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Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya
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Reviewed 8 June 2014

If you don’t want to read the full review, here are key points to note:
1. There is no such thing as a pool or ocean view room. The gardens and foliage is too overgrown and high to be able to see anything. Only buildings 6, 7 & 8 all have lazy river pool views, which are the nicest.
2. Suntan lotion at the hotel is $45 USD each. Bring your own and bring extra.
3. Maid service comes twice a day – afternoon and evening turn down service.
4. Ocean beach is gorgeous. Beautiful white sand towards one end of the hotel. The other end is rocky by the ocean front rooms.
5. Dinner service is slow in a la carts. Takes 90 min for a complete meal with appetizer, main course and dessert.
6. Reserve Hibachi or tapiyani tables at 9am with the concierge. First come first served.
7. No need to reserve beach chairs at pool. Didn’t start getting busy until 11am to noon. There were always chairs available in the sun. Need to reserve chairs in shade.
8. Taxi to Playa Del Carmen is $30 USD each way. Take the Collectivo or local transit bus round trip for around $10 USD for two people.
9. Silver prices are 2 to 3x more than in Canada and USA. Be careful because a lot of it is silver plated even though it is stamped 925. Plus in Canada and USA most silver is Rhodium plated so it will not tarnish.
10. If you want good service, you will need to tip. $2 seemed to be the average tip.
11. There is no need to exchange your money. USD accepted everywhere. Most items have both USD Price and Pesos price.
12. Remember that you are in Mexico, a different country. Their interpretation of Canadian or USD foods are a bit different.
13. The resort was 95% full and didn't feel like it. It is quite large.

ROOM VIEWS:
We had the Golden room, building #6, 3rd floor. Our room faced the lazy pool. We could also see the ocean through a break through the buildings. We could hear the ocean too. The best views are buildings 6, 7 & 8. All other rooms face thick foliage and garden. Even the pool side and beach front face foliage. It is so thick and high that you cannot see past it. Only the last two rooms in the last building on the top floor have beach front views. Therefore, there is really no such thing as a pool or beach view.

GOLDEN ROOM KING SIZE BED:
We had the golden room in building #6 with king size bed on 3rd floor. The room was very spacious and nice. The only thing that may bother some people is that both the shower and bidet/toilet had glass doors. We had to hang a towel on the handle of the toilet door in order to provide some privacy. King size beds are on 2nd and 3rd floors of buildings 6, 7 & 8. The room was extremely clean and very nice. It looked like it had been freshly painted.

POOL & BEACH CHAIRS:
The main pool does not start to get busy until 11am. We were there at 9am and it was empty. There were only about 4 others couples around the pool. There was only one day where all the beach chairs around the pool were taken but most were empty from people who had left their towels on them. On all other days, there were plenty of chairs in the sun. If you want chairs in the shade, you will have to reserve one before 11am.

The main pool became extremely warm, almost hot in the afternoon. It felt hotter than my tea!

LAZY RIVER POOL:

The lazy river pool is much cleaner! There was a nasty film on the main pool whereas the lazy river pool was crystal clear all the time. The day that we left, there must have been a problem with the main pool filter because it was cloudy and you couldn't see the bottom. We avoided the main pool that day. We didn't want to get sick.

The lazy river isn't much of a lazy river. But it is a very nice pool and much less people. It does have it's own bar by building #7. It seemed like the only people who knew about the lazy river pool were those in buildings 6, 7 and 8. You have to go through one of the buildings to get there, whereas the main pool is very accessible from all directions.

BEACH PALPAS & SHADE:
The beach palpas were taken up quickly. We went to find one at 9:30am, and had to walk to the very end. If you want a palpa with chairs on the beach, you will need to go before 9am to get one closer to the bar.

MAID SERVICE:
Maid service comes twice a day, which was a big positive. Once during the afternoon and once during evening. The evening service will provide fresh towels and clean up the dirty ones, which was very nice. The evening maid will provide a little card that says what the weather will be tomorrow and a sheet on all the activities and goings on at the hotel for tomorrow. This is handy because you can plan where you want to eat and what you want to do during the day.

MINI BAR SERVICE:
Service is provided once a day. You get bottled water, Coke, Coke Light (Same as Diet Coke), Sprite, Coors Light, soda water, orange juice and apple juice. You also get coffee for coffee maker and 2 small bags of Sabritas or Lay’s plain chips. We told the guy that we didn’t want any beer and they kept our fridge stocked with lots of pop instead.

A LA CARTE DINNER:
Everyone we met was saying the same thing about the a la carte dinners. The key is to find the right dish in each restaurant, though the Mexican and Japanese were the favorites. Not everyone liked everything in each restaurant. We liked the Onion soup and Filet Mignon (Excellent and very tender - the best thing in whole resort) in the French, the mushroom risotto in the Italian, the beef kabob and chicken fajitas at Mexican and the Hibachi Tables at the Japanese. Note that service is VERY SLOW at the a la carte restaurants. If you order an appetizer, you will be there for 90 minutes. A lot of people were skipping the appetizer and desert and just ordering the main course.

RESERVATIONS FOR JAPANESE HIBACHI TABLES:
You need to reserve the Hibachi table (tapiyani tables) the same day for the Japanese restaurant. You do this by seeing the concierge. There are concierges located in several of the buildings. The line up starts at 9am. It is first come first served. The hibachi tables start at 6pm and go every 20 minutes. We had a 7:40pm reservation and didn’t get seated until 8:10pm. Whereas when we had a 6:45 reservation, we were seated on time.

BREAKFAST & LUNCH BUFFET:
There is plenty of food and choices. The buffet near the beach has a slightly smaller selection than the one by all the restaurants closer to the lobby.

For breakfast there was made to order omelets and crepes, plenty of breads/pastries, waffles and all the toppings you can think of, bacon, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs with Mexican sausage, lots of fresh fruit, hot chocolate, oatmeal, sliced cheeses, sliced meats, yoghurt, V8 juice, orange juice, cactus juice, pineapple juice etc. There was something for everyone and even had a selection of gluten free breads.

For lunch there was make your own salads with assorted veggies, fresh fruits, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, French fries, pasta bar, desserts, pastries, ice cream etc. Again, there was something for everyone.

LOBBY AREA STORES:
Suntan lotion in the store at the hotel was $45 USD a bottle. Yes, that’s $45 USD. In Playa Del Carmen, it was $20 to $22 a bottle. Bring plenty of suntan lotion. If you accidentally leave it behind by the pool, they will throw it out.

SILVER:
Silver is very expensive in Cancun/Mayan Riviera. You will pay at least 2 to 3 times as much as it costs in Canada or USA. I can find non-tarnishing earrings coated with Rhodium for much less. Plus you are not guaranteed that it is actually silver. Some items are only silver plated and the silver has worn off.

I bought a ring off Ebay with blue fire opal inlay and tanzanite. The stones are lab created and the ring is sterling silver. I paid $35 USD for it and it included free shipping. In Playa Del Carmen, they wanted $150 USD for the exact same ring. They claimed it was real tanzanite and blue fire opal and said they would provide a certificate of authenticity. The certificate is not worth the paper it is written on. What are you going to do once you get home and find out it’s fake? Buy a ticket back to complain? You have no recourse like you do in Canada and the USA such as courts and Better Business Bureau etc. Be cautious buying any silver or any type of stone or gem. I was told by someone that many of the vendors buy their items from China and that it is silver plated.

BUFFET DINNER:
There was a buffet dinner and show twice while we were there where men could wear shorts and dress casual for dinner. They had Mexican night and Caribbean night. At the a la carts, men must wear long pants and a collared shirt for dinner.

BEACH & OCEAN:
The beach was fabulous – nice white sand and soft. The beach was pretty much clear of seaweed. When there were lots of waves, there was some small pieces of seaweed floating in the water. The ocean/sea water temperature must have been about 85’F or so. It was a nice temperature. We had yellow and red flag days. The waves were fun to play in. Note that if you don’t want to lose your sunglasses, don’t take them into the ocean. We spent quite a bit of time looking for people’s lost sunglasses in the water. Ladies – do not wear tube type bathing suit tops. You will lose your top and spend all your time fixing your top so that you don’t expose yourself. Plus you will be pulling your bottoms from out from the crack of your butt! If you don’t want to get pounded by the waves, go out just beyond where they are crashing. You still get the waves but don’t get pounded. One minute the water will be by your hips and the next minute it will be over your head.

TIPPING:
Tipping is not required in the resort. However, if you want service, you need to tip. We didn’t tip the waiters at breakfast and lunch and they never came around with coffee unless we chased them down. It also seemed like all the staff were expecting tips. They would kind of hang around for a few seconds after they attended to you, expecting you to tip them. I did notice that people who tipped around the pool got better service than those who didn’t. The only time they asked us if we wanted anything was when we first got there, and then in the early morning when it wasn’t busy and they had nothing to do.

GOING TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN:
If you take a taxi to Playa Del Carmen, it will cost you $30 USD one way or $60 for round trip. There is a shopping tour that the hotel provides. It goes twice a day and costs $18/person. What they don’t tell you is that there is a local bus called the Collectivo similar to our public transit system. You get it from the main road/highway. Take a golf cart out to the front gate by the main road. Cross the road to get the Collectivo to Playa Del Carmen. It takes about 20-30 min to get there. It only cost us $10 USD round trip for 2 people. We saved $50 USD by doing this. All you do is stand on the side by the road and it will pick you up. There are no bus stops. It’s wherever you want let off or on. The bus will go into Playa Del Carmen to their bus depot. You walk straight down the street about 4 blocks and you will hit 5th avenue, which is the main drag. The local bus is very safe. We have taken it many times. It is government run.

EVENING ENTERTAINMENT:
In the theater and out front by the water fountains, there are nightly shows such as Vegas show, Michael Jackson show, Fire show, Circus show etc. They are okay, nothing great, but something to watch.

There is also either a house band or singers in the square near the restaurants towards the lobby each night. A few nights a week, they have vendors that come in to sell their stuff. The most interesting vendor is a guy that takes $5 pesos and carves things into the gold centre part of the coin. He was asking $25 USD each but we bargained and got 3 for $45 USD.

MONEY EXCHANGE:
There is no need to exchange your USD into Pesos. USD Is accepted everywhere. Items have both a USD and a Pesos price. We also used Canadian money. The going exchange rate was 13.5 pesos per USD and 12 pesos for Canadian dollar.

SUN:
The sun is extremely hot. We found there were two colors; burnt and white. Those who were already tanned when they came down, got darker. However, those who were white when then arrived burnt and turned red. Make sure you apply suntan lotion often. Also, if you use the floating mats at the pool, be sure to reapply lotion. The mats will remove any lotion that you have on pressure point areas. I burnt something bad on my chest, shoulders and back.

WALKING:
There is a lot of walking to get anywhere. If you don’t like walking, this is not the resort for you. There are golf carts that can take you around the resort if you want, but they are not regularly scheduled. You have to flag one down or call for one.

The resort was 95% full when we were there. The resort did not feel full. It is very large. I would say 90% of the people were Americans, 2% were Canadian, 3% were European and the remaining were from Mexico or Spanish speaking countries.

COFFEE:
My husband is an avid coffee drinker who loves Tim Horton's and he could not find a good coffee in the entire resort. Also, the cappuccino's were hit and miss. Mostly a miss. The resort needs to drastically improve it's coffee and train it's staff how to make a cappuccino.

BOOZE:
This resort serves premium booze, not just the cheap stuff. You can get Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels, Crown Royal etc. I was surprised at the selection.

LOCATION & OVERALL IMPRESSION:
The resort is located 20 minutes from the Airport. We were the second to be dropped off (1st drop off was Dreams), so it only took 30 minutes to get to the hotel from the airport. The hotel grounds are impeccably groomed and beautiful. Very clean and well kept. We were the only Canadians on our plane to go to the resort. Most Canadians were going to Princess resorts.

WOULD I GO BACK?
Yes and no. This was our 8th trip to the Mayan. There are so many resorts now that we are going to try another hotel such as Excellence Riviera or perhaps Secrets (other Adult Only) on our next trip.

Room Tip: Building 6, 7 or 8 has the best view. All other buildings have garden views even if they are ocean front or pool facing on 3rd floor because the foliage is over-grown and too thick, therefore blocking your view.
  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
30  Thank Blackbelt_Girl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
F T, Customer Care at Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 29 June 2014

Dear Blackbelt_girl,

Thank you very much for your full review including your observations. As you may know, comments from our guests are important for us because you let us know the exact elements in which we have to work on.

Looking forward to serve you again in the near future!

Truly yours,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 June 2014 via mobile

My wife and I are here now and are staying in a Silver suite building 2.

For all of you that have booked or are thinking of booking you won't be disappointed.

But if you are looking to see the ocean from every step of the resort..This is not for you..It is not an oceanfront resort..The buildings are surrounded by vegetation which is gorgeous.

Beach, service, food..All good...do bring bug spray and after bite for the mosquitos

It's sad to see those 1 or 2 stars for this resort.

Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
2  Thank burntpenguin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
F T, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 9 June 2014

Dear recent VIm Guests from Toronto,

On behalf of the VIM team we want to thank you for taking the time to share your review with us and all other TA readers.

Your kind comments we surely be shared with all the staff members .

We do hope to have the opportunity to host you again on your next visit to Mexico to pamper and "Exceed your Expectations"!

Truly yours,

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 June 2014

This was our first trip to this hotel but won't be our last! From arrival to departure we were treated like royalty. Greeted at the airport then well taken care of upon arrival at the hotel (champagne during check-in). Everyone is super-friendly as well. Dining was great, above average for an all-inclusive, and best part is no need to reserve. We never waited more than a couple minutes, only exception being the hibachi at the Japanese restaurant. The room was great, we had a junior suite that was large and had 2 balconies. Caution, don't leave any leftover food in your room or you're inviting an army of tiny bugs in. They will find their way! If you do make the same mistake we did, just call front desk and they'll send someone pronto! The beach is very nice, water was a bit rough when we were there but that is not under anyone's control! As an alternative the pool is great, one end has music and many activities, while the other end is quieter if you just want to relax in sun or shade and read a book. Could go on and on but this was truly one of our best winter vacations ever and will definitely look into coming back!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Steve D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
F T, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 9 June 2014

Dear Steve from Vaudreuil, Canadá

On behalf of the Valentin Imperial Maya team we want to thank you for taking the time to share your review with us and all other TA readers.

Nothing puts a bigger smile on our face than to know that our loyal guests experienced a beautiful and unforgettable experience and best of all .I really appreciate your kind words and thank you again for staying with us. We take a lot of pride in our hotel and services and it really makes us feel good when we learn that we have been successful in accomplishing our mission of making your vacations unforgettable.

Thank you for recommending our property. It will be always a pleasure to welcome you back at VIM.

Regarding your request, please let us know as soon as you are ready to comeback, our great team will be ready to exceed your expectations again!

E mail : customercare@valentinmaya.com

Wishing you all the best,

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Reviewed 8 June 2014

This was our second stay at this hotel and we were not disappointed. After a 10 hour flight it was nice to receive such a warm welcome and an ice cold beer. It still has the wow factor and everybody is so helpful and friendly. Every effort was made for my husband as he celebrated his 50th birthday. It was nice also as we had family with us at it was the first time they had done a holiday such as this.
The small improvements which have been made were good as there is now unlimited in all areas which was great. Sadly the weather was unkind for the second week but the staff worked very hard to make sure that the place was kept clean and as dry as possible.
We would highly recommend this hotel and hope to come back next year hopefully for a family wedding. I would suggest that you book the privilege package as the little extras are so worth it.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Lisa P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
F T, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 13 June 2014

Dear Lisa from Reading, Reino Unido ,

Thank you for your positive comments published on Trip Advisor. We are happy to know that you had chance to enjoy our “privilege package” and especially that you had a great vacation with us.

We will share your positive comments with our activities staff; it encourages them to continue working hard.

Thank you for choosing to stay with us and please do not forget that we will be glad to welcome you back at any time at Valentin Imperial Maya.

Kind Regards,

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Reviewed 7 June 2014

Just got back from a five night stay at the Valentin Imperial Maya. For the most part, it was a nice stay, but I probably would not return for the main reason addressed below.

First, two caveats: (1) The weather was lousy the entire time. It rained heavy on most days we were there, and I can't say I actually located that big shiny object the Earth revolves around at any point. Unfortunately, there is a system that is parked over lower Mexico, the Yucatan, and Central America, and it's decided to hang out a while. This will apparently go on for another week or so. Obviously, there is nothing the hotel can do about it. (2) I got very sick the last two days but only because we traveled into Playa del Carmen, and something I ate or drank while there did me in. Again, not the fault of the hotel. Now on to the particulars.

Pros:

Check in was a breeze and individualized, which I liked. Instead of waiting in line at a typical hotel counter, they sit you down and then bring you to a table to get you set up. I wish more hotels did this. The staff is friendly, the lobby area is gorgeous.

This is a pretty resort, no question. The grounds are immaculate and lush, although it does take some time to get your bearings and navigate through them. You feel like you are in a rainforest, and the little critters that inhabit the grounds, some strange cross between a raccoon, an aardvark, and a cat (Darwin be damned), are fun to watch and actually quite friendly.

The pool is tremendous. It's huge, beautiful, and well-designed. There's an area where you can play pool volleyball. It has two swim up bars that were fairly crowded because of the frequent downpours. The bartenders were quite amenable and didn't skimp on the alcohol (I made the mistake of asking one to give me an extra shot of rum, and he started pouring in my glass expecting me to say "when"; I thought he would do the same, and I ended up with a glass of gasoline). We met plenty of great people from all over, and it was really easy to lose track of time there.

Our room was very nice. Not exceptional, but large and accommodating. We stayed in building 6 in one of the golden junior suites complete with the large jacuzzi tub. The bed was not as comfortable as I would like, but no major complaints. I loved the shower. Having a glass door to the toilet and bidet was a bit odd, however.

The food is very good. We ate at the French, Italian, Japanese, and Vietnamese restaurants, and every meal was tasty. The Japanese and the French were probably our favorites. Valentin did their homework and hired some good chefs. The service was also, for the most part, impeccable. Of the buffet restaurants open during the day, Marche' is better than Mar and Tierra, which was often rather spotty.

The beach is tremendous. Over the years, hurricanes have taken their toll on Riviera Maya, and many resorts (like El Dorado Royale about two miles north) have beaches that are not swimmable. Valentin Imperial is the exception and probably has the best stretch of beach between Playa and Cancun (not the beach right in front of the resort, however, but the stretch of beach just north). We were out there on most days. The water could be a little rough at times, probably due to the weather, but that just made the swimming more enjoyable in my opinion. There are plenty of covered chaises; finding one was not that hard. Waiters also bring you drinks, but it takes about 20 minutes or so after you order to get it. At any rate, the beach is the main reason I picked the Valentin Imperial this time around, and it did not disappoint.

Minor cons:

The service could be a bit erratic at times. For example, we had to ask for soap and beach towels; they were not replaced on a regular basis.

Valentin claims it has a business center, but it does not have one that really works, if you are forced to conduct business while there. It would help if they had a fax machine.

The day bars close down around 5:00 p.m. although the pool bars stay open a little longer. They have a beach bar but it's not actually on the beach. The night life isn't bad, but also closes down around 11:00 or so, with the exception of the Sports Bar, which stays open until 2:00 and is the center of late night activity. We had some fun there (sports bar), but it's not very big and needs significant updating.

They could use more signs to help you navigate around the property. Due to all the trees and vegetation, you can't rely on a point of reference.

Major Con:

This one is probably a deal breaker for me and brings down my overall rating. I'm big on atmosphere, feel, and having great views. So if I'm going to beach resort, I want to feel like I'm at a beach resort. At Valentin, I never did, and that's because you can't see the beach or the water unless you are physically standing on the beach. Any and all views of the Caribbean are blocked by trees, vegetation, or other buildings. There are no rooms with water views, even those right next to the beach. You can't see the water from any walkways or restaurants. Even the beach bars are tucked back from the beach. Essentially, it feels like you are at a jungle resort that, lo and behold, just happens to have access to a beach, as if it's a side attraction. That makes little sense to me and was absolutely not what I was looking for. It's my fault for relying too heavily on Google Earth, and if you're doing the same and think Valentin has terrific water views (such as from the rooms by the lazy river pool), I'm advising you otherwise.

So why is Valentin laid out in this manner? My girlfriend's hypothesis is that the dense vegetation is there to protect the resort from hurricane damage and beach erosion. I don't know if that's right, but it would probably take a direct hit from a category 3 to seriously damage any of the buildings on the property. And if that is the reason, it still makes little sense to me, particularly considering that the resort has a great beach. It's like buying a Ferrari and keeping it locked in the garage 24/7. Sure, it will never get dented, but why buy it in the first place? (Moreover, the beach right in front of the hotel is too rocky to swim, so the resort has not been completely spared despite its apparent efforts.).

This was my second trip to the Riviera Maya, and the last time we stayed at El Dorado Royale. Valentin Imperial is superior in some respects, but at El Dorado we at least felt like we were at a beach resort. We could see the water from our rooms, walkways, restaurants, bars, everywhere. I was hoping for the same and more from Valentin Imperial (i.e. a swimmable beach), but such was not the case. Many or most of you might not care; this is a complaint I have that comes down to a matter of taste. But, if you're tastes are the same, this resort is not for you.

Again, a nice resort but just not one that suits me. Hope this helps.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
11  Thank Erich D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
F T, Director de Relaciones con Clientes at Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 9 June 2014

Dear Erich from Austin, Texas

We would like to thank you for your comments and for taking the time to post such detailed review on Trip Advisor.

We all took your suggestions as a learning tool and will keep working to improve our services for you and for future guests to VIM.

We hope that despite of this situation you afford us the opportunity to serve you again and demonstrate you how wonderful a stay at the Valentin Imperial Maya can truly be.

Kind regards,

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