The Bahia Principe consists of four resorts named: Tulum, Akumal, Coba, and Sian Ka'an. The Sian Ka'an is most definitely the nicest of the four and is also the newest complex. The design of the Sian Ka'an is much more upscale and trendy. It was less crowded and there were no children due to it being 18+.
First impressions were very good. We were greated with welcome cocktails (a delicious margarita) before we even became checked in. Check in was smooth and we were taken right to the villa/room on a sort of extended golf cart. We did not have to carry our luggage, not that I would have cared.
The room was also upscale in appearance; marble, tile, artwork and such. There was a sort of living space, kitchen with a sink and fridge (stocked daily with free drinks and snacks) and then the bedroom portion -- all connected open-concept. The bed seemed kind of hard at first but it was actually super comfortable. The bathroom was not cramped and was fashioned with marble, tile and glass. Lots of hot water. The toilet would run and we would have to fiddle with the handle to get it to stop.
We had a bottom floor suite, which included the terrace equipped with lounge chairs and a table with chairs, and a jacuzzi. Most of the jacuzzi's I observed were concealed by purposely placed vegetation, but ours was not as private as others and those walking by could definitely see us. The Jacuzzi you fill by yourself by turning taps on the platform. It was easy. Several times during our stay I witnessed cleaning staff thoroughly cleaning jacuzzi's from other suites out and I am pretty sure they clean them not just after check out but also whenever you have your room cleaned during the duration of stay (as evidence from ours suggested).
Entry to the terrace is through sliding doors, from both the living space and the bedroom area. The only complaint about the room was that the pull strings for the blinds were beeded, and one of them was already jammed. I was not able to fix it myself but did not bother seeking assistance. Oh also, the alarm clock worked but once you hit snooze the second alarm doesn't sound normally and instead faintly buzzes (easy to sleep through).
Cleaning service can be evoked or withheld by placing a card on the handle of your door. The card seems to come off easily and one day our room was cleaned when we had not wanted it to because the card had blown off. There is a safe in the room and we had no problems with things going missing.
According to the welcome package, all the water at the Bahia Principe is drinkable because they have their own purification system in place. We had no issues doing this. WiFi was available in our room but sometimes it didnt work or was slow. It was also not secured.
The food was mostly amazing! The buffet at the lobby, serving breakfast lunch dinner, always had a great selection and great presentation. Some of the choices were consistant everyday but there were also new things to try as well. I noticed however that only on the first morning there was regular milk available. All the other days only the low-calorie milk or soy was on hand. When you are seated there are servers who do come by to provide you extra things like tea and extra utensils. They are happy to bring you Mamosas in the morning or Mojitos in the evening, etc :)
HELPFUL TIP: At breakfast, don't self-serve yourself the orange juice. It tastes kind of watery and its not very cold. Plus the glasses they provide you are tiny. If you ask your server for orange juice, they will bring you some thats delicious and cold in a taller glass.
A nice thing about staying at the Sian Ka'an is that you get unlimited entry to the restaurants on ALL of the Bahia Principe resorts. (Other Bahia guests cannot dine at or visit Sian Ka'an) Generally the restaurants were all very good. House wines and champagne are included in the all-inclusive at all restaurants, but expensive alternate wine choices are also available.
I would have to say the restaurants I ENJOYED THE LEAST were...
Don Pablo (Tulum) - Some of the dishes seemed bland, boring or absurd and they used a different, more bitter champagne than the other restaurants. OH but they had the best creme brulee out of the other one or two restaurants that serve creme brulee as well.
Alux (Sian Ka'an) - It was supposed to be the best restaurant, but I actually didnt feel that impressed. The descriptions were sort of deceiving as to what you were actually getting. The portions were bizarre. Every single course I had was a disappointment. For instance, my soup was cold. Well, I don't mean cold like it had been refrigerated, but it wasn't warm like it was in the sun either. It was like biting into a tomato that you just grabbed off the shelf at a grocery store sort of temperature. But I assume it was supposed to be like that? I don't understand why. It would have been better hot or even warm.
I remember really liking the Mexican restaurant called Tequila (Tulum). Not as fancy as some of the other places and some of the courses were self-serve but it was really good food. We didn't go to any of the Italian places. The one called Arlequin (Akumal) was just okay. And Maiko (Sian Ka'an) was just all right too (though not exactly Japanese like it claimed). The meditteranean one (Coba) was great. I think the "Le Gourmet" one (Coba) was also pretty good.
I have to say, the staff at Bahia Principe and especially Sian Ka'an are extremely helpful and courteous. This was my first time traveling to Mexico so this may not be an observation specific to the Bahia Principe, but the only other resort I have been to was a 4.5 star in Cuba and the staff there barely even looked at you. You really had to get in their face to get anything. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE AT SIAN KA'AN! Everyone was all smiles. Everyone said Hola or Hello and asked how you were and what you needed. I FELT VERY WELCOMED. It really made a difference. And the drinks! Oh my goodness they will make all kinds of drinks -- on or off their menus. And 90% of the time they really put in the effort and care to make them. Quite the change from the one or two mundane choices I had in Cuba which were basically just slushies from a machine with rum added to them. I never experienced this kind of service and selection at a resort. So if this doesn't normally happen in Mexico either, then the Bahia Principe is an exceptional place to go.
So here are the not so great parts about Bahia Sian Ka'an.
The Sian Ka'an complex is located away from the other ones, on the other side of the highway and in a secluded area. This could be ideal for some, but realize that the Sian Ka'an complex is NOT located on the beach. In order to get to the beach you must board a sort of shuttle at the lobby. The shuttles are sort of like extended golf carts, with another golf cart hinged to it as well. They are kind of loud; not only their engines (sometimes) but the creakiness of their bodies (all of them). Much different than what we took to get to our villa/room after check in. There is also a second type of shuttle that is bulky and blue, just as loud and not very pretty to look at.
The shuttles generally arrive regularly, within minutes of each other. They can take you to the other complexes too and not just the Beach. The drivers are attentive and diligent in assisting guests reaching the destinations that they want. I should mention now that getting to the Tulum complex is much more challenging and time consuming than the other locations, because only the ugly blue one will take you there and it arrives way less frequently. So if you make a dinner reservation in Tulum plan to leave half an hour early. Getting to the Coba lobby is the fastest of all.
Only the Tulum and Akumal complexes are on the beach. Sian Ka'an does fortunately have a designated beach area that is for Sian Ka'an guests only. Getting there takes about 5-10 minutes by shuttle. The beach area does have a bar, but no snacks. The beach area is small and getting lounge chairs can be tough. On a positive note there are little palapas and there is also a server making rounds too.
There are HIDEOUS giant sand-bags along the shoreline, just off the shore. I assume its to block waves or whatever but it really ruins the scenery. They are UGLY. You sort of have to swim around them to get out into the water. Also the beach itself was nice with white sand, but right when you get into the water its particularly rocky until you get further out. And even there it does have rocky patches.
On a neutral note, depending how you want to look at it, the Sian Ka'an beach area is directly next to the water activity rental place (kayaks, catamarans, jetskis etc) and is also close to the Dolphin tank where you can swim with dolphins or whatever (I did not try this as I did the dolphin thing in Cuba previously). There is a bathroom close by as well.
As I mentioned there is no snack bar at the beach so we walked along the shore to the snack bar located in the Tulum complex for lunch. It was awful. It was a buffet but it was really low quality food like hot dogs you put together yourself. I don't mean to sound snobby, but when you eat lunch at the Sian Ka'an snack bar then eat Lunch at Tulum's snack bar you've gone from regal to peasant. It really was like eating 1-star resort food. We abandoned our meals halfway through. Anyone off the street could have cooked that quality of food. There was however a self-serve ice cream dispenser and that was really awesome.
The items in the gift shops are a tad overpriced. You would think that in Mexico you would get a bang for your buck but this is not the case in the resort areas. There is also a separate place in the Bahia Principe called the Hacienda which have non-Bahia affiliated merchants who sort of rip you off. I was interested in this one exquisite chess set. It really was amazing. It must have weighed 20 pounds. A wooden folding case with a stone-tiled board of the Mayan calendar. It was huge. It held large stone pieces 5 inches tall shaped and detailed into actual figures of men etc. The guy wanted $200 dollars at first, but knocked it down to $180. Here in Canada, it would actually probably cost that much in a store. A few days later someone else was selling basically the exact same one at a different stand and they only wanted $100 for it. What a difference.
I think that is basically it. Checkout was a breeze. If you are considering the Bahia Principe I would say Sian Ka'an is the best choice, especially if you are older (though I am in my 20s) or like a more quiet sort of getaway. The quality of Sian Ka'an is noticeably higher than the others.
If you want a more involved and active resort, go with Coba. Even though it is not on the beach either, it definitely felt like it was of more quality than the remaining 2. If beach is a must you should probably read other reviews. Akumal seemed nicer than Tulum, but I was told that Tulum has a better beach than Akumal does.
Thanks for reading my review. I hope the depth and detail was appreciated.
Sian Ka'an is more new/quiet/trendy than the other resorts in the Bahia Principe. The staff are friendly/amazing/courteous/helpful. Very welcoming feeling. Great suites. Great Buffet. WiFi everywhere within Sian Ka'an, including suites.
The two restaurants at the Sian Ka'an are not as good as ones from other resorts in the Bahia Principe, and Sian Ka'an is situated away from them and the beach. Noisy shuttle rides are required to do much of anything. The designated beach is a bit rocky in the water.
The Bahia Principe's beaches have giant hideous sandbags in the water. More attractive shuttles would be nice. There's a lot of filthy tourists who smoke everywhere.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 4 outdoor pools (1 with Jacuzzi) Sun terrace with loungers and sun umbrellas BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Transfer to the beach and other facilities on the complex (at set times) Water activity centre, Beach Club with exclusive bar (at the Grand Principe Tulum) Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby and in rooms (free of charge) 1 international buffet restaurant 2 speciality restaurants 4 Bars 1 snack-bar Riviera Maya Golf Club: 18 long holes and 9 executive holes with lakes, natural wells and Mayan forest. Hacienda Dona Isabel: karaoke bars, shows, live music and disco. Rooms 420 rooms including 4 types: Junior Suite, Deluxe Junior Suite, Deluxe Garden Junior Suite, Deluxe Penthouse Junior Suite. Deluxe Garden Junior Suites and Deluxe Penthouse Junior Suites are larger than the Junior Suites and the Deluxe Junior Suites. Room facilities: King size bed or 2 full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Direct phone line (additional charge for external calls) Sitting area with sofa-bed and armchairs Balcony or terrace Bathroom with shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathroom amenities Bathrobe and slippers Don Pablo Collection amenities Alarm clock with iPod docking station Flat screen TV Coffee-making facilities Mini-bar Safe Iron and ironing board 24 hour room service Butler service in rooms Private Jacuzzi Wifi (free of charge) Pillow menu Aroma menu Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings and anniversaries, as well as corporate incentive trips and conventions Casino ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Sian Ka`An Golf Resort And Spa
- Gran Bahia Principe Sian Ka`An Golf Hotel Akumal
- Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka'An Don Pablo Collection Riviera Maya/Akumal, Mexico