There is a reason why I don't do "all inclusive" resorts. It can be summarized in 3 words "Quantity over Quality". If you are a big fan of an all inclusive concept then you need to stop reading now. You won't like this review.
Finally we decided to pull the trigger and do an all inclusive since we had 2 kids and another relative travelling with us. This was our sixth trip to Mexico but the first one to Playa Del Carmen. I don't understand why anyone would choose to travel to Playa which is an hour and a half drive from the airport as opposed to Cancun which is twenty minutes away but ok we've been to Cancun so many times we decided to try something different and a bit more family oriented.
Transportation from Cancun to the Hotel is anywhere between $80 to $146 depending on how many people are in your group and whether you need a regular cab or a van. We needed a van so we spent $120 one way.
The taxi situation in Cancun airport is total madness. Instead of a line of cabs waiting for you just like everywhere around the world, here you have different people trying to stick some vouchers in your hand, different lines, different prices, different uniformed agents trying to steer you in different directions. In a word, organized chaos.
An hour and a half drive through the pouring rain and we arrive at the hotel. There are five Barcelo resorts (it's a Spanish owned chain) one next to each other. The lobby is nice, the view is gourgeous, but there is a huge line to check in. Twenty minutes later we reach the front desk, they give us room keys, towel cards (???), discount coupons. We grab our bags deciding not to wait for the bell boy and start walking to our room which is a good fifteen minute walk from the lobby.
We booked 2 rooms. Each room sleeps up to 4 people and both had balconies although they were not ocean front. Bathrooms were big and had separate shower areas as well as tubs. Balconies had two chairs and a small table. Both rooms had 2 sofas each for the kids in addition to the regular beds. The door to room # 8839 did not lock properly. Somehow this fact was not addressed by the hotel during our stay. A/C also did not work properly. It was impossible to raise the temp. The mechanic came took a look and did not fix the problem. Also if you are a light sleeper stay somewhere else. Walls were paper thin and all rooms open on an courtyard so when you have drunken yahoos coming home at midnight yelling and laughing you can forget about a good night sleep.
The buffets had a huge assortment of foods. We ate way too much. This is definitely not a place for someone who is on a diet or is watching carbs. Alcohol was included. There were a lot of tourists from Russia who were enjoying themselves, especially the over abundance of alcohol. Food was average at best. Like I said before quantity over quality. As soon as we arrived we've made reservations at 4 specialty restaurants. If you wait a day or two you will not be able to make resrvations. These restaurants book very quickly. Here is a list of restaurants where we ate dinner from best to worst:
Pools at the hotel were very nice but water was cold. Pools were not heated. Beach was also very nice with white sand and blue water but some patches had sharp rocks so you had to be careful. There were multiple shops and a kids club which our kids used quite a bit. The fitness center was small and in the basement. Like I said people go to places like these to pig out not to get into shape. You had to exchange cards for towels (???) Our first full day there they run out of towels. First time this ever happened to me anywhere. Forty minutes and a conversation with a manager later we got the towels. Unacceptable.
We used the sauna but the steam bath was out of order. Wife used the spa which was ok but definitely not on the level of Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach in Cancun where we stayed in January. Non-motorized water sports were included and I paid $65 for 30 minutes on jet skis which is comparable to other places.
Booked two trips through the activity desk, one to Tulum and one snorkelling and we enjoyed both. Transport back from the hotel was $105 with a discount. Please note that this being a Spanish owned and operated property many employees did not speak English.
Overall I would say this was a decent four star property not the five star hotel that they advertise themselves as. Next time if we decide to travel to Playa we will probably stay somehwere else and definitely not at an all inclusive. I've heard great things about Fairmont and Rosewood in Mayakoba about 45 minute drive from Cancun.
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Maya Palace Riviera Maya/Puerto Aventuras, Mexico