The Royal Playa del Carmen - Sept. 1 - 6, 2006
We had previously been to Playa del Carmen in 2001 to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We liked the area so much we decided to return to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. In between, we have been to numerous other destinations and have stayed at several AI hotels/resorts.
Check-in - We booked a regular standard suite (note all rooms are suites it's just the view and location to the beach and pool your paying extra for). We were able to do the on-line check-in. However, we were not able to use the program to pick our actual room. Any category over a standard suite you can pick your room. The computer program offered us the opportunity to pay for an upgrade in order to pick our own room, but we decided not to do it. Instead, we were given the option of "double or king"/ "smoking or non smoking". There is also a section to select for a special occasion. We noted it was our anniversary. Also, is a space for any special requests. I noted if we could have a pool view if possible since the program indicated there were standard suites close to the pool area.
Upon arrival to the hotel, we were the only people checking in. Quick and easy. While the reception staff was getting everything together, another staff member was pouring us champagne. There is a wine refrigerator with wine, champagne, OJ and glasses by the entrance next to the reception desk. They will either get it for you or you can pour it yourself. We were assigned room 620. We were not offered an upgrade and we didn't ask for one. Our room was a king/smoking room on the first floor in the Uxmal Building. This is the farthest building to the right, so no pool view. It has a open patio with hammock and a view of the ocean if you step off the patio and turn to the left. The room itself was excellent. Best room of any AI hotel we have been to. But, if your picky about location, location, location, this is not the building to be in unless your on the 3rd or 4th floor. We didn't care for the open patio. Absolutely no privacy with everyone walking by. What we do love about The Royal is all rooms are suites, have a real jacuzzi tub, in-room bar and stocked frig included in the base price. Most other hotels your going to pay top dollar to get those features. Staff delivered a small cake and a bottle of champagne for our anniversary to our room, which we enjoyed in the jacuzzi.
Dining - We thought the food was very good compared to many other AI hotels we have stayed at. We love Mexican food and was very happy to see refried beans, guacamole, several varieties of hot sauces and general Mexican food at the ala cart restaurants and buffet. Our favorite restaurant was Maria's across the street at the Gran Porto Real. We ate their twice. What we loved most is that there are no reservations for any restaurants. Just walk in and be seated. Never had a wait at any restaurant. I wish all AI hotels would do that. Making reservations is so inconvenient. The only restaurant we didn't care for was Asiana. We're not that big on California rolls and do not eat sushi. I don't like rice anyway and the the stir fry is not the same quality you'll find at your local Bennihanas or Shogun type restaurant. There is only one hibachi cooking station and sitting there is no big deal. No cooking show is provided. We thought is was ridiculous that men had to wear long pants and closed toed shoes at the open air restaurants, while the women can run around in short mini-skirts and any type of sandal. The weather was hot and my husband was burning up. They should at least replace all the light fixtures with fans just to keep the air moving around. If you don't see something on the menu or buffet just ask. If it's available they will bring it to you. We asked for huevos rancheros with salsa at Pelicanos for breakfast and it was no problem.
The 24 hour all inclusive snack and drink area is a great concept. We went in there a couple of times for in between snacks and drinks. Very convenient. Also liked the continental breakfast station in the Lobby. Nice selection or hot and cold breakfast breads, fruits, juices, coffee and bottled water. We had an early tour one morning and it was nice to be able to get something and eat since the buffet wasn't opened yet.
Pools/Beach - We are pool people and loved the pools. We spent most of our time up and around the swim-up bar. The service was great and we saw many staff members walking around getting and taking drink orders around the pool and beach. There is more covered seating on the beach than by the pool. They need to get several more umbrellas for the pool area. We never were able to get lounge chairs around the pool with an umbrella, so we would get loungers on the beach with covered cabanas close to the pool and walk over. The beach was nice, but we've been to much better on other Islands. The sand is soft and white. However, the water was quite wavy and very cloudy. There are rocks to the right, but just go down to the left and you can get right in. We did not wear water shoes. We found the water temps at the pool and beach perfect. I am very cold natured and the pool temp was great. DH indicated maybe it was a little to warm for him. The jacuzzi at the pool was only slightly warmer than the pool. There are canoes between the beach and pool filled with bottled water and fresh fruit. Help yourself. There is also a guy walking around with a cart full of books, magazines and sunscreen if you need it.
Excursions - We went to Xel-Ha on Sunday for the entire day. We purchased the AI at the door for $108 p/p. We went ahead and just got a taxi to and from The Royal. I didn't feel like trying to find the bus station. It was $36 up and $40 back. (+ tip) For the convenience it was worth it to us. We got there right at 9:00 am when they opened and several tour buses were behind us. We thought "oh, no" large crowds, but the buses were going to the Dolphin Swim and we never saw the people venture into the actual park area. The park is HUGE. It never felt crowded. We did lots of walking trying to find everything. We finally just plopped down at a nice covered area to snorkel. The snorkeling was OK, the water a little cloudy. I think it had to do with the effects of Hurricane Dean. Lots of areas were roped off due to damage that had not been fixed yet. We enjoyed the included drinks and restaurants. They had my favorite beer; Corona on tap. Why can't I get that in Texas??? Plus when you ask for lime and salt they don't look at you like your crazy. The food in the ala cart restaurant was OK. We walked over to look at the buffet. Very large selection, but I hesitate eating in open air buffets. Better safe than sorry. We did get ice cream from the self serve machine and it was good. We went to Xcaret in 2001, and of the two, we liked Xcaret better. There is just more things to see and do as well as the night show. If we ever return to the Playa area, well definitely go back to Xcaret.
Tulum and Beyond with James and Anna - We booked this tour on-line. There were 12 people on the tour (six couples). We went to Tulum and stayed about 1 1/2 hours. We had a private guide for part of the tour, who was very detailed on the info and history of Tulum. We thought the site was amazing. The beach is beautiful. It was very, very hot though. We then went to the Gran Cenote to cool off. So nice. The snorkeling was very good due to the water being so clear. Not many fish though. Afterward, we went to "Jungle" Beach in Tulum for swimming and lunch. The beach was very nice, but the water very wavy. After a nice lunch of bar-b-cue chicken, beans, rice, tortillas, guacamole, chips and salsa, we headed to Azul Cenote. This Cenote was more crowded with people. The water didn't seem as clear due to all the algae growing on the rocks in the water. There was lots of fish though. The snorkeling was very good. It was difficult to determine where the rocks in the water were and I ended up creaming my thigh on one. Resulted in a baseball size bruise. Ouch! This tour was really great and our guide Mitch was just wonderful and very knowledgeable. Would recommend this tour to everyone.
5th Avenue - What we loved so much about this area in 2001 was 5th Avenue. Lots of cute little beach bars with amazing ocean views, very few people, and a limited amount of shops. So much has changed in 6 years. Now the area is very much built up with tons and tons of restaurants, bars, and shops everywhere. I was amazed and a little disappointed in the change. I can see now why people are heading to Tulum and Akumel. We went to La Bodeguita del Medio for Mojitos and found the bar too crowded and the live band too loud. We just couldn't enjoy the atmosphere. The Mojitos weren't all they great either. The bars at The Royal made Mojitos very well. We also tried an outdoor cafe for chips, pico and Mojitos. The worse $15 I ever spent. With those experiences, we didn't give any others a try. Besides the food and drinks at The Royal were so good. 5th Avenue was also very crowded and most places were packed anyway. The weather was hot, hot, hot, so after walking around for a couple of hours, we looked like we just stepped out of a sauna.
Overall - We still like Mexico better than most destinations just due to the fact your going to get way more for your money in an AI hotel. There is also plenty of things to see and do off the resort. However, we still like Cozumel the best for that area, and we would like to go back to Cancun someday and see how much it's changed. Of any hotel we've been to previously, The Royal Playa del Carmen is by far the best. The little things they they provide indicate they know how do to AI very well. We loved that there was bottled water everywhere. I can't believe some hotels we've been to bottled water was not included in the AI plan. The help yourself food and drink stations were a plus. The rooms were very nice especially with the included features. The overall price was not so over-the-top like many other resorts we have either been to or researched. We found the service and the staff very nice and accommodating. We would definitely go back to this resort and recommend it to others.
Pictures are at: http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
Which include pictures from the on-line check in of the map of the hotel. Any questions, you can e-mail me at KR_LVN@hotmail.com
The Royal Playa del Carmen Trip Report with Picture Link
The Royal Playa del Carmen - Sept. 1 - 6, 2006
- 1 please help!
- 2 Roatan, Belize and Cozumel excursion ideas in November
- 3 Oaxaca or San Miguel de Allende
- 4 Belize
- 5 Costa Rica All Inclusive
- 6 Just returned from Playa Del Carmen - have some new recs
- 7 Need help Planning Costa Rica Trip
- 8 Beaches in Costa Rica
- 9 Excellence Resort advice
- 10 (BELIZE )Honeymoon in November - Help!
- 11 2013 GTG - Bosque del Cabo, Costa Rica
- 12 Where's best to stay for scuba?
- 13 Bus from Guadalajara to Puerta Vallarta
- 14 Costa rica questions?
- 15 Baja California
- 16 Lovin' Costa Rica with Kids
- 17 SJO-Jaco beach transportation
- 18 Motorcycles
- 19 Studying Abroad in Costa Rica
- 20 Best Quaint All Inclusive Resort
- 21 Upcoming Costa Rica Honeymoon Trip!
- 22 Nude sunbathing advice
- 23 1st Time to CR
- 24 Central America Real Estate Jobs
- 25 A group going to Cabo San Lucas?