Royal Hideaway Trip Report

Jul 25th, 2003, 11:22 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Royal Hideaway Trip Report

My husband and I just returned from our anniversary trip to Royal Hideaway. We had a wonderful time. I thought I'd write an overview of our experience for those planning or considering a trip there.

We booked through Liberty Travel (in person not on the internet) and the travel agent gave us a better deal than anything I saw on the internet including Liberty Travel's website. However, a friend of mine found an even better deal on the net. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the site.

Before we left, we asked the travel agent to put in our room requests (king bed, non-smoking, room facing the interior of the resort, villa 27). I also made all of my dinner reservations prior to going via e-mail. (Go to the Royal Hideaway's website and click "contact us".) The person I dealt with at RH via e-mail was very accomodating. She even made changes to my requests. Once we got there, we made more changes to our reservations after we discovered that we would rather eat at 8 or 9 rather than 7 (not much to do within the resort at night). I would not wait however to make your reservations. Do them ahead of time and if you have to change them when you get there, at least you have a back up plan.

As far as our room requests, we reiterated them once we arrived, and it did not seem as if our original requests had been received. Anyway, we did get our king bed, non-smoking, interior view room. We ended up in villa 25 instead of 27 which is closer to the main building and a little further from the ocean. Everything is so close at the RH it did not matter anyway. We loved our room. Our balcony (which was large) overlooked one of the quiet pools. Marble floors (pretty but slippery), a shower stall and jacuzzi tub, separate room for toilet, two sinks, large closet with plenty of shelf space, lounging chair, and table with two additional chairs, entertainment center with TV, VCR and stereo with CD player. Very nice. Our concierge (Roy) was very helpful and friendly. Only two small complaints when we arrived: one of the robes in our room had what looked like a fresh tomato sauce stain on it and I questioned whether it had been washed. I also found the last occupant's lipstick on our bed. Obviously the maid had picked it up to throw out and forgot it on the bed. BUT these were the ONLY two incidents and for the rest of the stay I found that everything was very clean and tidy.

The beach was very nice and the water was gorgeous. We strolled down the beach past other resorts and noticed a lot of seaweed at many of these other hotels. RH's beach was clean and seaweed free. There was waiter service on the beach which was great. The two pools next to the beach were nice. One was an infinity or horizon pool and was very relaxing -- I never felt crowded there. The other was an activity pool where they had a volleyball net and conducted aqua exercise classes. There are also several quiet pools around the resort and I found that we were often the only two people there.

The food for the most part was excellent. We particularly enjoyed Palazzo's and Ventana's (the two we thought we'd enjoy least.) We also really like Spices (it is the only one right on the beach.) Spices is open for lunch as is the pool snack bar. We ate at both and enjoyed both. Both Spices and Ventanas are open for breakfast. Spices has a buffet and Ventanas has a menu breakfast. We only ate breakfast at Spices once and usually opted for the menu breakfast at Ventanas. We also had room service breakfast twice. They only have a continental breakfast (fruit, pastries, coffee, orange juice) which was okay, but convenient. Palazzo, the Italian restaurant, was the fanciest and best in our opinion. The food was excellent. Don't forget to get dessert and cappuccino! Ventanas, the Continental restaurant, was also excellent and Spices, the Mexican restaurant, had a beautiful view of the water, great food, and an even better staff. The service at the entire resort was outstanding, but we have a soft spot for the gang at Spices. One night after getting back late from Xcaret, missing our reservation by more than 30 minutes, and arriving when the kitchen was supposed to have closed, the staff at Spices felt bad for us and stayed open late for us. They were truly terrific (especially our waiter Jose who we ended up having four times over our stay!) The only restaurant we were disappointed in was Azia. Azia is a Thai restaurant -- Thai is one of our favorite cuisines so we were looking forward to it. Unfortunately, my Pad Thai left a lot to be desired. If you are a fan of Thai food, I would steer clear of Azia. You will probably be disappointed. Another point on seating at the restaurants: if you want to guarantee sitting outside tell them you want to sit in the smoking section. The seats outside are reserved for smokers. If there is space available you may be able to get seating outside on the spot. The best restaurant to sit outside at is SPices because like I said it's on the water. Next, Palazzo because although it is in the main building (far from the water) it is on the third story. Ventanas is on the second floor (I think the view would be okay) and Azia on the ground floor would not afford you any view.

There are two dinner shows a week in the theater. We went on Wednesday night which was Mexican night. It was a buffet of all different types of Mexican cuisine which we thoroughly enjoyed. The show was about 45 minutes and was enjoyable. I spoke with someone who had gone to International night on Sunday. She said she had a sit down dinner which was good, but she didn't particularly enjoy the show. For my part, I'm glad we went, especially for the food.

There is a shopping plaza across the street from the hotel which is nice to walk around, but I think you can get a better deal in Playa del Carmen. We went into Playa twice in the early evening and took a cab both times. It was 400 pesos (approximately 4 US dollars) and worth it. Some people do opt to walk and it seems like a safe place to walk. It was nice browsing in the shops in Playa del Carmen and we got some good deals.

We took two tours while we were there, one to Chichen Itza (outstanding and worth every penny) and one to Xcaret (terrible). You can book your tours once you get there. There is a tour desk just off of where you check in (toward the gift store) or you can book with one of the many different tour reps that sit downstairs from the lobby. Do not book ahead of time. We did. It was a mistake. Created a lot of headaches and problems. Wait until you get there. Anyway, Chichen Itza was fabulous. More incredible than you can imagine. Xcaret left a lot to be desired. We went snorkeling in one of the rivers. There was not one fish in that entire river. There is more to see above the water. I would not do it again. Our tour offered a bus back to the resort at 1:30 for lunch and returned to Xcaret at 3:30. We went back to the hotel at 1:30 and did not return at on the 3:30 bus. Instead we took a taxi back at 6 to see the show (which starts at 7) because we heard it was fantastic. The show was very enjoyable. I, however, would not recommend Xcaret. If you really want to see the show just go at 6. I heard there is discounted admission after 5.

The RH is a beautiful resort. THe grounds are filled with little streams and ponds that meander about the resort. The sea is so beautiful and the beach so relaxing. Looking at the other resorts in the area, we could see that the RH really stood out. IT is definitely in a class by itself. One of the best things about the RH was definitely the staff who were so nice and accomodating. It seemed like anyone we met would remember our name and went out of their way to greet us and see how we were enjoying your stay. It truly was a memorable vacation and I would love to go back. People we spoke to there all seemed to agree that they would love to return. I would highly recommend it for couples looking for a relaxing and indulgent vacation. I hope I answered some questions for those considering the RH. I hope I didn't bore you! If you think of any other questions, please just ask. I'd be happy to help!
Giggetto is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 09:46 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2
My fiance and I will be spending our honeymoon at RH in September. I was wondering if you had a suggestion as to which villa to request. Do any of them face the ocean? What do you think is the best way to insure getting the villa/room/bed that you request?
Fentonlr is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 11:13 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 10
Thanks for the great Royal Hideaway info. We are going this Friday and I was wondering how dressed up guests were at night. We don't want to bring alot of luggage.
Is a bathing suit and cover up OK at lunch? Is there something you didn't take with you and wished you had?
stefrock is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 06:47 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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I saw in RH's brochure that dress shoes were required at night. It seemed that the dress code referred to men regarding long pants and shirts with collars. Are guests not allowed to wear sandals in the evening to dinner?
stefrock is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 07:53 PM
  #5  
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At night, my husband wore Dockers and a button down shirt and shoes. As for me, I wore a skirt or pants -- mostly pants and a nice but not overly fancy shirt. SOme women wore casual dresses and some were fancier. A nice pair of pants would be fine. (I wore sandals with my outfits, but my husband did not.) I have to say that I had brought a denim skirt with me not sure if I could wear it to dinner. I ended up not wearing it because I felt underdressed in it. I did find that I ended up packing SO much that my suitcase was over the weight limit at the airport! (had to do some reshuffling) Also keep in mind that Palazzo to me was the fanciest and the place I would most dress up for while SPices seemed a bit more casual (maybe because it's also the lunch restaurant?)

As for lunch, you can eat at the pool bar/cafe which is a sit-down, small menu eatery. They had appetizers, sandwiches, quesadillas, a grilled fish dish, etc. There you can wear your bathing suit with a cover up and it is no problem. However, if you want to eat at Spices (the regular restaurant) you will have to change. I usually wore shorts and a t-shirt and it was fine for lunch.

As for room requests, I would have your travel agent put a request with your reservation and also to note that it is your honeymoon. A few days before you arrive you may also want to e-mail the hotel yourself and politely make your requests. Again, note that it is your honeymoon. Finally, be sure to reiterate your request at arrival. They seemed very willing to accomodate you if they can. I'm sure if the room you want is open, they'll give it to you. As far as ocean view, I have heard that booking an ocean view room is a waste of money because most are partial views. I did not book an ocean view room and I wasn't sorry. Keep in mind that I am usually very picky about the view from my room and if it didn't bother me, it probably won't bother anyone! Our room overlooked one of the quiet pools and faced the main building and restaurants. We were in villa 25 in room 2522. The main thing I would be concerned with besides king bed, non-smoking (if you want that) is that your room faces inside of the resort. Some rooms overlook the next resort and the view did not look pretty. Villa 25 and villa 27 were entirely within the resort so that any room in those villas will have an interior view. We also had a top floor room (our villa was two stories, some are three) which was great because it afforded more privacy, a better view, AND a cathedral ceiling in the bedroom.

Hope that was helpful! Don't hesitate to ask me anything!
Giggetto is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 08:00 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Thanks again for the great info. I can't wait to go! You've been a big help.
stefrock is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 08:00 PM
  #7  
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Couple more things: I brought 25 sunscreen and was liberal in applying and reapplying it, and I got the worst sunburn (as did my husband who never burns). We ended up buying higher spf in the gift shop (and paid 20 dollars for it). Also, we brought disposable cameras with us, but packed them in our suitcases. At the airport we saw signs saying that the x-ray machines for the luggage will ruin any undeveloped film. It was too late for us to salvage them. We had to buy disposables there. They cost $27 for one basic flash disposable camera at the shopping plaza across the street! The gift store was a bit better at $15 a camera. Learn from our mistake -- buy film/cameras before you leave and pack them in your carry-on.
Giggetto is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 08:12 PM
  #8  
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Oops! Saw a mistake in my original post. THe taxi ride to Playa del Carmen is 40 pesos NOT 400 pesos (that means four dollars and NOT forty!).
Giggetto is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 08:15 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27
I enjoyed reading your trip report about Royal Hideaway. We are going in October and I can't wait. I hope you don't mind answering a few more questions:

1. Did you use their hair blow dryer? Was it powerful enough? I read that you have to hold down the button on the blow dryers, but someone said they rigged up a twist tie to keep the dryer on. What kind of amenities, i.e., shampoo, conditioner, etc., do they provide in the room? Was there an iron and ironing board in the room?

2. Besides the the dinner shows, how was the entertainment on the other nights? Was the "Mexican Night" one of the dinner shows or in addition to the "two weekly" dinner shows? Did the dress code for the Mexican Night allow shorts)? (I just need to plan my wardrobe).

3. What was the general age group of the guests? (We are in our 50s and we would hope there will be others our age).

Thanks for the additional info.
bisabella is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 11:58 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Wow! Thanks for the camera info. I definitely would have packed mine too.
I stocked up on spf 45 today. I'm going to try to keep a hat on and stay under umbrellas or something like that. Do they have any trees or some kind of shaded areas on the beach?
stefrock is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 10:49 AM
  #11  
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I initially used my hairdryer ... until I blew a fuse, lost all the electric in our room, and destroyed my hairdryer. I had to throw it out. That's when I started using the room hairdryer. I also had read the trip report about the hairdryer not staying on, but I had absolutely no problems. It worked just like my normal dryer and is perfectly fine to use. There is also an iron and ironing board in the room, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sewing kit, and bubble bath. Keep in mind, the bottles are tiny sample size bottles. You'd have to ask them to stock your room!

As for Mexican night, I think it's a bit confusing. There are TWO dinner shows a week in the Theater (next to Ventanas in the main building), one on Sunday night (this was INternational night) and one on Wednesday night (this was Mexican night). I went to Wednesday night's Mexican night which was a very nice buffet and 45 minute performance showcasing the various regions of Mexico. We enjoyed the food and the show. Someone else we spoke with went to the SUnday night show which was a sit-down meal, and was not very impressed. Apparently, there is also a Fiesta held by the pool once a week that is also a Mexican buffet with a performance. I was there for 8 days and I did not see this or hear of anyone going to it, but it supposedly exists. You must make reservations for any of these that you choose. As far as dress code for the MEXICAN show in the THEATER (not pool), I wore what I normally wore to the restaurants which means no shorts. I'm assuming it would be similar for the other two options also.

Other night activities were limited which is why we usually opted for a late dinner and then usually went to bed. There is a bar called Allegro that had a gambling for fun night and live entertainment some other nights. It is small and relatively low key. You could always go swimming in one of the quiet pools at night or take a taxi into Playa del Carmen.

There is a wide range of age groups (from people in their mid twenties on up). While there were a lot of honemooners, there were also a lot of older couples too. I don't think you would feel uncomfortable or out of place. Everyone is so friendly and we met a lot of people of all different ages.

Finally, on the beach you can have them set up a cover over your lounge chairs to shield you from the sun. I also had a hat which was helpful. Unfortunately, I was burned when I went into the ocean. Keep in mind, we were in the ocean a lot! Make sure you don't miss wading out. The swim area is roped off and it stays relatively shallow pretty far out. The water was terrific.

Hope you all have fun! I'm so jealous! Please don't hesitate to ask questions. I really don't mind.
Giggetto is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 12:40 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I was at this resort this past March and agree with everything already said. It truly is in a class by itself. As for the hair dryer - yes, you need to keep it pressed down. I found this to a big pain. I mentioned it to the concierge and she got me a new one that stayed on. What service!!
I also agree with the resaurant choices. Azia was just ok, out least favorite. The first night we ate in Palazzo I noticed there was no veal on the menu. When I mentioned it to the chef who happened to be walking around, he offered to make us a special veal dish in a few days if we would return. We came back 2 nights later, told the waiter who we were and the chef came out. He asked us how we liked our veal and we said he should surprise us. What came out later was an outstanding meal. I don't know if he does this for everyone, but we certainly enjoyed it. By the way, we are in our 50s and had the most wonderful time. I would surely go back.
Lolo is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 01:49 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Dear Giggetto, Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about RH. You are the best!
stefrock is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 02:55 PM
  #14  
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Maybe they have recently changed the hairdryers because mine was normal. I didn't need to keep it pushed down. Or maybe I just got lucky! Anyway, your welcome for the info! Hope your trips are all as wonderful as mine was!
Giggetto is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 09:55 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27
Dear Giggetto: Thank you so much for answering all my questions, and more. I am so excited - I am counting the days til we go. I just hope there are no hurricanes when we go (October 5).
bisabella is offline  
Aug 10th, 2003, 10:22 PM
  #16  
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Don't forget to post a trip report when you come back! I'd love to hear others' impressions!
Giggetto is offline  
Aug 11th, 2003, 04:53 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 15
Thanks for all the great info. I have one question - was there lobster on the menu at all?
Thanks
beachlvr is offline  
Aug 11th, 2003, 09:14 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 101
I had to laugh when I read your opinion of Xcaret, b/c my husband and I felt the exact samw way...it was a complete tourist rip off. Snorkeling was mainly just floating and looking at...water and sand.
It was overcrowded, and simply didn't live up to the hype. Waaaay too expensive for what you get. The only thing that excited us was when we found a Dr. Pepper in the back of a soda refrigerator at their store.

Loved and adored the food at RH. It's true that dinner is the only "entertainment" at the resort at night, but at least in our case, the multiple courses took about 2 hours. It was an experience, not just dinner. At Palazzo, after dessert, we asked their bartender for two coffees with Baileys, and walked out to sit on Palazzos balcony to sip and chat, sitting in the night ocean breeze and looking at the lights across the water. Wonderful experience (do they still have that pyramid shaped dessert? I still think about that...one was white chocolate another regular chocolate...HEAVEN)
Branv is offline  
Aug 11th, 2003, 09:21 PM
  #19  
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The only dessert we got at Palazzo was the Tiramisu. I don't remember a pyramid shaped dessert. Too bad -- it sounds terrific!

As for lobster, there was none on the regular menu, but you can have a private lobster dinner for two on the beach. Someone just posted to another message that it is $300 extra. I don't know if it's worth it. I do know that the food was fantastic in the restaurants and you won't feel as if you're missing anything.
Giggetto is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 11:26 AM
  #20  
JBJ
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Thank you for the trip report! I appreciate the detailed information. My husband and I are planning a trip to RH for December, and I have a couple of questions. First, is the beach private, if not, are there any issues with that we should know about. Second, what is the drive to Playa like? I haven't experienced having to drive that kind of a distance in Mexico and I am a little nervous about it---did you feel safe? And lastly (and this is for my husband) do they serve American beer there like they do in Cancun (I know this seems ridiculous, but it will really make him happy if the answer is yes). Thanks again!
JBJ is offline  

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