I'm not exactly sure where to begin to describe the excellent service and upgrades we received during our trip, but I will try to hit on the main points.
Our trip was from July 20 -27, 2013.
We booked our vacation through www.Tripguy.com and this was the #1 best decision we made in deciding to go back to Mexico. Before I contacted Tripguy I did some pricing for the hotel and airfares. When I got the quote from Tripguy for the entire package it was about 20% cheaper than I could do on my own - and also BETTER! Mitch (our agent) was able to get us premier (business/first) class on flight only $10 more per person. (I wouldn’t even have looked at premier/first class tickets in my own searching). He also arranged for a PRIVATE round trip transfers in a Lincoln Navigator to the resort, which was much better than being crammed into a minivan with other vacationers and being delayed as you make multiple stops.
I also have to mention that I hate flying into Cancun airport. You are harassed and annoyed by dozens of agents and porters trying to score a tip by carrying your bags or booking an excursion. The only negative is that the agency was holding a sign with our names and told us to walk down a bit further to our travel agent section. When they did this she asked a porter to take our bags just to walk us 50 feet. Why? We did so well avoiding them and handled our wheeled luggage fine. There was also a bit of a wait for our transportation.
We arrived at the resort and were taken care of promptly. We arrived early on a Saturday (around 10:30am). The front desk agent asked if we were celebrating anything special and I mentioned that it was my birthday during the week. He informs us that because it’s a special occasion they are going to upgrade us to an Ocean Front suite (Building 70) from our booked Std Room. We were very happy about this! I’m not sure what made him offer us the upgrade for sure, but I am convinced that booking through a travel agent that sends many clients to their resort had more to do with the better service then the fact it was my birthday. It make sense right? As a hotel/resort wouldn’t you want to try to please the agencies that work with you on a daily basis booking trips over a one-off traveler booking on his own? We also saw many people staying in standard rooms so not everyone got this perk.
I have to say I love the beaches in the Mexico -white sands and clear waters. This beach does have some rocks in sections, but it wasn’t packed and it was easy to find a nice spot and chairs.
Our room wasn’t ready right away but they invited us to have lunch in the meantime and informed us it should be ready early (normal check in is 3pm – we got the room by noon. We also were allowed a later checkout 2:30pm). Walking through you can see the resort is well maintained and all the staff are friendly “Hola!”. After lunch we go back to the front desk and our room is ready. The front porter takes our bags and us by golf cart pointing out points of interest throughout the resort. Getting to our room is a bit of a whirlwind. After the porter leaves then the butler arrives asking if we need anything. We requested a bottle of Don Julio tequila in the room (when in Mexico…). Another staff member arrives with fresh fruit and plates. Another staff comes to check our mini bar is stocked and see if we need anything else. Everyone leaves and 15 min later a new guy is there with fulfilling our request for a full bottle of Don Julio. Wow – is this a dream? The rest of the trip was the same way with exemplary service throughout from the waiters/waitressed at the beach, pool and dinner to the Star Friends. These people want to make sure you have everything and are having a good time without a doubt.
Overall I found the food to be very good with some items being exceptionally great. Lobster at every meal – I got a chuckle at the decadence of that notion. They always had a variety of fresh fruit and my wife particularly loved the mangos (in season). They had a fresh juice bar in the spa (which hardly anyone used – I guess too busy drinking the top shelf liquor) – it would have been nice if they had leafy greens to add to the fresh made juice (kale, spinach, parsley). I guess if more people took advantage of it. Meat and seafood eaters will always find something good at every meal. My only criticism is sometimes items were over cooked. But overall this is some of the best food I had at an all-inclusive. The buffet was better than the al a carte restaurants – we even cancelled our reservation at the Italian restaurant since many of those items made an appearance at the buffet. Don’t stress getting in any of the restaurants unless you prefer sit down service for dinner.
The nightly shows were fun and imaginative especially the Rock Show and Boogie Nights, but they had a different one each night of the week. The pool party was very festive and fun.
I know the subject at tipping at all-inclusives is a bit controversial. I tipped – especially at the bars and for exceptional waiter service. Sometimes you don’t have cash on you, like at beach or pool and missed an opportunity to tip - It never affected service, but I always tried to remember the individuals that were standouts. The butler was great at check in and I tipped in advance in case we needed anything (besides the Don Julio). We called the butler line and we always wound up with one of the ladies at the concierge desk – they took care of our requests. Where were the butlers? We never really used their services and there were so many others picking up the slack.
There were some minor complaints about the room like the shower that doesn’t maintain a consistent temperature and a door lock that took a few tries, but it’s hard to complain with a free upgrade. It’s just the resort showing a bit of its age. We also had to call about the AC which was great after the 1st day, but at night the temperature creeped up a bit no matter the setting.
I booked a massage at the spa, but I found their services to be overpriced. $185 for a 60 min massage seemed high to me, but they had a special at $130. Because it was a promotion they didn’t accept my $50 credit (another perk from the travel agent btw). It was my birthday – I splurged. Go to Playa Del Carmen where you will be harassed to no end to get an inexpensive massage at 1/3 the price – not sure about that since I didn’t get one.
Many of the reviews already discuss the food and there are many sources to find specifics. A vacation is what you make of it and if you go there with unrealistic expectations then there is bound to be some disappointment. Any issues we experienced were very minor – I put them in so perhaps the hotel can improve their already excellent service. If you are thinking of coming here then DO!
My #1 piece of advice – use a travel agency (I recommend Tripguy, but I am biased by an outstanding experience!) I believe you will get better service and upgrades if available.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly on the long, fine, sandy beach of Playa Paraiso in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Top 5-star luxury. Quiet and relaxing. Personal butler and concierge service. 24 hours all inclusive service. 4 a la carte restaurants. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Playa Paraiso
- Playa Paraiso Iberostar
- Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso Playa Paraiso, Riviera Maya, Mexico