We just returned from a week at the Royal Hideaway between 5/12-5/18 and enjoyed our stay immensely. Overall, this is an excellent hotel and the finest all-inclusive we have ever experienced. There are a few tiny areas where the RH can look to improve, but the level of quality overall is truly impressive. Here are some thoughts on the best things and the details that can continue to push the level of quality even higher.
Arrival and Transport:
Until you exit the Cancun airport after customs, don't talk to ANYONE. It's all timeshare scammers who will waste your time. RH private transfer was very expensive. We had a FANTASTIC private driver and guide who picked us up, dropped us off, took us to the best and most private excursions, and even took us for typical Mexican roadside tacos (venison and roast pork were offered.) He was $25 cheaper than the RH price, although the taxi was not a nice as a towncar, it got us there! Please private message me and I'll give you their numbers - Ariel and Nelson are their names. They took us for a private ATV tour at Punta Venado Park and Wildlife Preserve, which is about 15 mins from the hotel - neat place, will write separate review.
Greeting and Property:
Hotel entrance while not grandiose is still quite spectacular. As promised, lovely glass of cold sparkling dry white wine and cool towels were provided and we were checked in immediately. We had emailed Sarah-Kim Grune before arrival and upon check in we were advised that all our restaurant reservations were in place. In addition, our request for a particular location in the hotel and floor in the villa were accommodated with a smile. We were directed to the lobby bathrooms/lounges, where we changed into our pool clothes and then the bellman took a moment to point out various features of the hotel including the best way to the pools/beach and where we could eat lunch. Our room would be ready and bags installed when we returned at 3pm. We went off to The Grill where we had lunch and then off to the beach. Nice start!
The grounds are beautiful and carefully maintained and had a lot more character than comes through in the photos. It's on a sort of rolling hill heading down to the pools and beach, so that it is very park-like and doesn't feel newly constructed. One comment is that the cement ponds are, as stated in other comments, sort of silly and would be much more appealing if they were either refinished with stone or in 'swimming-pool' blue or tiles. Alternately, koi ponds with lily pads. The cement, while well maintained is a bit haphazard-looking for such a lovely property.
Property is dotted with gorgeous private-ish relaxation pools and is inhabited by so many beautiful birds, lizards, and other tropical jungle animals.
The Rooms, Maid Staff, and Our Concierge:
We were in 2623 on the top floor of villa 26 "Las Amapolas" and it was everything we hoped for, although in need of a teeny tiny bit of touching up. A/C fabulously cold, bed already had a mattress cover on and so was comfortable. Headboards with two sets of lights and lighting controls perfect! We LOVED the little jacuzzi spa tub with the windows in our bathroom and took baths every day. The light in the closet turns on when you open the door - clever and helpful. Safe is very small. Water closet cubicle has slatted doors and lacks privacy. I hope you know your traveling companions super-well or you may be over-sharing in this sense. Wallpaper was peeling behind toilet. Paint chipped and blue paint showing behind light fixture over sink. Shower could use some natural light - it's quite dark. Overall though, I'd be happy to have this bathroom in my own house! Bring earplugs if you're a light sleeper or plan to nap in your room in the afternoon, as there is some clatter (nothing major) from the courtyard. The maids were a little haphazard, missed turndown service on one night, and a misplaced bathing suit, after looking around, and asking after it for a couple of days, was found hanging from behind the ironing board in the closet - glad I happened to look there and delighted that it did not rust and stain. I noticed that the maids have both Etro and Bulgari The Vert toiletries on the last day and wished like heck I'd known, as the Etro scent is not to my liking, whereas I actually wear the Bulgari Green Tea fragrance! Next time I will ask and see if I can get these instead. Aileen our sweet concierge helped me book a Thai Massage and mani/pedi which was nice, although a requested wine bottle opener never came, which is an issue we had - concierge was not equipped to provide us with the corkscrew and so requested from room service, who didn't follow through. This is funny, as we asked for a corkscrew on another day from room service, and the first time it came right away, but the second time it came more than an hour after we finished our meal!
Rooms do come with bose iPod/iPhone docks and DVD players but all DVDs don't necessarily play. The hotel needs to improve the range of cable channels which is sadly quite limited. We watched a lot of Mexican E! and Discovery channel at night.
It was our anniversary and we noted this, but no special decor of any kind manifested. There were no towel animals on any night or balloons or flowers or fruit. Not expected but it would have been a kind touch.
The newly revamped spa is lovely and relaxing. Everyone is super helpful. I had the Thai Massage with Juan and a mani/pedi polish change with Beatriz, both very nice and great detailed service. If I had more time I would have explored the sauna/steam room/Vichy showers, which looked like a treat. Next time!
Best for breakfast: Heaven is at Las Ventanas - although getting a table is uber-slow, it's extremely friendly and accommodating, once you have a seat and the food is delicious. I am still dreaming about my eggs benedict with a side of sausage, crispy potatoes, extra hollandaise, ranchera sauce, cappucino, fresh-squeezed orange juice and champagne, plus the tower of tiny delicious pastries. LOVE!
Best for lunch: The Deck - Lots of love to Bernardino and Isis and the pool staff in general. Food is mostly good. Avoid the pizzas (sauce is sugary sweet and cheese unnaturally unmelty) and nachos, unless you like squeeze-cheese. Ceviche and tuna tartare are great, tacos are OK, sandwiches good. This menu could use some grill items: salmon, steak, chicken. Quesadilla/taco/burrito fillings need to be browned or seared or seasoned before hitting the plate. At the moment, they're a bit pallid and bland. Drinks frequently refilled (my white wine straight from the ice-cold bottle) and service is super duper friendly. Also, let's be serious, this is the best-looking place I've had the pleasure to eat my lunch. What a view! After lunch, grab your server and tell them you're going to the solarium deck, then grab a seat, order a fresh beverage and gaze at the sea. Heavenly again.
Best for Dinner: The Grill and Azia - surprised! Being from NYC I am wary of resort Asian restaurants, which are often either weird or just disappointing. Azia was a pleasant surprise and after a day in the sun, a platter of sushi and some cool sake hit the spot. The Grill was my favorite, however, as the NY Strip and sirloin steaks are just delicious. Not Peter Luger or anything but of clearly good quality and cooked medium rare to order. Live music (guitar player) was an added treat.
Worst for Dinner: Las Ventanas and Palazzo. Las Ventanas is a sleek, appealing place with live music, great waiters (Cesar!) and relatively tasteless food. The yummiest thing were the flavored breadsticks, spreads and salts. I had the special filet mignon with sweet potato mash. It suffered from an overdose of unnecessary sweeeeeet roasted red peppers and was a mite tough, but otherwise fine. My boyfriend didn't do so well with some tiny quails that had no meat and were dry as can be. We eat in fine-dining restaurants on a weekly basis and this was not up to par, although again it was clear that the quality of the ingredients is there, what is required is a close eye on (over- and under-) seasoning, texture, fanciness at the expense of flavor. As for Palazzo, appetizers were unimpressive, fettuccine with truffle essence was the only yummy dish we had. At this restaurant, we were unpleasantly surprised by the service. Our waiter, William refused to recommend any dish, stating that we would be angry at him if we didn't like the dish. That's a first! It also took a long time for anyone to bring us water, menus, wine. Appetizer was mixed up and I got someone else's Caesar and not the mozzarella/tomato. Maybe I should have stuck with Caesar though... We ate there on our last night and were glad to leave. Oh, a word to the wise: Do NOT get the corn soup. The view from Palazzo is amazing.
Worst for breakfast: This is unfair because there are only two places and one of them (Ventanas) is heaven on earth. Wait for a table is out of control for a buffet, though it's nice to sit outside and sip your coffee while your seating is arranged. Staff needs to keep a close eye on the guests. I saw an older lady wandering around the buffet grabbing food with her fingers and then licking her fingers and then pushing cream cheese off a serving spoon onto her plate with the same licked fingers. Gross! Out! The lady who makes the eggs deserves a hello, please and thank you. Food is tasty for a buffet and large, nice selection. Gets a bit buggy inside. Bartender and waiters great and happy to get you a fun breakfast mimosa with fresh tropical fruit juices.
Room service: Not bad at all, but extremely limited menu whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This needs the most work of anything at the RHP.
The Pool and Beach:
Service excellent, animation staff, especially Enrique and Jessy are fun, friendly and enthusiastic without being pushy. I did water aerobics each day with Enrique or Jesse and very much enjoyed it. We tried to rent bikes but they had run out, too bad. Pools are gorgeous and well-kept, beach is cleaned and drinks service hustles to keep you happy. We were frequently offered fruit skewers and cold towels, which was GREAT. (NB: Toward the end of our trip, an American corporate group arrived and they were loud and obnoxious one afternoon in the pool, singing, drinking six packs of Bud Light. Yucky! People, have fun but please behave yourselves. If you're the only ones yelling, maybe you're ruining the afternoon for everyone else? The Germans to my left and the English to our right left in disgust, only to return and say there were more at the private pools near the villas. Ay ay ay.)
Saxophone player by the pool in the afternoon was pleasant, if a little downtempo. Some Spanish guitar players or even a gentle mariachi band would be nice to round out pool entertainment. (At Valentin Imperial this was an area of excellence - lovely live Spanish/Cuban/Mexican music by the pool in the afternoon.) The entertainment at Bar Allegria can benefit from some improvement. The duo that played one evening was practically falling asleep they were so low-key, and the singer was so quiet he was hard to hear. Allegria is a lovely indoor/outdoor space and the drinks are delicious. Live piano music at Ventanas for dinner also a pleasure - mix of jazz standards. My favorite!
I want to be clear that this place is gorgeous, the beach is fantastic, the pools divine, the spa a pleasure, the rooms ample and comfortable. I am pointing out some tiny details that can be refined to create an even finer experience, but none of these items are consequential and our stay at the Royal Hideaway is one that I will be recommending over and over to friends, colleagues and family. I can't WAIT to go back, and the management and staff are to be commended for their awesome attitudes and hard work. They've made RHP a slice of heaven.
This hotel is excellent and we had a fantastic time. When can I book another trip?
Villa 26 was great. Ask for the top floor.
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