If you're doing your research for your upcoming trip, then you all ready know a lot about Xpu Ha Palace - the beautiful jungle setting on the ocean, the wildlife sanctuary, the cenote on site, the kayaking (though there's really only a little room in the small cenote for it), the spa services, the rooms with a double jacuzzi, double sinks, balcony with seating area and hammock, 24/7 room service, the swim-up bar, great slides in the pool for younger kids, the use of bicycles (though they've seen better days) and snorkeling gear, etc, etc, etc.
For us, this was the best vacation we've ever had. This was our first time at an all-inclusive resort. We never felt SO pampered in all our lives. The staff was PHENOMENAL! Everyone there was so friendly and helpful. We went to 3 other Palace resorts while there (Aventura, Playacar, and Isla Mujeres), and the staff at Xpu Ha was the friendliest. We were surprised how much we got to know some of them in a week, even with the language barrier (their English was definitely better than our Spanish). In fact, we got to know several couples and families, because this is a small resort and was not crowded, even during Thanksgiving week.
FOOD - The service couldn't be better. They were so attentive, without hovering. A dirty plate never sat on our table longer than two minutes. Our glass seemed to never get empty. Another reviewer said the food there left much to be desired. We seem to have been there around the same time. I can't imagine what he/she was talking about! Even the breakfast and lunch buffets were impressive in presentation and variety. The dinners were truly gourmet -artwork on a plate. Some of the best meals we ever ate were at Xpu Ha. We were glad they had authentic Mexican food, with some Mayan spices. We didn't want to come all the way to Mexico to eat Americanized food. Since Xpu Ha only has two restaurants (Mexican and Italian), I could see how some might tire of their choices after a week if this is the only place you eat (although they changed the Mexican menu in the middle of our week, and they had a special and completely different menu for Thanksgiving. My husband and I both LOVED the food). We ate at Aventura Palace (we had it's snack bar for lunch one day - sandwiches and fries - just fine, we had the lunch buffet another day - definitely sub-standard. I'm not a picky eater, but some things I put on my plate, I just couldn't eat. Was wishing I was back at Xpu Ha at that time. We ate at the Oriental restaurant for dinners two nights at Aventura - we really enjoyed it.) We ate at Playacar Palace one night after shopping in Playa del Carmen (we were hungry, but the circus show was going to start in 30 minutes, so we had an appetizer and drink at the bar. It was great. The bartender and waitress were very friendly and conversational. After the show, we had dinner at the Italian restaurant - great food and service there, too. What we saw of Playacar Palace, it had more of the look of a nice hotel, rather than a nice resort. Just didn't seem as nice as Xpu Ha or Aventura, in terms of asthetics). We also went to Isla Mujeres for a lunch buffet after snorkeling ( the service was terrible compared to the other resorts we'd been to. Granted, it's the smallest of the Palace resorts and gets crowded for lunch from tours. However, I saw several employees standing around who didn't seem to want to take care of the Palace visitors. A couple of times I tried to make a little small talk with the bartender while he was making our drinks. He simply ignored me (when I spoke both English and Spanish). When my husband left him a tip, he scoffed and threw it aside!!! This was the first rude employee we encountered at a Palace resort. The food at the lunch buffet was typical buffet food. It was fine.) In conclusion, in our experience, the food at Xpu Ha was the highest-quality, most authentic Mexican, beautiful and gourmet. Even their buffets are arranged to look as beautiful as it tastes. None of the other resorts' buffets took the care to do that.
ACTIVITIES - Being a smaller resort, there was one pool, with one side for kids and a swim-up bar on one side. It was certainly big enough for the small group of people there. As for the evening shows, we really enjoyed the Copoeilla (Brazilian dancing to drums). On two other nights, there was Karaoke, which turned out dull, since only a few people were there, and only a few of them participated, despite the enthusiastic efforts of the staff. Actually, most of the activities just lacked something because there were so few people there, which you may like if you're not a people-person and you just want to veg-out. We did enjoy the activities at Aventura better because there were more people. At times, it was just a little TOO quiet at Xpu Ha for us. As for the included local tours (like zip-line, Mayan ruins, water park, snorkeling on coral reef), we had a promotional rate through RCI that included everything except these tours. However, our first day there Manuel arranged for us to take a tour of Aventura Spa Palace (a 90 minute time-share thing) the next morning in exchange for two Palace Passports. It ended up being two hours, but was worth it for the free tours. We took four of them - Chichen Itza ( a long day, but I recommend it highly. To not go is like going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids), we saw the ruins at Tulum (what a beautiful area and beach! Take your swimsuit), we did the zipline at Holkan Park (I DO NOT recommend. It was no zip-line through the jungle. It was an ugly, muddy old quarry that they hung the ziplines over - there was no going through the jungle at all. My husband noticed the details (the riggings and platforms) and said it would never pass safety standards in the US. Another man there made the same observation. We were glad it was only two years old - it will undoubtedly run down quickly and be even more dangerous. There are other places there to do ziplines that have great reviews.) We also did the snorkeling tour at Isla Mujeres. I loved the island and the amazing water, however there were so many in our group, and so many other groups, that it was crowded in the water. They wanted us to stay together, but with so many people, we were kicking each other, It was kind of ridiculous. I think the name of this company was Paradise some-thing-or-other (Paradise Snorkeling, or Paradise Tours, perhaps. BTW, bring your own snorkeling gear - mouthpiece, at least. I was sure they must disinfect them, but when we returned after snorkeling and another group was waiting to get on the boat, I saw no efforts to clean the masks and mouthpiece. I believe they were going to hand out the mouthpieces that we just took out of our mouths!!! I hope I'm wrong about that). We did see some very beautiful and colorful fish, squid, and even a starfish. After lunch at Isla Mujeres Palace, they took us to do some shopping in their little shopping area. I really enjoyed the 45-minute ferry ride to the island and back. It felt like a party boat with the fun crew! They even handed out Tequila shots and some other mixed drink on the ride back.
ROOMS - The first room we were given (top room in 700 buildings) had an overpowering musty smell that we simply couldn't tolerate. They immediately sent someone to work on the air-conditioning (where the smell seemed to come from), but took us to a couple of other rooms in the same 700 buildings to see which we'd prefer. Actually, the other two had the musty smell, but not nearly as strong. We took the third, as the smell was only slight and not a problem. I'm not sure if it's because of the palapa roof (which I doubt, since the Lobby Bar and Restaurant has the same kind of roof with no smell), or if the air-conditioning in that area needs to be maintained better. The room itself was roomy enough for us 2. We loved the double jacuzzi and balcony with hammock. The toiletries provided were great. A little debris did fall from the palapa roof (even more when it rained), but it wasn't a problem. It was worth the natural feel of the property. Beware that the birds start their beautiful songs early in the morning, but it was fine, since we found ourselves going to bed earlier than usual, as things were so subdued there.
IN CONCLUSION - If the beach is important to you, don't come to Xpu Ha. Even if you do use the better beach to the left (Barcelo Resort's), still, the water itself wasn't nearly as nice as in Cancun or Tulum. I hear Sun Palace and Beach Palace have great beaches. If lots of planned activities on the resort are important to you, don't come to Xpu Ha. If you're looking to relax at a unique and quiet all-inclusive, if you want to be pampered with WONDERFUL service, if you want a friendly atmosphere, if you want great food, if you love animals, Xpu Ha is definitely for you!!! It's only been a week, but we miss it already! We can't stop thinking about our wonderful week here. Our little Xpu Ha has a special place in our hearts. Have a great vacation!!!
p.s. We also learned that when using other Palace resorts, you can request a hospitality room to shower. We loved that, since we usually went to one after a day of tours, then swimming in the pool or lagoon. We were able to clean up before dinner. My husband and I would take a backpack with a change of clothes. When we got to the resort, we'd go to the gym and request a locker to leave our backpacks ( so we wouldn't have to carry them around all afternoon), enjoy the resorts amenities, then come back for them when we got ready to use a hospitality room. Just ask for the hospitality room at the check-in desk where you first enter the resort. We will definitely use Palace resorts in future! So many great features in all their resorts!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Bel Air Xpu-Ha is the newly open Resort of Bel Air Collection at Riviera Maya. Feel with your family the natural environment, the perfect place to rest and delight yourself. A unique place for a romance experience. Enjoy our facilities surrounded by natural beauty in an eco-paradise. A gourmet experience in each of our restaurants, from Mexican-Italian fusion cuisine to sushi & martini delightful Japanese style, all in a la carte menu selection. Premium brand drinks and appetizing snacks in our Bars at Lobby and pool area. A unique layout of a cozy and peaceful guestrooms in liberate getaway with all the luxury and comfort of a five stars resort, refurbished indoors with jacuzzi and branding amenities; a relaxed exterior and a spacious terrace with hammock. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bel Air Collection Xpu Ha Riviera Maya Hotel Xpuha
- Xpu Ha Palace Xpuha
- Bel Air Collection Xpu Ha Riviera Maya Mexico - Xpu-Ha