We travelled to this resort in a group of 10 people - 2 grandparents, 4 parents and 4 grandkids the last week in January. The kids ages ranged from 14months to 8 years old. The best thing about this resort are the beautiful pools - including the water park for kids. The adult pools were beautiful and plentiful (not too crowded) with swim-up bars. In addition there was a children's water park with at least 7 big-kid slides and 2 little-kid slides and fountains that sprayed water around. It was entertaining for all of the little ones in our group. The 8 year old made friends and ran around for hours entertained. The 14 month old kept doing "loops" on the baby slides - go down, then walk around to climb back up, then go down and around again! The 3 year old in the group even went on some of the larger slides (by choice - in addition to some we put him on to be caught by an adult). It was awesome. We didn't use the "Barcy club" which is the child-care of kids ages 4+ since it was indoors and the kids ages 4+ were having too much fun playing outside.
The food was pretty good for an all-inclusive - definitely in the top one or two of all the all-inclusives I've been to (which has probably been ~ 7 for me). The drinks were pretty bad but I'm pretty picky. The frozen drinks were just way too sweet. They must use some "cheap" mixer in them and they tasted like flavored sugar. We started asking for special made concoctions over time and that partially helped. The wine wasn't good but for another ~$60 you could get a decent bottle (Rosemount). The outside bars had poorer quality and usually slower service. The restaurants had breakfast at 7am-10:30am, then lunch from 12:30-3 and then dinner 6:30-10pm. For us the later lunch and dinner starts were a pain as the kids were hungry by then (and getting tired by the time dinner finished). We didn't like that you had to eat-in to eat. There was NO food by the pools and food couldn't be carried out. This was a pain since you couldn't be wet, had to have shoes and be covered to enter *every* eating venue. Also a pain since you couldn't grab a snack for the kid and bring it to them - instead you had to change them, sit indoors to eat and then head back out. At all the restaurants most of the drinks are brought to you by waiters and you can wait up to 15-20 minutes for them to get to you and bring you a drink (but other times it could be faster). The buffet service was much worse than the more-outdoor grills. All restaurants had high-chairs for the babies. Also the reservation menu-based restaurants were booked until late in the week. The service was pretty bad at them - we waited probably 15-20 minutes for our first course to arrive at one - with the kids getting their meal 10 minutes before the adults (which we asked them not to do since then what do the kids do while we eat?). Then the next course we also waited for and sometimes they got part of the group's drink orders but then didn't come back for the rest for another 10 minutes - very weird. These menu restaurants also book up quickly. On Sunday the earliest we could make a reservation for 8 people was for Thursday night. Also the various available timing was not very flexible (ie later or earlier than we would prefer). But there was reasonable variety for the food and the food quality was pretty good. Our full group could always find something to eat that we truly enjoyed.
The night-time shows started at 9:30pm - a bit late for my taste (please see above that we were traveling with little kids that started their days at 6am) but perhaps for some the start time might be okay. We saw a couple of shows for the first 15-30 minutes. The Mexican show was pretty good, the circus was interesting gymnastics display. Nothing (IMHO) worthy to stay up too late for given that we had non-programmable alarms (those kids). Also the store area (has maybe 15 stores/booths) has "shows" 3 times per week (Mon, Wed and Fri). It can be more interesting to visit the stores then since food, a bar and entertainment occur on those nights.
The rooms were fine. I think all rooms (at least the 3 in our group) smelled a bit musty/moldy. The rooms had king or two double beds. They also had a stocked fridge with beer, soda, juices and water (no extra charge). The towels and linens were definitely high quality. And the rooms had a sofa-bed for those that need the extra space or you can "order" a crib for the little ones (nice!). This place is large so the walking distance between rooms can be time-consuming. In our party they put two of our rooms closer together but the 3rd was in a different building and maybe a 5 minute walk away. Kind of a bummer if you just want to see if someone is in their room or not. (We asked to have them together but only 2 of us were.) The rooms also have a safe that you can program with your own special code to keep your valuables safe and we were surprised (in a good way I suppose) to find a note one day in our room advising us to use it since my husband left his new iphone out.
We made use of the free catamaran sailing and the free 1 hour (daily) snorkeling (right off the resort beach where we saw sting ray, coral, lots of colorful fish). Both were a blast! They also have windsurfers (that others used), ocean bikes (that no one used in the whole time we were there - even the staff said they just weren't fun) and kayaks that others used. Quite fun.
On-site they also have a dolphinarium where if you pay or not you can see the dolphins, watch mini-shows with the dolphins, watch them eat, swim, etc. And if you want to pay - then you can swim with them. This is right on-site not far from the sailboat check-out hut. Also there was free mini-golf which people in our group also enjoyed (plus many more family-friendly activities).
The beach as you walk closer to the Caribe side (another hotel on the same grounds) is softer white sand, the beach as you walk closer to the Palace side (another hotel in the same group on the same grounds) is more rocky but has better snorkeling. The beach at the tropical was soft white sand, with few shells, with some coral "pebbles". We were fine going in/out without beach shoes. The Tropical and Colonial are really the same resort (everything shared) except the lobby you check in/out is different. The restaurants are all the same. The Colonial side has a better, enclosed bar that serves coffee and snacks even at 5am! Just walk over! There were always plenty of beach chairs at both the beach and the pool - the best selections started to disappear ~ 9am. The gardens were awesome! We saw many iguanas (daily we saw 5-7 in a walkway in front of the Veracruz and Yucatan hotel areas near the Palmaras grill).
Even after a week there we still didn't learn how to figure out what was going on when/where. I wish they provided a week schedule at check-in so we knew what shows were happening, what activities, etc. We just happened to have to stumble upon most of it. (Also perhaps the info booth will provide the info if you know to ask them.)
One word of caution - the lights that illuminate the facility are easily reachable by infants/toddlers (this is Mexico - not the US where everything must be "dummy-proof"). Our 14mo was standing on the walk-way while it was still daylight (~ 5pm) and touched very briefly a halogen lamp adjacent to the walkway in the grass area (lighting up a sign). He burnt to blisters 3 of his fingers. Ouch! A lifeguard nearby trained in first aid helped guide us on what to do and also mentioned that there is a medic on-site (for additional cost). We didn't need/use the medic, but nice to know that one is there!
The reasons that I would gladly return to this resort are the family-friendly activities on-site and the reasonable food. I really disliked the drink selection although I started to partially accept it or acclimate to it as time went on (water just doesn't cut it at dinner!). I would hope for better timing of shows, better food-hours and the option of pool/beach side food selections (oh and reasonably priced or included decent wine). But really - their pools/beaches/activities are THAT good. I'll just bring my own wine next time! ;-)
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Maya Tropical Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Hotel Puerto Aventuras
- Barcelo Maya Tropical Riviera Maya, Mexico - Puerto Aventuras