We booked this Christmas vacation as a last minute choice through Sunwing, but felt assured of a great holiday based on our previous experience with this chain's resort in Jamaica. We were not disappointed! The Mayan resort ,of course, is much larger as it had 3 resort complexes, but the facilities and amenities were similar. We knew what to expect with respect to the room, buffet, a la carte restaurants, bars, and pools. The advantage of the Mexican site is proximity meaning less flying time for us...5 hours!
When my husband and I arrived at the Cancun airport, we knew to head straight out to the buses and to ignore the blue-shirted men asking if they could help us. Although the bus ride was 90 minutes, it didn't feel that long. The transfer bus that was included in our vacation package was like a greyhound bus..comfy seats, air conditioned..so I focussed my attention on the towns, resorts, highway traffic, etc. Our resort was the first drop off so the length of this drive obviously depends on who else needs to be dropped off and the location of those resorts.
On arrival, the bus boy took our baggage and assured us it would be delivered to our room so we had no bags to lug around. Check-in went smoothly..we were expected; we even had a room choice. After drinking our welcoming punch, we headed to the a la carte reservation desk to make our 3 dining choices. There were only 3 other parties in front of us so it didn't take long to get that done. I liked that the girl had several binders with the menus of each of the a la carte restaurants so we could quickly assess which ones we wanted to eat in. We could choose from restaurants that specialized in seafood, Italian, Japanese, gourmet, and Mediterranean. The days and the times we requested were available. Rather than have a coffee or a drink in the lobby, we jumped on a club car next which took us right to the door in our villa.
The villas have 3 floors with 6 suites on each floor. Since the bus boys take the bags to the rooms, you might not mind not having an elevator. The third floor rooms give the best view...over the tree tops, but you'll only see the ocean if your villa is close to the beach. Our first floor balcony faced a jungle planting which was OK since we were in the room only early in the morning and after dinner. Our first floor room was assessible to mosquitoes. In fact, mosquito hunting was the first thing we did when we came into the room after dinner. The lobby shop has mosquito repellant for sale ($8.00US for an aerosole can). Bring along after bite medication if you swell up after a bite. Other vacationers on second and third floors didn't seem to have mosquitoes in their rooms when I asked them about this problem. The grounds people do spray for mosquitoes by the way. A huge spider also decided to spend some time on our patio. Fortunately, the grounds people dealt with it promptly. Thank goodness no iguanas visted our balcony even though there were many on the property and even at poolside. Interesting creatures to look at! I would book a suite again in the Coba section, but I would want a suite on the second or third floor to get away from the mosquitoes that gained entry to our ground floor accommodation.
Our first floor suite was very quiet..no overhead noise, no plumbing noises, no noise from the pool, the highway, etc. The junior suite has a sitting area with a table, 2 chairs and a padded bench..makes the room feel more spacious and provides alternative seating when watching TV or reading. Don't expect to see your favorite evening shows on TV if these aren't CNN and BBC News. Even though there were many channels, some where in Spanish, German, Italian, and English. Some of the foreign language movies had English subtitles. The floors in the sitting area are tiled and the bathroom has marble everywhere. The jacuzzi bath has a shower head in it.
I was overwhelmed with the size of this resort when we got there in the evening. After all, there are 3 sections to this resort each with its own swimming pools, restaurants, and villas. However, after exploring the various facilities, beach areas, pools, bars, and eateries the next day, I soon felt right at home. There are many club cars to take you to your pool, buffet, beach, lobby etc. so if you don't know how to get somewhere, flag down a club car and tell the driver your destination. The wait for these rides was never very long. Take along the convenient hand-sized map showing the property layout or use the posted signs to find out where you are. You will find a similar property map on the GBP Rivieria Maya website if you want to get acquainted with the layout before you go. At first we took the club cars to get a ride to the beach, but later in the week we enjoyed the short walk back to our room. All of the walkways are paved to look like grey brick so it would be easy to push a stroller or wheelchair around. I saw some guests bicycling on these walkways as well.
Even though the resort was fully booked during Christmas vacation, the grounds and pool areas are so spacious that you don't notice how many people there actually are in this resort. Sure, you won't get a lounger around the pool if you don't reserve one before 7:00 am by throwing a towel on it, but there are plenty of loungers on the sandy beach. We always found what we wanted even though we got to the Coba beach by 9:00am. The loungers are placed under a grass-roofed shade umbrella so I had sun or shade when I wanted it. Even though we were close to the beach, the pool, bars, toilet, snack restaurant, and buffet were only steps away. While our junior suite was in the Coba section, we hung out in the Akumal section because it had the proximity to the daytime facilities that we wanted... beach, pool, toilets, bar, and buffet. Other facilities that we did not use were also in this area--gym, spa, hair braiding, child care and play area. I think guests are limited to 1 beach towel which must be personally returned at check-out. We heard more foreign languages being spoken at this resort than the Jamaican resort These languages included German, Spanish, Italian, & French, and possibly Portuguese. The hotel directory offered assistance in these languages as well.
There were lots of beach activities from beach volleyball, soccer, snorkling (tropical fish around the pier..could wade in the water to see them), windsurfing, diving, fishing, jetski boats, catamarrans, parasailing, swimming, sand castle building for tots, walking along the long shore lines. Hammocks are available along the beach as well as pool side. Although the Caribbean Sea crashes onto some part of this shoreline, there is a section that is baracaded so that there is a safe swimming lagoon without the wave action.
We enjoyed the food in the buffets both at Akumal and at Coba. Each morning at Coba we could start your day with a champagne and orange juice drink or the waiter would bring freshly squeezed orange juice to the table. Breakfast buffets at Coba were very satisfying as the selection was so great...something for every nationality I think! They even had just fried egg whites for the healthy eaters. The stations for eggs to order and hot cakes and french toast were popular, but you could also help yourself to a wider range of food as well....hot/cold cerals, scrambled eggs without or without bacon, breads/buns/hot cinamon buns/pastries, bacon and sausage, fried potatoes/rice, Mexican breakfast foods, and lots of fresh sliced fruit, fruit juices, milkshakes, and hot chocolate. The counters were lower for the children's section which offered foods that kids like. Breakfast is served buffet style from 7 to 10:30am. Don't worry if you slept in. Breakfast is also served from their 24 hour snack shacks. Hamburger, hotdogs, chips, nachos, chicken, and ice cream are other foods that are available around the clock in the snack building. The stewed chicken drumstick I had here was delicious.
Lunch is served from 12 to 3:30 and dinner service starts at 6pm. Dinner always had several choices of fried fish (tuna, salmon, grouper), shrimp, clams, poultry, beef (prime rib, steak), pork, as well as casserole dishes that use meats and seafoods. The pasta station was very popular...your choice of pasta types and toppings. If I wasn't careful, I could have gotten full on eating just the salads and other cold appetizers. I am not a big dessert eater so I could easily pass by the squares, souffles, tarts, cookies.
We ate at the Le Gourmet, El Pescador, and Portofino a la carte restaurants. The food was excellent with emphasis on presentation of the individual plates. Usually the appetizers are buffet style with the main entree and dessert limited to 1 choice. The focus of the main entree is the meat /seafood with just a few vegetables. Usually took about an hour to eat at the a la cartes, but one could linger over coffee, too. The buildings are air conditioned so men in their long pants feel comfortable. Shorts are discouraged, but anything else is OK. Don't need anything really dressy. Some females wore short short jean skirts, others wore pedal pushers...casual clothes. You'd be comfortable in halter style or sleeveless tops, too, no doubt.
This resort goes all out for the New Year's Eve dinner. We each received a champagne drink upon entering the evening buffet. In the buffet, the first thing that grabbed your attention were the ice carvings. Individual letters in "Happy New Year 2009" were carved out in either ice blocks or white chocolate, huge bouquets of white lilies flanked each of the stations beside other statue size ice carvings. Towers of layered ice bowls held cracked crab, oysters/clams, shrimp. Hot foods were turkey, lobster, prime roast beef, steak, lamb, along with a variety of vegetables, rice/au gratin potatoes, Mexican dishes. Dessert included fruit kabobs to roll in chocolate fountains, tarts, bouche noel, souffle sqaures, coconut and chocolate fudge, truffles, selection of cheeses, and ice cream. Didn't feel the need to dress up any more special than I usually did for any other night ...no glitzy dresses and shoes required!
We stayed at the resort for 7 days and did not venture outside of its boundaries. We did not participate in the evening entertainments., afterall we are a retired couple! We did not even shop in the markets available inside their gates.
This was a most enjoyable holiday...like a cruise without the port excursions and the threat of sea sickness. In December, the weather was sunny mornings and cloudy and windy afternoons, no rain though. Very comfortable. Sea water was warm while pool water was cold and hard for me to get into.
We left the hotel at 11:30 and lfinally left the airport for home at 6:00 (a 2 hour delay) with dinner served on the plane at 8:00pm. So take along some snacks like fresh fruit from the lobby before departing to munch on if your flight schedule is similar.The airport has very nice washrooms (free) and a food court (food prices in Mexican $) with limited shopping. Prices were in US$..and expensive I thought.
I would certainly use the GBP hotel chain again in Mexico. Perhaps next we'll explore their other properties in Punta Cana or ? Sunwing arrangements went smoothly. Would use their vacation packages again although now that I know that Airtransat and Nolitours use this resort I might do some price comparision.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services: 2 lake-style pools, 3 Jacuzzis, large sun terrace and gardens with sun umbrellas and loungers, pool and beach towel service, BAHIA SPA (additional charge). Sports facilities: gym, 5 tennis courts, basketball court, bicycles, motorized sports (additional charge), water activity centre, entertainment amphitheater. WiFi access in the lobby (1h per day free of charge), buffet restaurant, 4 a la carte restaurants, 8 bars, 2 snack bars. 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 1080 rooms including 4 types: Superior Junior Suite, Club Golden Junior Suite, Family Junior Suite and Master Family Suite. Room facilities: Two full size beds or a king size bed, sitting area with sofa, fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bathtub, shower, wash basin, magnifying mirror and hair dryer, bathroom amenities. Balcony or terrace, air conditioning, ceiling fan, telephone, radio alarm clock, flat screen satellite TV, mini-bar, coffee-making facilities, safe (additional charge), ironing set, terrace, Wifi. Family Junior Suites and Master Family Suites, the perfect choice for families, including: All the facilities and services of a Junior Suite; bathrobes and slippers for all the family for use during your stay, children's bath kit, welcome basket with sweets, mini-bar with juices, shakes, milk and soft drinks for children, two fully independent connecting rooms (Master Family Suites), Club Golden Junior Suites Children Bahia Scouts Children can enjoy a range of specially-tailored facilities: Children's pool Mini Club with daytime activities Evening Mini Disco Bahia Scouts Water Park Teen's Club (11 - 16 years) Baby Station Other services On-site miniature railway providing access to all facilities 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:
- Gran Bahia Principe Coba Akumal
- Hotel Gran Bahia Principe
- Bahia Principe Coba Mexico
- Gran Bahia Coba
- Gran Bahia Principe Resort Coba
- Gran Bahia Principe Coba Hotel
- Gran Principe
- Gran Bahia Principe Mexico
- Bahia Coba
- Grand Bahia Principe Coba Riviera Maya, Mexico - Akumal