We returned from a very relaxing week at the Grand Sunset Princess. If you are looking for a great all inclusive get away, you can't go wrong here!
Let me start with the tour operator, Sunwing. Very impressed with all aspects of their service. Unfortunately our departure was delayed, but thru their website we knew that the night before we left so were able to adjust our timing to the airport accordingly. Last year with Sky Service we didn't get the same info and as a result arrived at the airport hours too early. The flight was good, reasonable room in the seats (I'm 5'11' 200lbs). (One thing I did do I'm not certain I would do again is use their pre-seat selection. Cost us $15/seat each way which totalled $120. Seemed like the check in counter did a good job of keeping families seated together). On arrival at the Cancun airport, Sunwing reps were very visible and helped us get to the correct bus quickly (note: if anyone other than an orange-shirted Sunwing rep offers to help you with your bags, they are NOT with Sunwing and will expect a tip. The walk isn't that far so suggest you just haul your own bags). Once on the bus they continued to feed us info, as well as offer some cervezas ($3 ea). They have a full time office at the resort and were always available to provide info or help if needed. Their office has 2 computers that can ge used by Sunwing guests for free internet access, 15 min per day. Anyway 2 thumbs up to Sunwing!!
The resort is beautiful and immaculate. Clean clean clean and very new! The lobby is very impressive and has a nice bar, where you can enjoy a refreshment while the warm breezes waft through. Also in the main building are the buffet restaurants, shops and a Sports Bar. As we were late getting in the first evening, the Sports Bar was welcomed as it is 24 hr and serves hamburgers, hot dogs and natchos. Our 2 boys (13 and 11) loved this place ( a guy's paradise our 11 yr old called it!)....sports on TV, foosball, pool, food and drinks anytime you want. What's not to like?
A note that the Sunset Princess is one half of a double resort, the other halg called the Riveria Princess. I wandered over one day and didn't see any obvious differences, other than they are mirror image. You may want to ask your travel agent if there are any reasons to pick one over the other.
Many pools to choose from, although some of them are adult only. However the family pools were more than enough to keep us happy. We typically hung out at the "party" pool, where the staff were always organizing something like water polo, water aerobics, dancing etc. Swim up bar provided great service.
Rooms are nice. We had a junior suite and they upgraded us at check in to a jacuzzi room. The shower floor tiles weren't quite level and sometimes water would seep into the main bathroom and toilet area. Not a big deal but we tended to use towels up in a hurry sopping water up. But turn down service typically offered additional towels if needed. Our schedule often had us in our rooms when the maid came around so we didn't always get the full turndown, but one night we came back to a nicely arranged room...the boys got a kick out of it. Only complaint I would have about the room was the beds were hard. Good excuse to get up early and not waste the day....
Beach is very pretty and also has a bar and massage tables. Just before you leave the resort area to the beach is an barbeque where they cook up burgers and dogs. The weather was a bit unstable when we were there so that might have contributed to the fairly rough surf. Anyway our boys prefer the pool for the most part so we didn't spend much time at the beach. However I would say that comments I've seen that the beach isn't up to par are off the mark in my opinion. The beach is pretty nice.
As far as food, we really made good use of the buffet, especially breakfast. Lots of variety and fresh fruit and vegetables. For dinner we normally went to an a la carte, as when they upgraded us at check in they allowed as many a la cartes as we wanted...you do need to reserve 1 day in advance, but you can only book 2 days in advance. We enjoyed these restaurants well enough, but felt they lacked a bit of unique ambience. We tried the Mexican (La Hacienda), Italian (Mamma Mia), Grill (Vaqueria) and the Swiss (Fondue), kind of in order of preference. Anyway we ate too much over the week so I guess we generally approved of the food!!
The booze well there's lots of it but it's the somewhat watered down all inclusive variety. One fellow I met stayed in the Platinum section and mentioned the rum in the room was 33% rather than the 40% we are used to. I suspect some of us "gringo's" have behaved poorly when presented with endless booze and sun, and this helps manage that poor behaviour somewhat. In a large resort I can't say we saw any examples of excess intoxication. So maybe this is a good thing? The local wine offered at dinner wasn't that spectacular but imported wine is available at extra cost if this is a big deal.
Tours can be arranged through Sunwing, however based on a recommendation from my brother-in-law we booked our own excursion before we left through Edventures Tours (they can be found on line). We packed all this in one day: Tulum ruins, zipline, cenote swim and cliff dive, cave snorkle (kind of spooky but very cool) beach lunch (cost extra), snorkle with sea turtles and finally snorkle in a lagoon aquarium. We were pretty bagged at the end of the day but wow it was fun! Our guides, Enrique (aka Avatar) and Gigo were great. Ask for them if you go this route!! You won't be disappointed. Most tours we saw had large groups but we were with one other family...9 in all. I think this really added to our experience.
There is a free daily shuttle that will take you to Playa del Carmen, but we found the schedule didn't work for us on the days we wanted to go, so we went by taxi...suggested to be a $13US fare. I usually gave a $200 peso note ($18CDN) and the drivers were happy. Play del Carmen is nice with a variety of shops and restaurants along 5th Ave, which is the tourist street. We found it a bit pricey. However a cab driver showed us the "Mexican" downtown and advised there were lots of good clean restaurants and stores at much better prices. Playa seems like a safe place so next time that's what I'm going to do. Playa del Carmen according to a driver is about 400,000 people.
Final comment on the resort is on the staff at the Sunset Princess. EXCELLENT. Very friendly and most spoke good English. We tried to use our limited Spanish whenever possible (please, thank you, good morning/evening etc) and this was always welcomed with a smile and occasionally some tips on other phrases. We tipped regularly but they were always well earned tips. The staff really added to our enjoyment.
A further comment on tips. Make sure you come prepared with US 1 dollar bills or $20 peso notes (approx $2 CDN). Getting anything smaller than a $50 peso note at the resort was difficult so this would mean you are handing out $5CDN everytime you tip. In my opinion that wasn't always needed and it added up quickly.
Anyway to sum it all up, if you come to the Grand Sunset Princess you will not be disappointed!
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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