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“Almost Perfect”
Review of Playacar Palace

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Playacar Palace
Ranked #26 of 212 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 31 December 2013

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.

Pros:

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.

Cons:

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!

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank UMNgrad97
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 December 2013

I went to Playacar Palace with a large group over Labor Day weekend. The place is mostly a marketing gimmick covering up what is essentially an average resort. I cover three problems below that can be summed up like this: the physical structure and facilities are uneven and bad in places; the value is poor and borderline deceptive; and the service is merely average.

We were given a noisy room on the lowest floor; we asked to be moved but were told no other room was available without paying for an upgrade. There was noise from construction in the next room, and performances from the pool were quite loud in our room. The coffeemaker and iron did not work (and took multiple calls to replace the iron, never got a working coffeemaker), our hot tub took 40 minutes to fill, and one of the alcohol dispensers was broken. The lights and outlets in the room could not be shut off individually and shone directly onto the bed. (I'm serious, good luck sleeping while charging your phone or someone wants light in the bathroom.) The lower level of the hotel flooded in several areas near the gym following rain, and there were multiple, large, re-plastered cracks around the pool. The resort lacks any air-conditioned bar open late night. Also, other travelers to Playa Del Carmen know this, but the resort is a fairly long shuttle ride (50 min) that you have to arrange separately from Cancun airport. I mention this because the hotel is not good at managing shuttles. Our shuttle group for departure was incorrectly put together, and the hotel staff could not help me find a shuttle representative the day before departure.

On service, I was kicked out of the gym at 7pm, mid-workout. No offer to close the gym after I was finished with my workout, just a "the gym is closed, you need to leave." Also, there are reserved spaces on the beach for higher-service level guests, and the staff was rude to lower-service level friends who wandered into that area to talk, telling them "you must leave unless you upgrade." There's a much more customer service friendly way to enforce that policy (e.g., "I'm sorry, these are reserved - can I get you a drink or chair in the non-reserved space?"). I tipped everyone $3-$5, but the one time I didn't (had room service bring me a coffee because our maker was broken and the hotel never replaced it) the room service delivery person lingered way too long for a tip that was not forthcoming.

On value - do not fall for the big room credit numbers. Spa services, upgrades, and excursions are quite expensive, and you can use only half your credit on spa services. There's also an 11% tax on everything, and this tax cannot be paid for with credits. For a 4-night stay, we found our credit basically covered a half-day trip to Tulum and a 1-person spa visit. On the Tulum trip, we were forced to stop in a trinket shop/warehouse for 20 minutes on the way home, where the guide encouraged us to buy "local cultural artifacts" and "haggle for good prices." No thanks; please get me back to the free food and drink.

On the plus side, the food is pretty good and varied, and it is very easy to get a drink anywhere around the pool from friendly waitstaff. The beach is large and clean, although very close to the Cozumel ferry and its exhaust. Also, it's easy walking to anywhere in Playa Del Carmen from the resort, which is centrally located.

To conclude, don't stay here unless you get an actual, super-low rate on the room (regardless of room credit) and can overlook several bumps along the way.

Room Tip: Spend your credits on a room upgrade away from the pool.
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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7  Thank RVicus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 December 2013

Overall, I love this resort. Like every Palace Resort I've been to, the staff are super friendly and helpful. The grounds and the rooms are kept immaculately clean. The main reason for selecting Playacar Palace rather than one of the other Palace resorts is the location. It is boutique size, and doesn't have have the same variety of restaurants and activities as some of the other resorts, but it is literally a few minutes walk to 5th Avenue and the ferry to Cozumel. Yet, you do not feel like you are in town. The other reason is that, my favorite resort, at Adventura, is begin converted to a Hard Rock, like several other of the Palace resorts. I'm not thrilled about that, but it's another story.

This is the second time I have stayed at this Playacar Palace, as a Palace Premier member. The first time was about five years ago. Some things have changed. Some for better and some not so much for the better. The first visit our room was spacious, pristine, and had a great ocean view. Also, and importantly, it had a large bathroom with plenty of privacy. What I found out this trip is those rooms are limited to the (sorry I don't know my compass directions down there, but I think it would be north) wing that is closest in proximity to the old town. The other wing has smaller rooms and smaller bathrooms with frosted glass doors that don't really close/seal tightly as a normal door would. This would probably be fine for a couple, but I usually travel with a friend. The small sink, mirror area had very limited space to spread out. Not ideal for two women and all the stuff we like to have with us.

There are three restaurants, a pool bar, and 24 hour room service. I have always found the food to be very good. The Italian restaurant is exceptionally good. Even the room service food arrived promptly at the right temperature, and was tasty enough. We also used resort credits to a attend a "Chef's Dinner". This was a four course dinner with wine paring. The chef cooked it fresh right there and explained how to prepare the food. The meal was delicious, start to finish, and it was a fun evening. Well worth doing if you love food.

The last time I was there a recent hurricane had washed out the beach, and it was virtually non-existent. The beach had been restored. There is now a large beautiful beach with soft, white sand, plenty of lounge chairs, and frequent waiters coming by to bring you umbrella drinks, cerveza, guacamole, or your heart's desire. Another improvement was the spa. Last time we had to go off-site for massage services. They have added a full service spa. It is smaller in size than Moon Palace or Adventura, but has essentially the same amenities and quality services. Hydrotherapy, sauna, ice bath, steam, jacuzzi all included with your service. Admittedly, spa treatments are expensive at the resorts. We found a nice supplement to the spa. If you go off the grounds, straight through the entrance gate until you get to the main road, then turn left and go about a block, there are a number of vendors, shops, pharmacy, etc. There is also a salon that offers 2 one-hour massages for $45 U.S. I had one massage there and two reflexology treatments (consisting of foot, hand and head message). The reflexology was a little more, but definitely worth it. You can't beat the price, and the girls did a good job.

I cannot emphasize enough how happy we were with the staff and their great attitudes. From the front desk, to bellmen, to vacation planners, room service, to waiters in the restaurants, to public relations, and even the sales pitch guys. Yes. I said the sales pitch guys who do the timeshare presentations. I've sat through a lot of these presentations, and they tend to be very high pressure. At some places (though never at a Palace) I have experience really nasty attitudes and/or aggressive hounding when you tell them no. The presentation at Playacar was the usual in the sense that it was at least an hour longer than they promised, you had to say no to at least three people, BUT at no time were they overbearing, they never copped an attitude, when they finally got to the end there was delay or problem getting the perks they promised for sitting through the presentation. Afterward, we ran into our original guy on several occasions, and he was always friendly, helped with information, and facilitated some things for us. I've sat through some really brutal presentations at other resort chains, and I will tell you this felt like a breeze in comparison. I never truly felt pressured. I was just presented what were actually some great option for upgrading my membership. I just didn't want to do it right now.

In summary, if you are looking for all inclusive, close to town, but not smack in the middle of the noise and activity, don't need a ton of on site activities (though they do have nightly entertainment, beach volleyball, aqua aerobics and other such activities), a good base for exploring the area, and appreciate a happy, helpful customer service staff try this resort.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Melindad5525
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded 30 December 2013

Dear Melindad1960,

On behalf of all the Staff in Playacar Palace Resorts, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share yours comments with us about your experience here. Our main goal is for each of our guests to have a memorable stay. I’m glad to know that you enjoyed our facilities and I feel very proud about the quality of the service provided by all our staff.

I really like the way you describe our resort and the outstanding job that our Staff make since the moment you arrive at the Resort; our commitment is that every guest feel welcome and comfortable and basically all the staff in Restaurants, bars, front desk, housekeeping make their best in order to provide a better service and I think we are in a good way.

We are looking forward to have you back in your second home, Playacar Palace.

Warmest regards and thank you again for sharing your comments with us.

Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace GM

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 December 2013

Our experience was absolutely great. The hotel is on a gorgeous wide sandy beach with clean inviting sea. The kids were kept busy with volley ball, football and the pool.
The buffet restaurant had a huge choice and the food was very good with plenty of people serving.
Two a la carte restaurants added to the choice for dinner.
Rooms were large and bright.
The location was great as town is a five minutes walk away so you can pop down whenever you feel like a stroll.
A busy hotel perfect for us but possibly not for those looking for something quieter.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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Thank vic_levy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded 30 December 2013

Dear Vic-Levy

It is very rewarding to read such complementary comments regarding your stay at Playacar Palace. I am glad to know you enjoyed every step of the way, since your arrival; being taken care of by our front desk personnel to your latest tour.

During this season, our activities program changed a little because of the families and teenagers, but I can assure you that Playacar is a very quiet hotel during the entire year.

It is a pleasure to know that the Playacar Family continue providing an outstanding service to our guests. We all at Playacar Palace look forward to welcome you back and provide you many more memorable experiences.

Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 December 2013

Just returned from one week holiday at playacar palace. Overall we had a very enjoyable time. Best things about the hotel were the staff who were all lovely, the location, close to 5th avenue etc, and the buffet restaurant which was excellent. Also very pleasant rooms and very comfy beds. Downsides for us were the small size of the swimming pools, lack of pool umbrellas/shade by the pool, and the very loud music wherever you were, including all the restaurants and bars, made worse by the low ceilings in the public areas. On several occasions we had to go back to our rooms for some piece and quiet. In fact we were glad for the odd wedding on the beach as it did mean there was some turn down of the pool music. However we did enjoy our holiday but would look for somewhere more peaceful next time

  • Stayed: December 2013
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Thank Moore21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded 30 December 2013

Dear Mr.Moore21

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your insights with us. We truly appreciate it as that is one of the ways that will assist us finding areas that need to be improved.

Please, feel free to contact me anytime for your next visit in order to create a perfect vacation.

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

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Reviewed 28 December 2013

The employees go above and beyond to help you out. The location is great. Right in the middle of everything. The cons would be they need more restaurants with choices. It is hard to enjoy three (3) restaurants when there is 5th avenue right there. They do not have a steak restaurant. The rooms were clean and ours was cleaned promptly everyday. I cannot say enough about the staff and how they help everyone.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank ShelTrap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded 30 December 2013

Dear ShelTrap

I would like to thank you for selecting Playacar Palace as your destination on your most recent vacation to Mexico and Riviera Maya.

We all at PLayacar Palace look forward to welcome you back and provide you many more memorable experiences.

Hasta Pronto

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace GM

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Reviewed 27 December 2013

This was our first stay at Playacar Palace and I was quite shocked by it's location and thought it's missing it's five star resort feel. As soon as you enter the property, you wouldn't think it's part of other Palace Resorts. I just think it's not for everyone. This property is right on the beach, which is great, but so are other Palace Resort properties. We were told by a palace employee that this is the oldest property owned by Palace Resorts. It needs a lot updating. Starting with check-in location. After coming from humid weather, you would want to spend those 20mins-half hr check-in process in an air conditioned room, unlike what they have right now- it's outside. You won't experience the cool air conditioner until you go to your room or are in the Italian restaurant. The entire resort is very humid. Even to go to your room, depending what floor you get, the hallway is very depressing. Wish they spruce it up with better décor. The room did not meet my expectations - it missed it's five star look and feel! Wish we would've booked another Palace Resort. Apart from look and feel, everything else remained the same - excellent customer service, really nice spa, decent restaurants, bountiful breakfast buffet, multiple pools - overall same service as what we have received in other Palace resorts. I have also heard from people staying at Playacar that they love it and would come back here again- so you may have to visit it to experience the resort.

Room Tip: Choose rooms on 3rd -5th floors which are in the middle facing the ocean - not blocked by anything.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank TravelBugFanatic03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PlayacarPalaceGM, General Manager at Playacar Palace, responded to this reviewResponded 30 December 2013

Dear TravelBugFanatic03

We try very hard to meet the expectations of all our guests and it saddens us when we do not. We take all the feedback that is given to us very seriously, therefore we will work hard to correct the concerns you’ve pointed out.

Thank you for your thoughts and I invite you to give us another chance to deliver the signature service and amenities that we are known for.

Sincerely,

D. Rubio
Playacar Palace G.M.

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Additional Information about Playacar Palace

Address: Bahia del Espiritu Santo | Esq. Abraira de Arriva, 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 High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#11 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#15 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#15 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#18 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#21 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#22 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: £315 - £653 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Playacar Palace 4*
Number of rooms: 201
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

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