My husband & I are Palace Premier members who stayed at Playacar Palace 12/7-12/14. Overall our stay was fantastic, with only one significant issue.
Staff: The staff truly is the #1 feature of this resort. Almost everyone went above & beyond to make our stay truly exceptional. Staff greeted us as we passed and almost every request was responded to with, “It’s a pleasure.” Those staff members who truly stood out for us include Perla & Berenice (Lobby Bar), Rodolfo, Porfinio, Francisco, & Micelia (Café del Mar), Antonio & both Pedros (Terazza), Mario & Antonio (Mo Mo No Hana), Nora, Ana, Juana, Juan, & Roman (Aqua Bar), Nataly (Public Relations), Nelson (Concierge) and Gabriel (MyPalace Memories).
Location: Literally steps from both 5th Avenue and the ferry to Cozumel, the location is ideal for those who want to get out & explore without having to travel far. Though it’s close to everything, it feels almost secluded. I wouldn’t have known 5th Avenue was just a block away had I not walked there myself.
Grounds: The grounds are clean and beautifully maintained with palm trees & greenery both inside and out. The beach is huge with soft, white sand and the gorgeous turquoise water is far calmer here than in Cancun, making wading/swimming much more enjoyable.
Size: This is a smaller, “boutique” size hotel, which is great because it takes less than 5 minutes to get anywhere in the resort. Plus, with the fewer number of guests, staff can provide greater attention to individual needs and there is minimal to no wait for service.
Hit or Miss:
Room Types: There is a limited # of rooms with a full ocean view that also include a balcony. While we didn’t get the full ocean view we wanted, Suite # 211 was very nice as it had a partial ocean view and a small balcony overlooking with pool. Plus, being on the 2nd floor was very convenient as we were on the same level as the lobby and just a short flight of stairs away from the pool/beach/restaurants.
Resort Credits: While the resort credits are a great way to do/buy things you wouldn’t normally, the resort’s prices, especially for the spa treatments and photo sessions, are exorbitant. (The MyPalace memories photos are now extremely overpriced, reaching wedding photography pricing levels.)
Restaurants: While the food is very good, it does get somewhat repetitive due to the limited number of options. Plus, there is no dedicated Mexican Restaurant. While Mexican is served in Café del Mar, it’s not consistent and somewhat limited. Most people who go to Mexico want to eat Mexican food. Playacar Palace should consider splitting Café del Mar into two restaurants, creating a dedicated Mexican restaurant while maintaining the buffet.
Repairs & Maintenance: As some people have mentioned, there is some minor wear & tear beginning to show. While the resort was always very neat and clean, the paint needs touching up in several areas, especially on the building exterior. New paint & grout in the bath areas would go far and new bedding would also be a good investment as we noticed some minor stains. Aside from that, additional soap dispensers in the public bath areas would be helpful as some seemed to be missing. And yes, the dingy condition of the yellow upholstered benches & chairs in Terazza is hard to ignore. I would love to see them replace them with turquoise upholstery to bring in a more Caribbean feel. However, the overall R&M needs seemed pretty minimal to us and should not diminish anyone’s overall resort experience.
Price: While this resort is wonderful, it seems overpriced compared to other Palace Resort locations.
Beach Chairs/Umbrella: There are far too few beach umbrellas and the beach loungers are somewhat uncomfortable. (The ones by the pool are better.) What’s ironic is that there were plenty of unused "cushioned" beach loungers and umbrellas in the beach areas reserved for Concierge guests and Palace Diamond Members. While I understand that members should & do get some additional perks (although I wonder why there isn’t a Premier Member area), the number of seats/umbrellas reserved for these groups seems disproportionate to the guest make up.
Reception Location: Some wedding receptions are held on a beach stage set up right next to the hotel. It’s hard to relax in your room after a long day or get to sleep when there is music blaring right outside the window. Thankfully there were only a couple receptions there during our stay and our room wasn’t directly facing it, so the noise wasn’t as intense for us as for our neighbors down the hall. However, it was still noticeable.
MyPalace Memories: Our only problem during our stay relates to our photo session. I wouldn’t even mention it in my review except for how poorly it was handled. I feel the need to go into detail since the whole fiasco may illuminate Palace's employee (and guest) relation policies.
We contacted Palace Vacation Planners the week before our arrival to pre-book activities and get the My Palace Memories pricing so we could budget accordingly. The pricing Palace Vacation Planners sent matched the prior year pricing, which included getting all the session images on CD plus 5 prints for $99 USD. We always purchased the CD & prints in prior years and intended to do so again this year.
When we scheduled our session at the resort, I noticed the pricing displayed was different. While the session itself was cheaper and you could now use the resort credits toward up to 50% of any photobook cost ($200 USD and up), you were no longer able to get all images on CD for a flat rate. Instead, it was $15 USD per image on CD and resort credits could NOT be applied toward the cost. I shared with the rep at the photo desk price quite we had received the week prior and asked if he would honor it, especially since the cost difference was so extreme. The rep (I can’t remember his name), said "no." After going back & forth with him, I finally agreed to purchase the cheapest photobook which included 14 images plus 14 images on CD for $210 USD before credits & tax. I asked the rep if the images on the CD had to be the same as those in the book (i.e. 14 vs. 28 photos total) and he said they could be different. While I wasn’t thrilled at paying more for less, I decided I could live with 28 images.
When we placed our order the next day, the photo manager (Sarai??) said that the images on the CD had to be the exact same as those in the book and any additional were $15 USD extra each + tax. At this point, I was very upset at being “misquoted” yet again. I reiterated to her what we were quoted before our trip (I even showed her the email via my phone) and what was quoted to me by her rep the day before. She refused honor either quote. Frustrated and dissatisfied, we went & explained the situation to Nataly in Public Relations and provided the original email quote. She agreed to work with the MyPalace Memories vendor to come up with an agreeable solution and then get back to us.
That evening as we were about to head to dinner, we got a call in our room from Alfonso, the Palace Vacation Planner who sent us the original quote. He apologized for the error and then proceeded to inform me that if we didn’t pay the correct (i.e. new) pricing, he would be required to pay the difference. I was stunned, by both the call & the policy. What kind of organization doesn’t stand by its employees when they make mistakes and then tries to guilt their guests and members (who have invested in the resort) into accepting those mistakes?!
At this point I was completely fed up with the situation. I told Alfonso that I was sorry about the policy and would voice my displeasure about it to Nataly and anyone else who would listen (thus the inclusion in this review), but at this point I was expecting Palace to do the right thing and honor the FIRST quote. (The second was no longer an option in my mind.) I also proceeded to tell him that there shouldn’t be any financial consequence to him as it doesn’t “cost” the resort anything additional to put 93 images on CD vs. 28 images vs. 14. The CD cost is still the same. It’s only a cut to their profit margin to honor the quote. (Yes, honoring $99 + tax vs. $1,395 + tax for the same 93 images taken is a HUGE cut in Palace's profit margin, but it’s still profit and not expense. As an accounting manager and a former portrait studio manager I have pretty good insight into this area.)
The next day when followed up with Nataly, we told her about Alfonso's call and our concerns about Palace's policies. She apologized profusely and agreed that the situation was handled inappropriately. (Although she didn’t deny the policy.) After a few more phone calls she eventually got someone from the vendor to authorize honoring the original price quote. At this point we were mollified, though frustrated that we wasted so much time on what should have been a non-issue.
Overall, our stay at Playacar Palace was amazing. If it hadn’t been for the MyPalace Memories issue, our vacation would have been pretty near perfect. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent us from going back. The only problem we have now is deciding between Playacar Palace and Beach Palace as we love them both! Decisions, decisions!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Playacar Palace, a trendy beachfront resort located steps away from Playa del Carmen's famous 5th Avenue and the Cozumel Ferry Dock. Our all-inclusive, luxury resort features 201 appointed rooms, 3 restaurants and 4 bars. This resort is considered the perfect spot to relax during the day and enjoy the nightlife and charms of "Playa" at night. Playacar Palace is perfect for families, couples, and group getaways. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Playacar Palace Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Playacar Palace Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen
- Playacar Palace Resort