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DR vs Riviera Maya - Which Resort?

Old May 15th, 2013, 08:27 PM
  #1  
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DR vs Riviera Maya - Which Resort?

I posted back in Feb/Mar on a more generic caribbean vacation we thought we'd take in April/May. Didn't work out for us.

Now we're looking to go in early August...over our anniversary...August 12th.

We have narrowed to Mexico-Riviera Maya and the DR...probably Punta Cana or La Romana for closeness to airport.

Would love your recommendations on which one and specific resorts in these areas based on criteria that we find important below.

1) All inclusive - we want a stress free vacation. Some activities outside resort for 1 or 2 days of excursions.
2) Nice soft white sandy beaches - we love to hang on the beach. Gentle waters..i.e...not too rough so we can swim or float.
3) Romantic environment yet with a fun upbeat atmosphere with daytime and some night life activities
4) Nice pools with swim up bar.
5) We're looking for ocean view or ocean front room...want the view.
6) Budget with airfare included is $4k to $5k though i do have AA and Delta miles that will get me there if needed to stay w/in budget.

Your input is MUCH appreciated...eager to book soon and start drooling over our trip!

And if I'm missing an island where i can get the above ...other than than the 2 I mentioned...please let me know!

Tried to add Mexico/Riviera May tag to the DR tag...but couldn't...not sure why.

TIA!

Jeff
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Old May 15th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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Oh...and would like to have good to excellent food option (doesn't have to be outstanding)...and makes good "foofoo" drinks.

By that I mean...good tasting, sweet type drinks where the alcohol is not overpowering. My wife can't handle over pours on drinks.

Thanks!
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:48 AM
  #3  
KVR
 
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We have been to Mexico x 10 and I have been to the DR once a very long time ago. You will find more things to see and do off property in Mexico than the DR. Also, walking off a resort in the DR is not as advisable unless on a guided tour.

There are many adult only, lux AI resorts in Mexico. Look at the Iberostar Grand Parsio any of the Excellance resorts, any of the Secrets resorts, any of the El Dorado resorts, Gran Velas, Valentin Imperial Maya, Adventura Spa Palace, Royal Hideaway, and the Royal Playa del Carmen.

Any of those resorts will meet all of your requirements. Depending on what category room you choose will determine if it will fit your budget.

This site has good comparisions, photos and 360 tours of many of those hotels. Click on adult only and then click on Riviera Maya:

http://www.honeymoonsinc.com/top_ten...oneymoons.aspx
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Old May 16th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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I agree with KVR. I have been to both the DR and the Riviera Maya area and prefer Mexico. There is more to do off the resorts in Mexico and I just like the "feel" better.
Secrets Maroma is an adults only AI on a beautiful beach. A much more laid back quiet adults only is Catalonia Royal Tulum which is on a gorgeous beach. However...not as close to the airport. The Royal Hideaway is another great adults only resort with a great beach and fantastic service.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 05:38 AM
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Thanks KVR and schmerl...will look at those options.

Since both of you have been to Mexico several times, do either of you have a favorite resort? And, if so, what about that resort made it your favorite?

Thanks.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 05:40 AM
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I haven't been to the DR so I can't really comment. But I can personally vouch for both the Royal Playa del Carmen and Iberostar Grand Paraiso, both adult-only all-inclusives. Both are lovely with very good food.

The Royal is right next to Playa so a good location for nightlife off the resort. There was a band every night, however, so no need to leave if you didn't want to and still have some nightlife. We went in high season or just after so the resort was still full. I've never been to the Caribbean in August so I don't know if resorts scale back a bit since it's high hurricane season and the resorts typically aren't close to full at that time of year. The beach here is nice and I was in the water often but it's a bit more lively being right in the center of things.

The Iberostar is a very nice resort chain and I enthusiastically recommend it as well. The Iberostar Grand Paraiso is on the stretch between Playa del Carmen and Cancun so it's a bit more isolated. But it's a largish resort complex with it's own disco/nightclub and a small shopping center on the grounds. The beach here is very nice and the Grand (adults only) is at the end so a bit more private.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 06:27 AM
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Thanks Sharona...great info.

I was wondering about going in August but we wanted to do something on our anniversary since we didn't get to take a real honeymoon when we got married.

Hopefully the resorts will still be active and have everything open.

Does anyone else know how the Rivieria Maya resorts are in August with respect to capacity, what's open/closed, and livelieness?

Also, if going in the off season what are the possibilities of getting free or reduced room upgrades at the resort?

Should I book the room I definitely want or book below and try for an upgrade when I get there?
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Old May 16th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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If there is a level of room you can't live without (like ocean front, etc) then book it. If you can still enjoy your vacation without that level of room then wait until you get there since upgrades upon arrival are usually less expensive than booking the room. Definitely tell them it is your anniversary and that could help with an upgrade. You can never tell. Sometimes free upgrades are given, but I wouldn't count on it happening and then be disappointed.
The beach at the Royal Playa del Carmen (recommended above) tends to get quite crowded. We prefer the beach at the IB Grand and Royal Hideaway.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 09:46 AM
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I haven't been on that side of Mexico yet (as I most often go to Puerto Vallarta). I have been in the DR (which is not the same as "Dominica" per your tag on this post) a couple times, years ago and wasn't too impressed.

I *definitely* prefer and highly recommend Mexico and also think you get a lot more value for the price there. I am just not a fan of the Dominican Republic.

Sorry can't help with specific resorts.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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<Tried to add Mexico/Riviera May tag to the DR tag>

I think that's because you're in the Caribbean forum and Mexico/Central America is a separate forum?
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Old May 16th, 2013, 10:51 AM
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Thanks again schmerl...good to know about the beaches at the different resorts as we'll definitely be spending a lot of time there.

Suze...yea I meant to add the Dominican Republic tag but accidently added Dominica instead and submitted. Once i submitted, I couldn't figure out how to change it. Thanks for your insight on DR and Mexico.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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You can't change it ;-) but that's OK.

I'm crazy for Mexico and have had many great trips there (20+ and counting) and never once a bad experience. It's a beautiful country, friendly local people, and while I haven't been there myself (yet!) the photos of the Caribbean side look gorgeous.

Punta Cana is a resort area where people seem to go, stay, and never leave, just hang out at their one resort. Not my cup of tea. when I did travel there I stayed in the towns of Sosua and Puerto Plata (many years ago & Punta Cana hadn't been 'invented' yet!)
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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Of all the resorts mentioned above, we have only stayed at the Royal Playa del Carmen. Of the 16 AI resorts that we have been to throughout Mexico and the Caribbean it's still my favorite. Perfect location and the food was way better than anything we ever found on or around 5th Avenue. We are not much for the beach and prefer pools instead. I do agree with the comment regarding the Royal Playa del Carmen's beach. If you want a really nice beach then look at the resorts sitting on Maroma beach. Secrects Maroma and the Iberostar Grand Parsario are usually the top recommended in that area.

We tend to stay at the low to mid level AI's and then eat/drink off property and not feel like we are wasting money, but for our next trip I think we are going with the Excellance Riviera Cancun, which is actually located in Puerto Moralas. I spent a lot of time on that site that I provided in my earlier reponse and it looks more like what we are looking for, plus we haven't been to the Puerto Moralas yet.

With regard to going to Mexico in a August. My recommendation is don't do it. It's prime hurricane season and the weather will be unbearably HOT and HUMID even in he middle of the night. We have been during that time period a few times and will never go during that time again. We spent way too much time watching the weather channel to see if our trip was going to be canceled. We have gone after a couple of hurricanes/tropical storms have hit and most everything was closed and not in working condition. Even with trip/hurricane insurance it will not help for a bad vacation.

We have also been a few times either first week of November or December, but we found the pools way too cold for us. The ocean temps fine, but not the pools. I heated pools but only if you choose the higher level "Royal" or "Excellance" class, which I think is a bit unfair to separate patrons by how much they paid for their room, but oh well such is life. Instead, we'll go in a May or June and not have to worry about it.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:41 PM
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Fodor's needs an edit button.

That was supposed to say, I found some properties that have a heated pool, but.....
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Old May 16th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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Ooops, I missed the August part. Thanks KVR for your more careful reading!!

Oh dear, I wouldn't go to the Caribbean OR Mexico in August. Even if there's no hurricane, it is just to darn hot and humid, plus it's the rainy season.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 04:00 PM
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But their anniversary in in August so that's when they want to go. It will be VERY hot so you will be spending a lot of time in the water.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 06:49 PM
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Our anniversary is in July and we hardly ever celebrate in that month. We usually postpone to November or December.

We did Key West for our 10th wedding anniversary and about died from the humidity and heat. If I new then what I know now, we would have gotten married in a May.

Really, if you are considering any day time activities or tours out of the swimming pool or ocean, I wouldn't go in a July, August or September, but it all depends on your tolerance levels.
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Old May 20th, 2013, 09:08 PM
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I would look on some other travel sites (such as Tripadvisor)under "Dominican Republic Forums" - Punta Cana, La Romana, etc. for other opinions. We are about to make our first trip to the Dominican Republic and to an all inclusive in a few weeks.

Personally, I think different all-inclusives offer different levels of service and ammenties. If you book one that is highly rated by a lot of people, your chances of liking it are much better. Also, you have to gauge what is offered and figure out your own "style". Some like lots of drinking and some people like shows; some like to chill on the beach and do nothing much else; some want things to do outside the resort or want to see historical places, want good diving, or other things. Do you like large resorts or small, w/out a whole lot of walking from venue to venue or room to the beach? Do you mind children? So be sure of what you want in an all-inclusive. Seems you are on the right track and doing research ahead of time, which is good.

We have been to Mexico (from Cancun to south of Playa del Carmen and down to Tulum, Akumal, etc.), to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas and more. Love Mexico! However, we aren't the stay-on-the-resort types at all, and always get a car and explore the area. I have heard many pros and cons re: a number of all-incl. resorts in those areas. Also, I agree w/the person above re: the wiseness of going to Mexico - or almost any island or tropical place in the hurricane zone - in Aug. Esp. late Aug. and Sept., unless you simply cannot go at another time. Not just because of the hurricanes, but on many islands, as in Florida, the once a day showers turn into several a day showers or all afternoon showers that often last most of the afternoon! This doesn't mean you might not hit it right and get decent weather, though. Do your research and check out avg. monthly rainfall amts. (just put that into a search bar for whatever place you are considering.) April and May are excellent months weather-wise and prices are usually lower then (after Easter, that is), though you might not find as much high energy partying in some places. July is vacation month for Mexican families and they also visit resort areas like Cancun, etc.

If you read reviews from people who have stayed at nice Dominican Republic all inclusives, you will find some very good ones. Same goes for those in Mexico. Seems to me you are on the right track - researching ahead of time. Good luck w/whatever you decide to do and have a great time!
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 08:43 AM
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Hey thanks for the replies KVR, schmerl, suze, mlbcruiser.

Ya'll have got me re-thinking the timeframe of our visit.

My wife and I are from the deep south so we are used to the heat and humidity and can handle that I think.

However, if it's the rainy season as well, we do not want to be run off the beach each afternoon and lose a few hours a day because of the almost daily afternoon rain showers. I understand that's what happens sometimes as we go down to the gulf coast quite often...but still...disappointing when the showers come and run you off.

I've checked out several of your recommendations, Royal Playa Del Carmen, Excellence Riviera Cancun, Grand Paraiso, Secrets Maroma all look like they'd fit the bill. All have something a little different.

We'll just have to decide what's most important to us and then decide on a place...and re-think when we want to go!
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