I have been traveling to Playa Del Carmen area of Mexico for 12 years to give you an idea of my experience with the area. I have stayed at numerous resorts within the Playacar area as well as a few along the way to Playa. My trip has always been a Mother's Day vacation for myself and my best girlfriend however this year my oldest son (28 yrs old) and his girlfriend joined us. On to the resort...First impression was a bit unimpressive but thanks to tripadvisor I knew to expect a bumpy ride into the resort on an unpaved road. A bit of a disappointment due to the other GRAND entrances to other resorts you see on your way to the Catalonia. There are pavers being placed on the dirt, by the looks of it they should be done with that in a year or two. (not kidding!) We arrived May 4th at 4pm. We booked "privilege superior" so we were taken through the main lobby area down the path to the privilege check in office. Check in was no problem and because it was late, our rooms were ready. The only request I made in advance this trip was that our room and my son's room be in the same building. This request was granted and we all were placed in Building 4, ground level rooms just around the corner from each other. Happy! Our balcony had a view of Building 6 (room 4128) and was a corner room with much privacy. My son's room (4102) had a balcony with a courtyard view that has a lot of foot traffic but still ok. Rooms are comfortable. Flat screen TV's, lots of drawer storage and two closets with enough hangars. Air conditioning worked perfectly. Bathroom/shower was adequate, nothing more and nothing fancy. Fridge was stocked every other day with beer. Water and soda were stocked daily. If you wanted more, you had to pay. NEVER had this at any other resort in this area. Coffee pot in room however it was hit or miss as to whether you got coffee or creamer packets. I think we got in 3 out of 6 days. Maid service was very late for our rooms, after 4pm most days or just as we were ready to shower after a day at the beach. 3 towels per room per day, hand towels and face cloths were inconsistently given.
Hands down, the best beach in Riviera Maya. Sand is consistency of baby powder and was always cool to the touch. Ocean water is the beautiful turquoise color you want to see in Mexico with no seaweed and no rocks. You can walk for miles in either direction. We found a wonderful strip of beach just past Secrets (to the right of Catalonia facing the beach) but really it was perfect no matter where you walked. The only rocks we encountered were to the left as you neared the Iberostar area, but this was a long distance. No shells. Towel game was in full swing and if you were not marking your spot by 6:00 am you were out of luck for huts or shade. By 9 am there were NO chairs to be had at the beach. If you booked the honeymoon suites, they were ocean front with their own little plunge pools and the chairs were always empty so not sure anyone was in those rooms. Looked really nice when we walked up to check it out. Go for it if you can, but know it is far from bar on beach. Not sure if they had their own bar service. Having booked privilege, we had a separate beach area with waiter service for drinks delivered to you at your chair. The servers work very hard and it was much appreciated.
There are only 2 bars at this resort. One right by the beach and the one in the Main lobby. From what I saw, there were usually 2 bartenders at the pool bar. The back side of this bar has the Crepe & ice cream service. Excellent. Above this bar was the Tapas restaurant which was exclusive to the privilege guests (light purple wrist bands). They always checked your band so if it's not purple, you're not getting served there. We had lunch there twice. The view of the beach is amazing from this vantage point. Indoor & Outdoor seating available. The first lunch we had there was by far a better experience than the second. We sat outside the first time and had umbrellas for shade. Food was delivered quickly and was fresh and perfect portion sizes. The second time was not so great. They open at 12pm and we being Americans are used to having lunch at that time. We were the second group to arrive for lunch. While the restaurant did begin to fill up, it took 1 full hour to receive our lunch. Many guests who had arrived long after us had already eaten my the time our food arrived. When we asked where our lunch was, we were simply told it was being cooked....just as we were about to ditch this place and go to the buffet our food arrived. Again, good quality food but bad service. We ate at the lunch buffet by the beach every other day. Compared to ALL the other resorts I have stayed in ~ there were very limited choices for food. Usually a chicken, a fish and a taco choice. Not much else. While adequate, it was somewhat stunning to see such a big room with so little food choices. We had dinner at the Steak Restaurant one evening which is located at this same building. My friend and I arrived a few minutes before my son and his girl and we were told they could not seat us until everyone arrived. Now I understand they are all first come first served, but we knew they were going to arrive shortly and asked if we could just get our table and have a drink but were told NO. By the way, there was only one table being used at this time and no one was waiting to be seated. We had to wait on a bench for the rest of our party to arrive before they would seat us. Interesting fact ~ all 3 specialty restaurants are located at this building ~ OUTSIDE porch dining. Each restaurant had around 10 tables all located outside. The meal was just ok. We never went back for our other 2 dinners we were able to have. Two nights were spent in Playa Del Carmen for dinner and we had the buffet the other 3 nights. Most memorable buffet was "Chinese night". Good choices that night with no complaints. NOTE: pathway walk to main buffet and lobby is a wonderful walk and we did enjoy the relaxing music played in the jungle. Breakfast is served at this main buffet and we always enjoyed the omlet's made fresh. Having traveled to many all inclusive's, we know that you do not go for the food :). DRINKS: two recommendations : try the Habanna Cuban Rum with diet coke...always get this in Mexico since we cannot get it in US. Also, ask for the "special" which was a mix of Kahula, Vodka, Bailys and ice cream ~ I don't recommend drinking alot of them as they are very indulgent but you gotta try one! No point in mentioning any of the other drinks as they were not great.
BIGGEST CONCERNS!!! :
The first full day we spent at the beach (the day after our arrival). At around 10am, we decided to purchase some silver from a vendor walking the beach and had to return to our room for some money. There was a guy standing outside our doorway ~ as though he was the lookout guy ~ and he informed us that our safe was left open and he had to call security. Inside our room standing at our open safe was a guy dressed in a security uniform. Remember I mentioned that maid service was never done before 4pm?? SO WHY WERE THEY IN OUR ROOM?? In addition, my friend is a compulsive door and safe locker. There is absolutely NO WAY we left the safe unlocked! While nothing was missing, we can't help but feel that if we had not gone back to our room at that moment things may have gone horribly wrong. My son's room had a safe issue as well on a different day. They attempted to get into their safe. As you may know, you set the combination yourself. The safe would not open so they called the desk and security had to come to their room to re-set their combination as it had been changed. This is very serious and I hope the management is aware of what is going on.
On our last night at resort, we had an early departure so we were in bed by 9pm. At 9:45pm, even though our door was locked and dead bolted shut...two spanish speaking people entered our room chatting away in spanish (we did not understand what they were saying as we were sound asleep) and when we woke up and spoke out loud to them they simply backed up and left our room. Please know your room can be entered even with the door dead bolted. We informed the desk person at check out at 4am and he asked if we had called security. We never even thought to do that as we were sound asleep! He informed us that he would report this incident however we left a few minutes later and I have never heard anything more on the subject. I do plan to write a letter to management.
LASTLY...Beware of promises made when you get a note slipped under your door to be "upgraded" and moved to the Catalonia Tulum. On Thursday morning (the day before we were leaving Mexico) we received these notes under both of our doors. My son & his girl ~ eager to experience Tulum ~ decided to make the move for the last night (they are young!). They were informed that transportation would be provided both ways. They were happy with the Catalonia Tulum, better rooms and adults only. BUT... the next morning when it was time to go to airport the taxi arrived as planned to pick them up. Remember, they were assured this would be all at no cost to them since we had already arranged and PAID for transportation from the Catalonia Maroma. So the taxi took them directly to the airport then proceeded to tell them they owed him $80 for the ride!!! We paid Entertainment Plus $90 for R/T transportation to and from the airport for all 4 of us. There was nothing they could do but pay the taxi driver. Bad way to end the trip when it was at the convenience of the Maroma who had overbooked that they agreed to move in the first place. Again, I will be writing management. If you decide to move at the resorts request be sure to get everything in writing.
Don't get me wrong, while I ended with a few problems listed our overall impression of this resort was very good. Be sure to check out the spa and use the steam room and sauna and jaccuzi that is at no charge for privilege guests. Perfect after a day at the beach!! Our vacation was memorable as this was the best beach one could imagine. The resort is very clean & comfortable. Would we return??? Depends on how management responds to the extra and unexpected $80 my son had to pay for the taxi that he was told would be free. Vacation is what you make it. Having traveled to Mexico many many times we understand the cultural differences and accept them as part of the charm. We will be back again next year and deciding where to stay is half the fun for me.
- 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