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“Relaxing lovely place, beautiful water, a few areas could use improvement”

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Mahekal Beach Resort
Ranked #30 of 214 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 March 2009

Shangr La Caribe is a beautiful low key resort where all the room are within a short moment's walk (in the sand) to the beach or pools. The rooms are somewhat sparse, which was fine, having the nice patio with hammocks as an alternative. It bothered me that they skimped on bath towels, especially when we had 2 children in the room. They only included 2 hand towels and 2 bath towels. However we got beach towels at the front desk and whenever they were dirty we'd swap them out for clean ones and use them for back ups for the showers, especially to wrap up the little guys. The people who work at the hotel are all warm and friendly. The staff working the grounds are pretty much constantly working, cleaning the sand, whatever. The restaurant staff are great too, although sometimes seemed quite busy, if not too busy, but all was ok on that end. The food at the breakfast buffet was great - nice spread of fruit, pastries, cold/hot cereal, a few of the same hot items daily (scrambled eggs, refried beans) etc. The mangos and papaya were my favorite, absolutely perfect. I wish I brought tupperware to take some for snacks later in the day! We never had lunch there. Dinner was ok but it didn't start till 7 PM local time,which was too late for our young children. We tried dragging them there a few times only to watch them sit in a daze and not eat. So we usually ended up going out to eat around 5 with the kids, put them to bed, and then my husband would grab some food from the dinner in a takeout container, which I usually wasn't interested in. The late dinner was a disappointment because the cost of the room obviously included the cost of food and we couldn't take advantage of it with the young kids. I guess it's a local / cultural thing though, with the siesta timing, restaurants open late. I just wish that as a hotel with international tourists they would have had more flexibility in the hours. The beach was great, water was amazing clear/blue. There is a wonderful place across the corner - Garden of Shangri La where they offer yoga and massage. The yoga instructor was wonderful (just wear bug spray in the afternoon for mosquitoes), and only 100 pesos. They are opening a raw food restaurant and the menu looked wonderfully healthy and refreshing. We did a day trip to Tulum (in a local mini-bus) and a taxi to Xcaret. If we didn't have young children, I would have been a little bored in Playa Del Carmen for a week but with the pace of our young kids and needing a nap, loving to scoop and dump sand, it was the right pace for us. The thing that did bother me was the front desk service - the guys there were always very friendly and answered questions, but I asked for a few things such as extra bath towels, a hair dryer, a different crib/pack-n-play (was all warped) and I never got any of them. I saw them make a note of it in their notebook but it never arrived. i guess that's the down side of not having a phone in the room is you have to walk to the desk to follow up. i didn't miss the braindead tv, i finally got some time to read, perfect! The pools were a little chilly but the pool toward the garden area of the resort was a bit warmer and my children enjoyed splashing around in there as the front part only went up to 2 feet.

The first few nights of our stay the resort was very quiet, despite the restaurant being very full at meals. We did experience some of the corruption in hearing a late night party across the street at another hotel/restaurant starting at midnight well until 4 am. I mean music slamming the whole floor, really really loud. In the morning I asked the front desk and they showed me how they called the police, file complaints etc and it turned out it was a politician or police chief's daughter so the police purposes never responded to the calls and there was nothing the hotel management could do, because who else could they complain to if not the police. I sort of got it, despite being woken up at 1 am and shoving my head between pillows until i fell back asleep around 2 am intermittently woken up all night.

All in all, it was a lovely place for a low key beach vacation... but perhaps a little overpriced if you don't get to eat at the restaurants for the inclusive breakfast/dinner.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled with family
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1  Thank susies212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 March 2009

My wife and I were at the Shangri La Caribe in Playa Del Carmen during the week of March 2nd, 2009. We have stayed at a variety of five star resorts such as some of the Sandals Resorts throughout the Caribbean, and some 3 star resorts. So the bottom line is we're going to give a fair review.

We loved the hotel. As some people wrote, it is a little expensive for a hotel that is not all-inclusive. That and the food (which I'll get into later) is why we gave it a three out of five on Value. However, what you have to realize is that you are not paying for amenities of an all-inclusive. You are paying for the great location and the tranquility of the resort. It is on one of the best stretches of beaches in the Mexican Riviera. It is also on the north edge of Playa Del Carmen for easy access to great dining, night life, and other attractions like water sports. The hotel is not at all crowded. At times you feel like there is hardly anyone there. No need to get up early and reserve chairs at pools or beaches. They are always available. We always had chairs and umbrellas within eyesight of our room.

The entire resort is built on the sand. There are neat paths cut through the immaculate landscape that give a very tropical feel.

We found the staff to be very accommodating and friendly. We had a few ants in our room on our first night. I went to the front desk and within 5 minutes it was dealt with very efficiently.

Rogelio (one of the restaurant wait staff) was super nice and helpful. Overall everyone else was very friendly and professional too. One of the bell boys (regrettably I forget his name) hooked us up with a cooler, free of charge to use during our stay so we could keep pop and beer cold in our room. It was much cheaper and more convenient to get these things at the convenience stores only two or three blocks away. The bar will provide you with ice for a very fair price (actually they didn't even charge half the time).
We booked an ocean view room - got 8A on Caribe side which was almost as close to the ocean as the ocean front rooms. We had a spectacular view (see pictures). We were literally 100 feet from the ocean. We were close enough to get a nice ocean breeze and hear the waves lull us to sleep at night without it being too loud. There was a lot of surf during our stay so I can believe how people in ocean front rooms would think of the ocean being too loud. I would definitely save the money and get an ocean view over an ocean front. We were on the bottom level of a two level bungalow. You can hear the people upstairs some, especially when they move furniture or drop something on the floor, but overall it was a not an issue. The rooms were sparsely decorated but who needs decorations on your wall when you have a view of the palm trees, blue sky and turquoise Caribbean. Otherwise rooms were exceptionally clean.

There were signs in the bathrooms asking guests to not flush toilet paper. This sounded a little awkward, but we quickly came up with a system of keeping our plastic bags from the market and using them for the number two jobs, and immediately discarding them in the outside garbage cans that are between all the rooms.
Pools were very small but we only used them once with the ocean being absolutely perfect to swim in. Some said they were cold. As with most pools, they were cool at first but once you were in they were fine. I would not classify them as cold.

Now for the food. Breakfast was outstanding, and included with the price. Lunch was good, but not included in the price. Dinner was nothing to write home about. There was theme night each night that offered only a couple options. Dinner was also included in the price. My wife and I like to try different restaurants so we went out for most of our dinners anyway.

The bar is equipped with ping pong and pool. They serve very decent drinks, but again, not included in the price.

If you want to exercise on your vacation, there is no gym on site but there are two gyms within a few blocks. On modern gym to the south, and one less modern but nonetheless equipped a half block north of the OXXO store.

Overall, I recommend this hotel to anyone looking to get relax and get away from it all. It is all about R&R at the Shangri La. If you're looking for a party atmosphere you need to look elsewhere. In fact, everyone at that stays at the Shangri-La would probably appreciate it. This is really a dying breed of resorts that are becoming extinct to make way for the ever popular mega resorts that stack people on the beach like cord wood. It is truly a gem, like a well kept secret.

It has been rumored that the hotel is going to be leveled to make room for more condos but nobody really seems to know for sure. I asked when I booked the hotel with the Turquoise Reef Group and I was told that it will be a few years before that happens, if at all. One of the gentlemen at the front desk told me the same.

If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at five0@chibardun.net.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank JHagen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 February 2009

Just got back from Shangri-La Caribe after 7 days there, first time to Playa. Cute resort with low-level scattered colorful palapas instead of a large building, as you can tell from the photos. To the point: the price was OK, but a bit high for the near lack of amenities. The location is very good, right on the beach and a short walk to 5th Avenue, the happening part of Playa. Rooms are clean but are starkly sparse-2 beds and a small table, no wall decorations at all. There are 2 small pools, a volleyball court (but no ball-we had to buy one), a ping pong table and 2 pool tables. Our kids passed their time playing ping pong but grumbled about not enough to do. The food was OK, not great, the usual breakfast buffet and rotating dinner meals which varied from good to OK. The service was good and our housekeeper provided extra service in response to our daily $2 tip.
The beach is nice, but is very small and was really crowded with locals on the weekend. Oddly, a public beach access route divides the resort into halves. Lots of security around, mainly to keep locals and interlopers from using their beach chairs and pools and we never felt unsafe. We were asked by security guards a couple of times if we were staying at the resort on our return back from the beach but I made a point to say hi to the guards so that they would know us, and that stopped.
As for restaurants, the food in town was really inexpensive, probably less than we paid for the breakfast-dinner plan, so booking a room without the meal plan may be a better option. El Fogon was great as was the Monkey Cave (I think Cange de Chagon?) that's only a couple of doors away where we had shrimp tacos to die for. Our best food, though was lunch in Tulum, where we went on 2 days to enjoy the better beach. Mezzanine was great as was Blu Tulum with a great beach and even better laid back but chic attitude.
We went to one of the cenote attractions, a smaller one and it was $40 to snorkel in a cave. It was far more expensive than it should have been and a bit cheesy unless you've never been in a cave and not worth it.
Unfortunately our trip was jaded by a bad drive back to the airport. After getting US $ from an ATM to avoid bringing pesos home a gas station attendant attempted to give an 8 peso to a dollar exchange rate despite the sign next to her saying it was 12.5/1 at the station. On the drive to Cancun, despite being passed repeatedly by speeding locals and carefully watching my speed to avoid this very event, we were pulled over by local police who insisted that I was speeding we would have to either pay them cash or would have to go back 30 minutes south to the police station to pay a fine. I had a card from the rental agency that was supposed to handle this but to no effect and ended up having to fork out a bribe to be allowed on our way and make our flight. A friend had the same thing happen to him the day prior and had the time to argue and avoid the payoff. These two events left a bad flavor in my mouth as to what the locals really think of the Americans who vacation there.
I would certainly go back to the area to enjoy the weather and the beaches, but might go further south toward Tulum as Playa's getting built up, and just go into Playa for the entertainment.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled with family
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Thank mooneysox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2009

This is a lovely place with a friendly staff, and I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from giving it a try, but my one word of advice is to reserve the least-cost room that is available. All are within 100 paces of the beach and there is little difference in the amenities among the rooms. My wife and I rented the "penthouse" based upon photos at their website. The beautiful ocean view shown there did not materialize as we had to stand up and peer between the boughs and fronds of large palm and pine trees to see the water. One of the two lounges on the deck did not raise and recline properly and our request for a replacement was ignored. You would also think that for the price being charged they could keep us in hot water and keep thatch from the roof from dusting our pillow every night as we slept. But no, we had to brush our bed off each night before retiring and had to endure a couple of cold showers.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank calmtnman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2009

After reading many reviews of all the hotels in Playa del Carmen we chose to book the Shangri La. Our room, 3C, was on the sand, about 20 steps from the water. It was gorgeous. It has more of a family resort feeling as opposed to a romantic getaway. Our room was clean and very basic. In all honesty my only complaint was that the mattress felt quite old and creeped me out a bit. If you are going to stay within the city of Playa I would recommend this hotel. You can easily walk downtown if you want to shop. The beach at the hotel is perfect. We were at Playa for a wedding and most guests stayed at the Deseo. The Deseo guests who booked suites found out that the suites were facing the street and were up until 4am due to all the noise from the clubs and the street. They also complained that at 7am the construction began. Another hotel that guests stayed at was Pueblo Escondido and those were condos, which came with a butler and private pool. This property sounded the best of all the places in town although I do not know how expensive it is. Personally I would never stay in Playa again as it is too crowded. If I HAD to stay in Playa again I would book Pueblo Escondido. Although Shangri La was nice, it was just not the type of place I am used to staying at.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank 1995sb21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 February 2009

The fabulous reviews of this place are all totally deserved. We just got back from 4 days in this little slice of paradise. This place is a gem, and believe me, my husband and I are very well traveled and have had some "misses" even with lots of tripadvisor research. Shangri-La is not for you if you want an all-inclusive with lots of beer drinking around the pool all day, loud discos at night, and lame "Mexican" shows after dinner. Instead what you will get is a really pretty, clean stretch of beach with few big resorts around you, (and lots of lovely Mexican families joining you on the weekends as Playa del Carmen still has the old-fashioned idea of PUBLIC BEACHES!) lots of palapas for shade and lounging chairs, a nice well- maintained pool with an ocean view, a friendly staff, an immaculate room made up spotlessly with towels folded into swan shapes, a dining room facing the ocean with big picture windows, lovely green grounds, picture-perfect sunsets from your balcony if you stay oceanview (we stayed in oceanview room 4P and LOVED it), and a great breakfast. The thing we liked most was that the eggs were cooked to order every day, unlike the big buffets where they've been sitting out all morning. Fresh tropical fruit, melon juice, cereals, danishes too. We never ate dinner there because we preferred to walk every night the 5-10 minutes into 5th Avenue and find different places to eat. We can highly recommend going right down the street from the hotel for lunch to La Cuevo del Chango (its real Mexican food, not the ersatz touristy take-off on tacos) and have their Aztec Soup- its a meal in a bowl. Dinner there was also great. Dinner at Mosquito Blue on 5th (its brand new) was an upscale treat we would definitely repeat. We also enjoyed dinner one night at Yaxche right off 5th on 8th avenue side street. Our last night we went to the cave restaurant called Alux- the meal was lovely, the caramel crepes made table-side were fabulous, and the cave is terrific. It was definitely worth the $5 taxi ride to get there.

Only one note about landing at the Cancun airport- it can be pretty daunting with people all trying to help you, and its hard to know who is selling you something and who is giving you real information. There are shared Grayline vans into Playa del Carmen hotels for $30 a person, and if you are lucky they will be filling as you get there- otherwise you have to wait up till 40 minutes to fill the next one. Taxis to Playa del Carmen from the airport are "fixed" at $90 though on the way back we negotiated a taxi from the hotel for $45. I don't know if its possible to negotiate there at the airport, but next time we intend to try!

It will be a sad day when the Shangri-La becomes another clone-like Sheraton, so if you are planning a trip to Playa del Carmen in the near future, you can't go wrong with grabbing it now!

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank CanadaTravelbug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2009

Like many of you, we read the reviews before booking. No matter how nice a place you stay at, seemingly there's always someone who has a terrible experience...which always leaves me wondering "who are these people"? So I think it's important to know your source in this case: my wife and I have stayed at 5 star hotels and your basic holiday inns and have had great experiences at both and are just as happy at both, so hopefully this will lend some credibility

We stayed here during the first week of Feb 09. Weather was high 70's to low 80's and windy (and we live in the midwest so that's saying something). You can defintely stand to bring some long sleeves and jeans/pants at night.

We stayed in 1C which is a beach front bungalow which we were very enamored with based on the pictures we saw on the site. And here is the perhaps new piece of info that I didn't read anywhere on trip advisor on this property...and I read about 100.
The beach front bungalows are LITERALLY spitting distance from the water. Very cool in the day time but at night, what might seem charming at first (sound of waves crashing into the sand) is down right loud! If you're a light sleeper, it will keep you up. The shutters on the screens don't completely keep the wind out so it does get pretty nippy at night when you're sleeping. If I had to do it again, it would be much cheaper to stay in an ocean front room -- you would be plenty close to the water but the sound would be blocked by other buildings so it would be much more peaceful. You can get single huts (ie. not at 2 story) in the ocean front and you're maybe 30 yards further from the water....big deal.
So that's my biggest advice...save money and skip the ocean front bungalow. Ours was directly next to the public passage onto the beach. No issues at all with that. Locals stayed in their spot and the security was always around to make sure if you were on the properties' chairs, you belonged there. Security was unobtrusive. As others have stated, the property ground and beach was kept up daily.

Random things:
We got the same scoop on the whole closing thing...no one really seems to know for sure.
People do get out early to put out their orange towels. There was always room but sometimes I had to walk a whole 20 or 30 extra feet away from my hut to put them down...
2:1 from 5 to 6 pm at the bar near the lobby. They were nice enough (I read the bar tenders weren't too friendly). I wasn't looking for a new lifetime pal, just a beer, so it worked for me.
There's access to computers and the net if you need it.
Pools aren't heated and are cold.
The pool near the breakfast place tends to have the kids if they are around but on the upside, when it's really windy yet sunny on the beach, this area tends to be less windy for sunnying
Just like many people have said, breakfasts are good. Dinners are hit and miss. Some are good, some are ok. They put out the menu everyday in the lobby so you can check it out in advance. I like good food so we ate out on 5th Ave 1/2 the time
5th ave is about a 5-10 min walk as others have said. You are completely at one end and it will take you quite a while to walk the whole length. Some nice stuff, lots of junk and tourista stuff.
Price negotiate like a fiend...I looked at a pair of snake boots: $750 to start and after some talking and walking away we were down to $200. It's astounding how simply walking away changes the "best price".
I'd advise changing your money before you leave home or when you get here to pesos. The exchange rate was 13 to 1 but you don't seem to get that when you buy things. 30 cents on the dollar here and there isn't a big deal, but after a week or so, it adds up. If you want to save, convert. If you can't be bothered, you'll probably spend a bit more -- that's what we did but I wish now we had converted since I'm cheap!

Attention steak lovers (ie. Ruth's Chris not Ponderosa). Best steaks on 5th ave is a restaurant called SUR Argentina...it's on 5th and about 12th. On the right side if you're coming from the hotel. Spendy but really good steaks like you'd have at home.

If you come from a no smoking city, prepare to appreciate your home town. People smoke.

Cool funky coffee shop just past the hotel as you're heading towards 5th ave on the left. Tucked away. Check it out

Back to the hotel: rooms are plain like all have said. Bed is plenty comfy. No head board in 1C. No TV, radio, phone, clock etc. They supply one very large bottle of water per day. I was a bit concerned re. bugs from reading reports. One night we had 1 roach which I'm sure some people will read and say I am so not staying there, but that was it. Nothing else in a week. And hey, you're right on the beach. If you saw a bug at the 4S you'd right it off as bad luck and that's what we did. If you do stay in a beach front bungalow, 1C is huge.
Speaking of huge, the pictures of the beach are deceiving. We were staying here predominantly b/c of the nice beach. It is nice, but is no where near as deep/wide from water's edge to bungalows as the pictures suggest...these must be old or pre storm. The beach is more than adequate, but its just not as big as the pix show.
There's a massage hut if your'e interested. Dive shop is a 100 yards away.
As for picking a side, Caribe v.s. Adventura...we obsessed on this for a while and just decided to have them pick for us. We were on Caribe and retrospecitvely, that was good...lots of foot traffic between the bungalows in Adventura that are close to/on the way to the bfast place. I wouldn't like the traffic.
Oh yeah, the racoons. I thought when I read that, that someone was joking. Then I saw a picture on another post and figured they were serious......then I saw 2 of them in the brush while at dinner at the hotel one night. Not bothering anyone but maybe that's a good reason to go to 5th ave?!

Took one tour while there: a combo of Tulum and Cobas ruins and a trip to Playa Paraiso beach. $70 per person. Left at 0840 and home by 6 or so pm. Not a bad deal if you're looking to see if the whole ruin thing is your deal. Unfortunately, you don't get to spend enough time at either ruin and the beach was insanely windy (very nice though if you're looking for a huge beach with white sand). The concierge desk has a book of many many tours you can sign up for. Tulum has a beautiful beach so it could conceivably be cheaper to take a cab back and forth and spend the day there. Lunch is included. From what we heard, the tour to Chichen is the same way: not enough time there with a a very long bus ride.

There's a safe in your room too.

Overall, nice place for a beach vacation. Be careful what you ask for re. "being right on the water". That's what we wanted and we got it big time and that proved to be awfully loud. Cheaper and just as nice in ocean front. This is not a pamper experience. If that's what you want ala 4S (and boy it is nice when you have it), you won't find that here. But if you want to hang out on a nice beach and be close to shopping and some tourista stuff, this will do the job.

$80-90 one way from the airport. $50 going back.

8  Thank bantusbantus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mahekal Beach Resort

Address: Calle 38, Entre Avenida 5a y Zona Federal Maritima, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico (Formerly Shangri-La Caribe)
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#12 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#20 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#24 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#30 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: £159 - £364 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Mahekal Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 196
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Mahekal Beach Resort is a legendary resort village located on 800 feet of white sand beach in the heart of vibrant Playa del Carmen. It has 198 thatched roof, palapa-style bungalows within steps of Fifth Avenue, the celebrated entertainment, shopping, and restaurant district of Playa del Carmen. The thousands of loyal repeat guests at Mahekal Beach Resort describe it as magical, memorable, and authentically Yucatecan. Our style is friendly and relaxed, a unique Caribbean experience where you can rock gently in a hammock on your private terrace and enjoy undoubtedly the best beach in Playa. Our guests love the fact that we have never compromised our truly unique ambiance and style. In keeping with that style, our rooms do not offer televisions. Instead, they feature original, brightly colored, Mexican tile bathrooms, private terraces with hammocks for siestas and star gazing, and locally-crafted Mexican wood furniture in an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy our magical sanctuary. The Resort offers meal plans that include breakfast daily and lunch or dinner. This choice gives our guests the opportunity to explore the many dining options in Playa del Carmen. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mahekal Beach Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Shangri La Caribe Hotel
Shangri La Caribe Playa Del Carmen
Mahekal Beach Resort Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen

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