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Riviera Maya Advice Please

Old Oct 24th, 2006, 09:07 PM
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Riviera Maya Advice Please

My husband and I are in the process of planning a trip to the Riviera Maya for the end of June. I have been doing tons of reading and decided it was time to toss my questions and ideas out there and see what you all have to say. Fodorites have helped me plan many a successful trip. The big decision we need to make before we can focus on planning the details is where we are going to stay. We have narrowed it down to 3 choices and would so appreciate your input. Our choices are Azul Hotel and Beach Resort, Playacar Palace, and El Dorado Royale.

El Dorado Royale: we like the variety of restaurant options and the menus look amazing. We are foodies and want good food on vacation...not buffets. With that being said we are thinking of getting a Jr. Suite here not a Casita (due to $). Would we have problems getting reservations when we want without having the priority of being a Casita guest? We also love the idea of the beach beds and lounging on the beach in one all day. We read Casita guests always have access to them, but do the "regular" side people have them available- if they are willing to get up a little early to reserve one? How is the beach here and are the sandbags out in the water really that distracting to the beauty of the area? Finally, with this being a little larger than the other two places we're considering does it feel crowded? We do like the feel of not being crammed in lounge chairs at the pools and in restaurants.

Playacar Palace: the location looks great. Again from what we can tell the restaurants look like they would be good. Does the glass "barrier" at the front of the pool take away from the feeling of an infinity pool. We love hanging over the edge of a pool and looking at the water. We don't want to feel like we are encased in glass. I haven't heard many people complain about it, so maybe the pictures make it look worse than it is. I understand the beach right at the hotel is pretty sparse but does it run into nice beach close by? Can you walk for a long distance, or do the beaches at the other two places outshine this one by a lot? Our main thought here is that being a Palace resort guest we could take advantage of the other resorts when we are out on day trips. We hope to go to Cozumel for the day and it's our understanding we could stop in the Cozumel Palace and have lunch and a swim if we want. Or go north to Cancun to shop around and go to one of those resorts. Is this a big enough benefit to seal the deal for this one?

Finally...
Azul Hotel and Beach Resort: this seems to be a balance of the other two. They have beach beds and it doesn't seem that anyone person has automatic priority over others. Is the beach and pool area nice here? Are there enough restaurant/food choices for a week?
Does one have better swimmable beach for snorkeling and boogie boarding?

We had a great vacation at the Grand Velas in Nuevo Vallarta a couple years ago. Great food, beach, pool, room, and awesome personal attention and service. When the pool bartender saw us coming he'd mix our drink and have it ready before we reached our chairs. I wasn't crowded, yet still had some fun weekly activities we could do if we wanted. I'll stop now. I'm sure you've read enough of my rambling. I can't wait to hear your thoughts and finally make a decision. Thanks in advance,
Angela
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 07:37 AM
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forgive me for being so argumentative, but if you say you are a foodie, I think you're going in completely the wrong direction with an all inclusive. Food at most allinclusives is not of the highest quality. In almost all of them it's generally a case of quantity over quality.

There's an excellent article in the brand new edition of Conde NastTraveler magazine about the quality of all inclusives. The only one the writer liked at all was the Royal Hideaway in Playa.

But the Royal Hideaway is so expensive, I could stay at the Ritz Carlton Cancun with unparalled service and great food at my beck and call and truly good restaurants a stone's throw away AND a better beach...for less money. I don't get it...
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Frankie,
Thanks for the response. Your thoughts are right on the money, I am sure. We have only been to one AI, the one I mentioned in Nuevo Vallarta, and the food was really pretty good. Mind you, not necessarily the quality we may get if we chose all of our own restaurants to dine in, but it definately wasn't gross buffet food. The reason we are considering these three resorts instead of going somewhere like the Ritz and dining wherever we want (which we would love to do by the way), is because we where given a week to exchange through RCI. Almost all the choices are AI places, so we've tried to choose the ones that at least appear to put some thought and care into the food preparation and presentation. We realize it wouldn't be the same as dining out wherever we wanted, but because we would only be paying the AI fee and no fee for the "room" we thought we could still afford to go out to dinner where we want a couple times. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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Hi Kinsel, I stayed at the El Dorado Royale 3.5 years ago, when it was fairly new. I've been to 5 AI's in the Playa area, and I do think it was the best food, although def not up to foodie standards. =) We had no problems getting reservations, and the main restaurant didn't require any which was great. When we were there, the beach was not crowded at all. We always had chairs, privacy, and fresh margs delivered. I was in an ocean front room, not casita, and never felt I was treated differently at all. Keep in mind this was several years ago though, so you never know how things could have changed. My co-worker, who is a finicky eater, has been to Azul and highly recommends it. Good luck!
 
Old Oct 25th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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ok kinsel, you get a pass, lol! Your choice wouldn't include the Azul Blue beach hotel in Tulum, would it?
I just looked it up for the first time, and it looks beautiful, and the beaches in Tulum are something else.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 02:24 PM
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From what I've read, Azul has the better food of the places you mention. And being a food snob, it's the only AI I'd consider if I could get over hanging with masses of people.

frankie - I'm going to check out new Traveler...sounds like a good article...thanks for the mention.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 09:00 PM
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Thanks so much for the replies already. Frankie so far the Azul Blue hasn't shown any availability for our trade but agree the beaches in Tulum look unbeatable. Pepper, thanks for the advice on Azul, but masses of crowds? The hotel only has 100 rooms, maybe your thinking of somewhere different.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 05:15 AM
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Oh...Kinsel...sorry, I should explain. We stay at the small cabana-type hotels in Tulum that have about 10 rooms each. So even 100 rooms is a lot to me.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 07:15 AM
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Just an FYI, I think Azul Blue had some problems with their reservations online but it now looks to be corrected. Not sure when you're going in June but they do appear to have availabilty: http://www.agent-key.com/reserve.php
Also, the El Dorado Seaside Suites is adults only AI and billed as the 'gourmet AI'. Here's the review on tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...Peninsula.html
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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Sorry, here's the (working) link to Azul Blue: http://www.karismahotels.com/forms/e...ue/reserv.html
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 04:13 PM
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Hi. I thought I'd put in my 2 cents. Food and beach are both important to me too. I stayed at El Dorado Royal about 3 years ago and wouldn't go back. It was nice enough but you can't call what they have a beach. There's a strip of sand but once you get to the water, it's all rocks. Can't swim at all. You can walk to the end of the property, walk over a bunch of rocks and be at Playa del Secreto (Secret Beach) which is nice and secluded. But it would be a pain to do this every day and you wouldn't have a bar, beach chairs, etc. nearby. Food was ok but not particularly memorable. Being near Playa is definitely awesome. If you love beach and food and can get into Le Blanc (a Palace Resort) up in Cancun, the beach is amazing and the food is excellent with beautiful presentation even at the buffet. Good luck!
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