Some friends of ours have a membership in a vacation club that they rarely use, but decided it was high time to try it out and we landed some real estate at Mayan Palace for a very reasonable price per couple. Our group consisted of three couples, all in our early 30's.
Location: The location of the resort is not great if you want to go anywhere off the resort grounds - it's nearly an hour from Cancun and at least 25 minutes from Play del Carmen. Based on this knowledge, we decided to rent cars (each couple rented a tiny Aveo, which was a better deal than renting one or two larger cars to share) and we were very happy with our decision to do so. It gave us plenty of freedom to go where we pleased and stay in complete control of our own schedules. Doing the math on what other transportation would have cost, I think we were much better off. The parking situation was less than desireable since the small lot that was nice and close to our room was closed the week we were there.
Rooms: As many of the other reviews have stated, the layout of the resort is kind of ridiculous, with 21 buildings laid out in one long line, building #1 closest to the pool, building #9-ish being closest to the lobby and building #21 being closest to nothing. While we requested rooms in buildings 1-8, we were put into building 19. It wasn't a great situation since the pool was nearly always our destination, but after a day or so we learned to deal with it and work the shuttle system.
Despite our complaints about the building location, our rooms were nice enough, however nothing fancy or indicative of the Mexican culture we were in - very utilitarian with no views of anything, but comfortable and clean. We shared a two-bedroom suite (a one-bedroom suite with a King bed and the second bedroom is a lockout with two double beds) with one of the other couples, and the third couple was in a one bedroom suite next door. My husband and I were in the lockout, but we shoved the two beds together to make one giant bed and our travel companions were actually jealous they didn't have our room! In addition, our lockout was at the end of the hall, so we didn't share a wall with anyone or have any trouble with noise that I've heard others complain about. I was also under the impression there was no one in the room above us for most of the week (we were on the 2nd floor), so we may have gotten lucky in terms of peace and quiet. I loved that each couple had their bathroom. The rooms were very clean had twice daily maid service that I was happy to tip each maid for at the end of the week - they even managed to handle our "giant bed" with no problem! We also put our tiny kitchenette to much use with breakfast and lunch foods (we ate all dinners out), as well as beer and wine for drinking in the room (and sneaking down to the pool). We stocked up on supplies at the Wal-Mart in Playa which is cheap, cheap, cheap. You can't cook much on the tiny stove and I wish they'd had larger than a dorm-size fridge, but it got the job done.
Activities: The pool is AWESOME. It's huge and beautiful and we spent much of the week lying next to and in it. During the week we were there they kept draining various parts of the pool to do maintenance on it - I have no idea if this is a constant thing, or if our timing was off, but ultimately it didn't affect us in the slightest because it's so large there's always another part of the pool to explore. We did belly up to the pool bar several times in the beginning of the week, but the areas next to each pool bar tended to be in high-demand and, as would be expected, is often where you'd find the loud, drunken hillbillies and frat boys. We eventually found that our favorite spots were farther from the bars and we preferred to use the poolside waitstaff - they worked their butts off and treated us right (and were not oblivious to our sneaking our own beer down to the pool, and yet still chose to look the other way). They also had two happy hours every day, one in the late morning/early afternoon (11 - 1, I think) and another in the late afternoon (4 - 6?) - they consisted of buy-one-get-one drink-of-the-day and beers, so we usually took advantage of that.
Because of the coral and rocks at the shoreline, the beach sucked, pure and simple. It's BEAUTIFUL, but I'm a beach girl and I like swimming in the ocean (not to mention, it gets very hot laying in the sun, and you need to be able to cool off) and the water was completely inaccessible. I couldn't believe that people were actually risking losing skin by snorkeling off the beach, but there were a few out there. I walked out to the beach once or twice, but mostly resigned myself to staying by the pool.
Four of us in our group got spa treatments and we all thought they did a great job - the prices were fairly typical of a spa back home and I didn't think they were too bad. It also allowed access to the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room before/after your treatment, so that was a nice bonus. It costs extra to go to the gym, which I think is kind of ridiculous. However, I say that as someone who doesn't go on vacation to work out!
Timeshare Pitch: We chose not to do the timeshare presentation (which saves you something like 10% of your entire bill and gets you a free breakfast), as we deemed it completely unworthy of spending three or four hours of our day suffering through (I know from experience they're high pressure and not fun). They asked us to the presentation once at check-in and once called our room to ask us to come - we declined both times and they left us alone after that.
Restaurants: We did try most of the restaurants on the resort at least once and there were none I was truly disappointed in, though some were better than others. As is to be expected, they were all a bit on the pricey side, but nothing too terrible. I think my favorite was the Italian restaurant. The biggest problem I think we found was that none of them are easy or quick to get into at dinner time. Most of them require reservations at least a day ahead of time if you want to wait less than an hour or two. We also drove into Playa for dinner at least three times, which was my preference, but it's a long enough drive where we couldn't get up the energy to do it more than that. The poolside restaurant was really good - our first day we actually ate lunch there and enjoyed it, and several times throughout the week we ordered snacks or light lunches through the poolside waitstaff and it was delivered to us without our even having to get out of the pool! The pizza was awesome - highly recommend.
Overall it's a nice resort, but I wouldn't stay here again. And while I had no problem with our rooms, I prefer something a little more culturally immersive than a room that looks like I could be staying in a chain hotel in the middle of Cincinnati - if I go to Playa again, I'll pay a little more for a vacation rental or boutique hotel in the heart of the city. And the location was a turnoff, because even with access to our own cars leaving the resort was often time consuming and stressful (I think it would have been worse trying to use shuttles and public transportation - my husband was very good at navigating the traffic....there was just a lot of it!). If you're just looking for a resort with a bar and a pool, though, this is your place.
- Also Known As:
- Mayan Riviera
- Mayan Palace Cancun
- Wyndham Playa Del Carmen
- Riu Palace Riviera Maya
- Cancun Grand Mayan
- Grand Maya Mayan Riviera
- Playa Del Carmen Wyndham
- Mayan Palace Playa Del Carmen
- Mayan Palace Riviera Maya Mexico
- Mayan Palace Riviera Maya Playa Paraiso, Mexico