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“Took a Chance with IMS & Had a Great Time on a Low Budget!”

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Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Ranked #61 of 211 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Reviewed 14 March 2011

My husband and I recently returned from a 6 night stay at the Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We are from Virginia so we really needed to get away from the frigid winter weather, but we also wanted to travel on a budget. So, we took a chance and booked the trip with IMS Vacations through a promotional deal online. We were extremely skeptical about the legitimacy of this deep discount but we decided that it was worth the risk. The promotion stipulates that one of us must be 30 years old, have a combined income of at least $60000, be married and living together, and that both of us must attend a 90 minute timeshare presentation. Just in case, we brought proof of all of these stipulations because there was no way they could verify this information online. The only documentation they required at the resort was an ID (passport of both you and your spouse) and a major credit card.

Despite our worst fears, our vacation turned out great! We had absolutely no issues during the entire stay. The presentation lasted about 3 hours but this was more a result of us chatting than anything else. There was no pressure to purchase and we were left to ourselves for the rest of our vacation.

We found the resort itself to be immaculate and enormous! We were placed near the beach so our rooms were older. We appreciated the close proximity to the beach so we were willing to sacrifice a newer room. I cannot say that the room was great but it was fine for our purpose. There was a strong acidic smell in the bathroom which they promptly fixed. The only thing we had to be careful about was our front door. If we did not shut it a certain way, the door remained unlocked. Our maid had no idea so sometimes our door would be unlocked when we returned at the end of the day. Fortunately, the safe seemed secure so we were never too concerned.

The beach is absolutely beautiful, expansive, and immaculate! The staff was constantly picking up after us as well as cleaning any seaweed that came ashore. The resort has a ton of bars and great drinks. Anyone who says they are watered down/lacked enough alcohol must have been drunk already! They made every drink to order, had great beers on tap and worked very hard. We never had to wait more than a minute to be served. [As a sidenote: I would not recommend their house red wine but their white house wine (sauvignon blanc) was not too bad.] We tried to tip at least a dollar every time they served us at the bar, a couple bucks at the buffets, and at least five bucks at the restaurants. They truly deserved every penny.

For such a large resort, they did a great job with the food too. I am not the biggest fan of buffets but they always had plenty of variety. The breakfast was always my favorite. Their burgers were delicious…for someone who rarely eats red meat, I couldn’t help but have one at lunch each day! We thought the Italian buffet was sub-par but it is actually connected to the main buffet so you can always go back and forth. We went to the Asian, French, and Mexican a la carte restaurants. They were all great but the Asian and Mexican were particularly good. Remember that unless you are a member of the resort, you may only go to 2-3 a la carte restaurants during your stay.

If you consider Sandos Playacar, please realize that it is an extremely family-oriented resort. There are tons of families, children of all ages, and large groups. My husband and I did not mind but if this is not your idea of a vacation, definitely go elsewhere. We do have to say that the entertainment was excellent…probably some of the best we have ever seen at a resort. The gym was state of the art and there were activities going on all day long. We never went to the spa but I am sure it would not disappoint. The game room is also great although for the number of clientele, it did not have enough equipment. When the main bars closed at night, there is even a disco where you can continue the party.

We flew using Spirit Air for the first time. It is definitely a low-budget airline. If you would like more info regarding our experiences on this airline or at this resort, please do not hesitate to contact me: sheetal.vashi@gmail.com.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank snv4u
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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4,771 - 4,777 of 13,042 reviews

Reviewed 13 March 2011

We just came back from this resort and I have to say they have great stuff from the check inn drivers cleaners restaurant kids club all of them just want you will be happy and have fun all time! The only problem that they have to much outdoor actives and if you come to relax you need to know that all the time something happens music ,water gym ,bingo ,games in the pool and on the beach sometimes it's to busy but at the end you have the feeling the stuff is only for you and your family! Be notice that the room next to the pool are very basic but clean!

  • Stayed: March 2011
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Thank zik_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 March 2011

Our group of 10 did have a very nice stay at Sandos, but there a few changes that could be made to make it better.

We stayed in the older section which is nice and close to the beach. The new section is about a 5 minute walk away.

Positives:
The location of this hotel is great. It's about a 40 minute very nice walk to Playa. Great scenery.

The grounds are very nice and well kept. Lots of different wild life.

The beach is big and beautiful.

The ocean is great.

Front lobby and lobby bar are very nice

The adult's only pool in the new section is nice and quite.

Nice Spa and workout facility

Rooms are very basic but clean

The nightly entertainment in the main court yard was pretty good.

A previous review said to beware of time share people at the resort but in 2 weeks we were not approached once by any time share people.


Negatives:
The service and the food was very inconsistant. We had some great food and service and some not so great food and service. If you want great service in the buffet ask to sit in Marina's section. She is wonderful ! She bent over backwards for us (unlike some of the other servers that we encountered ).

The best meal we had was at the French restaurant. But beware men make sure you are wearing long pants and closed toe shoes. My husband was wearing dress sandles and the hostess made him go back to the room to change into closed toe shoes. She was a bit rude.

Most of the red wine they serve is on tap - yukky stuff. Ask for bottled wine sometimes they are able to get it for you (no extra charge)

There are Tons of kids at this resort ! The pool area especially is very noisy with kids running around and screaming. So if you don't want to be around a bunch of kids this resort is not for you. If you have kids great place.

All in all we had a great time. If they would work on a few details like consistancy of food and service it could be a great resort.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled with friends
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2  Thank mrmca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2011

Travelled to Sandos Playacar Beach Resort in mid February with my 5 daughters all between the ages of 24-36. Check in was smooth as there was only one other family that came from the airport at the same time. You check in at the main building (Riviera section) and then you hop a little golf cart to the Beach section. In between the two is the Hacienda section. We were in three rooms which we asked if it would at all be possible to be close together would be nice - having booked this trip 8 months prior I didn't think that was a big request. Needless to say we were in the same building but we were all on different floors and totally different areas of the building. Oh well. Food was fine, pools were all busy except for at the Riviera section where there was no one. Perfect. The beach was lovely, but lots of people. We enjoyed the walk into Playa Del Carmen both along the beach as well as the road. Overall this was a nice resort and I know they are trying to be eco friendly but it is an extremely large resort and it would have been nice to have maps available to people even if they were just in the rooms for viewing. Instead they said they were eco friendly and did not want to use paper for this so had big signs around the resort. Playa Del Carmen is very americanized and if you are looking for Starbucks on every corner then this is the place for you but if you want to be in a more "Mexican" environment I would suggest somewhere else. The cab drivers said that Playa Del Carmen is now the new Cancun.

  • Stayed: February 2011
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Thank terbear2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2011

I have been a Royal Elite timeshare holder for 4 yrs and have always enjoyed this resort. Last yr our family vacationed at Sandos Caracol where my youngest daughter was proposed to by her boyfriend down on the beach, very romantic. They decided to have their wedding in Mexico. So 32 family members and friends went back to the Sandos Playacar this yr. It was an amazing wedding. The wedding planner had everything under control, the photographer was a genius, and the Italian Restaurant set up a beautiful private table arrangement for the wedding. The entire staff was outstanding, right down to our housekeeper who kept out room spotless. For the 1st time my wife and I had a 2 room jr. suite which now has spoiled my wife. The 3rd floor view to the main pool where all our wedding guests hung out at the swim up bar was magnificent. I certainly enjoyed the balcony jacuzzi. Everyone loved their rooms especially the 2 couples who had ocean view rooms. I can't say enough about the staff anywhere in that resort. We were always meet with a smile and hospitality. Yes it is all inclusive but we all made sure to tip our servers because they do work long and hard for their pesos. I did read some reviews that weren't so good but after our many trips to Sandos I don't know how anyone could have a bad time unless they are just too picky. Yes the bartender might not get to you the second you put your elbows up on the bar but if you are paying attention you can watch them run around trying to meet the needs of the many many people there every night. 1 couple who came as wedding guests became engaged there and our friend set up a catamaran excursion & beach dinner thru Sandos where he proposed. They both raved about the beautiful set up. I will definitely recommend Sandos to all friends and anyone if they want a wonderful vacation or wedding experience. As for myself and family we will be back there next year.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank mic5479
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2011

I was impressed upon check in with the staffs wanting to please me. I was usher in and offered a drink and my bags we whisked away. This was my first trip to Mexico and to an all inclusive(my sisters first time as well). I found that the room was sizable for my sister and myself, it had a nice view overlooking one of the pools. The frustration I had upon check in was their was little in the way of communication about how to best utilize the properties options, I wasn't given a map of the property (though there are large maps posted around the property) leaving me feeling unsure what I should do when it came to eating and finding my way.
I decided that I should wander to get my bearings and did discover a few things while I was exploring. The color wrist band you wear let's them know where you do and do not belong, If you have questions and struggle to find a hotel staffer who speaks your language look for someone wearing a black wrist band (they are time share users). I luckily found one who gave me enough info to set me on the right path. The meeting point is the center of the sandos playacar world. You want to use the wifi(for $5 USD an hour), make an appointment for an excursion, or simply see what activities are happening that evening, or make a dinner reservation you must head to the meeting point. There are shuttles between the main lobby and the meeting point about every 5 minutes. Making it convenient, even when your feeling lazy or when the weathers bad, to get to the rooms in the back of the property. The property is long and skinny running perpendicular to the beach front. We were stationed at the back of the property and didn't find the walk to the beach harsh at all. The pool at the back of the property seems to be one of the larger and nicer ones available. Though the action is all down at the beach.
We walked every morning and were curious about downtown playa del carmen and found it a fairly short and safe walk of about 35 minutes.
The beach front is very well maintained and the number of "huts" to provide shade seemed ample for the amount of guests around. Lots of activities going on from volleyball to dodgeball, aerobics, tug of war, dance lessons, language lessons and so much more. The animation team did a good job getting people to participate in the events.
MY NEGATIVES.
1. If no one tells you to make your dinner reservations at the non buffet restaurants when you arrive, you may not get to try out the reservation only French, steakhouse, Brazilian, Mexican,or Asian restaurants. The Italian buffet is not really Italian so don't bank on a great piece of pizza Margherita or lasagna. The moral of this is checkin get settled make your dinner reservations for the duration of your stay. Or you could end up eating the same so-so buffet food for every meal.
2, Yes, we did have a sizable ant population in our room. Very small fruit ants but unsettling to my sisters comfort.
3. The bed was extremely firm as I had read in other reviews prior to going, so if you want plush or even soft think twice.
4. The lack of vital information communicated. I would've been fine with a packet of info to read over myself if someone could not walk me through it.
THE POSITIVES.
1. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. I was never approached by any time share or other vendor while I was there.
2. Location to the downtown and to points of interest.
3. The grounds were kept up impeccably, as well as the beachfront.
4. The room refrigerator was well stock with all the bottled water I could drink as well as beer and soda.

  • Stayed: March 2011
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1  Thank LindsayWS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 March 2011

Room in Hacienda had a stale smell, we complained and got moved to a better room near beach. Felt the booze was watered down except Tequilla. Great food and amenities.

Stayed: March 2010, travelled with friends
Thank PABOntario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sandos Playacar Beach Resort

Address: Paseo Xaman-Ha | Manzana 1, Lote 1 Fracc.Playacar, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#32 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#35 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#41 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#43 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#45 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#53 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: £161 - £426 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Sandos Playacar Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 819
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is an all-Inclusive hotel in Playa del Carmen with both family and adult sections. We are ideally located on a magnificent white sandy beach in the gated community of Playacar, within walking distance to downtown Playa and Fifth Avenue. Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is located only forty-five minutes from the Cancun International Airport, and the pier serving ferries to Cozumel is a short distance from our property.Playacar is a private, master-planned community situated on the southern edge of downtown Playa del Carmen. Guests at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa enjoy this exclusive community’s impressive infrastructure, including an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Von Hagge, the Xaman-Ha Aviary, pristine biking paths, and Mayan ruins, accessible to the public for hiking.Riviera Maya is a protected region where many remaining artifacts from the fascinating Mayan civilization can be found. Surrounded by Mayan archeological zones, such as those at Tulum, Coba, and Chicen-Itza, this Playa del Carmen hotel successfully preserves a strong sense of Mayan culture onsite, adding an authentic feel and flavor to the vacation experience in Playacar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandos Playacar Beach Hotel
Hotel Sandos Playacar Beach
Beach Playacar Resort Sandos
Sandos Playacar Resort
Sandos Playa Del Carmen
Gala Resort Playacar
Sandos Gala Playacar
Sandos Playacar Mexico
Sandos Resort
Playacar Sandos

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