We booked with Transat Holidays which meant Option Plus Service, VIP Lounge in Calgary and Cancun airports and private transportation to resort and back. Everything but priority luggage returning to Calgary went off without a hitch. Once outside Cancun airport we were in our van and on our way within 10 minutes max. Pickup to return to the airport was right on time.
Upon arrival at the resort we were taken directly to Reception where we were shown on a map where our room was located. Fear of all fears, exactly where we didn't want to be, next to and looking towards the Riu Playacar. The receptionist said it wouldn't be noisy there, WRONG!, but if we didn't like the room come back next day. After unpacking we just didn't like the idea of having to repack everything so didn't bother. Big mistake. Workers and their waggons walking by from 6 am to midnight clack, clack, clack and Riu Playacar music from around 9 pm to 11:30 every night. With doors closed you could not block it out. It will be interesting as to what the RHP will do when the Riu Playacar starts its major renovations next year which is a total knockdown and rebuild to Adults Only Palace and expected to take about one year.
We'd booked by email our first 3 nights restaurants reservations and met with temp concierge (ours was day off) and booked another 7 or 8 nights. She made a huge error booking us into the Club Royale when it wasn't even open but thankfully our concierge Juan Luis noticed it and got everything fixed up and our final bookings without a hitch. He also did a marvellous job of decorating our room on our 48th Anniversary. And he was the main reason we didn't go back to reception to get another room. Shoulda, woulda, coulda but didn't.
Our room was great inside and kept clean as a whistle our entire stay, turn down service every night. No mold, no odours, no peeling wallpaper but the railings on the balcony, 3rd floor, were horrible. Rust everywhere and I did check to make sure they were secure and they were but looked downright ugly and the RHP should be embarrassed to have railings in that condition. Sandblast, touchup welding and new paint job shouldn't take more than 2 days per room. Shower water temps as has been mentioned in several reviews was up and down. You'd be standing very comfortably and then a blast of very hot water followed by a blast of cold. Should be consistent.
The resort must have been full when we arrived because for the first 3 days we were hard pressed to find lounges even on the beach. After that there were lots available, including those with the tents. It took until day 13 before we were able to find lounges at the main pool. On day 14 we were told by one of the beach/pool/entertainment staff that if you see a rolled towel on a lounge it's open (rarely if ever saw that but we wouldn't get there until around 10 am), if flat it's taken. BUT we saw that many or most of the guests were just downright lazy and when they vacated their lounges they left their towels on them making it look like they were still occupied. We saw one group of 3 people using 3 lounges at the main pool, 3 at the infinity pool and 3 at the beach and they'd just move back and forth according to their whims. Aridiana at the pools said if she'd seen it she'd have told them only one lounge per person at a time. Beach is huge and beautiful, sea water warmer than the pools except for the small one between buildings 29 (where we were) and 30 which is heated along with a large jacuzzi to 40 degrees Celsius and with only about 6 or 8 lounges very private. We used it several times.
Restaurants: For breakfast Spices is a buffet and very good, eating there about 9 or 10 times. The Deck is an a la carte restaurant and makes great eggs benedict which we had maybe 4 mornings. Orange juiced, still or flat water or sparkling and coffee are poured almost as you're sitting down. Excellent service.
The Deck is open, a la carte, for lunch and has an excellent light menu. We recommended to them to get rid of The Grill (which the Deck becomes for dinner) and leave the Deck open with the lunch menu until around 10 or 10:30 pm, no reservations and casual (shorts) dress. The Grill is merely a duplicate of what's served in the other restaurants for dinner and it would be nice to be able to have something light when you feel like it and without dressing up.
Spices (evening) Mexican food – ate there once, food was good but didn't agree with me and we had to go for a 3/4 hour walk to get rid of the indigestion. Never went back. Somedays towards the end of our trip Spices was open at lunch with the evening menu.
Azia – Japanese restaurant. Ate there once. We were taken to a table outside without discussion to where there were a few other tables AND smokers. Food was ok but nothing to write home about. Would have preferred to be inside.
Palazzo and Ventanas – We ate at each 4 times. Only one word to describe the food, service, presentations, waiters, etc and that's excelente! We did try many of the items at both restaurants and Ossobuco, beef tenderloin, lamb chops, sea bass were all fantastic and cooked to perfection. We had our Anniversary dinner at Ventanas where we were greeted with a bottle of bubbly at our table and we ordered a bottle of wine from the menu. It took us 3 1/2 hours to finish dinner that night. Rest of the time in all the restaurants we drank the house wines which were from Italy, Argentina can Chile and all very, very good.
Club Royale – major disappointment. Great location but shows and buffet Mexican meal so so. We went on a Friday night for Mexican Fiesta which included a short Mayan dance, short Mariachi performance and short Mexican dancers performance. The following Monday was supposed to be a la carte and some other show but they did another Mexican buffet and an even shortened version, 40 minutes, of what we saw Friday. Epic failure on the part of the Program Director.
The Grill: first night wife had tenderloin medium rare and I had Kurobuta pork chop medium. Both cooked to perfection, service excellent. We went again a few nights later and we both ordered tenderloins because of how it was 1st time and at Ventanas. Came out cooked VERY WELL DONE. Sent them back, waiter apologizing and told Manger. 1/2 hour later tenderloins came back cooked WELL DONE this time. Wife refused to eat it, I ate a bit because I was starved. Again waiter apologized blaming a new chef and he told Manger again. I wanted to speak to Manager but think he knew I was looking for him as he disappeared.
Entertainment: Allegria was hit and miss, great sax player early when we were having dinner at Ventanas our last night and we were seated outside. We could hear him clearly so had several dances, just one other table outside, between courses.
The piano player's contract expired shortly after we arrived so about a week and a half without piano in Ventanas lounge and restaurant. Again program Director did not do a good job, surely there were piano players available in Playa del Carmen that could fill in temporarily.
Overall some very good stuff and some not so good and not up to the 5* level Leading Hotels award it holds. But we won't be back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Award winning luxury all inclusive resort set along the beautiful beaches of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Ideal setting in a serene environment for complete rest and relaxation. Adults only. Member of The Leading Hotels of the World. 2008 winner of the coveted AAA 5 Diamond Award. 11 villas with private concierge are spread throughout the property's immaculate grounds. Six gourmet restaurants serve delicasies in menu-style dining. A full service spa offers the ultimate in papmering and body treatments. Personalzied service and attention to detail set this resort a world apart. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Royal Hideaway Playacar And Occidental Resorts
- Royal Hideaway Playacar & Occidental Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Royal Hideaway Playa Del Carmen
- Royal Hideaway Mexico
- Occidental Royal Hideaway
- Royal Hideaway Playacar Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen