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“PARADISE ON A BUDGET”

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Catalonia Playa Maroma
Ranked #4 of 6 Hotels in Playa Maroma
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed 29 July 2014

I know many of you have thanked me for provided my opinion in past stays so I hope I do you justice with this review. I'm a world traveler and love to endulge in the great things life has to offer, however for this paticular vacation we had to budget a bit since we were just at Sandals Grenada a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, I truly believe in the phrase you get what you pay for...
Ok, if you are looking for a beautiful place to run your feet in the sand and swim in one of the clearest beach...then this place is for you. The beach has white sand and the staff here clean the seaweed every morning. Although I truly believe Turks and Caicos is by far my favorite...this beach comes somewhat close. If you rather the pool...beware of the warm water! Don't expect to cool off quickly...the water is very warm. Here are some pointers you might want to consider:
1. Request a room in the 500-600 building. Why you ask, because then you won't get exhausted walking the long (and I mean long) path from the 100-400 building to the beach and other restaurants. Althought the path brings you close to the jungle experienc...it's a mosquito war!
2. Spend a bit more and request to be a Priveledge guest. This will allow you the section on the beach that has the cabanas, drink servers, and many other perks including a stock mini bar in your room. Without a purple ban you will not be able to sit on the left side of the beach and are limited to towels.
3. Two restaurants are air conditioned. The rest are open air which is fine if your dining near the beach but if you stick to the buffet near the lobby...expect to sweat your calories off while you eat. I strongly recommend eating at the Terrace for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...here Javier and his staff will welcome you with open arms. Javier was one of the best workers we came across although all of them were hard workers and took pride in helping their guests. The quality of the food is not that great but again for the amount we paid...it did the job.
4. Pack your bathingsuit in your carry on...trust me! You will NOT get your room until after 3pm. Again, we expected this although when traveling we use Sandals and always have our room available. As a Priveledge guest you can hang out in their club house while you wait if you choose not to eat or enjoy the beach.
5. For you Spa lovers...save your money and take a ten minute walk to the right of the beach and visit the massage hut. Here the women will treat you to massage you will never forget for a great price...well I bargain but was sworn to keep the price a secret. I had an hour massage and was very pleased. Take a bottle of water with you, towel and make sure to be clean and dry...when you wake up you may need help walking back your so relaxed! (Laughing)
6. Buy your bottle of tequila at the airport on your way back if you have a nonstop flight. The prices are better then in the states.
Overall, if you are looking for a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful beach then this place is for you if you can overlook the attention to food quality at the buffet. Enjoy!

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
19  Thank ARMANICHIC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 July 2014

Myself and my boyfriend travelled to Catalonia Playa Maroma from Feb 29-Mar 5 this year. I'm going to write a completely honest review of the resort from our perspective. We booked through Nolitours in Canada. All in all it was a wonderful holiday, and the beach was amazing!

Arrival

The transfer was quite short (20 min or so) from the Cancun airport. The Cancun airport is a ZOO. There must have been 4 or 5 flights off loading at the same time, so be prepared for a long wait. I would actually recommend packing a bottle of water at your home airport to have in the Cancun airport, as it was quite hot and crowded going through customs. Once we got through there, our bag was one of the last on the belt, and then you have to line up and go through the security line where you may be subject to a random search of your bag - after it goes through an xray. So picture a system much like boarding at home. Just don't forget any of your stuff!!! I didn't mind this so much - the crowd was an issue but every country has their own security measures, and neither myself or my boyfriend got stuck in a search.

Once we found our bus (took a minute, because there are TONS of them) it only took us about 20 min to get to the resort. Our tour guide sold us beer on the bus which is about half the price of the stuff you can buy outside the airport! We were the only ones on our bus to get off at CPM.

Once inside, it was very quiet (no other arrivals) so we got checked in right away - beware, this hotel seems to overbook, so we met a couple that was sent away to another resort for the night (we talked to them on the shuttle back a week later and they said it wasn't a big deal and they loved the other location!).

Amurray checked us in - he was helpful and informative, and made sure he sent someone for our welcome drinks. If you ask at the desk, they will give you a calendar of activities, because I couldn't find one on site.

ROOM
The rooms themselves are nice - updated in the Privlege section with dark wood. The beds are hard (to be expected) but I brought my own pillow down. The issue I had with our room was that it overlooked the back access road (that's fine) between CPM and the Secrets next door. After a long day of travel and both of us having awful colds, we wanted to sleep but the shows next door woke us up around 10pm. They were SO loud. We asked to be moved to another room, and they told us to come down again in the morning. Then they told us to come back on Friday morning for a room... and then on Thursday when we got back to our room from the beach, there was a note saying we missed our transfer because we didn't confirm with the desk!!! It was a very confusing process, and we decided just to stay put. By the end of the week, I actually enjoyed listening to the shows next door - there was a KISS themed one and a Beatles one which sounded quite good!!!

GROUNDS
I LOVED the grounds. People complain about the walk, and I loved it. Every building is off a path that branches off the main path, which takes you through some trees before reaching it. In these trees coatis are always playing. Its such a calming atmosphere and I loved the greenery. It was very clean and well kept - just beautiful.

POOL
We spend almost no time at the pool, but it looked nice. There are some deeper areas, as well as some shallow spots for kids. It looked clean, although smaller than other pools I have seen at AIs. If you want a spot at the pool, the towel game starts at sunrise - good luck!

BEACH
The BEACH!!!! The single most amazing beach I have visited (I've also been to PC and Cuba). The water is warm and so clear - there are silver angel fish in the shallows that you can see. Also, the water is quite calm. You can float when it is green flagged, and even yellow and red I didn't find it hard to swim and play in the waves (they never got as big as I have seen in Cancun). They have a 'black flag' which I guess is their no swim flag - I never saw it.

PRIVLEGE UPGRADES
If you can upgrade, definitely do it!!! The privlege upgrade gives you access to a private part of the beach that has palapas (the other side has lots of palm trees for shade). We spend every day here, and yes, we played the towel game to get a palapa (I love watching the sunrise anyways!)

You also get 4 a la cartes instead of 3 for the week. Combine that with the Terrace and you only need to go to the buffet twice.

Also - you get access to the Terrace restaurant for breakfast and lunch - it may become repetitive but it was the best option for us. Breakfast and lunch overlooking the amazing beach!) You also get one free meal at the Terrace (you have to pay if you don't have privlege or go more than once). You don't get to sit on the balcony for that (they reserve it for people doing the special lobster dinner) but the restaurant is nice and airy and quiet.

There is a privlege lounge, but we never used it.

RESTAURANTS
My main complaint about this resort (and why it didn't get 5 stars) is the food.

The first night, we went to the buffet - we had no issues and the service was good.

The a la cartes cannot be reserved - so get there early, or be prepared to put your name down and go get a drink at the pool bar while you wait.

For breakfast - we first went to the buffet - the french toast is amazing, but the available fruit is limited. Mostly melon. I'm not complaining, just advising. For lunch the first day, we just went over to the grill (Tortuga) for lunch. They have hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fries. Very small selection but you can still find something you like.

The italian restaurant is ok - for all the a la cartes it was our favourite. The service was good, and the food was more than ok. You can't really go wrong with pasta!

The steakhouse is edible, but the steak really isn't very good. Mine (I can't remember what I had) was much better than my boyfriend's. Just keep in mind this is not the north american idea of steak!!! Again, it was fine, the service was good, just don't expect much.

The Mexican restaurant I can't comment on. We went there for dinner, and had to wait an hour for a table. We grabbed a drink while we were waiting and chatted with some other guests. We expected this and it was no big deal. Until we were sat. It took at least 15 minutes for someone to come and bring us water. The server was awful - he was dressed like he came out of the kitchen (he didn't have on the waiter outfit), and wouldn't even look at us when we talked to him. It was another 10 before we could order dinner (even though we were ready before), and he left before we gave him our drink order (just walked away). After ordering, we didn't receive the chips and salsa that is supposed to come out before the meal, and he never came back for our drink order either. All in all we waited 45 minutes and received nothing. After an hour wait to get seated we were starving so we got up and left. I can tell you there were at least 2 other tables with the same struggle as us that also left.

So we went to the buffet where it was Mexican night - we had a few things to eat and headed off to bed. It was about midnight that I woke up in EXTREME pain in my abdomen and I spent the next 3 hours crying in the bathroom because I was so sick and nothing would get rid of the pain. Eventually we had to call the doctor in from Playa del Carmen - I was in so much pain I couldn't even lie on my back for him to look at me. He wound up giving me 2 shots to get it calmed down and three prescriptions. He also left his own phone number for us, because he was worried I may need an ambulance if it didn't resolve, and said to call him directly so they didn't make us pay to call him out again - I guess you can only get to the private hospital if a doctor calls for you. He was wonderful.

After racking our brains to figure out what made me so sick (I spent the next day in bed but made it back to the beach after), all we could come up with was that I had some lettuce and pico de gallo at the buffet - I didn't even touch the dressing!!! So PLEASE be careful with what you eat. It is a different country and you really should stay away from food that isn't cooked or hasn't come out of a peel - especially on the buffet.

The restaurant we used was the Terrace (exclusively after I got sick). The breakfast and lunch was quite good - I surprisingly loved the club sandwich up there. And the dinner was the best we had. There will be things you get here you don't like in the appetizers - you choose a plate that has 3 things on it. But it is beautifully arrnaged. I enjoyed my main, and after they give you this AMAZING champagne mint sorbet type thing to cleanse your pallet. But the dessert - the single best thing I had all week - we had the hot chocolate cake with ice cream..... heaven!

Finally there is a creperie on site where you can get savoury and sweet crepes and ice cream. We didn't go there, so I can't comment.

BARS
There is NO swim up bar here (like I said, we are beach people anyways). The beach bar is well staffed, but beware other guests. It has a high european population and they don't really understand the idea of 'turns' and 'line ups'. I direct this mostly at the French, Italian and Spanish guests. Just be as pushy as they are and you'll be fine.

ANIMATION TEAM/ACTIVITIES
There is ALWAYS something going on for adults and kids on the beach and at the pool. Whether its yoga, an ab workout, games, mini-olympics, "BEACH VOLLEY!!!", or beach soccer, you can do as much or as little as you like. The animation team is friendly and always engaging.

I enjoyed all my drinks - don't forget to check out the kids menu - if you ask, they will make you any of those with run, thereby doubling your drink menus!!!

The lobby bar gets really busy at night - if you want a quiet drink, try to go to the beach bar before it closes. The seating at the beach is wonderful.

All in all, our trip was quite good - we were considering going back there for our wedding next year, but I just can't quite get over the food. If it was good, it was ok, not great. I don't hold it against them that I got sick (it happens) but when you are away for a week, you want to eat just a bit better than 'ok'. I'm not a snob, and I did find stuff to eat, just nothing I would choose to eat again (except that dessert!).

Some tips for you:

1) Bring extra cash in case you do get sick - the doctor house call, exams and meds cost us $500 USD. Actually not bad when you think about what he did, but still, make sure you have it or else you will need to go to the ATM.

2) You don't HAVE to bring cash for souvenirs if you buy them at the resort. We got just a few things (vanilla, hot sauce, a couple small trinkets for family), and you can charge it right back to your room (they actually want you to do that). It is SO much easier than trying to budget before going, and the prices are reasonable enough. You can also get chips and cold drinks (gatorade etc.) here.

3) Yes - you must play the towel game if you want a specific place to sit - we went each morning around 6 am to watch the sunrise (take pictures!) and then back to bed for a couple hours We were always back to the beach by 9am (we never left our towels all day taking up space) and didn't leave until 3pm each day.

Room Tip: Try to get a room that doesn't face the other resort.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
10  Thank kelann25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2014

As I write this review we are still here at the Resort enjoying the tropical environment. There is a Natural Jungle in the middle of the Resort.All guest walk through the middle of it from the Loby \ Buffet to the Pool\Beach.Be aware that you will meet live monkeys, coati etc along that path , roaming free through the Jungle & Resort.Bring bug spray for the mosquitos at night. The accommodation are amazing including , in our case, a Honeymoon Room with a private Jacuzzi on the balcony. The service here is 5 stars.The staff is fantastic.Special THANKS to Pilar and Aldo for their special concierge help.The beach is very beautiful with powdery white sand and gentle waves.The Resort provides lounge chairs, beds and hammocks to relax on the sand. I hope everyone will enjoy this peaceful and restful place as much as we do.

  • Stayed: July 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank lovethecity88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2014

I never understood why people wrote long reviews until now. I'm going to try to keep it short. First off the weather was awesome for the 5 days we were here, it was 90 deg everyday.... never rained and wasn't too humid. Overall my trip was relaxing but there were a few disappointments.

Pro:
1) Bartenders, bell-boy (ESP Mauricio he's awesome) and Wait-staff (ESP Manager,Joel) Fantastic and Great! They are friendly, welcoming and loves to converse with tourist.

2) Beautiful Beach: One of the best beaches I've ever been to; White Sand, turquoise blue ocean water and not too Salty.

3) Hotel Grounds: beautiful.. Feel like you're in a rain forest.
B) Rooms: decent and clean, I've been in better hotel rooms.

Cons:
1) Front Desk ONLY (this doesn't include Bell-boys): language barrier is a problem. I Do not want to be insensitive; however if you are dealing with customers on a daily basis from different parts of the world you should be able to communicate in English. I personally felt like if you spoke Spanish they were more accommodating.

B) Front Desk Staff should take customer service classes. I had the pleasure of dealing with a Manager by the name of Piliar. She was not accommodating and rude.
(Caution: met a fellow guest who had their personal belongings stolen out of their room within the first 3hrs of arrival- he was told by her "that he has no proof that staff took his belongings. He wasn't reimbursed-- so use the room safe.) Within my first day there I saw several people complaining.

2) Food: SUCKS!!! No real authentic Mexican food. Food is bland!
FYI- if you are a foodie- this is NOT the place for you.... NO BUENO!! What is the point of paying for all-inclusive if you can not enjoy the food. I am Caribbean so I know good food

3) Pool: No swim-up bar. Only 1 bar by the pool and there is always
a LONG line to get a drink. The only other bar is in the Lobby. My personal experience Lobby bartenders were better- Luis and Auturo were the BEST, friendly and funny.

4) Entertainment Staff: WACK!

5) Wifi is Horrible. Also, Smokers.... they were EVERY WHERE by the pool, in the lobby, and on the beach. If you are a non-smoker it's unbearable. They should separate the two in the pool and beach area.

Ending this review with if you want a great beach come here. If you are into hotel service and great food. I would say pass!
FYI- although this is all-inclusive... Tip the staff (bell-boy, drivers, waiters etc) they work very hard to make sure your stay is comfortable.

Room Tip: they are reluctant to change your room if you are unhappy.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank Shari R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2014

Beautiful amazing beach! Nice and clean hotel rooms. Food was good, however would love to see more seafood. Delicious desserts!! Animators do their best to entertain and engage you in a lot of activities such as volleyball, soccer, zumba, canoe and aqua gym. Awesome shows every night as well. Very unique design of the resort with a lot of green spaces where you can observe exotic animals. Many Europeans particularly French and Italians. The majority of staff members are nice. However, receptionists were rude and unhelpful, never smile and often just ignore you. Be careful with the seaweed that floats in the ocean in case you have allergies, got a very bad burn on the skin by accidentally touching them. The water in the swimming pool is boiling all the time, you feel like swimming in a pot with soup. Overall, a good experience, nice place for a holiday. Enjoy!

Room Tip: Receptionists are very reluctant to change the room for you if you ask them by the time you arrived...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Tanya S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2014

I'll start by saying our overall trip was great! We stayed mid-July, 2014. At this hotel, they really go out of their way to please and accommodate their guests. The grounds are beautiful and beach is breath-taking! Our room was located on the second floor of bldg 6, Privileged Superior. It had a modern decor, while the bathroom had what appeared to be more of an authentic, Mexican-hacienda style. All clean, and decently maintained. The water pressure was amazing and much needed after a long, relaxing day at the gorgeous beach. Our air conditioning worked very well and the spacious balcony was an added bonus. We were also wanting to enjoy the spa for massages toward the end of our trip, but both of us ended up with mild sunburns. They were able to offer full body, sunburn-relieving mud massages that really hit the spot! The mud cooled the sunburn and the massage was relaxing. We had a one-hour long couples massage on the deck in the back of the spa, surrounded by jungle & the relaxing sounds of tropical bird calls. It was an excellent service and great experience! Coati and monkeys also visit the grounds at this resort and allow you get up close and observe them.

There were a few short comings as well, though. Since this is an all-inclusive resort, most go with the expectation that drinks will be good, and abundant. I agree with other reviewers who say that the orange and pineapple juices are not made from real fruit and taste really bad! Definitely go for the papaya, grapefruit or banana juices if you're looking for good flavor and made from real fruit. The bar in the lobby and by the beach offer a drink menu, but most include the artificial orange and pineapple juices. It's definitely best to go off the menu. In the front lobby bar, they made delicious chocolate martinis, Irish coffee, and other custom drinks recommended by the bartenders. One bartender in particular makes featured cocktails each night, and really knows what he's doing. The bar by the beach had great mojitos and tequila tonics. The house wines are ok, but nothing to brag about.

We found the best breakfast to be at the Terrace Restaurant, lunch through room service and dinner at the Italian and steakhouse restaurants. (We stayed for 7 nights, and it took a couple of days to figure all of that out.) We tried several meals at the buffet restaurant and Tortuga snack restaurant for lunch. At both places, food was bland, guacamole was not real, hamburgers and hot dogs not good.

Lastly, being that my husband and I are non-smokers, the amount of cigarette butts on the beach and smokers sitting all around us while we're trying to enjoy the beach and fresh air that comes with it, was more than annoying. (I will give some credit to the entertainment staff who went through & picked up cigarette butts & trash one afternoon on the beach. I only saw it once, but was impressed that they tried) It would almost be better to have a smoking and non-smoking area of the beach. Also, in the lobby and bar area, it's open to the outside so guests smoke there too, however the air does not circulate well there, so too much smoking can make for a stuffy, stinky experience.

Again, good trip overall. The beach & scenery were amazing, and the Privileged room was comfortable. The staff were extremely hard-working and accommodating, and they're doing their best with what they have to work with (poor quality juices & food).

Room Tip: Definitely upgrade to Privileged - updated rooms, cabanas on beach, exclusive access to Terrace Rest...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank Valerie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2014 via mobile

We booked through Barcelo and were offered an upgrade to privileged at the Catalonia Playa Maroma, the resort is well maintained with good facilities, the only bad point is the buffet restaurant which is of pretty poor quality of food, the other speciality restaurants (which you have limited nights in) are of a much better level but you sometimes have to wait a little while to be seated. Overall a decent hotel, great beach, good pool area and not too far from Cancun airport. If they upgrade the kitchen staff in the buffet restaurant then this hotel would deserve its 5 stars

Stayed: July 2014
4  Thank Indromen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Catalonia Playa Maroma

Address: Carretera Federal 307 | Chetumal- Puerto Juarez Km. 306+250, Playa Maroma, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen > Playa Maroma
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Playa Maroma
#4 Romantic Hotel in Playa Maroma
#4 Spa Hotel in Playa Maroma
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Playa Maroma
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Playa Maroma
Price Range: £145 - £392 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Catalonia Playa Maroma 3.5*
Number of rooms: 404
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Catalonia Playa Maroma is situated in the Mayan Riviera, at only 35 kilometers south of Cancun and 20 kilometers north of Playa del Carmen. Regarding to the Travel Channel, Playa Maroma is one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. The typical Mexican decoration with its vibrant colors and palapa roofs surrounded by the native jungle make this resort the perfect place to spend a wonderful vacation. The Mayan World has to offer a lot to its visitors. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Catalonia Playa Maroma Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Catalonia Playa Maroma Del Carmen
Playa Maroma

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