My wife and I have long wished to stay at Secrets Maroma Beach, and actually have a travel fund established for that visit. We received an email from Cheapcaribbean.com announcing a sale at Catalonia Privileged Maroma, which is the neighboring property, literally adjacent. We decided that at the price we were fortunate enough to obtain, it was worth it just to scout out Maroma Beach.
We had a connection, so by the time we arrived at the Cancun airport, we were a bit travel weary (started our day at 2:30 a.m.). The customs was not as fast as it could have been, but we had carry on luggage only (yeah! love beach vacations!) so we got through fairly quickly. Past their Customs, it is the typical chaos of people trying to divert you to excursions or taxis, etc. We have traveled enough in the Caribbean and been through Cancun airport before, so we knew we were heading out to the shuttles for our pre-arranged shuttle with Olympus Tours. There was the usual 30 minutes or so to get a van but we were lucky (again) to be the first off, others were traveling to more distant resorts. Not being fluent in Spanish was not an issue.
The Catalonia is a fair distance off the main road (as is the case with most Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen ocean front resorts). The road was rough, but there were pavers, etc suggesting it was being upgraded. Secrets Maroma Beach shares the first part of that road.
We opted for the Privileged upgrade (the standard guest did not have access to one restaurant, a terrace, a section of the beach and were housed further inland relatively). We had to wear wristbands the whole trip (annoyance). I suppose it is common in family resorts, we have only stayed in adults only resorts for the past ten years.
Being a family resort, I dreaded the thought of grumpy, irritable children and parents. Let me say, European children are very well behaved. No issues with that at all. We conversed with some people and enjoyed meeting those couples/families (French, Italian, Czech). It was fun stumbling through my elementary French and Spanish, and most were conversant in English. Some people didn't smile, say hello, or move to the side to share the sidewalk when approaching (what is up with that?). No problem, we were there to be together and the resort gave us a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy each other (and the beach, margaritas, sun, napping, etc).
The staff was mostly friendly, warm and there was always someone nearby who spoke English or could understand my gestures and toddler-level Spanish. Ronier was our bellboy and he was very pleasant, conversant in English and hard-working. Veronica was our housekeeper, and didn't have much if any English. But wonderful smile, hard worker and always left an animal towel thingy on the bed with flower petals daily. Minibar had plenty of water, our beverage of choice.
The room we had (6105) did not have a view of the ocean (few do and they are an upgrade to the upgrade). However, it was great. Despite being a ground floor unit, there was no noise from foot traffic, and it had a fountain immediately outside the small patio. It was nice enough, clean, and the shower had pressure and hot water. Lights in the room might be an issue for women getting ready, but see that a lot in the Caribbean. Wifi worked fine and was included with the Privileged reservations.
We woke up every morning, had coffee at the main bar, walked the beach (to the iberostar one direction, or the marina the other). There were usually few people early, later in the day (we walked in the afternoon as well), it was well trafficked. No sense of danger, no vendors on the beach, and only once saw a few dogs but they had collars. The sand is amazing, the water is amazing, and there was not a rock to be found until you went quite a distance. There is a condo complex on one side adjacent, Secrets Maroma Beach on the other, but neither were noisy, and no spring break craziness. It was nice, perfect actually.
Fish were present from time to time, but very limited. You could walk out into the water quite a way, and cruise ships and cargo ships in the distance were limited to a couple routes a day. There was occasional wave runners or parasailing, but thankfully not common. This is a quiet resort.
Bars were open all day, but no obnoxious drunks (something to do with few Americans maybe? LOL). We would get coffee at the main bar by the registration lobby every morning and it was great. The restaurants did not have great coffee. We only had margaritas on the Terrace which is a Privileged only restaurant, and enjoyed the drinks with the view most days.
The food was really just so-so. No exceptional meal, though the chocolate desserts at the Terrace were great (very slow service though, way understaffed but it is a small kitchen). For the money, not a deal breaker. If we had paid Secrets or Couples cost, it would have been disappointing. I did have an Olestra effect with the ceviche or fish (look it up if you don't know what that is). Stayed away after the first day and it didn't recur. I have the stomach of a goat, so this was a surprise (and not a pleasant one).
We didn't do any excursions, we were there for five days, two being travel days. It was perfect in terms on length of stay, the location, comfort of room, cleanliness. Didn't like the wristbands, and we were initially told we were allowed only one meal at the formal restaurants (not typical to our all-inclusive experiences elsewhere). We saved that for the last night and found out we actually were supposed to have two formal restaurant meals each. That was disappointing.
The monkey looking croati flocked to people with food, and there were young ones. Adorable, and did not harass people unless they held out food (which they are not supposed to do). Can't comment on the nightly entertainment or animacion staff. We are early risers and the entertainment did not start until 9:30 p.m. There is an exercise room, but it is very limited. It was ok for a few days just to not atrophy away, but the main system is an outdated universal pulley multi-station, with a flat bench, an incline bench, a curl bar, and a dumbbell rack that goes up to 50 pounds but is missing the 5, and 15 pound dumbbells. (5 pound increments) There is a single treadmill, and it looked rough. Hey, there is an entire beach out there!!!
We did not see a single wedding, and only met one couple getting married there (after we left). Secrets had a few being set up as we would walk past.
We didn't watch tv in the room, but it was in the gym. Not a great selection of channels, the usual CNN, BBC, MTV, children's channels, etc. No adult channels if people are wondering.
Checkout was super fast, and the shuttle showed up on time, got us to the airport (3 hours before flight). Cancun airport is just as chaotic trying to leave as it is arriving. Food at the airport is crazy expensive. We pack trail mix from home and took fruit from the resort. Of course, US airport food and snacks are ridiculous as well.
The official exchange rate I think was around 13 to 1 (NP to USD), the hotel exchange gave 10.80 to 1 when I got some coins for souvenirs. If you are exchanging a large amount, don't do it at the hotel.
Summary of my disjointed review, if you get a phenomenal deal, you will have a phenomenal experience if you are looking for a quiet resort to enjoy with your travel companion. The beach is one of the best, the room is clean, the staff is warm, efficient, and English speaking was not a limitation. Food was ok, not sure what happened with the ceviche (please never again). It was about 85% non-American, but that added to the experience for us. We will return if we find the same value.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Catalonia Playa Maroma is situated in the Mayan Riviera, at only 35 kilometers south of Cancun and 20 kilometers north of Playa del Carmen. Regarding to the Travel Channel, Playa Maroma is one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. The typical Mexican decoration with its vibrant colors and palapa roofs surrounded by the native jungle make this resort the perfect place to spend a wonderful vacation. The Mayan World has to offer a lot to its visitors. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Playa Maroma Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Catalonia Playa Maroma Del Carmen
- Playa Maroma