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Barcelo Maya Beach
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Reviewed 12 July 2010

We went to Barcelo Maya Palace from July 3-10. A "very picky" friend of mine went last summer and recommended it from ALL aspects - service, food, location, amenities, etc. - so we decided to give it a try. We are a family of 4 with two kids ages 9 and 2 1/2. In the past, we've stayed at Iberostar Paraiso Lindo (which we loved, but was pricing really high) and Grand Palladium Kantenah (which we also liked, but wanted to try something different).

We requested a room ahead of time via email, asking that we be placed in a room as close as possible to the lobby/pool, etc. and near our friends. While we were only 3 doors down from our friends, we were in the last room in the second building. It is a long walk but not bad. I walk a lot at home and brought the stroller for my 2 1/2 year old so it was fine - not worth complaining about. It took us about an hour and 5-10 minutes from the airport.

When we checked in, we had no idea what line to be in. When we approached the desk, our greeting was "Last Name?". Thanks - we're glad to be here! No hello, welcome, or welcome drink. We were exhausted, thirsty, and sweating - the lobby was HOT. It was not as breathtaking as I expected it to be - but maybe I was just annoyed from the check-in process. We were shown where our rooms were. Before going to our rooms, I decided to book dinner reservations as others had suggested. I waited 15 minutes while the concierge was on the phone, completely ignoring me. I left and came back later that night.

The room was nice and had nice amenities - toothbrush, loofah, lotion, shower gel, shampoo/conditioner (which were terrible, but it was nice they had them), razer, etc. They only gave us two washclothes for 4 people so we usually had to hunt down the maid for more. The beds were fine - they already had the mattress topper on them - but the pillows were terrible. Thank goodness I brought sleep aid.

The food was OK. After the first day, I didn't choose much from the "buffet" stations but rather had things made to order - omelettes, fajitas, pasta, shrimp/fish, steaks. The kids buffet was cute. My kids had a lot of fruit, bread (which was really good - always very fresh), fish and quesadillas! The restaurants we went to were good. Brazillian (not bad, but took long and they didn't even bring out all of the meats), Caribbean (good food, but they did not book our party of 8 together and we were seating 35 minutes after our reservation time), and Seafood (awesome service, OK food). I talked to another traveler who found a NAIL in his pizza. The hotel's reaction - thanks for telling us. Eventually, after much negotiation, he got upgraded to Club Premium.

We also quickly learned to custom order our drinks with the premium liquor. Why get the house liquor when you can have top shelf rum? I always had them use Malibu or something like that in my daquiries and had Baileys in my coffee. Hubby drank the expensive whisky.

We actually had the best service at the buffets. The waiters would help us take our plates back to the table, offer drinks very promptly, make balloons for the kids. Awesome. The service at the bars was iffy. One time I asked for a drink for my son and he rolled his eyes like he was annoyed that he had to actually mix something in the blender! The lobby bar was nice b/c it was air conditioned. They brought popcorn for the kids and you could get nuts & cookies. Normally I like being in the fresh air but it was just TOO hot to be comfortable out there.

One day was a complete loss because it POURED all day. The hotel put some board games out in the lobby for people to play and arranged dance lessons. We just sat in the lobby bar, read and drank but it was nice that there were things to do. My friend's room roof was leaking and when she called the front desk, they reacted like "why are you telling me?". She eventually called again later and was moved to a different room (further away).

We went into Playa Del Carmen one night. While we were waiting for the shuttle to bring us up to the highway, a worker came by and drove us up via golf cart, which was nice. We took the collectivo, which was $3 per person (we were told $2 per person, but charged $3 - whatever). We took a taxi back for $20.

The pool is great but not very clean. I was surprised at how much stuff was floating around in the kid pool - bark and bugs. And one of the lights was just hanging in the kids pool unexposed - kind of scary. The big pool always had straws floating around - I guess I can't blame the hotel for this but the guests that do not clean up after themselves.

We found that a lot of Europeans stay at the Palace. When we went over to the Tropical/Colonial side, it seemed that there were a lot more Americans over there. We almost wished we spent less money and stayed over there. The beach was much nicer and the pools were just as good. And we always had good service on that side.

Would I go back? Probably not. Out of the three places we've tried in Riviera Maya, we liked it the least. The service seemed to get better as the week went on but overall we didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank Kelly2beach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2010

We were all very impressed with the level of service at this resort. The staff were always buisy making sure everything went smooth and the place looked beautifull. The wait safe and hostesses made it a point to get to know each customer so that at the end of the week we felt like old friends.We got our vows renewed while there and Victoria the wedding planner took care of everything. We also went on an excurtion to selvatica zip lines which was fantastic. Edventour tours took us snorkling in caves and a lagoon, then a privite tour of tulum. At the end of the week my family also went scuba diving rght from the resort dock. We can not wait to go back!

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank Beckenbachs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2010

First-- I'll start with the "pros"-- (then a LONG list of "cons")
• the rooms are beautiful (but be prepared for long walks. Very few rooms have ocean views...)
• The pool is great-- the kids loved it!
• The bartenders were ALL very nice.
• The beach is clean, free of rocks and great waves .
Now-- the "cons"--
• Starting with the front desk, the staff is not very committed to the customer experience. They do the very minimum to get you checked in. We were not told many things up front that would have made our stay much better--things we learned from other guests or through trial and error (not fun). We were NOT even told "thank you" after checking out and spending over $500/night. Classy....
• The hotel front desk, excursion desk, concierge, and spa front desk will talk to you and take calls from others at the same time. So, they are not focused on you.... and it takes forever to get your business done with them.
• Monica at the excursion desk in the lobby is rude and over-charged us for an excursion. (However, Kristopheer was very nice, fair, and gave good info)
• You have to go to the main building to eat... they do not serve food at the pool or beach.
• You have to share the spa and fitness center with the 3 other Barcelo hotels. The Spa front desk staff was rude and the facility VERY OUT-DATED.
• The shows are very late-- 10pm...not good for kids (ours are 10 and 14) or adults who have had full days.
• The pool bar and towel service close at 8pm... nice....
* There is a charge for room service and the food... i thought this was all-inclusive?!
I would not have a problem paying a premium rate at this newest Barcelo hotel... but we won't even consider going here again even if it were 1/2 the price... the negative, rude, ho-hum attitudes made our stay very challenging. We had to keep telling ourselves to forget about each bad experience after the other and focus on having fun with each other...

On the trip home, we met other Americans on the plane who had a similar experience.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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2  Thank KS_Family_of_Four
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2010

We stayed there for 5 days with our 3year old and we all had a blast. It’s a very beautiful resort with gorgeous beach and surrounding grounds.
It rained on one of the days but we did not feel that the day was wasted as we had a chance to cool our skins off plus there was still a lot of activities to kill time. For one we watched the world cup game in the lobby, our son enjoyed the kids’ activities in the theater and I had an amazing 4 hour run around the property in the rain. The rain was nice and refreshing and it made it one of the best runs I’ve ever had. Now to the more detailed review:

Room:
We were in the Coba building on the Beach side of the resort. The room was nice with 3 full size beds and marble bathroom. It was clean, the AC worked well but the beds were somewhat firm and not too comfortable. Both me and my wife were waking up in the middle of the night which we never do at home. Nothing too crazy but it would have been nicer to have better night sleep.

Beach:
Just as everyone says the beach is beautiful with lots of palm trees and loungers. The resort seemed pretty full but there were more than half of the chairs available on the beach. The sand however is somewhat coarse especially near the water and it’s fairly easy to step on some sharper pieces and hurt your feet. The water entrance can be tricky too with small sharper pieces of shells or corrals hidden in the sand.

Pools:
We didn’t spend much time there but the first day we noticed that the pool on the Caribe/Beach side was dirty especially the area around the pool. I actually stumbled across a used condom when I was entering in the evening trying to grab a drink at the swim up bar. After this encounter we tried the Tropical/Colonial side another day and it was much better.

Food:
I don’t understand some complaints found on this side as we found the food to be really good. The selection at the buffets was amazing. There was always a lot of tasty food to eat and every day there was something different. We ate at the buffets a lot and throughout our stay there were Spanish, Oriental, International and Mexican themes. There was fish almost every day and all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were great. The key I guess is here the same as at every other buffet type restaurant: don’t eat everything at the first time. I could see how people can get tired of the food choices if they try everything on the day one. Just take one or two types of food every time and you’ll be fine. Same with breakfast, we did omelet one day, yogurt with granola and nuts the other, scrambled eggs the following and so on.
The beach grills had limited selection but still at least few good dishes and desserts. Bottom line is that if you like pizza and burgers you will be disappointed.

Restaurants:
We had vouchers for Mexican and Spanish. The Mexican was ok, nothing great but still good but the Spanish was absolutely amazing. I had the grilled sea bass and my wife had lamb chops and both meals were absolutely amazing. The service in the Spanish was also top notch and we made sure to let the manager know how much we enjoyed the food and service. Again, we were open minded and wanted to try different things as you can have Steak or Japanese restaurant around your home back in US so what’s the point of going to one in another country?

Service:
The room service was good, towels and sheets were changed daily. Everyone was friendly and we had no complaints.

Overall we enjoyed our stay and will definitely be back in the future. We felt safe and really welcomed. We had our transfer arranged with the USA transfers so we got to the hotel fast and without any stops on the way for the same price that cheapcarribean.com wanted to charge us for the regular shuttle with multiple stops. This way not only we go to the hotel in an hour (which was a must since our plane landed at 9:20pm) but we also weren’t hassled by the pushy people trying to sell us some local trips. Just like some people indicated on this website: vacations are what you make out of it.

My only disappointment with cheapcarribean.com is that they don’t refund you money for cancelled well in advance shuttle service. They offer discount for the next trip which is valid only for 12 months. The problem is that I’m not sure if we will be able to take Caribbean vacation again in 12 months.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank Marcin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2010

I was not going to write a review for Barcelo since I do not usually do so. My last trip to another resort changed my mind. We stayed at the Mayan Palace for xmas and it was great. What made me appreciate this resort more was my recent trip to the Blue Bay in Playa del Carmen. It was like night and day. Spend the extra money and stay at the Barcelo Mayan Palace. The food, staff and resort itself was top notch for Mexico. It may not be A W or JW Marriott but it is the beach and this place definitely ranks 5 stars compared to the rest in the area.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank mas2573
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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