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MJfromChicagoBurbs1 Sep 30th, 2013 05:38 PM

Playa del Carmen FIRST-Timers: Hotel Recs ++
Would appreciate suggestions on upscale, 4-5 star hotel, on beach, NOT an all-incl.
We are a 55 yr old Chicago couple, looking for a little sun/close walking distance to downtown/nicer amenities. Doesn't have to be the Ritz, but want want good beach view/dependable AC/concierge/decent pool/bar & restaurant a plus.

Thank you in advance!

KVR Sep 30th, 2013 07:49 PM

I love questions like this, because the answer is: it really doesn't exist in that destination. AI's are lux 4* - 5* properties in that area for a valid reason. Most non AI's are not.

Look at and see if you can find something that will meet your standards: del Carmen&type=Hotel/Resort

Most of the hotels/accomendations within walking distance of 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen that are NOT AI are not situated on the beach. The ones that are, check the location carefully, as some of the beach in that area is not worth swimming in. The farther away from 5th Avenue, the better the beach.

I would go with the Maroma Resort, which sits on the best beach in that area. It will meet most of your 5* criteria, but you'll need a taxi or shuttle to get to Playa.

schmerl Oct 1st, 2013 05:41 AM

Most of the non AI places right in Playa are smaller boutique type hotels.
Look into Playa Maya and La Tortuga. Not what you would call 4 or 5 star, but very nice.

colokid Oct 1st, 2013 05:47 AM

Look at Mahekal here: at the north end of town. On the beach/partial inclusive.

La Tortuga is not on the beach.

Playa Maya has wonderful sea view rooms. South end of town

Alahambra right next door to PM here:
South end of town

There are also several beautiful condo complexes on the beach if you are interested in that direction.

jette Oct 1st, 2013 06:25 AM

Mahekal or Las Palapas I think are the only 2 that really fit your requirements. Both are very very nice and on a beautiful stretch of beach. They are both a little further north but that area of 5th has grown a LOT in the last 5 years or so.

More south, Playa Maya is a great option, maybe not as upscale but it's a wonderful small property very centrally located. Tortuga has undergone some changes since Anna left, most of them not good changes from what I've heard which is a shame. It used to be wonderful even if not beach longer recommended IMO.

Ditto the condo suggestion, there are lots of really nice options and you get more space generally.

KVR Oct 1st, 2013 07:34 AM

Playa Maya, Mahekal or Las Palapas are hardly a 5*.

Mahekal sits on a very nice section of beach. The rooms do not have phones or TV's. About a 20 minute walk to the start of 5th Avenue in Playa.

La Tortuga is not on the beach. They will offer you a free chair at a beach club within a few blocks walk. I agree, that they have made changes and it doesn't look as promising as before.

For what you are looking for compromise on accomendations or location will be essential.

MJfromChicagoBurbs1 Oct 1st, 2013 08:19 AM

Thanks to all. Yes, we would be interested in 1BR condo on do I find those? Are they handled privately / by owner? Is El Taj such a bldg...and if so how do I gurantee the oceanfront vs beachside?

Thank you.

jette Oct 1st, 2013 10:39 AM

El Taj is a beautiful property...on one of the worst stretches of beach. I cannot recommend it because of that.

I was going to suggest VRBO but I see their site is temporarily down..argh!
I know friends that have stayed here:

and liked it very much It's actually in Playcar but walkable to 5th.

Corto Maltes or Luna Encantada, very nice properties, great beach. They naybe only have 2-3 BR though.

I would love to suggest El Faro but they are having huge booking issues right now so if you want to check them out, make sure you carefully read this:

KVR Oct 1st, 2013 01:56 PM

Here's a listing for condos in/around Playa del Carmen:

MJfromChicagoBurbs1 Oct 1st, 2013 02:45 PM

Thanks again to all!
Regarding Playa del Carmen hotels, w a beach/in close proximity to 5th/NOT ALL-Inclusive/as close to 4/5 stars as available:
seems like Mahekal, Playa Maya & Las Palapas fit the bill.
Would you agree?
If so, any favorites, or pluses/minuses of these 3?

Thank you!

KVR Oct 1st, 2013 09:20 PM

Mahekal and Las Palapas do not have phones or TV's in the room and some do not have A/C if that makes any difference to you. When are you going? That section of beach can get crowded during holidays and breaks.

Might want to check out the Petit La Fitte and Le Reve hotels also. I think they would fit your criteria a little better.

Odin Oct 2nd, 2013 03:57 AM

Despite the excellent reviews, I did not think Petit Lafitte was great at all. The hotel itself is charming & rustic, breakfast great but the beach is not that nice. We had good weather but the sea was murky and beach average, you need to walk a little northwards to find a spot without rocks in the sea. Evening meals were not good at all, unappealing set menu options. Room was nice, AC noisy, pool beautiful as so are the grounds. We had a car so drove into PDC in the evenings, if you don't have a car you need to get a taxi or get their shuttle. Concierge was great, other staff not so. No other dining options nearby. But people love it.

emd3 Oct 2nd, 2013 05:36 AM

Look at El Faro condos in Playa. On the oceanfront, with a very good restaurant on site (Wickys) and service at their beach club, great pool. they do have some one bedroom units but the two bedroom owners will close off the 2nd bedroom and let you rent it as a one bedroom. We stayed there before buying our own condo in Playa and it was really nice. There is a front desk that Is staffed 24/7. One block from the middle of 5th Ave ( at Calle 10) and next door to Zenzi, which has good music at night and wonderful food.

colokid Oct 2nd, 2013 05:43 AM

Agree with La Tortuga. It was a great place and breakfast was one of my favorite places to sit and watch the world go by. Oh well.

Agreed - Mahekal not a 5 star but it is on the beach and the beaches at the north end are a lot nicer than the south IMHO.

Playacar beaches are beautiful but, unless you are staying at an AI, there are no beach clubs to access.

Playacar Palace is a beautiful property on a great beach in Playacar - not sure what the offer is there. We looked at it for my sons wedding and usually, if we want a quiet beach, that's where we head from our condo.

Mahekal and Las Palapas - depends on what time of year you are going as Mamitas Beach Club hosts BPM festival in January and Jazz Fest in November which can get pretty loud. Jazz Fest ends earlier than BPM. (Looking forward to it this year!)

One bedroom condo on the beach is going to be tough to find. Most are 2-3. Natz Ti Ha is a complex right behind Mahekal which is very nice, some have views from the higher units. Beautiful pool area also.

There's another condo building just next to Natz Ti Ha that for the life of me I can't remember the name will come to me. Beautiful building. Pueblo Escondido - knew I'd remember : )

Casa del Mar and The Elements are also condos on the beach. The Elements is pretty stunning and their pool area is gorgeous. Private beach area club area which is roped off.

El Faro is undergoing some issues but it sounds as if their HOA is on to of it and they are making necessary adjustments.

emd3 Oct 2nd, 2013 05:44 AM

OMG, I just saw the post above about El Faro and read the link! How awful. We rented through an owner on VRBO, not through Encanto, the management co.

MJfromChicagoBurbs1 Oct 2nd, 2013 06:27 AM

SO how about Playa Maya?

Definitely want A/C, wouldn't miss a phone or TV.
Still hoping for beachfront, nice water view, easy walk to 5th.

Thank you!

KVR Oct 2nd, 2013 07:00 AM

Good to know about Petit Lafitte. Odin, I thought I read in another thread that you stayed at an AI in Playa. Was hoping you were going to provide a trip report.

The beachfront directly in front of 5th Avenue where some of the boutique hotels are located, the locals tie up their fishing boats. It's not a great area for swimming. The area around the Mahekal is a much better beach front location. If you don't care about TV's or phones, I would go with the Mahekal. The better beach and closest to 5th Avenue.

jette Oct 2nd, 2013 09:03 AM

Playa Maya is a wonderful little hotel. They do have AC and ocean front rooms. They do not have concierge, room service, a spa or any of the amenities that make 5 star. They have a very nice beachfront restaurant/bar and plenty of loungers on the beach. There is a pool but its really just a dip pool, certainly not the big resort type pools. In general I think Playa is more about the beach than about big pools

I've stayed there several times and loved it but then I'm not a mega resort type person.

Given your original wish list, have you considered Cancun?

MJfromChicagoBurbs1 Oct 3rd, 2013 04:55 PM

Wanted to try something different from Cancun.
Thanks for all the input....Think we'll go w Playa Maya!


jette Oct 4th, 2013 07:20 AM

Chicago, I'm from Milwaukee so we're neighbors.
PM is great, I think you'll really like it there and it's right in the thick of things so you'll get to really enjoy Playa to it's fullest. Have fun!!

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