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“Wonderful Honeymoon Destination - The only thing you'll hate is leaving!”

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BlueBay Grand Esmeralda
Ranked #96 of 214 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Mebane, North Carolina
Level Contributor
28 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Wonderful Honeymoon Destination - The only thing you'll hate is leaving!”
Reviewed October 21, 2009

I have seen many reviews both glorifying and demonizing this place. I have had the pleasure of staying in some of America's finest 5-star resorts and Grand Esmeralda would certainly be one of these such resorts!

I will break it down to different aspects to make your interest easier to find:

*Rooms - We stayed in a garden-view room that was on the pool-side corner of building 5, "Palenque". The view from inside the room itself was of the rest of the resort, but when you stepped out onto the good-sized balcony you had a full view of the large pool and Caribbean. The room itself was small to medium sized by American 5-star standards, but medium to large by most international standards (about the same size of US travel hotel rooms such as in DoubleTree). The bed was exceptionally comfortable and the bed linens were very good (but not quite great) quality. The bathroom was on-par in terms of size and quality with American high-rated hotels. The towels were okay - neither poor nor great. Room amenities such as air conditioning (very cool and reasonably quiet, but not silent), ceiling fan (excellent Hunter brand), flat-panel TV (It was fun watching TV in Spanish, or sometimes in English with Spanish Subtitles), private safe, hair dryer (very high power unlike most hotel dryers), expansive closet space, dual-head shower and stocked mini-fridge (soda and beer) were all very good to excellent. The lighting was very good with a combination of fluorescent and incandescent bulbs and dimmer switch. There was a mild hint of mustiness in the room - probably from the extreme humidity. My wife and I both have allergies, but had no problems with it. The best part though were the daily towel animals and the curtain art! Very original!!!

*Food and Beverage - Being all-inclusive can sometimes equal mediocrity, but not here! We twice ate the dinner buffet at the Festival Restaurant (no reservation required). There are different themes each night - we enjoyed the Mexican and the Seafood nights thoroughly! Service at this location was actually good for a self-serve buffet - our wine and water (btw, the ice and water are *safe* here b/c it is all from filtered and bottled sources) never got too low! The other dinners we had were at the reservation-only sit-down restaurants. Reservations were not hard to obtain (a concierge was at each building as well as at the lobby) and available seating times were generally good until around noon. Only two choices were available on any given night. We enjoyed: Seafood (excellent food, excellent presentation, good service); French (excellent food, excellent presentation, excellent service); Steakhouse (very good food, good presentation, very good service); and Italian (excellent food, very good presentation, excellent service). We did not eat at either the Mexican or the Asian Restaurants. Breakfast and Lunch were at Jaal-Ha by the Caribbean's edge every day. Both had an excellent variety of local cuisine and a few choices of popular international dishes including an Omelet bar at breakfast and a Burger grill at lunch. The bars were each very good. The swing bar was by far the best in overall atmosphere and service (Irving was an awesome barkeep!). The pool bar was very fast and had no problem serving the drinks 'con mucho Bacardi'. The poolside service was so good that it almost made up for the lack of a swim-up bar. The sports bar was great for a cold cerveza in the shade and also had very good service. I can recommend the Mexican house white wines, but not so much the house red. The Mexican Sparkling wines are also good.

*Facility - As most have noted on here, this resort does indeed sprawl a bit. I am not a daily gym attendee, yet had no problem walking around the resort. At most it takes 5 minutes from the pool/beach to the lobby. Golfcarts usually were on the path and would always stop to pick you up unless full (the best crewmember at the facility was a driver/bellman named Jesus - great guy!). The gym looked great, clean and was nicely air conditioned. The spa was nice to look at, but hardly worth the resort prices. The grounds were well-kept and were manicured daily. The lobby was spacious and very inviting. Check-in was immediate and our room assignment was exactly as-booked. Lines did look to get long right at 3:00pm, but seemed to clear out very quickly. The stores at the resort had a fair selection and reasonable prices on sunglasses and clothing. Toiletries and sunscreen looked a bit pricey but not outright gouging like seen at some resorts (think, airport prices). The shows did look exceptionally lame. We watched a practice for the Michael Jackson tribute and everything from the stage effects to the choreography looked like a Junior High skit - so, just go to the 24-hour swing bar by the sea and enjoy some Don Jose Tequila! The poolside activities were fun (too bad I was just a spectator for the in-pool kayak race!) and the crewmembers recruiting folks to join in were encouraging without being too pushy. The pool itself was simply amazing. It is 4-ft deep and about 80-degrees. There are also lounge chairs that sit in the 1-foot deep section next to the 4-ft area. That was a great touch! The sea was a sight to behold. The water color changed from a darker greenish color near the shore to lighter shades of green, to pale blue to deep indigo. The waterline at about half of the resort was very soft with silt and seaweed with rough coral mixed in. But at the north-end of the resort the waterline was more typical of Caribbean experiences with a firm sandy floor and clear water. The beach was swept daily and guarded. The whole region around the resort seems to be a historic mangrove swamp and has the wildlife (and sometimes the smell in very isolated places - unnoticed in most places) to go with it. The birds and frogs sounded great while monkey-looking animals (I have no idea what they were) played near the paths and in the trees.

*Region - There were activities galore that could be booked... way more than anyone could do during a 1-week vacation! Tour operators had office hours at the resort who could book your off-site activities. I highly recommend the combined Tulum / Xel-Ha trip and the Catamaran Snorkel trip. They are not cheap, but you get what you pay for! We rode through Playa del Carmen on a return bus trip. It did not look that inviting, but it didn't look unsafe either. The resort has daily transfers to and from town for a nominal fee. The biggest issue around the region are Timeshare salespeople. These folks are *very* aggressive and are not above misrepresentation to get you to listen to their pitches. This was true at the airport first - the desk that was signed for transportation info was little more than a hand-off to the timeshare idiots. Even at the resort, we got a call one day from a person saying that we had not received a wedding gift we were entitled to, but it turned out to be just another timeshare person at the resort trying to get us to sit with them. The only other thing to note about the region is the weather. I'm used to high heat and humidity in Eastern NC from July through early September. Playa has the same sort of weather even in October. It is not unbearable, just plan on many clothing changes to account for the extra perspiration in the 95-degree, 80% humidity weather! I give the location 4/5 stars mostly because it is so far from all the regional attractions. Plan on over an hour to get to Tulum, Xel-Ha, and other Southern Riviera Maya destinations; over three hours to get to Chichen Itza.

*Culture/Language - I do not travel internationally to see or hear what I could experience in the US. As such, I try my best to respect the host nation. Mexico was a wonderful host! English was spoken reasonably well by most major service-providers at the resort. They were very helpful and understanding of my limited Spanish. Off-site, English of course was less prevalent. But by simply trying some Spanish, I usually had successful communication. The Mexican people seemed to be a very proud people who were eager to please visitors, and were very patient with even the crabbiest of the ignoble tourists who sometimes could be found.

*Overall - In sum, this resort and venue are wonderful. One problem any resort has is getting, then maintaining a 5-star rating. It almost seems a curse because 5-star in American society is equated with unfailing perfection. If you are expecting superhuman perfection, then no this is not a 5-star resort. I've never been to a 5-star if that is the criteria (Greenbrier, etc). But if near perfection in a relatively exotic location is your idea of a relaxing, luxurious holiday then you will not be let down by Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank LeebytheSea35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2009

Having read previous negative reviews about this hotel i was a bit apprehensive about coming here. Why do people write this rubbish.
We stayed in Block Uxmal & had a view looking onto the mangroves with some fantstic sights of the wildlife. The room was immaculate, as was the whole comlex with staff cleaning round the clock. Our building was right next to the huge pool. the minibar was well stocked as if you really needed it.
The pool area was lovely with plenty of beds as was the beach.
The annimation team were good fun but never forced you into anything you didnt want to do.
The bars were good though some of the drinks were watered down a bit, but thats a minor thing. Least favourite bar was the Sports bar- not enough staff. The Beach bar a night was good whereyou could sit with a coctail & watch the stars in the clear sky or the crabs running across the sand. My favourite though was the Swing bar in the evening where you were allways asked
TEQUILLA? Si Senor.
The food in both buffet resteraunts was excellent with something for everyones tastebuds. We went to the French, Italian, Mexican & Seafood a la cartes & the food was well presented & delicious. also your glass was never empty in any of them.
Went to Chichen Itza & found it very educational & value for money. Coco Bongo Nightclub in Playa del Carmen a must for adults of any age, not your normal nightclub.
Would we come back again? YES. Just ignore those awful negative reviews!!!

  • Liked — The great food
  • Disliked — The service at the bar in the Sports Bar
  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank DaveTheJock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2009

Food was very Americanized if that's what you're into when traveling to another country. Brand name booze. Everything at this resort was top notch. Rooms, washrooms, mini bar, safe were all excellent. Pools were nice, staff was good also. Golf carts to get around the resort. Free 24 hours room service when we were there. Spa was a bit pricey.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank GardenCityPaul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St.Albert
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 12, 2009

The service including room service, table waiting, drink serving was excellent. Other reviews that I read said the drinks that were served were weak, well if you thought so all you have to do is ask for a shooter of what ever you were drinking and they would give it to you, and if you asked for the good stuff that was not a problem. My only complaint would be that the room service on occasion would leave the balcony door open.
The rooms were kept very clean fridges stocked every day and what ever mess was made at night by the wife's friends was cleaned up like nothing happened.
There are a few shops on the resort and the prices are comparable with 5th avenue but you must go the Playa Del Carmen for the 5th ave experience.
Here I have to bend a rule about writing reviews and that is we found a Taxi drive that was fantastic. He spoke very good English, he knew where the deals were, the short cuts were, suggested and arranged for our day trips, made arrangements for a larger van as we were 8 people, and even went into a store to straighten out a purchase that one of the ladies had made, as she was charged to much.
His name is Manuel Rodriguez M. his cell is [--] he will look after you.
Manuel if you rear this we are coming back in January, hope to see the pics of your new girl.
Location of the hotel is great. It is close to where the PGA Mayakoba golf classic is held, that is a must!!!
We had hear of lots of mosquitoes, well not when we were there, may be one or to bits at night that was it.
Great place to go, and would go back!

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank JohnSt_Albert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed October 12, 2009

I have just returned from this resort yesterday, all the staff are great, they want to help, play with kids. The rooms are quite basic for a 5 star rating, food was not bad but not 5 star again, the theme restaurant where not very good, the buffet was pretty good actually. POOLS are big ans roomy. I would still recommend at a bargain price. Otherwhise I have seen a lot better 5 star like the RIU. Thank you BUT YOU MUST GO AT XCARET, its amazing

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Martmtl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
pitssburgh
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 10, 2009

My wife & I just returned from five days down there with friends. We had a great time. Room, food, entertainment, pool & beach were incredible! The alcohol is watered down, but that's a blessing in disguise when your drinking at noon. Just ask for a double. If you want to take an excursion, walk down the beach to the left. The first pier you come to, you'll find Dolphino. He is licensed, honest, & he'll give you a better price. We used him for a snorkeling trip to Cozumel. Don't take the cab to Playa. They have a shuttle that runs form the hotel for 40 pesos (apx. $3). Coming back from Playa the cab was 140 pesos ( apx. $10).
We can't say enough about the staff. Waitors, bus boys, maids, clerks, etc. were always smiling & friendly. The nightly entertainment was excellent. We can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank sgpitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Staten Island, NY
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 10, 2009

The hotel room had a good atmosphere. The property was sprawling, you get around by a cart that fits approx. 10 people and they come frequent enough about every 10 to 15 minutes. The staff was friendly and helpful, not all spoke English but most did. I recommend that when you first know what room number you are staying, to reserve seating at the restaurants. The restaurants are mostly good with the French being our favorite. You can order from room menu, had a good amount choices including deserts, it is 24 hrs. The pool was clean and one of the best out there, with more than enough room to swim around, and plenty of beach chairs to find a place you like to settle. The beach water wasn't blue though, the water was rather brown from the sand/floor. Go to 5th Ave for souvenirs and such. Spa prices were on the high side so we skipped that being that we were from NYC where we get spa treatments for a much better price. Def a good price for a 4 star hotel.

  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Dz1881
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
#53 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#56 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#66 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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