We went to the Grand Riviera Princess in August 2013. Once there, we were 'upgraded' to the Grand Sunset Princess. They both are really the same hotel, so I'm posting under both names. I had not understood this before I went, and had only read Riviera reviews. Sorry for this long review - I think that the all positive or all negative reviews that this hotel tends to get deserve a somewhat mixed assessment.
We went as a family of 3. Me, my husband and our 6 years old daugther. As for many here, I got worried when I read the reviews. I think that I either have very low standards; or others have them too high! Or I am realistic. When going to the Carribeans, I do not expect the same standards than I do at home. I tend to equate a 5 stars in the Carribeans to a 3 1/2 stars at home. Humidity is part of the southern climate - so I know what to expect.
We arrived at the hotel 3 hours late (Air Canada flight technical difficulties). The 1 hour travel from the airport to the hotel went very smoothly. As we exited immigration, we got a porter to carry our luggages (1 or 2 $ tip) - it was worth it, the Air Canada Vacation bus was quite far from the airport lobby. We arrived at the hotel around 4:30 PM and we didn't have to wait to check in. We were given a map and pointed to go find our room. Our luggage got there about 15 minutes after us. It is a big resort, but I've seen bigger. I would estimate a 10 minutes walk from the beach to the lobby walking at the normal pace of a 5 years old. In the evening, when my daughter was tired, we would take the shuttle. We never had issue with it. It came every 15 minutes.
We had booked a Grand Riviera Princess 'junior suite'. When we registered, we had to sign a document that said that we had received a 'free upgrade'. When I asked questions to the receptionnist, he never told us what was the upgrade. I still don't have a clue. We still had a junior suite - except on the Sunset side. We had also requested 2 beds. We got one bed and a cot. It also had a sofa and 2 chairs. And two other chair on the balcony. OUr bed was comfortable and the sheets changed everyday. On the week-end, when more people arrived, we were down to only 1 face cloth - but as they are usually lacking from resorts in the South, we had brought our own. We were in building 3 on the third floor. This is the closest building to the beach. Our room was very clean and everything worked well. We could control the AC, the ceiling fan worked well, so did the jacuzzi in the bathroom. It was spacious enough for the 3 of us and very well maintained. We loved our location near the beach. We would only go down to the lobby for nightly entertainement, so the distance didn't bother us.
I would say that everything at this resort was very clean. Even though it rained for 4 days (which is more messy), the lobby area, paths, beach, rooms were kept spotless. As others mentioned, the marble is very slippery when wet. We saw many fall. Be careful and bring flats! Staff kept on picking up the trash of those that didn't pick up after themselves (or threw their plastic cups everywhere). The only thing I didn't like were the smokers. They even smoked in the pool! That's a bit gross.
My daughter wanted to go the mini-club every night. She loved it. They have a day mini-club on the Riviera side (which is outside and was closed the 2 days we tried to go) and a night mini-club on the Sunset side. My daughter loved it there! I felt it was very safe. You needed to sign a register and no adults were allowed inside. They had a crafts room; a game room; a movie room. 2 instructors spoke French (my daughter speaks French only). Others spoke English. They were very good with the children and gave them their full attention. There is also a mini-disco every night at 8:40. It was great for the kids. Outside the club there are a few other places for families - a family game room with Air hockey and babyfoot; a sports bar with pool tables; and a play structure 'behind' the sunset building (on the trolley road) as well as an archery field and tennis fields. There is a volleyball net on the beach.
Overall, service was excellent. I did tip - but I'm not sure it made a difference service wise. Staff were polite, helpful, trying to engage with us. They did speak broken English - but that's expected. They could always understand what we wanted.
The beach is beige in color, not white like in Cuba. On some days, we had a beautiful turquoise sea. However, as it was a stormy week and we had rain, the water was often brown and filled with algea. Our 'spot' was all the way to the right, near the dive center. It seemed to be bluer and with less algea in the water around there. The chair were also more spread out; and were not obstructed by vendors. We were never bothered by the vendors. They did come around once in a while and asked if we were interested, but no insistent. The chair were not the most comfortable - they were your standard blue mesh beach chairs. We were 'bad' : when we were almost ready to go down for breakfast, usually 9 AM, my hubby would leave a few minutes before us to go 'reserve' the beach chair. We then had breakfast - and then went to the beach. Bring your water shoes to avoid the rocks (and once in - go further it is sand). With kids, bring floats or body boards. They sell them for 30 US if you decide that you want one once over there.
We never had an issue finding a poolside chair (maybe not a chair in the shade - but a chair anyway). The jacuzzis in the pools didn't all work - but those in the pool we went to did - and my daughter loved to go as it was less deep. I liked to read in them. We never went to the party pool. We enjoyed the pool the closest to our room, near building 3. It was big enough, with a pool bar, and quiet enough.
We liked the drinks served at most of the bars. I had mimosas in the morning, beer in the afternoons (probably light beer), wine (not so good), sangria or kirs in the evening. Husband was all about the fancy drinks. In other countries, I've seen the mix come out of slushy machines. Here, they do them on order. It is true that they are not always well blended. Martin - in the poolbar - was one of the bar tenders that did good and well mixed frozen drinks. (which I did abuse on a rainy day...) Be careful with the bloody ceasars, they are very spicy. My daughter had a wide choice of non-alcoolic drinks. She prefered the miami vice or mango daiquiris.
Food was great. We did enjoy it very much. Everyday, for breakfast and lunch, we went to the Sunset snack bar. It was a buffet. From Monday to Friday, it was not busy at all. It was more busy on Saturday and Sunday. Nonetheless, service was always excellent and coffee - drinks kept coming (huge difference that the lobby buffet that we visited twice and had huge lines ups and no service) We did rotate what we ate at the buffets and we didn't find it repetitive. However, if we had a bit of everything everyday, we would have become bored quickly. There are always eggs and omelets done to order in the morning; and pasta with 3 sauce choices to have done at noon. Except on our first evening where we had the Riviera buffet (good night for us, they had langouste at the grill station), we always ate at the A la Carte. Doing so meant that my hubby had to trek to the lobby everyday at 2 PM to reserve for 3 nights away. We were flexible on hours (between 6 PM and 8 PM with our daughter) and flexible on which day we wanted which restaurant. We ended up doing : Grill, Mexican, Fondue, Oriental, Oriental Teryaki, Italian. If you want menu details, please write to me. Soups were always very good! My husbands' best would be the Grill. I loved the appetizers at the Oriental (but not the tuna), my seafood pizza at the italien was just OK. The Teryaki was certainly very good overall.
We didn't partake in many resort activities. We hung out at the plaza bar; watched the Grease show in the evening; and watched a few of the evening bands at the Plaza. We basically ate, drank, and went to the pool and beach. Relaxed and read. Objective for the holidays met!!
Would I recommend this resort to friends? Sure - with the caveat that the beach can have algea and a brown color after rain. Overall, to us, this was a very strong family resort. Service was excellent, it was very clean and the grounds were beautiful. We were able to enjoy spending time as a family and relax on the beach or in the pool.
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Sunset Princess All Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort And Spa
- Grand Sunset Princess Hotel
- Grand Sunset Princess Review
- Grand Sunset Princess Mexico
- Grand Sunset Princess Resort
- Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen