My wife and I traveled to ASP from Orange County, CA for our honeymoon. We had a great time and are now very unhappy to be returning to work tomorrow. There were a couple hiccups througout the trip, but nothing too serious.
Before I get into the resort too mcuh, I just need to vent about the entire flu scare everyone is stressing over and how it is effecting everthing. As I am sure everyone is worried about right now, the swine flu, or H1N1 something or other flu is a concern of potential travelers to Mexico, and it is too bad that the media has blown it so out of proportion that by the end of our trip (May 4th), the entire Riviera Maya through Cancun was all but empty. We did our research and there was no issues with this supposed pandemic flu that would have kept us away. The airports are screening heavily and precautions are being taken all over so we did not feel threatened at all. Sadly, by the time we had checked out of the resort, the vacancy was beyond 90% (and rising), people were being laid off in droves and I wouldn't be suprised if the resort had to close its doors until this all blows over. The south resort, Aventura Cove Palace, was vacant of all bookings and only had its restaurants open for the north resort guests. The Sandals Playa Del Carmen had closed down while we were there (due to lack of people), restaurants in PDC were open on our initial visit to the city one day, but then closed just a couple days later when we visited again. Of the restaurants that were open, they were completely empty as there was no one there to even partially fill them.
The media frenzy over this hyped flu has completely devastated everything and it sickens me to think that 100's of thousands of locals are lossing their jobs over this whole ordeal. The las night we were at the resort, we dined at the sushi/ chinese restaurant and after 3 hours of being open, we were only the 20th and 21st guest of the night. There were more than 20 people working the dining room, polishing flatware, making sure there were no spots on the glasses, pre-bussing, or anything else they could do to show their worthiness so that they would not be the next to be axed.
OK, on to the resort.
It is about an hour's drive south of the airport. We had airport transfers included with out package but opted for a limo being it was our honeymoon. We booked a sweet super stretched Escalade for the trip and it was sooo nice. I will admit that it was serious overkill, but given the occasion, we decided to indulge.
Once arrivimg at the resort, we were greeted with an extremely attentive staff, and that same service extended thoughout our entire stay. We were offered champagne while we were being checked in and it all went very well. We were offered the Palace Premier (time share) presentation in exchange for 3000 pesos. From what I have heard, they offer you more money that older you are. I am 35, so we were at the 3000 level. Over 40 is 4000 pesos, etc. We actually had all of the perks of a member for our stay because I purchased our vacation package off of a travel agent that uses Ebay, but he is a member. As a result, we each got a manicure, pedicure, massage, unlimited use of the hydrotherapy at the spa, and a slue of other perks thoughout the resort.
Since we bought the packege from the agent, we would not have the perks if we were to return on our own, so we took the tour. I will get into the tour itslf in a little bit.
The room was nice, but I would have liked a little bigger vanity area. There was just enough area for my wife to get ready, and no room for another person. The shower was large and all the supplied toiletries were nice (so says my wife). They had Bio Silk shampoo/ conditioner/ bubble bath which I guess is a nice brand. I am a guy so I don't care either way.
There was a 2 person spa/ tub, refer stocked with beer, soda, mixers, etc. and was regularly restocked. The bed was quite comfortable and wifi worked well thoughout our stay.
There are the 2 pools, one in the north end (Aventura Spa Palace) and anoher much larger one in the south end of the property (Aventura Cove Palace). For those who don't know yet, the reesort recently split from one into two resorts. The north ASP remained the original ASP (adults only), and the South end of the property was been converted into a family friendly resort. They had just finished building a kids pool area and it was fully functional by the end of our stay. They must not be advertising the new resort yet, or the whole Swine Flu hype, because we only saw one kid at the resor the entire time we were there.
With spliting the resort into 2, they obviously kept the north end of the property adults only because of the spa, but in doing so, there are difinitely some other major drawbacks. The south end of the property was previously the "party" side of the resort. It has the much larger pool, with bigger swim up bar that includes barstools, and the night club/ disco. The disco was closed while we were there, but I am sure that was the result of the flu related vacancies. If you have ever been to a club that is not busy, then you know that it is a pretty sad scene inside. Closing it was probably a pretty good idea. Even if it was open, this isn't really the party resort so if that is what you are looking for, they I would recommend something in Playa or Cancun.
We spent the first full day at the North pool and enjoyed everything about it. Normally I wouldn't drink any foo-foo drinks, but I gave myself a pass for being on vacation there. I would recommend either a Miami Vice, or Monkey Banana. There is a full drink menu, so just look over it to see what fancies your tastes.
There are extremely nice lounge chairs down in the lagoons between the north and south resorts. They have plush padding, they lay flat, and are very comfortable. I think they may only be for the concierge level guests, but with the resort being empty, no one was regulating who used the chaises.
The snorkeling in the lagoons is ok, but the water is not too clear the first 1' below the water surface level. The logoons have are connected to the ocean through inlets. It you go into the inlets, then there is a lot more aquatic life and the water is very clear. It is much more shallow, but the clarity makes it all worhwhile. If you are at the south end of the north lagoon and go out past the roped area (but still stay to resort side of the water for safety) then you will see the best sea life. We did not use the kayaks, but they were open the whole time. There is no beach, but I am sure that is general knowledge.
The first evening we hit up the Pizza and Pasta buffet restaurant. They make the pasta fresh up for you, but sauces were all watery and it sort of killed the dinner for us. We did not go back after that. The rest of the meals were very good after this though, so we did not see a need to try this restaurant again.
We did room service for breakfast the first few days, which was nice for its concvience, but the food was much better at the restaurants. Not that the room service was bad, but the restaurants were great.
Day 2 we went to Playa Del Carmen. The highlight of this trip was a guy with 2 little monkeys who would let you hold them and take pictures for you. The mokeys were soooo cool. He would give you sunflower seeds to feed them and they would open them with there tiny hands. Each one was about 5 pounds each and words cannot explain how great the experience was. The guy and his monkeys were at the south end of 5th street. The street hooks to the right at the end and he was just past the Starbucks. I think he only wanted like $5 for the whole thing.
The shopping on 5th street was.....not that good of a deal. The prices at the hotel gift shop were actually better than those we found on 5th street in Playa. That included linen pants, little sombrero hat for gifts, jewelry, etc. I thought that surely the prices would be better in Playa, but I was wrong. Of course I didn't find this out until after we returned to the hotel and had bought a bunch of stuff. The shopping may be better off the main strip, but it is no deal on 5th.
That night we did the Italian food restaurant for dinner. The food was good to great and the outside dining was very nice. This restaurant is the first place that we had exprienced Mayan Coffee. I am so suprised that no one has ever mentioned this in any of the reviews. It is a coffee drink that is made up at your table. It uses a flamable alcohal that they ignite and they do an excellent presentation. I highly recommend it, and they serve it at all of hte restaurants that we asked for it at.
Day 3, we did a dive trip through Dive Aventuras. The shop was very professional and we had a great time. They took us to Canyon land for the first dive, and I can't remember the name of the second, but they were both great. We sam Sea Turtles, eels, blow fish, etc. The shop did all the hard work with changing tanks for us, and getting all the equipment too and from the boat.
We did the asian restaurant for dinner and had sushi. The food was, for the most part, pretty good. Some of the rolls we didn't order on our second trip, but we were impressed overall. They had hot saki, but only mexican beers to accompany it, which we were ok with.
Day 4 we did the dolphins at Primax Delphinus. We did the $159 package and were then suckered into the whole picture and video package afterwards. They don't "allow" you to bring cameras with you for the dolphins, but I just put my dive camera into my board shorts and somehow they did not see it. Even with my camera, the pics were blah at best, but the ones they offer are perfect. They have the ideal angles, camera, etc., so unless you just want to have a pic showing you did it, and don't care what they look like, then just buy the pics from them. They charge $25 each, or $159 for all the pics and the video of the experience.
We did the steak house (Mundaca?) for dinner. The steak was pretty food, but not Moton's. If it was served at a local steak house, I would definitely go there again. The restaurant was next to the kids pool, so if there were actually kids at the resort, then that would have made me a bit upset, being we booked at an "adults only" resort. On that side of the resort is also the Pizza & Pasta, La Hacienda and Sweets & Coffee Caf'e.
Day 5 we dived out of Playa Del Carmen. We used Scuba Libre for this expedition and they also did a great job, just like Dive Aventuras. They did not have as nice as a set up as Dive Aventuras, but the price was much less. DA was $218 for 2 tanks, and SL was $140 for 2 tanks, both including rentals. We did Tortugas for our first dive (Spanish for turtles) and there were many sea turtles that we saw. The second dive was something like Sabadlos, but I don't remeber for sure. It was right next to Tortugas and had a lot of aquatic life. The dive master did a great job and was very knowledgable.
We had a "honeymoon" dinner set up by the resort in La Hacienda restaurant and it was great. I can't think of the what they are called, but they had 3 mexican guys with guitars that would go from table to table to sing a song for you. They did a great job and sang very well.
Day 6 was spent at the resort just hanging by the pool and snorkeling. We did the Greico restaurant by the North pool for lunch and it was tasty. It was a buffet, but for lunch, we just wanted to get in and out so we preffered it. The food was all fresh and they had a number of made to order items if you would rather that option.
With our $3000 peso spa credit, we did a couples facial. This is something that I would not ever get for myself any other time, but since it was basically free, I went with my wife. We got to the spa about 30 minutes early and went to our seperate locker room areas to get ready. After getting into my robe, I attempted to meet up in the quite room with my wife to wait for the facial, and the spa staff basically told me that I couldn't go in yet. They were pretty pushy that I was too early and I had to use the hydrotherapy services of the spa. I didn't have a bathing suit with me, as you need to wear for the spa, but they said they would give me a disposable one to use. I went along with it and used the jacuzzi for a little bit, but was turned off by the experience. The spa itself was incredible, I just did not want to use it at that time and they made the experience bad for me.
The facial itself is not something I would have ever gotten after it was over, and I wish we had opted for a massage. I don't think the therpist did a bad job, I just think that they have a process that I didn't like. My wife also did not like her service.
Upon checking out of the spa, I marked "good" for the services and the spa director promptly came out to question why the low rating. It was "good", just not great. I did not like the pushiness into making me use the spa and I did not like the facial. Maybe I would like any facial, and I let him know it was my first, but it wasn't great.
We only participated in the evening entertainment 2 nights. We did the Mexican fiesta the first night for a little bit, where they sold some Mexico type souveneers. The prices were decent and you can actually bargain with them.
They other night we did the fire dance show which was EXCELLENT! I would highly recommend doing this one.
The last day I had my massage, which was amazing. It was only 25 minutes, but it was the best one I ever had. I also opted to take advantage of the other spa services this time and I was pleased.
The power went out several times during our stay and it was exrtremely aggravating. The resort said it was the power company, but we had found out later that it was a planned outage for whatever reason.
One night, we had reservations to do the sunset catamaran cruise and lobster dinner. We had to cancel our reservations for this because we could not get ready for it. The resort was running on bare bones back up power, but that meant we had one functioning light in our room and nothing else (no A/C). When I went down to the travel desk to cancel the cruise, they tried to tell me it was less than 24 hours in advancen and I could not cancel. I got a bit upset and let them know it. They eventually said I could cancel without and fees, but it was not an easy thing to accomplish.
When the power came back on in the middle of the night, all the lights were on in the room. We had to get up, turn everything off, and then try to fall back asleep.
Not knowing that they had decided to make the resort "kid friendly" was a bit of an upset. Luckily there was only 1 kid there the whole time, but if I was there with a packed family friendly resort, then I would have not been happy at all.
Another item that did not affect us, but it would have if the resort was busy, is that the family resort pool area is twice the size of the adult's side pool area. If the resort was even at half capacity, then the pool would have been far too packed to get a chaise. That forces you to go over to the other pool and lose out on your kid-free experience.
The snorkeling in the lagoon wasn't great, but if it was a beach resort, then there would be no lagoon at all, so I guess I can't reall complain.
It would have been nice to have had a beach. That fact alone may be the reason that we don't return.
The resort is all byitself in the middle of no where. You can't walk anywhere, so you will need to take a taxi or rent a car to go anywhere.
We will probably not return to this resort because we want to be near options if we wanted go out. Between that and the beach, we will try another resort next time. That is not to say that we wouldn't stay at anther Palace resort, but just not this one. If we had friends that didn't care about being closet to town, or a beach, then this would not be a bad place.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A blend of relaxation and adventure awaits you at this adults only retreat. Set in the Riviera Maya overlooking the aquamarine Caribbean Sea, enjoy 1,266 luxurious accommodations with double Jacuzzi, balcony (most with hammock), and 24 hr. room service. Among the facilities to highlight is the state-of-the-art spa offering a perfect day of pampering. Guests can also enjoy seven restaurants, several bars, a disco, outdoor/indoor pools, and unlimited tours as part of the all-inclusive package. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Aventura Hotel Palace
- Aventura Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Mayan Riviera Palace
- Adventure Spa Palace
- Hotel Mayan Palace
- Adventura Spa Palace
- Aventura Palace Spa
- Aventura Spa Palace Riviera Maya
- Aventura Spa Palace Resort
- Aventura Spa Palace Mexico