are some lovely sofas and tables – it’s a great place with a wonderful breeze to hang out in the warm evenings.

5th Avenue shopping - the hotel offers shuttle service to and from on a fixed schedule (I think buses leave at 9, 11, 1 and 4 pm from the hotel). It's about 30 mins door to door. It costs $4US per person each way. Tip: Someone told us that if you're with Air Canada Vacations (which we were) this is included for free! But no one told us. So probably worth asking your onsite travel associate if your package includes this.

Gym - Tip: The gym is actually pretty great and the hotel website doesn't do it justice.

Room tip: If you're a non-smoker, you may prefer a room on the 2nd level
Date of stay: April 2019
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank Lysa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2019 via mobile

Nice resort clean grounds comfortable beds. Food was okay you won't go hungry. Night life needs some work.Pretty quite. I was expecting more for an adult's only resort. Staff is friendly. The beach is horrible so if you enjoy the pool you will be okay. I would reccomend the Platinum suites on the more quiet side. The Rodeo restaurant was excellent. The buffet is repetitive.

Date of stay: April 2019
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Thank Joyce H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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