Sorry for the novel, but I want to be thorough and hope to be helpful for those trying to make a decision. My husband and I just arrived back home after our first trip to IB Grand Paraiso. The resort does an exceptional job of delivering what it is designed to deliver and exceeds almost every standard in the all-inclusive world. I can absolutely understand why it is rated the #1 all inclusive on Trip Advisor. I agree with the previous reviewers who can’t understand how anyone could leave the resort feeling like it deserved a 1 or 2 star rating. Right before we left for our trip, some of the recent negative reviews made me a little nervous. However, now that I’ve been to the Grand, I honestly cannot fathom how these people were able to have such a negative experience at such a superb resort.
Occupancy/demographics – 80% occupancy for the first few days, 100% occupancy for the last few. The resort never felt crowded. When we walked down the beach to check out Secrets, it felt way more crowded than the Grand did on the busiest day of our stay. Even though there were two corporate groups the last few days of our stay, the overall atmosphere wasn’t killed. The vibe shifted a bit since there were more people just hanging out in friend-type groups, and less couples, but it was still romantic. Hubby is mid-30’s, I’m 26 and we felt like there were a wide variety of ages represented. We met many older couples with grown children, but also many fellow honeymooners and younger couples. We also noticed several families traveling with grown children. There were some more serious partiers who seemed to congregate around the pool bar, so if you’re into that you can find it, but there was no Spring Break trashy type partying going on. If you want quiet, it is easily found, but it’s also okay if you want to let lose a little more. We didn’t go to the disco in the shopping center but heard that it was a little too Spring break-y. When I went to the bathroom there during the day the cleaners were collecting cups of throw up. I did enough of that in college, so we stayed away. If that’s your thing, go for it. We did venture to the family friendly part of the resort complex out of curiosity, but we promptly abandoned ship and returned to the tranquility of the Grand. We left our almost 2 yr old at home, so I think kids are awesome and know how they can be….but…it was definitely a much different atmosphere over there.
Service – Best service I have had anywhere! It seems that the staff members truly take pride in what they do and their warmth felt genuine. I can’t think of one staff member who didn’t live up to the standard. All staff members should be commended, but there are a few who deserve to be recognized for exceptional service. Foremost is building 70 butler, Charly. He was not only personable and competent and provided a great check-in experience, but he went out of his way to do me a favor that ensured I had a great stay. Being the airhead I can be, I forgot my contact case. After looking for one in the Grand lobby shop to no avail, we requested a ride to the resort complex’s shopping center. Charly showed up to give us a ride. On the way, he asked if we were looking for something. After I told him, he walked through the shops with us and asked the shop staff if they had anything. No one had a case, so he volunteered to go to a shop in Playa Del Carmen after he got off at 7:30 that night. He said if he could find one, he’d bring it when he came in at 7 the next morning. The next morning, I found Charly waiting with a contact case, and contact solution “in case I had forgot that too.” We paid him for the purchase and then some, but I was blown away that after a long day at work, when he had to be at work again in less than 12 hours (also, with a 1.5 yr old waiting at home!), he offered to go above and beyond to help my stupid self. I really cannot express my gratitude enough. To top it off, Charly also arranged a bubble bath in our room that evening, and arrange surprised birthday decorations in our room the day before we left (left on my b-day). I never mentioned my birthday, but the hotel takes a copy of your passport upon arrival so I believe that was where they got the info. I also suspect Charly may have had something do with the birthday candle and message on my dessert and a happy birthday song from the Mariachi band at the Mexican restaurant that night. If it was someone else’s doing than I would like to extend my thanks to them as well. Other exceptional staff members were Daniel at the lobby bar who is really funny and makes the best drinks….try a Royal F-word. (side note: I have heard through another Trip Advisor member’s blog that he would prefer to work pool bar, hubby and I think he’d make a great addition there), Joel who provides towel service, magazines and sunscreen on the beach all day and is very friendly and interesting to talk to, the ladies at the building 70 concierge desk (sorry I forgot my paper with names on it), Manuel aka Eduardo who served us at La Brisa at lunch one day and had us laughing the whole time, our server at the French restaurant, and the black suited man who made us the Mayan coffee at Toni’s.
Room - Oceanfront room 7051… top floor, perfect unobstructed view and location. The room is convenient since it is directly across the hall from the elevator. The rooms have a door that can be closed off from the entry way and it kept all loud noises out. If you can swing it, the Oceanfront rooms are worth the expense. Our overall experience wouldn't have been diminished had we stayed in an interior room, but the oceanfront room truly completed the experience.
Food - 4/5 stars. Again, remember you’re at an all-inclusive, but the food overall is very good. My husband and I were both satisfied even though he prefers very plain tastes, and I enjoy more complex, exotic dishes. My only complaint out of our whole stay is that the Italian restaurant was a disappointment. When we return (hopefully soon), we will not eat there again. It was way too salty, and the atmosphere was off. With some finessing, it could be much better. Favorites were Toni's and the French restaurant, followed closely by the Japanese, and the Mexican restaurant. The Mexican restaurant was very good, but as it just opened up a week or two ago, you can tell there are some kinks in service that need to be worked out. Also, some of the fellow diners thought the tequila shots at the door were mandatory, which led to a comical experience. Side Note: Prior to arriving to the resort, I noticed several reviewers who were disappointed by the lack of Mexican food at the resort. The management is responding, as not only did they open a Mexican restaurant, but there were also numerous Mexican options on the breakfast and lunch buffets (did not eat dinner at the buffets). This is just one example of how I witnessed management taking an active role to address the complaints of guests and correct the experience (are you reading this 1 star UK reviewer?!). The situation also illustrates how subjective certain aspects of a vacation experience are as, despite my continued efforts to fix this character flaw, my husband isn’t a big Mexican food fan. He was actually disappointed by TOO much Mexican food.
Anyway, I’ll quit rambling on and conclude the review with a few suggestions for future visitors:
- bring water shoes! The beach is BEAUTIFUL but it is rocky in the water. I really enjoy swimming in the ocean, and was glad I thought to bring water shoes. I personally prefer a wavy ocean, but if you want a beach with calm waters this is not it. You can walk down further to Maroma which is only *slightly* more beautiful, but has fewer rocks upon entry to the ocean, and is less wavy.
- Tip the staff!! No, I don’t work for the resort, but the workers here deserve a tip every now and then. I was very surprised at how many people didn’t tip, especially since I’ve seen far more guests tip at Mexican resorts of much lower caliber, with much worse service. IMO, if you can afford the vacation to the Grand, you can afford to tip!
- Don’t talk politics LOUDLY and belligerently at the lobby bar. I don’t care how much you love Ronald Regan and want to blame Obama for everything. Relax, you’re on vacation! It was a minor annoyance to us, but we did witness other guests leave because of the guy referenced above. Simple consideration for others goes a long way…
- Smile, relax and enjoy! If a high strung person like me could only find one real complaint with the resort, you will not be disappointed!
To Management if you’re reading:
- A beach bar/casual dining option would complete the resort. The beach service is decent, but it’d be nice to have the option to grab a quick drink or get a bite to eat. We felt underdressed the day we went to La Brisa directly from the beach in our swimsuits and cover-ups, hubby wasn’t interested in the grilled options at the other buffet.
- Room service selection could be a little more extensive.
- Carry contact cases in the shop (just kidding…kind of).
- Recognize what amazing people you have working for you! They truly make the experience unbeatable.
Thank you for a great experience, we hope to see you again soon!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly on the long, fine, sandy beach of Playa Paraiso in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Top 5-star luxury. Quiet and relaxing. Personal butler and concierge service. 24 hour all inclusive service. 4 a la carte restaurants. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Playa Paraiso
- Playa Paraiso Iberostar