This was my 9th trip to the Barcelo complex and second to the Palace. We were booked at the Colonial but because of all the closures (I guess) we were upgraded to the Palace. We had rooms 8236 and 8244 in the Michoacan building. BTW I never have figured out how to pronounce it. They were second floor about the beginning of what I call the "second section" of the room buildings - about midway between the first 2 sets of elevators. Our rooms were about 4 rooms apart but that was fine and the kids had fun running back and forth to "visit" each other. Both rooms had double beds and each room also had one couch made up into a bed. I won't go on and on about the room amenities as others have said it all, other than to add they had pillow toppers on top of the pillow top mattresses. Perhaps the mattresses were getting a bit "flattened" out? For the first time I did notice a plexiglas like sliding door on the commode area of the bathroom. No goodies welcoming us to the rooms but no big deal. Most mornings we would find a bottle of Xtabentun sitting on a wall in the hallway so I "adopted" a couple. Found out that if you aren't CP you only get 4 ala cartes for a 7 night stay and internet whether in your room with a cable or wireless in the lobby - costs $12 a 24 hour period. CP is free I think. Now that is only supposed to be 1 computer per login info they give you, but we took turns using our laptops both wireless and with cable. The only thing is only 1 can be online at a time. They would only book you 4 days at a time and when I went to book the next 3 days they said they were out of passwords, but I was persistant and they "found" one I could use.
The absolutely best thing about this trip to the Palace is they quit waxing the floor tiles! Last visit we had to be very careful as every step was treacherous and we saw many people sporting brand new casts, arm slings and leg wraps. This time no slipping whatsoever! Good move Barcelo.
It was HOT!!!!!!! I think the actual temps were in the low to mid 90's (F) but the real feel was well over 105. Only saw a tiny bit of rain late the first evening. Daughter #1 and I went snorkeling a couple times but the water was awfully stirred up and cloudy so didn't see a whole lot. Most of the time was spent either at the beach or in the pools. We mostly hung out by the water fall on the "M" side. Never had a problem getting chairs there but if we had been there over the weekend it would have been towel game on for sure. It is true for a fact that the Barcelo is offering weekend specials for Mexican nationals. Boy do they show up! But I think its only at the Palace. A couple times we ate over at the Tropical buffet (the Colonial one was closed) and hardly saw any Spanish speaking people there. Mostly US and CDN folk. The pools around the Palace are packed from late Friday through Sunday PM but Monday through Thursday its like a ghost town. Also I got the impresssion that the Barcelo does not do much marketing of anything but the Palace in continental Europe as we encountered many different nationalities there but not so much so at the Colonial. Because of the crowded pools, we decided to head over to the Tropical pool on Sunday (our first full day). But contrary to what we were told at the Palace front desk - the Palmeras grill and the Tropical pool bars were closed. But we had full bubba kegs and had the pool practically to ourselves and went over to the Mariachi for lunch. Like I said earlier, after that day we had our choice of loungers near the waterfall. It seemed most folks didn't even start to wander down to the pools until around 10:00 or so.
Because of my granddaughter's 6th birthday we booked the French ala carte on Monday and had a wonderful time. The waitstaff were wonderful with her special day giving her a birthday desert complete with candle! They all sang Happy Birthday - and most the other diners sang as well, ending with a chorus if cheers and whistles! If her smile got any bigger her face would have cracked! LOL! The only other ala carte we did was the Santa Fe steakhouse over on the Tropical side on Thursday night. Joey, the 14 year old who is definitely not into the music of the shows said that even though the CD they had playing was a bunch of "old" country songs, it sure was nice to hear! I would say that spacing the ala cartes like we did allowed the kids to really appreciate them. If we had tried to do more it might not have gone so well. What was even amazing was that my grandson-I-eat-no-vegetables actually made himself a salad from the salad bar and scarfed it down! Not to mention polishing off a perfectly prepared tenderloin. Other grandson (my little gournet) also had the tenderloin and when he asked the waiter for some garlic sauce (which they don't really have) the chef prepared some just for him. I was told it was AMAZING! Daughter #1 and I had the veal cutlets which were good but a trifle too overseasoned with salt. Daughter #2 had the shrimp on rock salt and said they were great as well. Most of the meals at the buffets were good but a couple times at lunch we must have hit it at a bad time as many of the food trays were almost empty and not much effort was being made in keeping them replenished. But we found mor than enough to eat and the kids had a great time experimenting with the deserts!
Marina pier and dolphin thing. Absolutely NOTHING going on. The 2 little buildings look absolutely abandonded - not just empty. My guess is the economy thing has put the brakes on any new development.
We walked over to the Beach and Caribe sides and the pools are down to just below the jets - just enough to keep them running so they don't get all nasty. Loungers were stacked 10 high or so around the pools. Some loungers down on the beach but not many - mostly near the water sports center. I took a couple pictures of loungers under some of our favorite trees by Capitan Morgan's and they were all full of leaves, seed pods and bird poop. Also a look of abandonment. For the most part they seem to be keeping up the landscaping but some of the grassy areas are a little brown and dry. I had to look - although the room doors were closed, most of the rooms only had screen doors shut - not locked. So I went in a couple and I took some pictures. The ones I looked in (a Jr. suite and a regular room) appear to have new coats of paint, NEW pillow top mattresses, new plasma tvs on the wall, and a new single couch - even in the regular room. Now that looked a little cramped in a room with 2 beds. The one thing I did notice is that after the large, airy hallways of the T/C and the Palace. the entry ways seemed narrow and dark even in the middle of the day.
As we rode the train back and forth from the Palace to Colonial side it was very sad to go by the Tropical and see it all dark - especially at night. They also have roped off the main lobby and beach entrances to the Tropical. But I did cut through there one day without any problem. It just was sad.
I didn't look for any upper management types to chat up this time but I did speak to the internet guy at the Palace and to one of the activity staff. They both said the B/C sides will definitetly NOT open before Christmas and possibly even after the first of the year for high season. The Tropical will only open back up ONLY if the Colonial and Palace reach a joint daily occupancy rate of 150%. I think perhaps they mean bookings as I don't know how you can have a 150% occupancy rate. Sometimes on weekends the Palace gets up around 90% but its not consistent daily. I have heard all the resorts are suffering from low occupancy as well, but not sure how they are handling it. I talked to someone on our flight who was at the Bahia and they said they have all 3 sides open but that its like a ghost town. What I found interesting is that the Colonial buffet was closed and the Tropical open. All the ala cartes were open but both times we went - not more than half full.
The same goes for the theaters. We went to all but 1 of the shows at Monte Alban and the place was less than a third full. One night (Karaoke I think) it was not even that. We didn't stay long either as they had the same 4 volunteers singing and most of them got worse as they went along. My ears were bleeding!
We only went off resort twice: once into PDC for shopping and Senor Frog's. Boy are the stores in PDC hurting for business. All of them have big sales signs all over the stores and outfront - even stores like the Harley Davidson store which never has sales or will bargain. Daughter #2 got her friend at $37 t-shirt and $16 dollar pin for $40 total. We got some other good deals and Daughter #1 got her husband one of those ceramic bottles of blue aguave tequila for $45. The same bottle at the Palace store was over $80 and the tequila store at Plaza Mexicana wanted around $60. We ended the evening with dinner and drinks at Senor Frog's. A lot of the humor was adult-oriented but they had plenty for the kids as well: ballon hats, palm tree drink bottles, a clown, etc., plus the usual shots and monkey business for us grown ups. The second off resort trip was a morning trip to Tulum for 4 of us. As I had been 4 or 5 times before, I mostly sat in the shade on a rock and pointed out the buildings and waited for them to explore. Did I mention it was HOT!! Both daughter #1 and grandson got "butt" hammocks (chairs) for $25 each. Price started out at $55. Merchants there are hurting as well.
A word about tipping: I always tip for outstanding service and while the service was good there were not many times I felt it outstanding. We were a group of women and children - no men - and I know that many times we were "overlooked" and had to ask for things that were quickly provided to groups with menfolk. But I guess that's a cultural thing I have experienced many times all over Mexico.
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