Writing a review is a hard thing because every person is so different in what s/he likes. But trip advisor reviews were so helpful for me when I planned the trip, so I feel I need to give something back.
This review is oriented towards a family with small kids ( ours were age 4 and 8), so I will try to give a much helpful information as possible.
Also, although we stayed in Tulum, we did not spend a lot of time in our hotel but rather explored all three, so the review covers all of them. I actually did not like Tulum part very much. Coba seems newer and more upscale and Alumal has the best beach, in my opinion, so if you go, just chose the one which is on the bigger sale!
As recommended in other reviews, I emailed the hotel two weeks in advance and asked for restaurants' reservations. I also explained my room preference. I wanted to get a room near the Dolphinarium, so that kids can see the dolphins from the window. I was given the reservations next day, and all my desired times and places were given just as I wanted. I also was told that my room request will be recorded but will depend on availability. Upon arrival, we were given a room in building 32, second floor, with a balcony, which basically was above the dolphin pool. We could see the dolphins jumping from the water right in front of us! The kids LOVED it!
Building 32 is also very good because it is in the middle of all three hotels. If you get to the beach, turn right ( away from Tulum beach) in after 3-5 minutes of walking you are right by Coba/Akumal beach, which as a very nice sheltered lagoon. The sea was stormy all the time we were there, but in the lagoon there were no waves at all. The water was crystal clear and had tons of fish! There are shallow spots for kids ( further to the lagoon bar - look for the pier and a roof) and deeper places if you like to swim. You can also get to water breaks and jump on/from them. Huge fun! The first row and sunbeds gets taken quickly by 10 am but second and third always had free places.
A few steps up from the lagoon there is the Acumal main beach, which is, in my view, the largest and nicest of all, and has a kind of lazy river where you can float if you have a floating device ( we bought a mattress for 5 dollars). The pools are very clean, and just beautiful. There is a lot of Europeans, so you do not see a lot of drunk Americans/Canadians, as, alas, you can see in many all inclusive resorts in Cancun area ( sorry, did not mean to offend any country!).
The Coba pool has a wonderful small water park and a nice pool with hammocks. It is also least crowded from all resort pools. If you want to save money, book Coba, not Tulum. It is just a few minutes from the beach by a club cart that run every five minutes or even less! It has its own small beach, right near the central Acumal beach, so it is very convenient.
The grounds are spotless, so beautiful, with coconuts everywhere! It is very easy to reach various places by "buses" ( golf-cars, club-cars, whatever you call them) or if you like to walk, you get from hotel to hotel in about 10-15 minutes.
Tulum beach I liked the least. Too many waves and ugly breakers. Akumal beach further from the lagoon has nice coves but they are quite rocky at places. However, if you go past Acumal beach and exit the resort, there a small path that goes through a rocky part. in about 5 minutes, as you walk it, you turn and see FANTASTIC large bay/cove, all golden sand, coconut palms and no people. It is a fantastic place to spend a couple of hours on secluded sandy beach with sandy bottom and topaz clear water! I was told you can walk even further and get to another cove, but we did not make it. If you go, take shoes/flip flops. The rocks can hurt.
Also, if you are tired of doing nothing and want exercise, walk past Tulum beach. You 'll eventually get to a hotel called Oasis, and them past it the beach kind of turns into a bay. There are some stone parts as you turn, so take shoes but the stones will be over in a few minutes, and then you can walk on the sand through wonderful bays as far as Acumal beach. The tips is very easy for the kids ( my 4-years old loved it so much, he said it was more interesting than i-pad!) and took us about 45 minutes.
The small beach in Acumal ( further from Tulum) had a great parrot show one day! The trained parrots did unbelievable things! Check the time and take your children!
The food was great in all places. For dinner I preferred Coba buffet - it was the most elegant of three and felt very upscale. For lunch/breakfast both Akumal/Tulum were kind of the same. A lot of fresh juices, cocktails with champagne and Bloody Mary for breakfast, fresh fruits, all types of food, so many choices! if you do not want to spend too much time away from the beach, we loved the lunch buffet at La Tortuga. Less food than in the buffet but still all the you need for a good healthy lunch, and the atmosphere felt more home-like ( not so crowded, less walking around, better service) and down-to-earth but still elegant. ( we are not a type of people who will at french fries by the pool..)
We ate at Gourmet and Don Pedro, and at the Micado. Gourmet had great food, and was beautiful but the service was very slow ( it took 20 minutes to get me a cup of tea!). My small child feel asleep and my requests for waiters to bring food faster did not get any response. So if you have a small child, maybe it is not the right place. Don Pedro has basically the same food, and service was much faster, and much more personal. When the waiter noticed that my son did not like the soup, he immediately asked me what was wrong, and brought another one (plus an extra desert for the children!) Micado was in a very beautiful Asian setting, and had a very nice hibachi show that children loved but food was so-so... It got great reviews on Trip Advisor but honestly speaking, it is just fried Asian food. So I am not sure it was a good choice. But if you want to go, definitely book the show table!
In the evening the Tulum lobby provides flavored Tequillas, evening tea from samovar with honey and lemon, and Maxican flaming coffee.
We rented bikes for free couple of times and rode around. Great fun! We also took an organized bike tour, which was fun. You can also play tennis and even take tennis classes for kids for free during the week, or for 25 dollars on Saturday.
Not so good. On the first day we found out that there is a water leak in our room, that came from under the toilet bowl. I called the front desk, and they send a handyman. But he spoke not English, and I could not fully explain to him the problem since we ourselves did not understand the source for water leakage. He just cleaned the water and left. In two hours the floor again was full of water, We could not get another room with a same view, so we had to wait till the leak is repaired - It took four days and numerous calls to fix the problem, and a little water still leaked after the rainy days ( we had a couple of pouring rains - happily in night, not in the day!) We were, however, given a written note of apology, a bottle of bubbly wine, and some fruits. So it was not that bad after all, if you do not mind cleaning a puddle in your toilet ( by yourself!) once or twice a day with a towel. Not horrible, but shame for a 5-star resort, though!
However, when I dropped my earring in the sink drain, the handyman came very soon and saved it!
Also, once just across from our door on the stairs I saw a HUGE bug that looked like a giant cockroach. I scream and ran, and the man who drove the card came and killed it. If I see it in the room, I will be dead!
The last thing that was uncomfortable was the schedule of carts ( trains, club cars, call them anything you like) that provide transportation. It is very easy to get from Tulum to Acumal, or from Acumal to Coba, but horribly hard from Coba to Tulum, especially at night! The "trains" run very rarely, the place where they stop is horribly confusing, and bellboys are extremely unhelpful. Couple of times I had to scream at them because I was left to wait for a train for more than 40 minutes at 8 pm! Since many of the great restaurants ate at Coba, that was very inconvenient. So if you hate to wait and search for a confusing connection, plan accordingly. Either do not book a place to eat a Coba ( which is a pity) or simply ride to Acumal and from Akumal to tulum. Much simpler and actually saves time!!!! The trains to Akumal stop right in front of all Coba restaurats, you do not have to go to lobby!
The really bad was at the end. There is a day when they have a Mexican show in the resort. There is a pseudo Mexican village with small shops ( very beautiful, by the way) and once a week there is a Mexican show. It starts quite late, so went with my elder son, and left the small one with my husband at home. The show costs 30 dollars for an adult and 15 for a child. We went, and really enjoyed the show. ( it has games, contests, and a great performance of Mayan traditions and Mexican dances!) I charged to the room. However, at check out we were told to pay for two adults show tickets! I did not save the receipt and it took us about 20 minutes to sort things out, and the clerk said that he will charge us the child price not because he believes us but because "Mexicans are friendly people and he will do us a favor." My husband was very angry and felt humiliated. Also I tried to go to the spa at Coba. I was told that the sauna is open till 9 but when I came at 6 it was closed! The lady at the spa reception called Acumal spa, and told me that it is fully open. However, when I came, I found out that the sauna indeed was open, yet the steam room was closed. After a lot of argument they agreed not to charge me; howver at the check out a clerk told I need to pay a spa charge! Again it took about 15 minutes of calls to sort thing out. That was VERY unpleasant!
The child club at Tulum was closed because of roof renovating, and we tried to use one at Acumal but with no success. You really have to come at 9 and leave the child for the whole day. there is no option of leaving him for couple of hours during the day because it is always closed, and the children are out doing activities. It makes sense, yet it will be nice if there will be some member of the staff onsite continuously in case if you want to leave a child while you go to dine or take a long walk or just need a rest. All bikes, however, have kids' seats for toddlers and there are also children bikes ( for an 8-years old it was fine!), so it was easy to take small children for a ride.
The shows are late, so we were able to see only the Mexican one.
At the last day I leaned that if I agree to a timeshare presentation, I will be given two free tickets to Dolphin show. Maybe it is worth it? Even if you buy nothing, you still get tickets!:)
If you are into something different, across the highway there is a development built by the same company. Part of the development is called Thao,It is a center for alternative green living. They have a very nice jungle-type spa, which is free for hotel guests, and they even arrange the transportation. It is very different from the hotel spa, less pampering but more spiritual. You can also do a healing Mayan ceremony for extra 60 dollars. It is a type of a heat/cold intense ceremony. A friend of mine did it and loved it. I did not get it because at the time of the ceremony I lost my son on the beach and looked for him for an hour))))) ( He safely went to the lobby! I was just stupid and ran around instead of going straight to the lobby!)
In general, I highly recommend this resort. It is not ideal, and yes, made me frustrated sometimes, but it is large, it offers a lot of things to make your vacation never boring, it is clean, beautiful and greatly preserved. It allows you to take walks, ride bikes, enjoy sea and pools, eat and drink like a king and enjoy life. We will be back in spite of unpleasant things. I was at Sandos and Occidental before, and while the service at Sandos might be a little better, as a hotel, I certainly prefer Grand Bahia!
Sorry for typos and I hope this long review helps!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 3 pools (including 2 with Jacuzzi for relaxation) 1 Jacuzzi Large sun terrace with loungers and sun umbrellas BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 5 tennis courts, bicycles Motorised sports (additional charge) Water activity and scuba diving centre Entertainment amphitheatres WiFi access in the lobby (24h per day free of charge) and in rooms additional charge) 1 buffet restaurant 3 a la carte restaurants 6 Bars Snack-Bar Wedding gazebo Dolphinarium (additional charge) Riviera Maya Golf Club: 18 long holes and 9 executive holes with lakes, natural wells and Mayan forest Hacienda Dona Isabel: karaoke bars, shows, live music and disco. Rooms 978 rooms including 4 types: Superior, Superior Junior Suite, Superior Club Hacienda and Club Hacienda Junior Suite. The Junior Suites are larger than the Superior rooms. Room facilities: King size bed (Superior Junior Suites) or 2 full size beds Sitting area (Superior Junior Suites) Fully-equipped bathroom: shower, wash basin, magnifying mirror and hair dryer Hydromassage bath tub (Superior Junior Suites) Bathroom amenities Balcony or terrace Air conditioning Ceiling fan Telephone Radio alarm clock Flat screen satellite TV Mini-bar (included) Coffee-making facilities Safe (additional charge) Ironing set WiFi (additional charge) Club Hacienda rooms (See page 18, Club Golden, Club Hacienda) Children Bahia Scouts Children can enjoy a range of specially-tailored facilities: Children's pool Mini Club with activities for children aged 4 to 12 Evening Mini Disco Bahia Scouts Water Park Other services On-site miniature railway providing access to all facilities 24 hour medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Personalised diet option for celiacs and diabetics Cash point Specialised service for organising weddings, events and anniversaries Casino ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bahia Principe Tulum
- Tulum Bahia Principe
- Gran Bahia Tulum
- Gran Bahia Principe Tulum Akumal
- Gran Bahia Principe Hotel
- Gran Bahia Principe Riviera Maya
- Gran Principe Tulum
- Gran Bahia Principe Mayan Riviera Resort
- Gran Bahia Principe Mexico
- Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Riviera Maya, Mexico - Akumal