I'm going to give you the real deal. This is from someone who has travelled extensively (like most of us) and has stayed at 5 star hotels as well as complete dumps when "roughing" it. I'm also going to give the perspective from someone who has small kids. So this is skewed with that in mind. I have 2 girls ages 2 (almost 3) and 5 years old. We travelled with two other families who also had younger children. I'm an executive at a NYC technical/internet company with an MBA- I mention this because I believe I can take a dispassionate view of this resort.
Here are my impressions after spending 7 nights there end of February 2014
- The grounds are very beautiful. Great winding paths. Lots of beautiful foliage and a great many iguanas, weasels, raccoons etc. that provide terrific entertainment for the little ones.
- The pools are big and winding too. They are well maintained with plenty of places for little ones to walk right in to a height they are comfortable with. There were no life guard on duty. We were a little taken aback when we saw one of the maintenance crews using Miuriatic acid to clean the pool walls. I would assume this would be something you do on an empty pool not one in use since it's quite strong.
- The grounds are spread-out. This has been mentioned. I'm in good shape (p90X/Insanity) so it's not a matter of difficulty walking. The problem is little kids will get impatient/tired from all the walking. Let's say you need to go to the lobby...that going to be 20 minutes of walking round trip. Then you decide to go to the beach...another 20 minutes. I have a pedometer on my phone...we averaged 5-6 miles of walking a day. At a 4mph pace that is about 90 minutes each day just to get from point A to point B. It takes a hit out of your vacation time and overall enjoyment when you want to just relax.
- We had a room that was divided into two sections. There is a bedroom (for my wife and I) with a closing door. Outside of this bedroom, is the bathroom (it has a door too) and the living room with a fold out couch.
- Yes. The beds and pillows are very very hard. Seriously. We were so tired so it didn't really matter but I definitely understand how some people would be unable to sleep on them.
- The food. The buffet is just okay. Meaning nothing really tasted fresh. Nothing tasted bad mind-you it's just nothing was impressive. What it lacks in taste they make up in quantity and variety. You will find what you need but it won't knock your socks off.
- The staff- It's a mixed bag. Mostly they were confused. You see this place is so enormous one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. When we asked the same question to three people we would get 3 different answers.
- Information- just a basic lack of it. When are activities available? What do you need to do them? If you don't have an ID you can't take out the kayaks....now you have to decide: Is this worth a 20 minute walk back to my room dragging two kids (see how the size of the place interrupts your trip). They provide a single "schedule" with activities but no other information about those activities. Just a single word- "Tennis." Well that could mean anything. They should give everyone a booklet of information packed with detail. Also, they don't quite keep to the schedule and the activities are constantly being changed....could be just a Mexico thing but I don't think that's a good excuse.
- The staff- I think they're trying. You always have some good eggs and some bad eggs. My sense is that this is a vacation mill and these guys see 1000's of people constantly coming through so they're somewhat numbed out by the whole thing.
- Internet service- was horrible in the rooms but they were having "tech" difficulties. It was free in the lobby and better. I'm on Verizon and there was practically no signal. If you choose roaming to surf the web you will pay a literal fortune if you do get a connection so I would advice against it.
- Kids Club 1- I think the staff are okay. Some other parents in our group had a fight with them because they asked for Passports to confirm the ages of the kids. A) No one told them this was needed. B) Another hike back to the room now C) Copies of passports were already made at registration so why don't they just ask them. D) One staff member aggressively asks the kids their ages since she thought they weren't old enough for the program instead of asking the parent. Again general disorganization.
- Kids Club 2- The activities were okay but not a blast. It seemed most of the young kids didn't really want to be there. It's not that there was anything wrong with the kids club and certainly I felt the staff was trying hard and being attentive. So I didn't feel there was any safety issues.
Tips for Bringing Young Kids
- At White Sands- Get a room in building 56. It's closest to the pool and the beach.
- Better yet, get a room at Colonial because the cool kids pool is there. It has lots of slides, spraying water and a water fall....all of which the kids loved.
- Forget the stroller unless you've got babies. There are bridges here that go over canals. You will have to carry the stroller over these.
- The beach is nice- fine, white sand. The "rocky" part that people mention is called coral and if you snorkel is cool to look at (although not colorful)...there are a lot of fish to see.
- The waves are minimal so great for little kids and the water is warm.
- I would rent a car and drive from the airport. It's a straight shot down a major highway. I didn't because my wife, mom, friends were paranoid about gangs or bad cops pulling us over. This is waaay overblown. We could of had a car for a week. We did rent to go Tulum which was nice and we had no troubles. So if you are comfortable driving I would go for it. No banditos.
Happy to answer questions...so let me know :)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa is located on a spectacular, private Caribbean beach-front complex that boasts of 800 meters of white, fine sand and turquoise blue waters. Guests of the Grand Palladium White Sand are invited to use the facilities provided by the adjoining Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa, the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa, and the Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa (excluding the Royal Suite facilities). ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Palladium White Sand Hotel Akumal
- Grand Palladium White Sand Resort And Spa
- Palladium White Sands
- Grand Palladium White Sands Resort
- Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa Riviera Maya/Akumal, Mexico