We just returned from 6 days at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya. We are a couple with a 3.5 year old girl. This was our first visit to an all-inclusive resort. We are usually adventurous independent travelers, but this seemed like the perfect place for our daughter, and we were right.
The first couple of days after we checked in, the resort seemed pretty empty, but it did get a bit more crowded as the week progressed. We did notice the Beach/Del Mar property was packed in comparison to the Lindo/Maya. Having the place relatively empty was nice for us.
The resort itself is beautifully kept. As others have noted, there is a large staff that is constantly working on the grounds: retiling, repairing, painting, etc. I was very impressed by how well maintained the property is. Our room was on the top floor of building 61, overlooking the pools. Thankfully, the pools close early so it was very quiet in our room at night. We had a superior suite, and our daughter slept on the pull-out couch in the living room. The room was very nice and comfortable.
As others have noted, the resort is large, and required some walking, but not the great distances that others have mentioned. The walk from the beach to the front lobby only takes about 10 minutes, and is a very pleasant walk, with several route options. We enjoyed strolling around the property very much. Yes, there are some cats on the property, but they seem to be very healthy and happy. The Coatis near the beach are very cute and fearless... our daughter loved them. You'll also see some cute little lizards scurrying around, and the occasional peacock. The Del Mar/Beach has Flamingoes, Swans, and Parrots to visit, and there is a small apiary with Parrots and Lizards near the Maya lobby.
The pools are beautiful, and our daughter particularly liked the wave pool. It's a zero-entry pool, and the gentle waves are turned on for about 20 minutes each hour. The beach is clean, with fine white sand, and plenty of loungers and palapas to enjoy. On wednesdays, there is a beach party, which is a definite "Must Do". The hotel prepares a huge pan of Paella in a fire pit on the beach, and a live band performs Latin favorites. Waitresses circulate serving Sangria. It's really lots of fun.
Considering the sheer numbers of people to be fed, the food is surprisingly good, and of high quality. We are definitely "foodies", and my wife has a culinary background, so we were not expecting anything great. With a little looking, you can find some authentic Mexican chow buried among the resort food. The Tacos Al Pastor were generally good, and sometimes great (if the person preparing them took the time to do them in small or individual batches). I even found Rice with Huitlacoche (aka "Mexican Truffles") at lunch one day. The highlight ala carte restaurant for us was the Cajun one, mainly because of it's well-prepared ribeye steak. The low point was the Seafood Restaurant at the Maya, where most of the food was precooked, then warmed and sauced before serving.
My wife and I discussed why some reviews say the food is so bad... If you are the type that lives on hamburgers, hot dogs, Applebees, Fridays, Chilis, Outback, Houlahans, and fast food, you will most likely not like the food here. This is a european-owned resort in Mexico, and the food reflects this. There are some halfhearted attempts to satisfy the Applebee's -loving crowd, most apparently at breakfast, along with the presence of burgers, hot dogs, and movie-theater style nachos around the resort. But all-in-all, the food is really quite good, and occasionally excellent. Even at our least favorite restaurant (the previously mentioned Maya Seafood Restaurant), there was a cold seafood buffet that included stone crab claws, marinated octopus, beautiful chilled shrimp, and other items that were all delicious and well-prepared. My daughter even loved the octopus! In general, while the quality of food isn't what you'd find at a high end New York City restaurant, it is very good, and certainly plentiful.
As for food safety, we ate and drank pretty much everything, and had no problems whatsoever. Food safety seems to be a big priority here, as it should. I noticed hand sanitization stations being used everywhere food was being prepared and served. At the bar near the wave pool, which features fresh fruit smoothies (highly recommended, by the way), I saw a load of apples and other no-peel fruits being rinsed in a bleach solution.
You will not be bored here. There are always fun activities going on, and the staff is terrific. If you want to get off the resort, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morales are a short cab ride away. National heritage sites such as Tulum and Coba are reasonably close by as well. This resort is an extremely well-run place in a great location.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located directly on the beautiful beach of Playa Paraiso (Mexico). All junior suites with Jacuzzi, DVD player, upgraded amenities. Exclusive dining plus dine around privileges at over 16 restaurants, 17 full service bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Paraiso Maya Hotel Playa Paraiso
- Iberostar Playa Paraiso
- Iberostar Riviera Maya
- Iberostar Hotel Paraiso Maya
- Iberostar Maya
- Iberostar Grand Paraiso