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“Good Resort, Not a Five Star. Maybe a 4 ?”

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BlueBay Grand Esmeralda
Ranked #101 of 209 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
ottawa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Good Resort, Not a Five Star. Maybe a 4 ?”
Reviewed January 9, 2013

We just returned from 10 days at the Blue Bay in Mexico. We left on December 29 and returned January 08. The resort is big and and very clean. The service we received was prompt and efficient. The rooms were clean and never lacking any ammeneties. The mini bar was well stocked on a daily basis. Dont get a room near the elevators like we did, very noisy early in the morning as the maids and mini bar stockers prepare their products for the day and you hear carts going back and forth. The restaurants were all good. They cant all be great. My favourite was the steak house which is a must. You dont need to book all at once, you can book 1 every day, for there is no limit, since there are many restaurants and 2 Buffets to choose from. The buffets were always good. If you cant find something to eat there, you do have a problem. Since the resort is so big, they have a little shuttle train that picks you up at various stops along the route and lets you off at your destination. These trains are no more than 10 minutes apart, and very punctual. They co-ordinate each drivers destination by radio.
The downfall to this resort are, the beach is bad. it is very small, and the water is constantly dirty with ground up sea weed and dirt. It does not make for very good swimming if you are a beach lover. They blame it on the 2005 Hurricane, but 2 resorts down to the right of Blue Bay and 2 resorts to the left of Blue Bay, the water is great. Actually, if you are facing the ocean on the beach, take a walk 10 minutes to your left of the beach, and you will stumble on to an ecological lagoon where the water is crystal clear and you can swim with tropical fish. Bring a camera. This place is great for the kids. Too bad its not part of the Blue Bay. Another down fall, the bar tenders are stingy with the alcohol. You need to tell them constantly to put more alcohol. The best bartender there is Angel at the sports bar. He knows his stuff and makes the best dirty martini's for the guys and great chocolate martini's for the girls, or what ever your fancy, he is good at what he does. The entertainment at night is seriously lacking they need to do some thing about entertaining their guests, or you find yourself going to bed at 10 pm. If you get bored during the day, you can take a shuttle offered by the resort ($5.00 per person or 50 Pesos) which is 1/4 the price of a taxi and go to Playa dell Carmen. Its great for all ages, from cafe's to bars to boutiques to trincket shops it caters to all. The beaches there are beautifull, bring a bathing suit. A great get away from the resort. While in Playa dell Carmen, you can hop on a ferry and go to the island of Cozumel which is also a great place to wander around with a similar atmosphere as Playa dell Carmen. (This will cost you about $13.00 per person 1 way.) You can pay in Peso's which is $1.00 = 12 Pesos all in all we had a good time. Was it worth the money we spent for a 5 star? NO But live and learn I guess. I hope this has been helpfull to other travellers, and all in all, don't worry Mexico is safe.

Room Tip: Chose Building 5, it is closest to the beach and restaurants.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
17 Thank scarface35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Philadelphia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed January 9, 2013

We just got back from a 5 day 4 night stay. Overall experience from the hotel was - AWEFUL. If you want to experience something more cultural, good food, staff honesty, and room cleanliness, Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda resort is not for you.

1.) Bed Bugs Bed Bugs Bed Bugs:
The first 3 nights we assumed the bites were mosquito bites from when we were touring around and since we barely slept from late nights and early rises, we didn't think it came from our hotel But, on the 4th night, we slept in very late to rest. We woke up with rash like, clusters of bites all over our backs and legs!!! It completely ruined our trip being uncomfortable and ITCHY. Everything from our outings to our flight back home became miserable.

2.) Average food.
Blue Bay Grand has buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, they have several A la carte restaurants -Mexican, Italian, Asian, French, steak, sea food - and you have to make reservations a day in advance for these. Reservations for these restaurants runs out pretty quickly so you have to get to the concierge early to book. The Mexican "Don Isi" restaurant which was probably the best within the resort but terrible compared to what we tried outside the resort. The buffets were average american cuisine. We also had the Seafood and Theater show dinners - both were super long waits, cold dishes, and just average. Also, they will not take you if you are more than 15minutes late on your reservations. They seriously will refuse to seat you even if the restaurant is still serving and half empty.

I just really wish they had provided more authentic Mexican cuisine throughout the resort. We can get great american food back in the states and looked to Mexico for some real mexican food It's also not a veggie friendly place to eat and definitely not vegan friendly.

3.) Creepy Crawlers:
Our room was on the 2nd floor, garden view. The view was just a bunch of trees and bushes so we never opened our balcony doors but we constantly found these huge orange and black cockroach looking bugs. eeeeeeegh.

And finally...
4.) Dishonest maid service who goes through your stuff!!:
I was very worried about leaving my stuff in the hotel. So I put everything valuable into the safe, zipped everything up into my luggages, and specifically placed things in my luggages to see if they were touched. I came back and found that my luggage and all of its compartments were opened and rummaged through. When I told the front desk, they said to check and see if anything was missing- But nothing was missing because there was nothing of value for them to take aside from my empty bags, panties, swimwear, shoes, and toiletries! So be careful when leaving your things.

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A few things I liked about Blue Bay -
-You were always greeted with a smile and a helping hand. It seemed like that almost everywhere we went in Mexico. I like to think that it wasn't just for tips. But everyone working there was very quick to help and make you feel welcome.

-Resort grounds were very well kept. I can't say that about our room, but outside- lobby, pool, dining, and beach areas were very beautiful.

---
Sadly, I will not be returning to Blue Bay or recommending this place to anyone.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
12 Thank Bina Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grande Prairie, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
66 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2013

Its been a year since we visited Mexico for the first time and spending Christmas at BBGE with our two kids (17 and 19) was fantastic. The resort was nicely decorated and there was Christmas music playing the entire week... fabulous food with a special Christmas eve feast......the staff go out of their way to attend to your every need and are so friendly and look as though they love their jobs. We didn't get the ocean view room we had hoped for but we enjoyed the ground floor room close to the pool and the Coatis animals that entertained us. The beach/water was not superb so we didn't really swim in the ocean but we enjoyed the clean well groomed sand/palapas and the water activities included. We had the silver package with westjet which included visiting the spa (massage pools etc) twice during our stay. Beach volleyball was great fun. A trip to Xel-ha was one of the highlights as was snorkelling at Akumal bay and visiting the Tulum ruins. It was a fun filled week with fond memories and we would definitely recommend this resort to anyone. Top notch!!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
8 Thank Corry H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlottetown, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2013

We had an excellent overall experience! The food was great, rooms were very clean and the beds were comfortable.
I was a little worried after reading negative reviews about the long distance of walking from pool to pool or to the a la carte restaurants, but we have come to the conclusion those must have been written very lazy people!
The staff was terrific and made our stay very pleasant. The wedding was beautiful and hassle free, and all 30+ guests enjoyed their stays as well!
Would book again.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank h0watt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saskatchewan
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 6, 2013

There are many stairs, but I saw not one with any handrails. All your staircases need three handrails, including a center one. Several of the entrances to the resturants are very DIMLY lit. I missed seeing the single eight inch step at the French resturant, wrenched my knee. While they are at it they could fix all the parts in the spa that were not working the day we were in there. In the lobby computer lab surely they could have AT LEAST one programmed in English! Perhaps they should tighten up the liquor dispensing to minors unaccompanied by a parent?

Room Tip: Get a room AWAY from the noisy late bars!
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Dennis F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, Ontario
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2013

We enjoyed our stay at the BlueBay Grand Esmeralda, and would definitely return. The value of this resort (price point<how well-appointed the resort is=good value) is better than at many of the resorts we've stayed at in the past.

This is our 8th trip to a 4.5/5-star all-inclusive in the Caribbean. We have been to resorts in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica, and would rank our experience at the BlueBay in the Top 2 of the places we've stayed.

Your experience at any resort is going to be based on how well the resort fares in the THINGS YOU CARE ABOUT.

THINGS THAT WE CARE ABOUT: Food Quality, Drink Quality, Availability of Space by Pool/Beach, Comfort Poolside (Shade, Chairs),Views of Surroundings, Comfort of Beds, Service, WiFi, Ease of Booking A la Cartes.

THINGS THAT WE DON'T CARE ABOUT: Swimming in the Ocean, Perfect Rooms, Front Desk Help, Room Service, Excursions, Taxis, Souvenirs, Desserts, Shows, Nightlife.


While many have commented about the beach not being swimmable, or the relative murkiness of the water, we found the views of the beach from the buffet absolutely stunning. We spent three days sunning on the beach, and enjoyed the sound and the views of the ocean. When it came time to swim, we just walked to the equidistant pool and dipped in there instead.

FOOD/DRINK: We found the food and drink offerings one of the strongest elements of this resort. We stayed at the El Dorado Royale 2 years ago, which bills itself as a "gourmet 5 star", but found the food at the BlueBay much more FLAVOURFUL and FRESH.

Things We Loved: The Beer, The Sangria, the poolside service. The buffets, while smaller in scale than some other 5-star resorts, were filled only with EDIBLE items. There was no "weird meat floating in liquid options". The salad bars were filled with fresh, well-cut veggies that were stocked often. It had fewer fruits, but they were always in season and yummy.

The a la carte booking process was easy; you don't have to go to the lobby. Instead, a concierge in YOUR BUILDING will take your reservation for the next night's dinner. You don't have to plan your whole week at the beginning, and you can book as many as you like! We enjoyed the Mexican the most, and booked it again for our last evening.

The service was fast and friendly in every restaurant we dined it; one of the best places we've been for kindness and fun with the servers. They worked hard, remembered your face, and earned tips.

The sports bar is pretty low key, but has a nice menu of drink options. We found the wifi worked perfectly on our Canadian iPhones.

Things We Didn't Love: There is a weird vomit in one part of the Sports Bar.

We did think the drinks were maybe a little weak, but we sometimes just ordered a shot of vodka or a tequila to add in.

You can't order a mixed drink in the main buffet. Only wine or beer. And the main buffet is dark and completely indoors. We enjoyed the outdoor buffets at the pools better.

ROOMS: The rooms were quite nice, the cleaning was well-done, and the minibar was well-stocked each day. We received 2 bottles of tequila over our stay, one of which we brought home.

THINGS WE LOVED: The bed is super comfortable! The shower had great pressure!

THINGS WE DIDN'T LOVE: If you used the small shower head as well, it leaks water through the gap in the door onto the floor. We just used the nice rainfall overhead.

POOL: The pools were both lovely, very clean and well-maintained. Both pools had lots of chairs.

THINGS WE LOVED: The chairs in the water are wicker, and are super-comfortable. We spent the majority of days in these chairs.

The poolside drink service was regular and friendly.

THINGS WE DIDN'T LOVE: The main pool, as all main pools are, is busy and full of children having fun. We spent more time at the quieter pool.

The smaller pool is a little cold.

While there are many shelters around the pool that provide partial shade (roofs with holes in them), there are no areas around the pools that are full shade. The palapas on the beach are quite sparse as well. Make sure you stock up on sunscreen! That's just good advice for everyone--you never want to buy it at the resort if you run out.

SPA: We had a pass for a day of spending time at the spa, including the sauna and steam rooms. The facility is lovely and relaxing, and very quiet. Because we had the pass, we actually went for 2 late afternoons and one full day. We just waited for someone to ask us for the pass (;)), which they did on the third day.

THINGS WE LOVED: The comfy beds, the rooftop patio, the robes. It's a great place to spend a cloudy day, as parts of it are covered. It is also quiet, with only the sound of the waterfall, and child-free.

THINGS WE DIDN'T LOVE: The services were really overpriced ($160 massages/$100 facials). We didn't partake. The steam room was out of order. There was no alcohol allowed, only juice.

Our tropical vacations are meant for relaxation only: We don't leave the resort, we get up early, read by the pool, eat, and repeat.

I would certainly recommend this resort if your priorities are like ours.

Room Tip: Buildings 6/7/8 are close to the smaller pool/sports bar and lobby; Buildings in the 20s are closer...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank MoxieLondon_Ontario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds
Level 4 Contributor
38 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2013

Hotel looks so nice from the outside and the conceige are there to help you take the suitacases to the room. It was a great service.

The rooms were rather nice - clean but the shower tray was cracked....not much to moan about really! Towels were changes every day. Nice big bed and we had great night sleep there.

Watch out for the mozzies - they like to bite! Get something called 'Off'. It was great - the mozzies stayed clear after using this.

The food was average - quite nice in the buffet and always fresh. I was dispointed with the a la carte - again food rather average. Plus it was difficult to get into the restaurants, having to get up early to book for the following day!

I did get food poisoning and so did several oher people I made friends with on holiday - which put a really dampner on the holiday. I was out of action for 2 days and in bed, it was awful! It must have been as a result of food in the hotel....so from then on I was paranoid about what I ate in the hotel!

The location, it was 15 minutes from playa del carmen....I ususally like to get out of the resport but there was nothing about...

Playa del carmen is great - worth a visit - lots of traditional Mexican restaurants.

Evening entertainment was crap.....

Weather was hit and miss as it was Nov, just after the hurricaine season, so there was a few cloudy days and even some rain.

Overal, I did have a really good holiday!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank KPNUTS10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about BlueBay Grand Esmeralda

Property: BlueBay Grand Esmeralda
Address: Carretera Federal Chetumal- Puerto Juarez km 300 | Camino a la Pileta, 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 Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#50 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#58 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#59 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#69 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#78 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — BlueBay Grand Esmeralda 4*
Number of rooms: 979
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ideally located in an area of 445 acres in a prime position on the beach on the Riviera Maya, BlueBay Grand Esmeralda combines elegant Mayan features with contemporary design and a wide range of service to suit the most discerning traveller. BlueBay Grand Esmeralda provides a relaxed atmosphere for holiday makers. The hotel features 979 elegant and well-appointed rooms and suites with the option of a sea or garden view. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Blue Bay Esmeralda
Bluebay Grand Esmeralda Hotel
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Mayan Riviera
Grand Esmeralda
Blue Bay Grand Esmerelda
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Resort
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Beach Resort Spa
Blue Bay Esmerelda
BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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