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“Lovely grounds- but room unbearably smelly”

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BlueBay Grand Esmeralda
Ranked #98 of 212 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Reviewed 16 August 2014

My husband and I just came back from 5 days here and I was a bit nervous after reading some of the reviews. We are typically not that fussy and figured we would have a good time if we set our minds to it. There were obvious positives and negatives when we arrived.

The grounds were lovely and nicely kept up, however, it is very swampy and foresty bringing both good and bad. The good was it was pretty and full of adorable animals that make their presence known at times. The bad was around our building (#1) the smell was a combination of swampy/sewage/mold/mildew. The hallways in our building (though open-air) were nauseating. Once in our room, the smell continued, but turned into more of a VERY strong mildew that seemed to be spewing out of the A/C unit. We asked the bell boy that brought our luggage and he said it always smells like that.

The food was pretty good. We enjoyed the welcome dinner and show but only made it to one of the specialty restaurants (seafood) and that wasn't overly impressive with choices, amount, or quality. The staff everywhere was helpful and hardworking (with the exception of the front desk and concierge). Check-in lines can get long and very slow. You must make reservations with the concierge desk for each night you want to eat at a "restaurant" and not the main buffet building. You could only make your reservation one day ahead of time.

There was a lot of walking to get from building to building, however, the grounds are beautiful, so not a bother (unless you're in heels), but they do run a shuttle around the grounds constantly. There are places with little "bus stop" signs to stand and wait for the shuttle.

The pools were nice. We stayed at the one by the ocean since it was nearest our building. Some complained about loose tiles that cut their feet or ripped swimsuits, but we didn't notice anything like that. The bars are busy but they did their best to keep the drinks going. I did see one person each day getting drinks for people around the pool but the whole time we were there, we were never asked if we wanted a drink by any worker, so we got our own. We enjoyed the BBQ (hamburgers) for lunch one day that was set up by the pool rather than having to go to a restaurant.

The beach was disappointing due to the sandbags, the seaweed all over, and the water was not what you would expect as far as the color. We did take other's advice and walk 10 minutes to the left to the lagoon. The water was clearer but was freezing. I couldn't get in. Some may find that refreshing. Not me.

Can't say much about the nightly shows. I had read some bad reviews, so didn't really have the interest. And by 9:30, we weren't in the mood.

One thing that needed improvement was the A/C situation. It was very hot and humid while we were there and every building seemed to have an open-air layout or a thatch roof, so you always felt like you were sweating while you're eating. The "sport bar" was a joke. There is a large bar-looking thing that is not functional and has broken tile behind it, like there were still trying to figure out what it should be. It was so hot in that building, you didn't want to sit there. They had installed several huge fans, which just made it windy and loud, but still hot and humid. The pool tables and air hockey were coin operated, and the snacks near the operational bar around the corner were hit or miss.

All in all, what we paid for our trip, I can't complain too much, except for that smell and we did kill one large cockroach in our room the last night, which for how "foresty" it is, I'm surprised there weren't bugs everywhere, but there really weren't that we saw anyway.

If you go, you'll get your money's worth. Beware of the timeshare push at the Cancun airport. They pretend they're trying to help you find the ride company you are going with and start in on a timeshare with the Hard Rock Hotel. Head straight out the door to the vans! Lastly, if you go shopping in Play Del Carmen (5th Street they call it), it's like being lowered into a den of lions. I found it so distasteful with the harassment, and people bugging you to look in their shop, I couldn't wait to get back in the taxi! Just a few tips.

Room Tip: Stay away from building #1 due to the smell- although we heard of a couple that switched rooms 3x an...
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  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Jackie A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 August 2014 via mobile

The hotel was very nice. Our rooms were cleaned everyday by the polite staff. There was a variety of 7 restaurants from which you could chose from including buffets and à la cart. There were shows provided by the entertainment team every night as well as a variety of activities during the day. The only major downfall of the hotel was the beach. The sand was dirty as was the sea however the water was very warm. Overall a good hotel in a great country.

Stayed: July 2014
1  Thank Cveta2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2014

Forget about most of the bad reviews.I am here at the BBGE. I. Have read a lot of negative reviews about this resort and I would like to correct them.
1. RECEPTION: The reception is very friendly. (Just ask for Jasmine). They speak english and are very helpful. As to the time sharers, there is an office, in the reception area, but there is no pressure, just a friendly Hola. The hotel lobby is hot. No air conditioner, just a breeze.
2.AIRPORT: It is true about having to fill out the top AND the bottom of the immigration form, make sure you use ink.... Also, the story about pushing abutton to see if you get your baggage checked is true. We got the green light.
3. BEACH: The reviews about the beach are, mostly, true. I lived in California and seaweed doesnt bother me. The sand sacks are there for erosion purposes and it looks like they are replacing them with new ones. I recommend you take water shoes, as you have to cross some rocky bottom area ( about 2 meters) to get to the sandy grounds. You can walk out, about 70 meters, and still be in waist deep, warm ocean water. The beach is cleaned every day with a tractor and they work on the white sandy beach all the time. Plenty of lounges and quiet places.
4. POOL: Warm water. Its shallow, about 1,20 meter deep and gets warm around 11am. I have not noticed any cracked tiles. Animation is not to loud.
5. FOOD: No problems,yet. I dont expect any. I dont eat everything, but I am enjoying my meals.

We are taking a mini Yucatan trip, this weekend and when we return, I will write some more. We will be staying until the 28th of August. I will, also, be taking 6 dives with the DiveX divebase at the hotel.

Room Tip: We are in Block 5, right next to the Swing bar and pool. Breakfasr is abot 50 meters awa. Beach is...
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  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
8  Thank 1959frank
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2014

If you are looking for a bug infested, dirty, irritable bowl syndrome, zero customer service experience... this is the place for you. Blue Bay is by far the worst resort I've ever stayed at. The pool bars are bee infested, with dirty cups and terrible bar service. The restaurants have by far the worst food I've ever eaten, I wouldn't even serve that food to an animal. Speaking of animals, they have racoon/rats running around the resort during all hours of the day. Accommodations...our room was a complete dump, bug infested and smelly. The wait staff was terrible, it takes about 20 minutes to get a glass of water, or anything else that you may possible want with your meal. The staff was not helpful at all, they even misinformed us about our airport pick-up and we missed our ride back to the airport because they are clueless. Overall this place is terrible, the pictures on the website are all false advertising, the food is crap and if you plan on heading to the beach, you better pack a lot of bug repellent or purchase the ankle bracelet that everyone had to at the resort or you will go home with welts on your tanned legs! DO NOT STAY HERE!

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Maggie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2014

Discussing in one world , poor service , poor food, poor hotel, poor room, poor Internet, and ...AND charlatans who wants to sell you time sharing for $8900 !!!

1- We were said that they want to offer us an offer so went to see what the offer was. After 3 hours wasting out time for time sharing offer which was stupid price , they offer us one week free in 3 star hotel if we buy food for 700$ , nice and this was their free offer ....
Avoid really these charlatans !!!

2- Safe and AC in the room was not working !!! They didn't care of any guest, Room was not cleaned well even with tip

3- Internet is poor and is per device , If you are 4 people in a room only one device has free internet and poor , you need to buy such poor internet for 2$ per day per device ... so If you have 3 other device you have to pay 60 $ for a poor internet - and it is said you have free internet

4- Take care of your wife and girlfriend all personnel are looking after girls and women like they didn't see any woman in their life

5- Allergy : Don't use any shampoo and Gel and lotion of hotel , it gives allergy

6- The personnel in the buffet with AC are so rude, the restaurants is the same, just the restaurant near the beach is better , they are some good people there

7- Infections: the first aide is very poor , there are a lot people who get injured because of stones in the sea and gets infected because bad bandage !!!

Enough ? Enough is Enough ,,,

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank alr856
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2014

I read a lot about this hotel before going there and I was honestly very nervous because I thought a lot of the reviews were very bad. My boyfriend and I had a wonderful stay at the blue bay. We were located in building in 5 rather close to the main pool and the beach. The beach was terrible and there were sandbags everywhere. The pool was nice but very warm (we're in Mexico so obviously it's warm). However I did meet a lot of people who cut themselves on the pool tiles so beware.

The food was really good. All the a la carte restaurants were very good. I was disappointed in the Mexican restaurant because our waiter completely forgot to bring us our first course. The food itself was very good though . The buffets for breakfast and lunch were good as well.

Our room was nice. The housekeeper would always come to late in the day so that was sort of annoying. Our bathroom was very nice and clean and so was the room. If you go out on the balcony and close the door behind you, you'll be locked out! So be careful.

The drinks were really good! I would highly recommend a scooby doo to everyone!! The service was a little slow and we had to way in line but never longer than 10 minutes

Overall our stay at the bluebay grand esmeralda was very good.

  • Stayed: August 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Samattack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2014

There are a lot of pros and cons to this resort, but for what we paid, we can't complain. I'm not sure what people are expecting when paying so little - if you're expecting five star, exclusive treatment, then that's what you should book. And pay the relevant price while you're at it! For what we paid, we were very happy.

Firstly, let's get something straight. If you are coming to Mexico for the beach - DON'T STAY HERE. Before this resort was built, the mangroves went all the way to the sea. There was no natural beach. So as the water erodes away at the man-made beach, roots and dirt are exposed. This can't be helped. They use sandbags to try and help, but that doesn't look much better. But if you bother doing ANY research about your hotel before you leave, you'll know all of this ahead of time. So you complainers out there - it's your own fault! We personally didn't go for the beach, so we didn't mind.

There is a small pool by buildings 6, 7 and 8. It's nice, but we preferred the larger one at the other end of the resort, as it is right by the beach. People keep mentioning broken tiles and cut feet, but we didn't have any problems. And people who complain about the pool water being warm? Hello?! You're in MEXICO. What are they supposed to do - refrigerate the pools? Be serious. Even if they are kind of warm by the end of the day, they were very refreshing!

The food was awesome. Always fresh, plenty of choices, and everything was cooked nicely. I can't for the life of me figure out what anyone could possibly complain about! I've read reviews that say the restaurants are all open air and not air conditioned. Not true! The only one that is open air is the one by the beach, and the breeze from the ocean flows right through, so it's never hot.

The resort isn't the newest, so they do have maintenance issues. A lot of the little problems could be fixed with little trouble, and would definitely have made a better impression. The bathrooms by the main pool are scary to say the least. The doors don't work and the one stall's toilet paper roll was gone altogether. Definitely could do better there.

Plenty of people complain about how big this resort is. Again, something you should research before booking. It is large, but they have continuous shuttle service every five minutes. You can't complain about that.

The guys at the Dive-X booth are awesome, especially Omar. He hooked us up on a day catamaran trip to an island, and it was awesome! Unbeknownst to us, we purchased the 'Platinum' trip ($110 each for the day). We ended up on a beautiful catamaran only filled to 40% capacity, as opposed to the other people on our bus who were squashed onto a catamaran that was completely packed! I'm not sure how much they paid, but whatever extra we paid it was well worth it! We went back to Omar a couple days later and he hooked us up with the guys on the beach who take you out on their Hoby Cats (small catamarans). We went out twice with Pasha. It was a two hour sail and we only paid $35 each. It was our favorite experience of the whole trip! It was just my fiance and I and Pasha, and he took us to a coral reef 15 minutes out where we went snorkelling. I couldn't believe the sea creatures we saw. It was amazing! He also took us to the lagoon just down from the resort. Fresh water comes in from an underground cenote and meets the ocean water. It's gorgeous - you have to see it! It's about a ten minute walk down the beach from the resort. Pasha was the best! Make sure you ask for him.

We stayed at another hotel around the same area last summer, and I have to say, their staff was much friendlier. This time we took 30 single dollar bills for tips. I'm sad to say, we returned with most of them. The resort staff is far from friendly for the most part. With the exception of the swing bar staff - they were awesome! The bar staff at the main pool were downright rude. One of them bordering on obnoxious. Not impressed! The ladies in the towel booths - don't expect a word out of them, or even a smile. The restaurant servers were hit and miss - we did get the odd one who was ok, but generally unfriendly as well. It's a real shame. All people want is a smile and a hello!

Overall, I think this resort is great value for money and I would recommend it to those who want to watch their pennies.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank MPierce66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about BlueBay Grand Esmeralda

Address: Carretera Federal Chetumal- Puerto Juarez km 300 | Camino a la Pileta, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
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 Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#50 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#55 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#56 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#66 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#78 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: £117 - £403 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — BlueBay Grand Esmeralda 4*
Number of rooms: 979
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ideally located in an area of 445 acres in a prime position on the beach on the Riviera Maya, BlueBay Grand Esmeralda combines elegant Mayan features with contemporary design and a wide range of service to suit the most discerning traveller. BlueBay Grand Esmeralda provides a relaxed atmosphere for holiday makers. The hotel features 979 elegant and well-appointed rooms and suites with the option of a sea or garden view. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Blue Bay Esmeralda
Bluebay Grand Esmeralda Hotel
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Mayan Riviera
Grand Esmeralda
Blue Bay Grand Esmerelda
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Resort
Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda Beach Resort Spa
Blue Bay Esmerelda
BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen

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