Our family of 4 (husband/wife, 13-year-old son; 15-year-old daughter) had the best time of our lives. We cannot say enough good things about Iberostar Quetzal.
Loved:Beatiful, large, white-sand beach that extends onto other properties. I love walking the beach, but it extended so far down the coast it was too far for even me to walk.No lines for food or drinks. Tasty meals with tons of variety. Everything fresh & hot/cold.Japanese restaurant was an out-of-this-world experience as they do "show-cooking" there with the chef in the center of a table of 18 people. Our entire family loved watching the "show" PLUS the food was the best Asian food we have ever eaten. My son even tried octopus. Mini-bars were refilled DAILY with lots of soda/bottled water/beer, even though signs indicated they would be refilled every other day.Staff (waitpersons, maids, bartenders, "Star friends" (activity directors) were all GENUINELY friendly and kind.Free-roaming animals provided an incredible experience we've never seen anywhere else in our travels. Tons of beautiful peacocks walking around; parrots, monkies in the treetops, large tortoises in a garden-like enclosure, flamingoes (confined to a pond area).We felt very safe here. To get into the general area (named Playacar), the driver has to surrender their drivers license.
Yes, the bed was firm, but I slept better on it than I do on my soft bed at home.
Yes, we also had tiny ants on the sink in our bathroom, but we did not let it bother us.
Yes, the huts/palapas and poolside chairs were all "reserved' with towels/personal items before 7 am BUT you can always get a large beach umbrella from the towel shop and set up on the beach AND IT IS JUST AS GOOD AND JUST AS FUN as hut/pool!
The only thing that could have made it even better is if there were activities targeted JUST for teens, or a teen center or some way for teens to meet each other. We spent several days of great quality time alone with our almost-13-year-old son, but he really wanted to meet up with some boys his age. After several days, he finally got in with a couple boys who were playing ping-pong and then had fun with them for our remaining days. But it would have been much easier if they had some activities specifically set up for that age range. The "Kids Klub" turned out to be for much younger children.
Now, here are a few tips:
1. When we arrived at Cancun airport, we assumed that the airport porter offering to port our bags was with Lomas Travel. We had rolling suitcases which are easy to pull along, but the porters (in light blue shirts) grabbed them and reassured us (in broken English) they were with Lomas Travel. In fact, they work for the airport and took us a short distance outside to the actual Lomas Travel reps (in blue/green shirts), then expected a tip.
2. We were unable to make a toll-free call from the payphone in the lobby, in order to confirm our return trip. So we were kinda just going on faith that our return plans had not been changed in the 6 days we were on vacation. That made us a little nervous.
3. For the ladies, I would recommend bringing a nail file and a heel file. My fingernails got sand/grit under them and were dirty the whole time I was there but I had nothing to clean them! My heels got really grungy walking in the sand, and I wished I'd had my trusty heel file from home to clean them up after each shower then slather with lotion.
4. Non-motorized watersports are included BUT do not make that the decision-maker when choosing a hotel, because many days you cannot use them due to windy conditions. The flag was red half our time there, and yellow (caution) the remainder, so we couldn't take out kayaks or anything. We were a little disappointed about that, but the hotel can't control the weather and we understand that. My point is, don't let the availability of watersports make/break your decision when choosing a locale.
5. BEFORE we arrived in Playa del Carmen, we planned to take a day and go to Cozumel and spend the day at the sister hotel Iberostar Cozumel, enjoying their free snorkeling/restaurants/beach/etc. HOWEVER, once we arrived at Iberostar Quetzal and spoke with the front desk staff, we realized it would have cost $200 for our family of 4 just in transportation. To get from Quetzal to the dock is only $7 for a taxi; the ferry to island of Cozumel is $15/per person each way; taxi from Cozumel dock to Iberostar Cozumel is $30 each way. We would have loved to see Cozumel and experience their snorkeling, but couldn't see paying $200 to do so.6. We did take the Dressel Divers snorkeling tour from Iberostar Quetzal beach, which is a 15-minute boat ride south down the coast. For the $40 each, it was OK in order to introduce our children to their first time of snorkeling, just to find out how they liked it. (They both took to it like fish.) However, I thought the waves at the reef were too large, and the fish were not very plentiful, and the guide (in his defense he was trying to keep us all together for safety and to keep a headcount) constantly kept us swimming and moving. True, he was trying to move us around in order to see fish, but we never got a chance to just float there and ENJOY. It was hard work!
7. Yes, Playa del Carmen IS on Central Time Zone, BUT depending on what time of year you are there, you may or may not be on the same time as "home"! That is because they start their Daylight Savings Time later than we do. Whereas we started DST in March, theirs does not "spring forward" until April 3! So we did lose an hour on our last night there.
ENJOY THE TRIP!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Privileged situation directly on the beach of Playacar, around 3 km from the town of Playa del Carmen. A watersports and diving paradise. Sub- tropical mangrove swamp. Great gastronomical variety. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Quetzal Playacar Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Iberostar Hotel Quetzal Playacar
- Iberostar Quetzal Playa Del Carmen
- Iberostar Quetzal Playacar Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen