We were five people (2 families), with two adjoining rooms. We stayed for 7 nights the last week in July.
As you can see from the other reviews this place gets about 80% favorable marks, so we were on the lookout for any negatives during our stay.
We booked through Bookit.com and received all the pertinent information via email. Bookit was very difficult to reach by phone with follow-up questions, however they were responsive to email. We had heard that it was difficult to book the a la carte restaurants, so I got the bright idea to call down a few days before we arrived. I don’t speak much Spanish, but ‘No’ sounds the same in both languages. Oh, well.
Best Day Travel handled the ground transfers, and they went off without a hitch. We found the resort to be clean and well maintained. The grounds were immaculate. Staff were constantly cleaning. Everyone was very friendly and greeted us with a smile. The rooms were clean and ready for us when we arrived, which was approx. 4 PM local time. The housekeeping staff did a great job all week, and provided extra towels every day. (We used the extra towels for the bathroom floor, which tends to be slippery.) We never noticed a musty or moldy smell in the rooms like a couple of the other reviewers, but I will say that the place was never really dry. The AC was running 24/7. Daytime temps were high 80’s, but with close to 100% humidity. Bathing suits hung in the bathroom to dry took forever. Even fresh bed sheets felt slightly damp when I first climbed into bed.
Yes, the place is pretty big, and you’re going to do a lot of walking. We also did a lot of eating and drinking so a bit of exercise wasn’t exactly a bad thing. We didn’t swim every day, but when we did we frequented the swim-up bar on the Sunset side just before you get to the beach, manned by Elias and Gaspar. There was no lack of alcohol in the drinks as far as I could tell. One member of our party did complain of a sort of ‘nutra-sweet’ aftertaste in all of the frozen drinks. She said this was no matter where in the resort she was.
We frequently ate at the buffets. The food there was good and plentiful, with a great variety of dishes. We never had to wait to be seated. You need to be at the booking desk at 2PM to book the a la carte restaurants two days ahead of time, which limits you to the buffets for the first two nights. Or so I thought. When you first check in they give you an envelope of brochures and advertisements for excursions along with (drum roll please) vouchers for your first two nights’ a la carte dinners. I didn’t find them until I was winnowing out all the unwanted junk the night before we left. The night we ate at La Vaqueria there were many empty tables and they were accepting walk-ins. We also tried Teppanyaki, the hibachi dinner/show and that was packed. Also very hot. Unlike a traditional hibachi place they would not let us order any sushi from the other side of the restaurant.
Also in your welcome packet will be a note from your Best Day representative at the resort. It will have his name and a tentative meeting time. Best Day are the people who arrange your excursions for you, in addition to your return transportation to the airport, so you need to see them if for no other reason than that. We just stopped by their desk to ask a question and ended up booking two excursions. The rep we were supposed to be assigned to was sitting at the next desk and I think he was a little miffed that we weren’t dealing with him. I think we may have unknowingly cheated him out of a commission.
We booked two activities: a ½ day dolphin swim at Dolphinaris Park, and a ½ day deep-sea fishing trip. The dolphin swim is a nice experience. http://www.dolphinaris.com/locations/riviera%20maya.aspx
I did it a couple of years ago in Cozumel, so I sat this one out and took pictures. For a set price you get three activities interacting with the dolphins. The only glitch came right at the beginning when the driver came to pick us up in an unmarked van, with no identification connecting him to the dolphin park. He stood milling around for ten minutes without calling any names until a lady asked him where he was going. He just said “dolphin” and pointed at the van. Oh. really? Hello? When were you going to mention that? When we got back I told the guys at the Best Day desk and they assured me they’d look into it.
The fishing trip was a total bummer. Didn’t catch a thing. Not one of the five boats that went out that morning was successful. Only one guy caught a nice-sized Wahoo. More on that in a minute. They really upsell these trips that you’re going to catch ‘the big ones’. Big sailfish, Marlin, Tuna, etc. Well, after the fact we found out that those fish are only really active from October through May. It’s late July, you say? Well, you may run across something worth telling stories about, or you may just sail around in circles baking in the Caribbean sun for four hours. They also tell you that you can bring your catch back to the hotel and they’ll cook it for you for dinner, or freeze it in their freezer so that you can ship it home.
Remember the guy with the Wahoo? Well they filleted it for him dockside, and he ended up with about 20 pounds of fish in a plastic bag with some ice. Which quickly melted in the heat. He got back to his resort about an hour later. Two nights after that I was talking to a couple of travel agents who were checking out resorts in the area. When I mentioned my fishing trip they told me they had run into a guy who had brought his prized catch back to his resort and they wouldn’t touch it. They refused to cook or store anything that they hadn’t procured themselves. Yup, it was Wahoo Guy.
Going into town? The hotel shuttle fills up incredibly fast, so we ended up using taxis both days we went. Please take note of the easel board near the bell station outside. It lists all the suggested prices that you should expect to pay for a taxi ride based on number of people and destination. You may be able to negotiate a better price, and don’t be bashful about trying, but you shouldn’t pay more than what’s listed.
Speaking of prices, US dollars are readily accepted, both at the resort and in town. If you pay in USD you’ll get change back in Pesos. Expect an exchange rate of an even 10/1 Pesos/USD, no matter what the official rate is. The official rate while we were there was between 12 and 13.4 to 1. You’ll get close to that from the ATMs, which are numerous. 10/1 is a little easier to figure on the fly, especially after a few adult beverages. Again don’t be afraid to negotiate on price.
The only other thing that I can think to say about Playa is that my daughter was a bit intimidated by the shop owners. They call out to you to come see what they are selling. No problem, they’re not aggressive or dangerous. It actually adds to the local flavor. Oh, speaking of flavor we ate at a tacqueria called El Fogon. I had read about it on Tripadvisor. It was fantastic! There are three El Fogons in the city. Thanks to our cab driver Jonathan for finding us the one that was open. He also gave us a good price and came back to pick us up again after we had eaten. If you are in need of a taxi call for #1277 at (044) 984 135 9201.
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Sunset Princess All Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort And Spa
- Grand Sunset Princess Hotel
- Grand Sunset Princess Review
- Grand Sunset Princess Mexico
- Grand Sunset Princess Resort
- Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico