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Reviewed December 29, 2009

Our stay: Dec. 16th-22nd

We booked our trip in august with bookit.com, taking advantage of the grand opening discounts($840pp airfare and 6 nts). Our booking included a guaranteed free room upgrade based on availability $200 resort credits and transfer vouchers through Best Day Travel. After reading several negative reviews regarding no upgrades due to capacity and problems with rowdy children and pool/beach chairs being reserved before dawn we got a bit concerned. Prior to leaving home, we lessened our expectations and were commited to having a great time regardless. As it turned out, our expectations were far exceeded!

We emailed the resort a month in advance and confirmed our room booking to avoid any unexpected surprises. Upon arriving at the airport and clearing customs, "do not" stop for information or show your transfer voucher to anyone offering to help you. Proceed directly outside the airport where you will find your transportation waiting. If you get caught up in any of that, you will waste alot of time and be suckered into timeshare bs. Having been to Cancun over a dozen times I was well aware of this and saw many poor tourists being friendly and getting hooked. We proceeded directly to a Best Day representative and were off to the resort for a 15-20 min ride and were the first guests dropped off at our hotel.

Check in was smooth and timeless. We were greeted with champagne and bottled water and without even mentioning it, were upgraded to a preferred ocean front room #1507. (three room upgrades above our garden view booking) We declined the tour of the resort and opted for a map and took our own bags to the room.

The room was emaculate! A great modern design very elegant and welcoming. More suitable for couples as not private at all and not much storage for belongings of more than two. Only advice on the room is bring some sort of lighting for the vanity area. Very dim lit when getting ready in the morning. As our room was on the 5th floor, we had no problems with noise, but can see how the lower floors would be affected with chairs sliding on the tile floor above. If you get kids in the room above you, it could be a bit anoying. Room safe was awesome as well as the mini bar and the best attention to cleanliness, maid service, and clean towels in all of the places we have ever stayed. We were also asked if we were celebrating anything during our stay. We told them our anniversary back in August, and one night they delivered a bottle of champagne, fersh fruit and had a heart in rose petals on our bed, as well as an anouncement in the daily sundial. Very nice touch! As far as the door stop on the floor being complained about, "cmon man". Once you know its there you make sure you dont stub your toe on it.

The food was very good for an AI, with dinners being the best. Each night we got to the resteraunt 10-15 min before it opened and never had a wait. If you dont get seated in the first round you will have about a 45 min wait for a table for two or an hour and a half for a table of four. As previously mentioned, you must have the crab wontons, shrimp cocktail and coconut ice cream at lunch or around the pool. The steak, chicken and seafood at all resteraunts were amazing. No steak knives here, just cut it with your butter knife. Shrimp tacos for lunch were also very good.

The pools" were" heated and the infinity pool is incredible. There were a fair amount of kids around but were not at all a problem. The "Im on vacation and this is my daycare" parents were to blame for any issues with children. The beach was great! It had a small amount of sea grass wash on it, and there was some coral pieces in the water, not rocks, but what do you expect with a reef 1/4 mile off shore. The resort also makes it clear that reserving a chair is not allowed. Every night in the Sundial they remind you of this and notify you that after 30 min your stuff will be taken to lost and found. Do not worry about daily entertainment, there is plenty of it. The place to be for the most adult fun is at the Barracuda (swing) bar on the beach. From about 2:00 till 6:00 this is the most active social party place and time at the resort. Jose and Eloy are the best bartenders and keep things hopping. Dont forget your Donkey Shots from Eloy. We met some great people from around the world here and had some of the best times of our whole trip with our new friends on the beach. A shout out to the "King" from New York.

A few tips:

Bring bug spray!!! A few mosquitos in the lobby and alot of biting bugs from the knee down on the beach.

If you snorkel...take the short 20 min walk to the right of the resort to Puerto Morales. The first walls you see with snorkeling and happy hour painted on them is where to stop. There is a booth that says "snorkeling $25" where they will take you out to two different reefs for an hour each. At the resort it is $40 for one reef one hour. We also had our own personal guide for the two of us. Take towels and a sack lunch from the resort with you.

The more quiet side of the resort is near building 1...get your lounge bed on that side for more privacy.

If you get a plunge pool room, also try for building 1...that is where the sun shines.

The Spa is awesome....use your $40 resort credit to get a 50 min neck back and shoulder massage for $70...this is another place to get away from the kiddies.

Shop in Playa Del Carmen on 5th avenue...dont waste your time in Puerto Morales.
We went to Xplor to zipline, buying our tickets online directly from their website to save 10%, and opted not to buy the transportation with it. It cost us $20 more to rent a cab at the time of our choice, with no stops at other hotels, leave at the time of our choice with no stops, and on the way back we had the cab take us to Playa and wait a couple of hours for us while we shopped. A total of $80 for the cab round trip.

Book your Hibatchi table and spa the day you get to the resort...if you dont you may be out of luck. (tip your hibatchi chef)

Tip the staff...how can you have someone wait on you and not? We took $100 in ones, fives, tens, and twenties.

The lobby Bar area is sooo relaxing.

If you have kids, bring a flashlight...a bit dark on the grounds at night.

Overall, a wonderful trip at a beautiful resort with a little for everyone! We had a great time and so will you. Thank You Dreams!!!!!!

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank Wayzout
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2009

We booked our vacation before the resort opened and were certainly not disappointed with our first visit to a Dreams Resort. We have done other all-inclusive and this ranks among the best! We received a great upgrade, 5th floor Preferred Ocean Front, loved it, but that was not the only reason that sold us, it was the service and the staff, so wonderful. They always went out of their way to make you happy and it was so appreciated. The food was fantastic at each restaurant, but my favorite was the French and the seaside eateries. Having them bring shrimp cocktail as you sit by the pool and always around to replace that drink, it was amazing! We had photos taken by Adventure Photos right at the resort and they did a wonderful job, so easy and nice to work with, provided great memories, don't miss it. The extras in the room, turn down service and the m&m's late at night, LOVED THEM! Just go and have a ball and love every minute of your vacation there, we sure did. Thank you so much for treating us as family and we will definitely make sure we bring the rest of our family back to you!

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
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5  Thank goldenpuppy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2009

First of all..Thanks to everyone for taking the time to write your reviews. We appreciate all the reviews before our holiday Dec.13th-20th. The resort is BEAUTIFUL and it was a delight to be there when it looked so new. We travelled with our kids (8 & 6) which ended up going to the kids club a few hours a day. They loved all the girls in the club (don't forget to tip them also!) We have travelled alot and are not the picky type, we are just happy and fortunate to be on holidays! The only complaint I have was the kids pool. The pool was very dirty and I had to ask oneday for it to be cleaned. After 7 nights our son got a severe ear infection from the pool. I would pay attention to what was at the bottom of the pools that day to see if they were still there in the morning. The staff are great and treat you with respect. The service times can be slow, but just remember you are on holidays! Our room was beautiful on the 4th floor overlooking the ocean. We requested an extra cot for our one child and it was brought to the room promptly. We were upgraded to the preferred club without asking. Please book a free photo shoot with the staff at "Adventure". They did an excellent job with our family photos. They have a program that if you say that I sent you ( S. Thompson ) , I get a picture emailed to me. Then once you go you can get people to say your name. I hope our review helped you, if you have any questions, please ask.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank sue_1007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2009

Returned from Dreams Riviera last night. Wished we could have stayed a few more days!
Rooms: King bed - too firm for me - took a foam pad (previous experience at other Dreams) Our room was located at the end of the building, so it was extra large! Adjoining room for 2 teenage boys - 2 double beds. We spent a lot of time on our balcony in the late evening...people watching. We were on the 3rd floor - overlooking the boardwalk. View of the ocean and of the lobby.
We used our room safe every day. We LOVED the well stocked bar. (free soda/juices/beer) In the late afternoon, while showering and freshening up for dinner, we would open our sliding door and enjoy the nice, ocean breeze. Heaven!
Room complaints:
Noisy when the maids are cleaning the rooms above. Scraping noises on the tile floor woke us up every morning. Noisy in the halls when room service cart goes by. (tile floor).
Noisy people on the boardwalk in the early morning (2 a.m.) when the nightclub closed and they were headed to their rooms.

Activites: We spent all day on the beach or by the pool. The waitstaff kept our glasses full! We tipped $1 a drink and I think that kept them coming to our area. The drinks are beautiful to look at, too.

The children played soccer on the beach/basketball in the pool. Several of the kids went to the Explorer's club. My only complaint for the Explorer's club were the other kids in attendance. There were children that cursed like sailors and the staff didn't tell them to stop. Hearing the "F" word and taking the Lord's name in vain - coming out of the mouth of an 8 year old will make your skin crawl!

Several in our group went snorkeling through the service provided by the resort. Several in our group went snorkeling through the American Express representative. Both groups had a great time.

Food at night: We ate at and enjoyed the French restaurant, the Oceana and the World Cafe. We did not enjoy El Patio. We did not have enough days to go to the Italian restaurant.

Food at lunch: We ate at and enjoyed the Oceana, the Seaside, the World Cafe and the Barefoot grill.

Special food: We enjoyed the Fiesta - but the food was kind of cold by the time you walked back to your table, and some of the food was "strange" to us.

We absolutely loved the Christmas eve dinner that was served in the ballroom. The decor was breathtaking - all white - white lights/white roses/white linens, etc. The buffet was delicious and we were able to taste things that we would never order in a restaurant - caviar - cactus - lobster - truffled potatoes.

Food at breakfast: We ate at and enjoyed the World Cafe, the Coco Cafe and the Seaside. We also ordered breakfast in our rooms on 2 mornings. It arrived within 30 minutes on both mornings. Hot and tasty.

Food is abundant and is everywhere you look.

The professional photographer is really good. You can purchase your photos on a CD and have them developed at home. $15/picture.

My biggest surprise was in the employees. They were all so nice with great personalities. So friendly. Always smiling. Always ready to serve. They all work so hard to please you. Whenever they did something for me and I said "thank you" to them, they always had this response: "It's my pleasure." How refreshing! In America, when you say thank you to a service person, you get something like "no problem"

We would definitely go back again.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank blessings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2009

Pros: Beautiful location and gorgeous rooms. Amenities such as pool, bars, restaurants were all good.

Cons: Transportation by Amstar (sister company Apple Tours) was super slow and not really friendly, excursions were far cheaper to book elsewhere, had to call several times about a few things that needed to be addressed.. and I don’t think even one was ever fixed.

Arrival: Customs went smoothly, then got stopped by someone who represented themselves to be there for the tourists to help them find their way around and it turned out they were just trying to get you to tour the “hotel of the week”. She wouldn’t stop talking to let us leave gracefully so we just had to walk away.

Transportation - This was the worst area for sure! Once we found the Amstar representative (our transportation was included in our reservation) he said it would be a maximum of 20 minutes. There is nowhere to sit while you wait. After 30 minutes I checked again. There weren’t enough people to call the bus. If they are only waiting for people who have prepaid and have their flight numbers, shouldn’t they know who is arriving and when.. and make the appropriate plans?? Another 20 minutes passed and I was getting irritated that the first few hours of our vacation were spent standing at airport. They ended up putting us in another transportation company’s van .. which had several other stops before ours. It was another hour and dusk before we got to the hotel.
Then once you get there you have to book your return to the airport. They said we needed to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of time.. and we’d have to pick up more people on our way to the airport… so even though our flight didn’t leave until 4:45.. we had to be picked up at noon. We got to the airport, went straight through everything and then had to wait another 3 hours at the airport instead of by the pool.
I would recommend paying the extra $40 for the cab just to avoid frustration of that company.

Check in: Smooth.. bell boy brought our bags up within 10 minutes.

Food: Decent – World café had a great selection that changed every day. Italian – décor a little cheesy and portions super small so make sure you get several courses or you’ll end up ordering more or leave hungry and head to World café. Mexican – Good. Asian – did the hibachi thing. We had Earnie or some name that started with “E”.. he was not great.. the other guy was much better. Poor “E” broke the egg early.. only did one thing of the flames when the other guy had done several and had people clapping. I wished I had gotten the other guy for sure, but at least the food tasted good. Seaside Grill – EXCELLENT rib eye.

Bars – Rene was our favorite drink maker. I think some of the booze are watered down.. but.. you can have as many as you want.. so who cares?? Loved the bar on the beach with the swings.. but it closes at 9:30!?! We never tried the dance club.

Internet – They only have 5 or 6 computers and they are often all taken, but there are times when you should be able to get one. 5:30 or so .. when the sun is going down and everyone is getting ready for dinner worked well a couple of times.

Rooms: BEAUTIFUL!! We had a gorgeous room.. LOVED IT overall. Still.. there were a few things that weren’t so great, just so you can prepare..
1. Lighting for women.. BAD!! Bring your own make up mirror with a light if you need one. The lights are not over the mirror and they are down lighting so you are always in shadow.
2. Whenever the air conditioner turned off it made a loud banging door sound. It didn’t bother me as much as it did my boyfriend who said he woke up every time it went off at night. He asked to have this fixed every day. It was never addressed to our knowledge. I thought perhaps it was just the way it was, but he swears there was something wrong with it and it could have been fixed.
3. Housekeeping was a little spotty in only one area. Most everything was cleaned and fresh every day… EXCEPT the decorative pillows on the bed. One of the brown covers had a .. hmm.. shall we say “what appeared to be a white bodily fluid spot” on it. I asked the housekeeper to change it. Still there. Asked again, still there. Took the case off myself and put it on the floor.. she folded it up without washing it, put it under the night stand and put a regular pillow case on the pillow.. never washing the “suspect spot” out of the decorative case.
4. The light above the bathtub flickered on and off all night long. If we closed the slats behind the bed it wasn’t distracting enough to keep us awake… the clock was much brighter.. but again… we called everyday to have it fixed and every day they said “So sorry! We’ll get that checked right way.” The last night it was still strobbing.

Concierge: The guy at night is great… the girl during the day is nice. The guy during the day.. Carmelio? NOT great! He was by far the least helpful when you have a question. Also, he was supposed to have arranged to have our room decorated with some rose petals our last night. I opened the door.. nothing! I had to call down and talk to the girl and luckily she was able to arrange for something to be done while we were out for dinner, but I’m sure it was a pain for someone and she said there wasn’t a note or anything left for the staff that said they were to do anything for our room.

Excursions: The desks all close pretty early in the day, so make sure you book them before 5 or so.
1. We did the Cozumel Dive through the hotel. I think there could have been fewer people per dive master (we had 7 or 8 people per group and 3 groups) however they were well organized and seemed to have things under control. I would have preferred to have a snorkel with my dive equipment per PADI standards, but they didn’t have any. We saw several lobsters, a crab, a turtle, a nurse shark, a couple of eels and tons of fish. GORGEOUS! Would highly recommend.
Again.. the transportation.. long and drawn out. Picked up at 8 AM, dropped off at 7 PM.. we had two 45 minute dives and about 30 minutes to eat in Cozumel… the rest.. transportation.. van, bus, ferry, meeting place, boat, pick up more people, dock, then out to the dive site.. it was after 11 before we left for the dive site with everyone on board… then still another 45 min to get to the dive site. Still, worth it though.. just be prepared to bring a book or something.
2. We did the Xel-HA and Telum tour. Booked for $105 per person through the place on the same street as the flea market in Puerto Morales (about a 40 minute walk down the beach). I would have liked more time in both places. I’m not sure if you would get more time if the days were longer, but we only had 3 hours at Xel-Ha which really wasn’t enough to do much, especially if you wanted to eat lunch, rinse off, dry off and change before getting back on the bus to tour Tulum. Once we did that we had to back to Xel-Ha and pick up the people who only did the Xel-Ha excursion
Tour guide tried to sell us stuff the whole time, from mayan cartouche necklaces, to bug spray, to biodegradable sunscreen. She says that they watch you to make sure you use a certain kind of sunscreen at Xel-Ha. There are signs recommending it, but they don’t require it.
Another hour at Tulum would have been better. I’m glad we did both as Tulum is not a full day.. although Xel Ha could easily be all day. If I could change it I would leave earlier, go to Tulum first, then spend the rest of the day at Xel-Ha.. but I don’t know if that is offered.
Don’t forget you have the tediousness of picking up and dropping off at multiple hotels again. Even if the hotel is right next to another one.. you have to leave the highway.. got a couple of miles to the entrance by the beach.. drive back out.. go to the next drive way and then go all the way down to the beach again. If there’s a way to avoid that.. I would highly suggest it!!
3. Snorkeling.. the snorkeling off the beach from the hotel is not great. There is a snorkeling tour offered by the hotel for $70 per person. We walked down the beach to Puerto Morales and got the same thing for $25 per person. There we saw, starfish, lobster, a huge eagle ray, a yellow ray, file fish, a barracuda and other fish. Try to make sure you get a guide that speaks English though. The guy who sold us our tickets spoke English and promptly put us with a guide that spoke as much English as I speak Spanish.. none. Luckily the signs for “look at that” and “follow me” are universal so it worked out.

Explorer Club – We didn’t use it, but I did take a tour and it looked clean and organized. The kids that were there appeared to be having a great time.

Spa – Didn’t use it, seemed expensive.. $110 for a 45 min massage or something.. so even with the $10 off coupon they give you.. it’s still more than I would pay at home. I’ll just sit on the beach and relax.
Gym was adequate.. all windows.. so although it was nice to be able to look out at everything, you are also on display while you are working out.

Atmosphere - Everyone was basically friendly and wanted to please. Some other couples were complaining about the kids.. and there are kids around, but we didn’t have any problems finding quite areas. It’s much quieter at night.. beautiful beach.. nice breezes.. They have a wedding gazebo that's quite pretty.. and they had a few wedding while we were there.. the set up and things they do a gorgeous. I would consider it for a wedding if I was planning one.

Shopping - Puerto Morales didn’t have much and it wasn’t great quality. Dreams didn’t have much and it was expensive. Didn’t have time at Xel-Ha, Tulum or Cozumel. We didn’t go into Cancun, although I hear they do have a big market there. I ended up getting most of my souvenirs from the airport. Sad, huh?

Check out and departure: Sad to leave and we had to check out too early.. but went smoothly. Only took about 20 min from being dropped off to be checked in and through security.. so we could have had another 2 hours at the pool with fruity beach drinks instead of $6 water and uncomfortable airport chairs. Although there is something to be said for getting there a little early” just in case”, 3.5 hours early is just a bit overboard I think.

Overall – I can’t wait to go back!! There were a few things that could be improved but that’s going to happen anywhere. I’d still give it a 5 out of 5 without hesitation!! Next time we are just arranging for our own transportation to and from the airport.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank jbar434
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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