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Riviera Maya - 1st Timers

Old Jan 15th, 2014, 05:16 AM
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Riviera Maya - 1st Timers

Hello Fodorites! We are experienced Caribbean island travelers but newbies to the Mayan Riviera. We have never tried all-inclusive but are looking to try one this July. We are looking for what everyone else is looking for: white sandy beach with sandy entry, great pools, kids club (we have nine year old and six year old), decent food. Our budget for a week is $4000 from Boston (airfare seems to be about $2000 without a package deal). We will mostly be at the resort but will take some excursions to ruins (Coba, Tulum) and a nature trip like Xel-ha or Akun-Chen.

Looking at places like Sandos Playacar, Riu Tequila or Riu Playacar, Iberostar del mar or Tucan. I've looked through the archives but am pretty overwhelmed. Does anyone have a favorite place they could recommend? Thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 05:47 AM
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Just have to pipe in that that's not anything like what I look for when heading to Latin America on vacation. We prefer small, preferably locally-owned, small town or village-based, atmospheric lodgings where we can shop for local produce, do most of our own cooking, interact with locals, and spend a tiny fraction of your budget. Just my 2 pesos' worth, since those places are out there, too...
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 06:03 AM
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Good point! We like to do that too in other places but are switching it up for this first time trip to the region.
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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When we go to Mexico, which is around once per year, AI is the way we like to go also. To each their own. We have been to 15+ AI resorts. I personally would avoid the RIU's. They are a low budget family chain and you get what you pay for. I prefer resorts that don't make you stand in line for reservations for the ala cart restaurants. The Iberostar resorts are a better option. Also, look at the Barcelos. Great pools.

I prefer Xcaret over Xel-Ha. More things to see and do and the night show is awesome. It's also much closer to the Playa del Carmen area. Just grab a cab.

For the ruins, look at Yuca Treks:

http://www.yucatreks.com/types/yucatreks-shared-tours/

We've done the Tulum and Beyond. We plan on returning to the Playa area in May this year and are looking at the Coba Treasures this time.
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 09:56 AM
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We enjoy the Iberostar resorts. The Del Mar is part of a large Iberostar complex and has fantastic pools and a huge beach. The IB Tucan/Quetzal is smaller and is on a stretch of beach with several other resorts.
Both IB resorts have kids clubs and activities for your children.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 08:57 AM
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Thanks for the feedback! I will play around with the travel dates to try to make the budget work for an Iberostar property.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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We have stayed at Barcelo(Tropical) twice and love it. One of the best beaches in RM and great pools and kids club. I looked for about 6 months before deciding on Barcelo and I was very happy with choice.

Another vote for Yuka Treks We also did the Tulum and beyond tour and it was the highlight of our trip. Our guide Mitch was fantastic.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 06:11 PM
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Do any of you have opinions on the Grand Palladium resorts in the area?
I appreciate the tour suggestions. We will definitely pursue those.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 06:21 PM
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Also look into Edventure Tours. They have some set tours but will also design a day around what you want to do.
http://www.edventuretours.com.mx/
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 01:22 PM
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Hi! I actually live here in the Riviera Maya (Puerto Aventuras). Iberostar is a great choice, as is the various Karisma managed properties. There are also family-friendly Catalonia resorts (several) in the region. There is actually one right in the gated community that I live in, Puerto Aventuras. Lots of great things for the kids to do in this region! Warning - you'll be hooked - we came down for vacations for several years, and now retired down here (early).
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 07:45 AM
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We can't wait to go. I think at this point we are leaning toward Grand Palladium Kantenah, if can get a good price, but we are also still considering playacar and paraiso options. Probably not Riu Tequila since that seems a little rowdy for us.
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