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El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel
Ranked #32 of 213 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Ft Washington, PA
Level Contributor
26 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
“Depends on what you want...”
Reviewed January 26, 2012

This is a very belated review since our family of five (children aged 8, 9, and 10) stayed at El Taj Oceanfront last Feb. This was our first trip to Mexico, and we LOVED it. The weather was picture perfect, the food fabulous (since we ate all up and down 5th Ave), and our 2 BR condo at El Taj was spotless, spacious, and even luxurious. The photos on this site are very accurate when it comes to the condo. The pools were very nice, both the oceanfront one and the beachside one (which is just across a narrow little street, really an alley). Our kids loved both.

I know this is a review of the hotel, but what probably stands out the most from our trip, at least in my mind, were our snorkeling excursions to Tulum, Akumal, and Yal Kul lagoon (use Edventure Tours--awesome--and definitely pay for their photo services), and swimming with the dolphins at the Dolphinarium. But it was always wonderful to return "home" to El Taj.

Pros:

*It was so much fun to just walk to Fifth Avenue, just around the corner -- so many awesome restaurants, cute gift shops, and great mariachi bands wondering about, ready to play for your pleasure. No cars on the Avenue, just pedestrians.

*The cute little beachfront restaurant (our stay included breakfast there) was very good. They have beach service, so I had a steady supply of margaritas any time I wanted. We ordered lunch on the beach on some days, and everyone enjoyed the food.

*The units, as mentioned above, are clean and comfortable and very nicely appointed. Get one with a jacuzzi if you can.

Cons:

*The oceanfront condos are built in the shape of a U. Our unit was towards the back of the building, near the beachside units, near Fifth Avenue. And since Fifth Avenue is literally around the corner, the music from the nightclubs blasted all night long, right into our sleep. We had to wear ear plugs every night. With ear plugs, we were fine and got plenty of rest, but being awakened at 12am the first night was not fun. If you want to stay here, I think it's worth paying the extra to get an oceanfront unit, right in front of the beach, far from the music.

*The beds are very hard. Apparently this is true of most beds in Mexican hotels. I'm determined to find a hotel in Tulum for our next trip that has more comfortable beds!

*This is probably my second biggest gripe -- I like to sleep in on my vacations and did NOT want to have to wake early to stake out beachfront umbrella and chairs. I SPECIFICALLY emailed El Taj to make sure this was NOT allowed here, since it is accepted practice at almost all Caribbean resorts, and I was assured that this was not permissible at El Taj. Unfortunately, money talks louder than such policies. Not only did I see with my own eyes beach employees put "reserved" signs on the best beachfront chairs for guests who had slipped them money, but one guest complained loudly to me that an employee had actually tried to kick her out of a prime chair, which she nabbed early in the morning, claiming that it was 'reserved.' I also saw another guest, right in front of others, call over an employee by name, slip him money, and tell him that he expected him to have better seats saved for him the next morning. This is all fine if it doesn't bother you, and I really don't care about it on a principled basis. I just want a relaxing vacation and good beach chairs up front where I can watch my kids, and I don't want to have to bribe people or get up at 6am to get them. I'd rather they just sell those seats so that they can be officially reserved, instead of underhandedly reserved.

*My biggest gripe is actually not about the hotel but the beach itself. I loved Playa del Carmen -- the water is blue, and the sand is soft. But as others have noted, the water right in front of El Taj is crowded with boats. Which also means more algae and debris. If you are just a sunbather, then you will be fine. But my kids and I love to swim in the ocean. I had no desire to go swimming between fishing boats, and it made me nervous to watch my kids do so. Also, there is a big drop off right where the sand meets the water, so that you can't really see your kids if they are playing near the water.

Overall, I think this is a great, fun place for hip people who don't want to be stuck at a big resort. It really is hip, and it was fun people-watching (not fellow Americans--boring--but the more flamboyant and stylish South Americans). I think it would be great for families too if the beach were better. The accommodations (minus the hard beds) were so ideal for a family--plenty of space, a full kitchen, perfect cleanliness, etc. But I won't be returning because of the beach and the beach chairs. In the end, I want a beach vacation to have an awesome beach.

Room Tip: I think it's worth paying for an oceanfront unit. No risk of being awakened by night club music...
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  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Wellesley88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Sea Cliff, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 25, 2012

This place was so beautiful ! The Balinese theme thru out the hotel was spectacular. I loved the location since I never had to get in a car, everything was a short walk. The breakfast buffet was very fresh and everything at indigo restaurant was delicious Massages at the beach for $35:00 was one of the best beach side massages I ever had. The gym offered classes all day and the equipment was top of the line. The place was so so clean ,the service was wonderful and the condos were spacious and really nice.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
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1 Thank Befitter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City, Missouri
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed January 25, 2012

We recently stayed at El Taj Oceanfront #339 for two weeks, I wish it had been four. We had friends join us for periods throughout the trip and everyone enjoyed the beachfront location, the beach club and Indigo Restaurant, the views, the staff and the wonderful things to do, right at your front door. From this unit, noise was nominal, there was a nice breeze and we could see Cozumel on the eastern horizon. This was a three bedroom, three bath unit so, we had plenty of room for our guests and their privacy. The design of this hotel is awesome, really. Architecturally, the design seems to afford most rooms a view of the ocean and the Bali inspired design seems to fit right in with the Mayan coast.

Room Tip: The unit we were in is the furtherest from the louder clubs down the beach, it has glass and views o...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Rick W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 23, 2012

Truely an incredible place to stay for the week. I went with my family for four days and I would definetly recommend it! The condos were kept really clean. The food on the beach was really tasty. The service was amazing, everyone is really nice. It's a small "boutique" hotel with the best location in Playa. I felt like I was staying in a village, everything was pleasant and intimate. It was a truly unique experience, I'm so happy with everything and I miss it so much already. Take me back to El Taj. :)

Room Tip: Two bedrooms is perfect for Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Ryden333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kelowna, Canada
Level Contributor
20 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed January 22, 2012

We stayed at El Taj for 19 days in January and were both pleased and disappointed by some of the features of this condo/hotel resort. First of all, the staff is extremely accommodating, whether you are checking in, at the beach club, or needing something from maid service. The rooms (we were in a 1 bedroom ) are nicely appointed (Bosch appliances) and very comfortable. (way too many doors in the bathroom area - it got confusing as to which door closed what). We did feel like we were in a bit of a fishbowl since anyone walking by could see us if the curtains were even open a little.
The pool is not that functional since it is does not have sun on it and there is very little space to sit around it. The 'hot tub' is not hot (is actually part of the pool so same temperature) and we noticed people only went in it once. You have to go to the beach through a little gate where you are greeted by the beach club (Indigo) staff, which is nice but it would have been nicer to just a straight path from the resort to the beach. Even though you are in a 'condo' you are not allowed any food or drink at the beach unless it is purchased at the beach club, which gets pricey and annoying when you have your own groceries and alcohol.
The beach is amazing with a never-ending stream of people to watch. With the full service at Indigo, you didn't even have to spread out your own towel (thanks Juan Carlos!). The location of this resort is premium and just a few steps from 5th Ave. Check out the Dirty Martini Bar just around the corner.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Senorasally
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bloomington, Illinois
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 21, 2012

We stayed in unit 311 and loved it! El Taj has two buildings: a beach front building and another building across the street (which is where our unit was). I would have preferred to be beach front, but we got our walking in going to and from the beach a few times each day. Also, the building we were in did not have an elevator and could be an issue for someone who does not get around well. There are tons of steps!

The unit itself was well appointed and had everything we needed. The front desk staff did an exceptional job and spoke very good English. They were always willing to help and were very friendly. There is security present 24/7 and they too are very friendly!

There are two pools. One with each building. However there is minimal seating at both pools (there is little room for seating) and neither of the pools gets good sunlight. If you love the beach and plan to spend your time there, this is a great location. If you were hoping to lay in the sun beside a pool, this wouldn't be the spot I would chose. We loved the hot tub at our building and spent a lot of time there after the sun went down.

I had a 1 hour beach massage at an adjacent property for $25 that was ok. They used drug store quality products and it was very sandy--I felt like I was getting an exfoliating treatment. I later had a 1 hour beach massage through El Taj and it was WONDERFUL! They did an excellent job and used high quality aroma therapy products and were well trained! The El Taj massage was $35 and well worth the extra $10!

This location is VERY close to the night life in Playa, which is great if your plans involve staying out until the sun comes up! If not, you'll hear everything happening at the clubs from your room (including very loud music). Keeping your windows closed does help keep the sound out, but you can still hear it. It took us a few nights to get used to that, but once we did it wasn't a bother.

We loved this property and would definitely stay there again if we could afford to. It is quite a bit more expensive than other hotels we have stayed at in Mexico, but at the same time quite a bit more luxurious. The service was outstanding and the unit was beautiful! This was our first trip to Play del Carmen (our 5th to Mexico) and I think we might have a new favorite spot!!

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank cbw35691
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
washington
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 20, 2012

We stayed in a 1 bedroom/1 bath condo at El Taj in Dec. 2011. The location was fabulous; very centrally located to 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen where there are many fabulous restaurants and great shopping. But extremely quiet at night for sleep. The staff was very helpful and service wonderful. El Taj is right on the beach, but there is always many fishing boats moored on the beach which makes water swimming a challenge. We would definitely stay here again.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank wsu78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel

Property: El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel
Address: 1 Norte Esquina Calle 14 Norte | Corner 16th Street, 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 High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#14 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#25 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#27 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 57
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Taj Condo Hotel consists of 57 spacious condos situated on 2 separate properties in front of the beach. El Taj oceanfront is directly on the beach and El Taj Beachside is across the street. Guests get to use all the on site amenities including our exclusive beach club. We offer 2 incredible heated pools. The relaxing heated pool on Beachside property is an exotic black mosaic infinity pool with an extra large Jacuzzi while the oceanfront heated pool sits right on the beach in front of our exclusive beach club. We're located in the most liveliest area of Playa that offers the convenience of having the best restaurants, nightlife and shopping within one block from your vacation home.Each Condominium offers expansive floor plans and superb finishes. The Beachside condos have private terraces that are surrounded by exotic plants, Lilly ponds and all face the pool and cascading waterfalls. All the penthouse units in El Taj Beachside feature ocean views from the private roof decks. All the oceanfront units have views of the ocean.Each condo comes with fully equipped kitchens and the finest details including flat screen TVs in all the rooms. We provide the same services usually associated with some of the finest hotels. Our designers traveled the globe to Indonesia trying to recreate an environment reminiscent to Bali. . ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Taj Oceanfront And Beachside Condo Hotel
El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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