Playa del Carmen - AI or Non-AI

Old Dec 30th, 2010, 10:47 AM
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Playa del Carmen - AI or Non-AI

Hello -

We are thinking about going to Paya del Carmen for a week in February with our 2 yr old son and we just can't decide whether to do AI or non-AI resorts. We definitely want a resort on the beach, pleasant and quiet (in other words, no spring breakers or rowdy adults) with some good restaurant options. We love food (so does our 2 yr old) and we don't want to be disappointed with the AI restaurants in the resort which is why we are hesitant in booking an AI one. We would do non-AI, but we were wondering how easy it is to get out into town every night for dinner and do they have a number of good restaurants to choose from?

Hope this makes sense. Appreciate your thoughts/recommendations. Thanks!!
october77 is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2010, 02:30 PM
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With a two year old I would find a condo. Then you can put the little one to bed and be able to relax on your balcony/veranda without having to whisper.

There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Some expensive, some not.

Unfortunately, I haven't spent much time in Playa in recent years, so don't know the best condo options. Hopefully someone will come on here with current info and post.
JeanH is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2010, 04:40 AM
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www.cancun.bookit.com good AIs on sale my fav there

For PDC with kids for price in PDC AIs work best

Paradisus Riu are 2 good moderates good safe food of quality

there are food quality and safety issues outside major resorts

www.travel.state.gov Mexico for a heads up on those.

Happy Journey,
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 07:26 AM
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As the parents of a 2 year old, what would YOU rather do? At that age I don't think it matters as it might with older kids to be able to grab what ever they want from the buffet or snack bar. Personally I think there's only one way to fully enjoy PDC and it's NOT at an AI. I can understand families with school age kids might find the AI amenities convenient but your toddler won't be independent enough to scamper around on his own quite yet.
There are so many fabulous restaurants and beach bars in Playa and staying near 5th gives you so many fun options. I agree, a condo might be perfect for you. There are several large grocery stores (Mega and Walmart) that carry almost everything special you'd need for the little guy. You can walk easily to them and cab back once you've stocked up.

Also keep in mind, unless you pay big $$, AI rooms are not always beach front and may in fact be several "blocks" walking distance from the beach. There are tons of condos easily within the same distance and there are some directly beach front.

There's a little place I stay, $70 night, one block from the beach, very quiet and close to everything. They also have 2BR units for @ $100/night with kitchen.

Let me know if you need more, there are plenty of great options for you non AI.
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 07:30 AM
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I think it depends more about the experience you want, more than just about food. Personally I'd much rather stay on my own, and get a place with a kitchen, and somewhere with restaurants nearby. I like shopping in Mexico and to me that's more relaxing than always having to go out. I'm just not the AI-type, I really would not enjoy staying at a large resort. Too many people around but that's totally and completely personal preference. No right or wrong answer.
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Thanks for replying everyone! Yes, we are non-AI, non-big-resort type people as well and would rather venture out to find some good grub. We're not the type that would take advantage of big resort amenities either. But, since this is our first time to PDC, I just wanted to make sure that we can easily (and safely) walk/cab/shuttle to town and that we won't be missing out on the "big resort" experience. Thanks!!!
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 09:21 AM
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We've been to Playa del Carmen 3 times and to the other areas a total of 10 times. We always do the AI thing. However, our last trip to Playa, just a few weeks ago, we decided to try a non-AI hotel and experience 5th Avenue. We regretted it. We stayed at the Playa Palms. There is no restuarant or bar on site. We found it tiring to search out food/drinks for 3 meals a day. We also found that many of the restuarants on 5th Avenue were expensive and the food not all that great. We had better food at the Royal Playa del Carmen AI resort. There are literally tons of restaurants on and around 5th Avenue. You would have to spend a great deal of time in researching the best, least expensive ones to try before ever going. I did a good amount of research, but found I didn't do enough.

Another option would to be to stay in a non-AI hotel that offers included breakfast and has a resturant/bar on site. That way if you didn't want to venture off, you could at least eat at the hotel. I think that was our primary mistake in doing a non-AI, but we thought the resturants would be closer to our hotel and they just weren't.

When we return, we will stay at the Grand Porto Real. The sister resort to the Royal Playa del Carmen. Great location, we enjoyed the food there on our prior trip, it is family friendly, and it's less expensive then the adult only Royal.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 02:34 PM
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KVR, I read your trip report and all due respect, you choose probably the worst restaurant choices you could have. There are some restaurants that regulars would recommend on 5th but unfortunately you happened on the wrong ones. I am sorry for that and I do realize going non AI may not be for everyone. Frankly, there are very few on lower 5th I'd recommend any more but 10th...thats another story and it's only one block!

Many of us like Playa Palms precisely because there is no on site beach bar which enables guests to bring their own cooler and beer and not be subject to requirements that most beach bars adhere too.

Not all hotels/situations are suited to everyone and your input is as valuable as mine. BUT, I'd feel sorry for someone who wanted a different experience in Playa and based it on your's alone.

October, you will find non AI playa safe and very easy to navigate. Spend some time here:

http://www.playa.info/index.html

Especially the Forum section.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 03:36 PM
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Thanks for reiterating that if you don't spend the necessary extended time and effort to do the research, you will not get what your looking for out of a non-AI vacation in Playa. Back to AI we will go as I rather spend my time researching things to see and do than where to eat and drink. To each their own.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 06:18 PM
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We just returned from Playa where we stayed at a condo in the Aldea Thai. We traveled with our 19 and 21 year olds and I considered AI's because of the activities but I'm glad I decided against it. Do any of the AI's offer child care? That would be the only reason I'd consider one if I were you.

I do want to add that while 5th is closed to car traffic, its paved with cobblestones. I saw a number of strollers but I would think that an inexpensive umbrella stroller with small wheels might be tough to push. It would be next to impossible to wheel one to Mega because there aren't sidewalks all the way out there.

It's pretty easy to find restaurant recommendations on chowhound or trip advisor .
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 02:15 PM
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We have been to Playa about half a year ago and we found this amazing place at tripadvasor.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...Peninsula.html

Right in the downtown area, quiet and very clean place.

http://www.hotelvilladelmar.net

You will find so many different restaurants in the town so you will not miss the AI food.
dinzi is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 02:43 PM
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I've been to Playa del Carmen 2-3 times and have never stayed in an AI, but I'm just not an AI kind of person. Might be different with a kid, though. I found lots of good places to eat easily on 5th Avenue, don't understand that remark at all. Geez, the whole avenue has places to eat about every other address, I don't know how it could be any trouble to find one. Of course I did read some reviews online or in a guidebook ahead of time, but I think several places I found I just liked the looks of. I don't usually eat three times a day, though, but still (I eat twice). If you had a car, there might even be more choices of places a bit farther off the main drag that you might prefer. I didn't go to them as I wanted to be very near my hotels which were near 5th ave.

There really aren't that many great resorts on the beach in PDC, though, that's the big issue. At least very very few. I think there are only a couple (one at each end of town) that would be within walking distance of the main part of 5th Avenue. There are only a few hotels on the beach right in town and they are nothing special but they are not AIs, so presume you aren't looking for them. I stayed at several nice hotels several blocks away from the beach. So I presume by AI you are thinking about those big places that are really outside of PDC some miles. That's not a bad idea if you want an AI.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2011, 12:51 PM
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Check out these excellent maps/guides - we've visited the area twice in the last 6 months and find them invaluable. Happy trails!
http://cancunmap.com/
hopefulist is offline  
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