Grand Riviera Princess Hotel
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"We stayed at this hotel from 27/09/2014 to 11/10/2014 in the Sunset side of the hotel, in room 3009.
I note that in some other reviews people have complained about how long it takes to walk from one end of the hotel to the other. Grand Princess, Riviera and Sunset, is a not an a typical standard hotel, it is a RESORT hotel, with accommodation spread over a wide area. Personally I found the walking around the resort quite pleasant, but if that doesn't suit then the hotel provides an in-resort transit bus (complete with noisy diesel engine), or book into a more traditional single building hotel.
At first glance the hotel looked quite impressive. The lobby area is quite grand, loads of marble, and the grounds are lush and well kept. As you walk from the lobby down towards the beach area the main accommodation blocks are linked with a central passageway and each block has a lovely fountain running through the block.
Our room was very nice, with a huge bed, walk in wet floor shower, and jacuzzi. Maid service was efficient, and there was a large balcony.
Look closer and you start to discover issues with the hotel. Many of the paved areas through the gardens and around the pools are cracked, with missing sections of concrete. The walkways around the pool area also get extremely slippery, especially coming off any bridge sections over the pools, and they are an accident waiting to happen.
The hotel was meant to provide a mini bar in the room. This was not provided. Our holiday brochure advised that there would be a "minibar restocked daily with beer, soft drinks and water ". My issue is not with how often restocking takes place, nor with what items, rather there was NO MINI BAR.
A fridge with 2 cans of beer, 2 cans of soda, 4 bottles of fizzy juice and 3 bottles of water does not constitute a mini bar. Indeed it could not even reasonably be classified as a small beer fridge. With a proper mini bar one could reasonably envisage spending a relaxing afternoon on the room balcony enjoying a couple of drinks. This wasn't going to happen with 2 cans of naff beer between 2 people. A mini bar should contain spirits, which can be provided via small miniatures, or via a locked optics cabinet so that it is not abused, and if larger bottles are used in this way then restocked every time a new guest arrives.
Let's bear in mind that the Grand Princess is meant to be a 5 star hotel/resort. Expecting a proper mini bar is not unreasonable.
The hotel provides a number of speciality and buffet Restaurants of mixed quality.
Teppanyaki Restaurant - This hotel was meant to have a Teppanyaki restaurant and this was a key factor in the selection of our hotel.
When we first went to book the speciality restaurants we were told by hotel staff that the Teppanyaki restaurant would not be available until the 7th of October. We rechecked with the staff and they informed us that we could make a reservation for the Teppanyaki restaurant, for the reopening night, from 2pm on Sunday 5th October. When we went to make our reservation on the Sunday we were then told that reservations would not now be taken until the Monday after midday. We went back on the Monday and were then told that the Teppanyaki restaurant would not be opening until the 14th of October, after our holiday had finished.
This point was raised with the Concierge, Alfredo who refused to open the Teppanyaki restaurant. Alfredo came up with a couple of pathetic excuses. First of all he said it was closed for maintenance but could not answer my question as to when he had ever seen a MacDonalds or any other restaurant close for maintenance. He maintained a silence when asked why maintenance could not be done during the day, and instead came up with his second excuse, that this was the low season. What type of season it is, is irrelevant to providing advertised services. I booked from the Thomson/First Choice summer and nowhere did it advise that we were travelling out of season.
Overall Alfredo was condescending, disrespectful, and when he struggled to come up with excuse 3 he resorted to racism, claiming "what YOU need to understand is that YOU come from the UK." I know where I come from, how this should have any bearing on the service I receive is beyond me.
Mama Mia Italian Restaurant - The food and service was excellent. The only downside was the setting of the restaurant, in that it wasn't done up to give an Italian feel.
The Grill - Again very good for food and service. Particularly liked the cow print seats and menu.
La Fleur - Very good service and food.
Mexican - You would expect in Mexico for this restaurant to be a highlight, but the food was even worse than the appalling service. Not enough staff on when we went, and 5 groups who came after us were seated before us because the receptionist lost our ticket.
Sports Bar - Food is functional, burgers, hot dogs, but more variety could be added.
Buffet Restaurants - Some nights good, some not so good. This also went for the service. On many occasions you would be seated and find that your table lacked certain items of cutlery or a wine glass. Sloppy turnaround between covers. I would also suggest that the 10 days of dihorea on holiday could probably be attributed to the Buffet Restaurants.
Entertainment at the hotel is varied. There is an open air courtyard between the 2 main buffet restaurants and there is usually a live band on for a short while early in the evening. On a Thursday various stalls are brought in selling local tat - note, the jewellery is massively inflated in price. An excellent fire show was provided one night and on other nights there is a fashion show and dance lessons. The main entertainment starts at 9.30pm in the theatre and these shows are downright awful eg. the Grease show is a bunch of amateur dancers prancing about and miming to the Grease soundtrack. The Aladdin show is even worse. Note that if you are on a two week holiday the same garbage that is performed in week 1 is what they will subject you to in week 2.
Unfortunately we encountered a major issue at the hotel which marred our holiday.
We went to change Travelers Checks in the hotel and a hotel guide left, by the hotel, in our room said that the hotel provided this service. Following this procedure my wife cashed in £200 of Travelers Checks at the hotel reception, being served by Carlos. Carlos phoned through to American Express and obtained an authorization code. This code was then written on the checks. We have subsequently been told by staff in our local travel shop that Carlos had followed the correct procedure. It should be noted that Carlos's actions were witnessed by 3 other members of staff on duty at the time, and nobody from the hotel seemed to think that Carlos was doing anything wrong.
We used the cash we had obtained from cashing in some Travelers Checks to pay for one of our excursions, the other being paid by credit card. The following evening, having returned to our room after dinner, we found a letter had been posted under our room door summoning us to come to the hotel front desk.
We were then told that the hotel wasn't accepting our checks, that they didn't have a contract with American Express and demanding we pay the money back.
We complained about this to our rep and a meeting was arranged with the Front Desk Manager, Amaury Gonzalez. Amaury said that staff had been told 2 months ago that they didn't take Travelers Checks. This does not add up. As I have previously mentioned 3 members of staff witnessed Carlos following the process and nobody was aware of anything being done wrong. Secondly, If a change had been made, and the hotel did not have an arrangement with American Express, how was Carlos able to obtain an Amex authorization code? Thirdly, there were No signs at reception saying they didn't accept Travelers Checks and the guide to hotel in Room, stated they did accept Travelers Checks.
The Front Desk Manager was unable to back up his claim of briefing staff by providing a signed sheet showing staff had been trained on any procedural changes. We were then told that If we didn't pay back the money then the money would be deducted from the wages of Carlos, a low paid desk worker.
This amounted to Blackmail!
Apart from being disgusted with the hotels attitude, neither my wife nor I were comfortable at the thought that a low paid hotel worker would be left in real hardship because of a potential training issue in the hotel.
We were then told by the Front Desk Manager that we could easily cash our checks In Playa del Carmen. We were then forced to sign an IOU to the hotel and given back the cheques, that already had an authorization code on them, and sent into Playa del Carmen, at our expense of money and time.
When we got off the minibus in Playa del Carmen we were surprisingly, and coincidentally, as if by chance, met by Carlos, clearly worried that his wages would be docked, who took us around the town looking for banks who would take the Travelers Checks . None would. Only one bank even considered taking the checks , and they declined when they realized some cheques already had an authorization code on them.
We were advised by Carlos that if we had gone into the areas of the town, where the Santander and HSBC banks were located, unaccompanied, we would have been at serious risk of being mugged. This wasn't mentioned to us prior to leaving the hotel.
Upon returning to the hotel the Front Desk Manager said nobody in Mexico would take the checks. Why then did he send us, at our expense, on a wild goose chase? Why was he happy to send us into an area of risk? He had also contradicted what he said earlier about having no problems cashing travelers checks in Playa del Carmen.
We were still uncomfortable, and disgusted, that the hotel was blackmailing and guilt tripping us by saying if we didn't pay back the cash, even though they were at fault, then Carlos would have his wages docked. Surprisingly this point was backed by reps saying if they make a mistake then their wages get docked. The big difference is that the reps are on a living wage in addition to having their accommodation and food paid for, and wont starve if their pay check is a bit light, a message the hotel was happy to play along to the full.
in the end we were unable to resolve the travelers check issue until we got back to the UK. Where a Guest has a problem then it is the responsibility of the Tour Operator and the Hotel to try and fix that the problem/issue. Guests fail to become Guests when they are expected to resolve any issues themselves.
If you choose to go the Grand Princess Resort then I hope you have a better experience than we did. With better management, a better attitude, and a lot of TLC then this hotel has the potential to be good. If you do have a complaint, expect a big queue at the holiday reps desk."
- Holiday details: Sep 2014, booked with First Choice
- Advice: When you get to the hotel gates ask your taxi driver to drive onto any other hotel
- Good For: Beach
1 reader found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Just had 2 glorious weeks at this beautiful hotel, we were quite concerned about the reviews prior to getting there but inevitably no-one can please everyone all of the time...
Check in was 10 mins and we were upgraded free of charge to a deluxe suite with jaccuzi bath which was pretty good. Our room was very close to the lobby so that was handy for nipping to the bar or booking the a la catre restaurants etc...room 8119 if you want to request it.
Ok.. the food, the buffet for breakfast was fantastic, couldn't ask for anything more, they seat you, they pour your coffee, they will even ask if you want extra orange juice fetching whilst you carry on eating, the choice was box standard AI food that you get anywhere in the Caribbean and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Evening meals were also standard AI food, plenty of choice, fish, meat, chicken etc...the food wasn't hot as everyone on here states, but neither is the food in my works restaurant and I know where I would rather eat...
At lunchtime we preferred to eat at the sports bar, where Raul and his staff serve the best Cheeseburger and fries we have had in a long time.. usually quieter than the buffet and a welcome rest from the heat, they also serve hotdogs, cheese & corn balls, natchos, salad etc...and always service with a smile.
You can eat at the a la carte every night if you so wish, but you will have to book in advance unless there are spaces, this was the only thing we didn't like and if the hotel is reading these reviews.. YOU NEED AT LEAST 2 GIRLS TAKING BOOKINGS !! sometimes you can be queuing for an hour or more to make reservations.
so to the restaurants we tried..
Miso...Oriental food, food was good, tasty and although not much choice was worthy of a 2nd visit.
Cooking show ( in the Miso but to the left of the dining area ) now this was a little different, about 12 of you are seated around a hotplate where the chef cooks and with a bit of participation from each of you prepares a meal of egg fried rice, fish, beef and chicken.. food was ok with the novelty value thrown in but that's all.
Fondue... Personally not for us but we did try it. meat, chicken, croutons dipped in hot melted cheese...
Italian .. Very nice.. grilled tuna was superb, lasagne was superb, veal steak superb.. definitely worth a second visit.
La vasquila ( grill ) and our favourite served some really good food, the Argentinian sausage was the best, The steaks were as good as any I have had in the Caribbean and the half chicken grill was good too..all served with a selection of veg and potatoes..i liked the way they warned us about the chilli that was on our plate...we love chilli...lol
The pools were good although they could have done with being a little colder, at times it was like climbing into a very warm bath...so many sections of pool to choose from..the party pool with swim up bars, and quieter pools where you could chill out and read without all the commotion.. Service at the pool bars was quick, service around the pool was a bit hit and miss... one waiter wouldnt take an order if you were at the other side of the pool as it was not worth his effort to walk around ! other waiters would, so.. hit and miss.
The lobby bar was the one we used the most as it was relaxing and nice to chill out before an evening meal or after.. Special mention to all the staff at this bar who couldn't do enough for you especially Lettie, she tirelessly looked after us the whole holiday.
Entertainment was in the centre of the complex, which was pretty hard to find at the beginning, a massive air conditioned hall with a stage where the animation staff give there versions of popular shows.. Pretty much same as everywhere else. . There was always lots going on of an evening, at the central downstairs bar, live bands, singers etc.. really good shows too and well presented. It is worth mentioning to the management again that half the time we stumbled across these shows because we didn't know they were on !! more internal promotion of what is going on around the complex is needed !! On that note I will say that this complex is rather big and there is always plenty going on, so my advice for anyone travelling here is to take the map they give you and go and explore so you know where everything is..
The beach, was nice, to the left there was a lot of rocks making it difficult to wade out but to the right it was much nicer, sea was warm and inviting.. I understand what folk mean about the traders huts, the sea front would be much nicer without them, when walking on the beach they did try selling us massage, trips etc... but they wasn't pushy.
Whilst on the beach beside the bar you could often see the coatis running around, I had never seen anything like these before, they are like a cross between monkeys and foxes, they often came running between the sun lounges beside the pools and on the lawns, and I was surprised the speed that they climbed trees.. there is also quite a lot of iguanas everywhere and I am told the odd snake has been seen on the lawns but we didn't see one.
We have travelled extensively in the Caribbean over a number of years and usually stay at Riu, but with the exception of the Riu Palace Punta Cana I have to say that this hotel blows them away. Yes someone will always get upset stomach, yes you will get mosquito bites, and yes your room may have a leak but come on this happens at home too.. the staff here were up there with the best in this category of AI and don't deserve some of the knocks they have been getting written about them on here.. Book with confidence this is a fine place to stay."
- Holiday details: Jun 2013, booked with First Choice
- Advice: If you want free wi-fi, stand behind the lobby bar where you book a la cartes ;D
- Good For: Beach
12 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"This is at the top of my list for an all inclusive resort. I am so glad we paid a bit more than we usually do. Service was great, rooms great, buffet food always fresh and plentiful, tasty too. I liked the long walk to wear off what I ate. We were near activity pool but back side so we were not hearing noise if we wanted to rest in the room. Shop staff were friendly, housekeeping were prompt . Room was immaculate,the landscaping divine.Yes the jacuzzi had rust stains but the rust doesn't leak into the water.I brought my own clock toplan for tours etc. but that is all that was missing from the room was a clock of some sort. The shower was huge but could have used a larger shelf for toiletries.I think the buffet rooms could have had an adult only section as the youngsters were a little unruly sometimes.The beach was beautiful but as I don't like swiming in the ocean/or sea water I preferred the pools . There was always a quiet area to go if you are not interested in the activities going on"
- Holiday details: Nov 2012, booked with Westjet vacations
- Advice: join the tours, the guides were knowledgeable Best Day tours
- Good For: Beach
5 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"me and my husband went for our honeymoon in june it was amazing food was very nice and rooms were too and the staff were very helpful.i couldnt say a bad word about it dont read all bad reviews as you will think about them on your holiday.all i would say is dont forget you have got to pay to come out of mexico and in june it was 45 pounds each"
6 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We have just returned from a 2 week stay at the Riviera Princess and it was wonderful for the duration. Please ignore negative reviews.
All staff were very friendly, couldnt do enough for you, we even recieved phone calls in the room to check everything was ok and to see if we needed anything.
Bar and restaurant staff were always quick to serve.
The buffet restaurants have a vast choice of food to suit all and we were lucky enough to eat in all 8 of the A la carte restaurants. 6 of the restaurants served exceptional food and the other 2 we found didnt serve food to our taste but service was still super. It was very easy to book a table and you could visit as many times as you wanted.
There are a number of different pools to visit to suit all guests, some quite and relaxing and others with music and ideal for families. The beach is beautiful and you CAN walk into the sea, there are a few stones but the water is clear and there are plenty of beds.
Rooms are excellent, food is excellent, this is one of the cleanest hotels we have ever stayed in with staff working round the clock to keep everything up to standard.
How any one can say this isnt a 5 star or complain about this hotel must be mad.
Please go and enjoy this hotel, we are already planning to book again for next year."
- Holiday details: Jun 2010, All Inclusive, booked with Thomson
- Good For: Beach
16 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We were on vacation to this Hotel last April for two weeks
The food was average, the beach too small, Those restaurants at night were hard to reserved the pool behing our room were always cold.
Plus the day that we left to comeback home, my friend had something removed from his suitcase(parfum) I know that it is not much but you think that in a big hotel like the Princess we should feel safe.
In one phrase this hotel is way to big and over rate for us it is not a 5 stars hotel"
- Holiday details: Apr 2010, All Inclusive, Booked Independently
- Advice: Over rate Hotel
4 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"What A Place, Some Of The Other Reviews (they must have been on the moon when they wrote them) We Went For My Cousin's Wedding, There Were 20 Of Us, And We All Can't Be Wrong. It's Amazing The Staff Can't Do Enough For You, The Food Was Exellent The Entertainment Was Superb, The Entertainment Team Were Great They Work Really Hard, We Went To Coco Bongo's (a club with great acts like elvis, queen, gun's & rose's, spiderman and great dj's) They Came With Us And Treated Us Like King's & Queen's.
I Would Reccomend This Place To Anyone And Everyone, I Am Deffinetly Going To Go Back In 2011. THANKS FOR A GREAT HOLIDAY."
- Holiday details: Jun 2009, All Inclusive, booked with Thomson
- Advice: Diving is a must in cozomel
- Activities: Playa del carman is a great night out
- Good For: Beach
18 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"This resort is beautiful, but that is where it ends. The beaches are nice but as soon as you step into the water it is very rocky. You can NOT walk in the water. The swimming pools are salt water, NO hot tubs, around the pools or ocean. The food was cold, always tasted like yesterdays leftovers. All inclusive but we were not allowed to have coffee for lunch, but we could for supper. The worst thing about the resort is very poorly organized!
The staff was unfriendly, and the restaurants are very hard to book. They are aprox. 1 km away from the beach. If you go to this resort be prepared to do alot of walking!
I also came home with more bug bites, I have been in the Caribbean over a dozen times, and this was our worst holiday we have ever had!
- Holiday details: Mar 2009, All Inclusive, booked with Transat
- Advice: I would tell them NOT to go to this resort!
- Activities: diving at Cozumel was great!
3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"My girlfriend & I spent a week at the Grand Sunset Riviera Princess resort Feb 5th to 12th, 2009.We had never stayed at this resort before and looked forward to holidaying in a 5 star hotel. We were very impressed with the appearance of the building and the grounds are beautiful and well maintained. We were however disappointed with the service received from some staff members; particularly those working in the main buffet restaurant. We would have to ask repeatedly for coffee in the morning (staff appeared too busy cleaning & setting up tables). On some occasions we would go to the waiters' work stations to get our coffee ourselves but would then get told by the staff to sit down and they would serve us. It would make more sense to simply put a pot of coffee on the table so you could help yourself. For some unknown reason, there was no coffee available at lunch or dinner. The rooms are spacious and bathrooms nice but the maids don't leave facecloths; instead you are suppose to use a lufa scrub sponge! There is also no soap dishes in the bathrooms so you are forced to leave soap bars on the granite counter or on the shower floor. Quality of food was OK, plentiful and good variety but disappointed with the "a la cart" menus. I can recall only a couple of servers who were happy and joking with diners. Tipping did not seems to make a big difference for the majority of staff, especially at the bars."
- Holiday details: Feb 2009, All Inclusive, booked with sunwing
- Good For: Beach
2 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"I havent actually been yet!!! I am really concerned about all the bad reviews on some sites,just wanted to say if anybody has got some positive feedback,i sure would be glad to hear it ,thanks"
5 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We spent 2 weeks at Riviera side in junior deluxe 3rd floor (8211). Great room and perfect view. I have to say that hotel was FAR better than I expected following other reviews I had read since it opened in December 2007. It is a massive resort, but the beach and pools are excellent and the hotels lays on 3 free coaches to Playa each day. If you don't want to use the coach, you can get a taxi for USD13 each way. Clientelle are mostly from USA and Canada, but we did hear some French and Eastern European guests while we were there. Minimal English guests at the moment.
The hotel gives you minimal information on check in as to what facilities are on site, and the resort map is poor. Hopefully this will improve in time. Both reception areas (Sunset and Riviera) have ATM's where you can get extra pesos if needed, much safer than using ATM's in Playa. We used USD, as accepted all over resport and Playa.
Food is plentiful and varied - but the main buffet food services do let it down.. The bar staff get 10/10 as do the maids. Our room 'safe' was perfect. We tipped bar, restaurant and room staff USD 2 a time.
We saw no mosquitoes at all until the rain started on 29th/30th May. Then I saw several in corridors linking ground floor buildings. (Buildings 8 , 7 and 6). The ground floors have some fountains and planting within the building, hence the mozzies.
Beach was great, good sand, safe water and loads of loungers to sit on - pools are excellent. You can choose noisy or quiet - loads of choice. Animation staff are also excellent and work hard. You can safely walk the beach both North and South for a hour or more with no problems.
There is a lack of entertainment in the evenings - I only saw a three piece band strumming away each evening. Most people just sat around talking and drinking.
My only real gripe the whole 2 weeks was the Riviera Buffet. Its bedlam at busy times - like a canteen.......badly laid out with food at one end and three sections for patrons. We gave up eating the broccoli and carrots - hard and warm. May as well have been raw. Also one night the new potatoes in a salad were grey inside. Huge selection though and loads of it. Aim to eat at 7am - 12 noon and 7pm and avoid the main rush. Breakfast and Lunch at Tortuga restaurant by the beach if you want a more calm meal setting. Service is excellent. We ended up eating all breakfasts there for some peace and quiet.
Floors are very slippery in resort (most are marble) - especially when wet - I nearly fell 3 times.
Is the hotel 5 star - not yet in our opinion - but it could be well on its way if it gets those Buffet restaurants and entertainment sorted out. Personally though I think it is perhaps too big to give the service and food quality that a 5 star resort needs. It looks like a 5 star hotel, but the services let it down. Goodness knows how it will cope when the new rooms being built are occupied.
Shuttles to PDC leave at 10,11 and 12 am (get ticket from Concierge) and they lay on enough buses to bring everyone back at 6pm. But we got taxi back at USD 13
Our room backed onto the building work at Riviera side. Yes, there is a huge block of new rooms being built that stretches the whole length of the current buildings 8 and 7 but, as at the entrance side of the rooms, we were not too bothered by the banging. It certainly did not affect our holiday, so guests need not be concerned.
Rooms have fridges that are filled with water, soft drinks and beer each day. Plasma TV is good and offers about 25 channels, mostly spanish or american. Shower room can be awkward as water goes all over main bathroom floor and again floors are slippery when wet.
Regarding the computer access - we tried on several occasions to get on line but gave up - I had no intention of sitting waiting for a hour a time to get access to one of the 3 working machines. They do need at least 2-3 more computers in place for guests. I was lucky to get access one evening - but the machine crashed twice. Although I think that was me as the keyboard was not one I was used to and the prompts were in spanish. @ is acessed via control alt F2 for example. There is no @ key. I had to ask an american lady how to access that key.
There is no store to buy books and magazines etc - only facilities at the moment are jewelery, basic toiletries, swim wear and tourist tat. So, if you read fiction on holiday you need to bring enough to last your whole trip.
Trips were excellent - we did Chichen Itza, Coba, Aktun Chen, Tulum and XCarat on mainland - plus went over to Cozumel on ferry to go down to view the Reef from Atlantis Submarine. All were excellent and money well spent.
Would we go to the Princess again, I am tempted to say yes, but I think a fairer answer would be no, although it is a beautiful resort it was too big and impersonal for us. That said at the moment it is exellent value for money."
12 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We have just returned from a 2 week stay (14th to the 28th) at the Grand Riviera / Sunset Princess Resort. In total we were a group of nine people spread over three rooms. Group make-up consisted of myself and my Wife and our 13 year old Son in one room; My Brother, his Wife and their two small children in another room; and finally my Father and Mother in the third room.
Rooms: Upon our arrival late in the afternoon we were provided with three Jr. Suite rooms on the Sunset (south) side of the complex. These rooms were fully functioning with the exception of my Parents room’s plumbing, one of the sinks had no pipes below it and drained to the floor, and the toilet would not re-fill. The second sink (there are two in each bathroom) functioned normally and the toilet started working adequately after we fiddled with the internals a bit. A call was placed to the front desk to register the problems and request repairs, I can’t quite remember (it was two weeks and many tequilas ago) but I believe someone was sent around that was not qualified to fix the sink, as this would have taken some more advance plumbing expertise, but who was able to further improve the operation of the toilet. First night found everyone resting comfortably after a night-swim in the amazing looking pools. I, having slept soundly on the plane, decided to stay up and read on the balcony for a while. This proved to be a bit of a mistake as my legs were well covered in mosquito bites the next morning. This was my error, as there were insect repellent wipes provided in the bathroom but I didn’t think to use them. Inside our room I didn’t detect any Mosquitoes.
During our tour-operator orientation meeting the following morning my Wife mentioned to our representative José (“please pronounce the “J” I’m French not Spanish”) that we had been given Jr. Suites and we had Jr. Deluxe Suites booked. Our TranSat Representative spoke to the Hotel and the following morning we were offered three Jr. Deluxe Suites on the Riviera (north) side of the resort. We accepted this move with the exception of my Brother and his Family as the floor-plan and quieter room (further from the action of the pools) was a better fit with the two small children. Truth be told, the only real difference between the Jr. and the Jr. Deluxe is the Jacuzzi tub (which we never actually used). Also we did end up having a partial ocean view in the Deluxe Suites. The new rooms functioned perfectly well; the AC was fully functioning but we immediately turned it off as the room cooled to a pleasant 22-24 degrees Celsius each night with just the fan on. If we wanted to be cold at night we would have stayed in Canada. Oh, I should mention that our TV never worked as it had not been connected beyond having the power cord plugged in. We have an informal “no TV when in paradise” rule anyway so we never bothered to register it’s non-working status with the hotel. My parents said that they tried theirs and it seemed to work fine.
Service: All the staff had obviously been trained in the proper way of doing things; however it is evident that the levels of experience vary a great deal from staff member to staff member. Over our two week stay it was interesting to watch as the less experienced personnel began to catch on to the intricacies of relating to an international customer base. Almost everyone was very friendly, and you could tell that the hotel was going through a teething process whereby some of the Wait-Staff would be moving up to Lobby Bartender and perhaps others down to Dish Washer.
Beach & Pool: Crucial elements of any tropical holiday, the beach was large and very clean, with fantastic soft sand. The first few days we were there the waves were quite big as the out-of-season hurricane Olga had just blown through. This was fantastic fun on the Boogie-boards and the Kayaks as the waves were just of sufficient size that they could be comfortably ridden even by land locked Canadian’s such as us. After the first few days the waves calmed down and most days the water was almost flat. This revealed lovely shallow swimming waters that stretched out quite a distance. With pretty decent snorkeling for being so close to shore. We saw many different types of colorful fish as well as skates. There was a good selection of equipment to sign-out and use right from our first day there, but around mid-stay they received a shipment of even more all new equipment. The whole family had a great time on the beach and I especially had a great time playing volleyball, thanks to all my playmates!
The Pools were spectacular and vast, though I personally didn’t spend all that much time around them until nearer the end of out visit when I played a few games of “water-polo” (closer to water-rugby) and Tequila Volley-ball. The temperature was always pleasant and the water always clean. The in-pool bars were plentiful and popular.
Food: Okay, I love food! I’m a bit of a food fixated guy I guess, I try not to be, but that is just the way it is. The selection at the buffets was great and not overly repetitive, always a large selection of fish, poultry and red-meat dishes with an equally diverse presentation of hot and cold vegetable dishes. The only way I could understand that someone would have the complaint of “not enough choices” would be if they only ever selected from the “American Food” section. This section seemed to consist of burgers and fries and Hot-Dogs every night. I suppose this would indeed be boring, I never tried the burgers or Hot-dogs but I did have the fries one lunchtime just for a change and even they were quite delicious.
It should be noted that even with eating every type of food offered and using the tap water for tooth brushing no member of my extended family suffered any sort of gastric difficulty (how’s that for polite!) with the exception of my Sister-in-Law who had a couple of “off nights” towards the end.
Entertainment: The Animation crew seemed to be one of the groups with the most previous experience. The Princess resort people must have pillaged the other resorts for people, and the technique worked well. A high energy crew working hard all day, it is obviously difficult to organize group activities when the huge resort is only half full and people are spread all over. There always seemed to be something fun going on if that was what you were looking for. My Son had a great time and felt very included in the goings-on of the resort. Towards the end of our stay the Animation Crew would be shouting his name across the resort to get him to come join them for some game or another. That my friends, is to me the epitome of fantastic service, and gratuities were given at the end of our stay accordingly.
The evening shows consisted of about 4 nights a week of the in-house Animation Dance troupe doing various shows; American Popular Music, Cats, Copacabana and International Dance styles. The other three nights a week outside entertainment troupes come in; Mayan Traditional, Mexican Traditional, & a variety show.
The in-house team is very talented and over the two weeks they were becoming more and more polished. I thought that some of the numbers would have benefited from them not trying to lip-synch to the lyrics and instead just dancing, but that is just a personal preference.
The performance troupes that were brought in were quite good as well with the exception of the Animal act that was included in the variety show. I’m not a huge animal-rights activist but the poodle in a suit routine does nothing for me. My Wife was very impressed by the Gymnasts acts.
The Hotel also provided some additional entertainment in the center compound most nights, including some spectacular fire dancing, dragon dancers and some others.
Other facilities: The Gym was well equipped and large, though I only made it in for a workout twice.
The Spa was apparently having water filter problems, but was able to provide services such as massages and mani/pedi-cures. The Spa was incredibly beautiful inside.
The Platinum Club facilities seemed very nice (though perhaps a little silly) they had a roped off section of the beach with wooden instead of plastic beach beds as well as small “private” pools with the same sort of beds. I suppose that once the resort is full these facilities will become more advantageous as in theory it will be easier to find a spot. However with the resort only half full… I guess I really shouldn’t say anything as in truth I’m not someone for whom the connection of the terms “Platinum & Club” as a marketing ploy has much appeal. I’m quite happy being one of the hoi-polloi.
The Grounds were beautiful and wonderfully manicured, with their climate if should only be a matter of months before everything is filled in and lush. We have stayed in all inclusive resorts before including another Princess resort (in Dominican) and this was without a doubt the most beautiful.
Excursions: I should make mention of the two excursions we took. The Catamaya was a catamaran and snorkeling combination tour that was loads of fun, very beautiful and also included a great lunch. The “Morning Glory Snorkeling Tour” was also very nice and we were fortunate to see large rays, a nurse shark, parrot fish and a 5 foot Barracuda (Yipe!).
Summary: Over all we had a very good time, we had braced ourselves somewhat as we knew that the resort was opening just 4 days before our arrival and we had lowered our expectations accordingly. Happily this proved to be unnecessary as the stay was nearly trouble free. We did hear many a horror story similar to the ones outlined in the other reviews. However I’m not sure if it was just dumb luck or what but we had almost no complaints, in-fact it almost got to be a bit embarrassing as some people couldn’t wait to launch in to a conversation about how horrible their experience was/is. The only negative things I can think to mention were the mosquito bites I got the first night (didn’t get bit much after that) and now that we are home and unpacked it does appear that our bipod wall charger was stolen from our room. I had suspected that we had just misplaced it in our luggage somewhere, and rather than waste valuable time searching for it we replaced it for $25 at the Wal-Mart in Playa Del Carmen when we were in town. This was strange as the cleaning staff seemed to be reluctant even to pick up the money we left out as a tip unless it was accompanied by a “Gracias!” note.
We recommend the resort, if you are paying full “5 star” type prices perhaps give it another few months until everything is perfected. Meanwhile it is still a fantastic place to stay. I will be posting a few photographs, please enjoy and feel free to comment. If you have any specific questions I believe I can be contacted through my profile.
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Explore areaClosest airport: Cozumel (CZM) 12.1 miles
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