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Reviewed 13 June 2005

We just returned from Club El Mandarin and had a wonderful time. We snorkeled, sailed, swam, shopped, ate, drank, danced, exercised, went to shows, played volleyball and went on an ATV tour in a jungle. I don't know where the folks who gave the earlier bad reviews were or what they expected, but they weren't at the same place we were. We, too, have traveled a bit and were very pleased with everything, especially considering the price. It goes to show you how people's opinions differ. The staff, service, electricity, and grounds were all great. The rooms were really nice. Everyone there works hard to please you. Just say "Hola!" when you see them and "Gracias" when they take your plates or bring you food. The food and drink were good, not great. The "Animation" staff were the best! They work from 9AM til midnight with activities and programs. Do not miss the "Tribute to the Blues Brothers"! The only thing disagreeable was the ocean water, which was cloudy sometimes and had seaweed in it.

The people who go there are from all over the US, Canada, S. America, Europe and Mexico, and are there to have a good time. There are couples, families and many unattached girls and women, but not as many men. We will go back again for another stay, and take another family with us to enjoy it.

Cheers!

PS Even though your all inclusive is supposed to pay for tips, a buck or two once in a while is a nice thing to do. It goes a long way in Mexico and the staff work very hard.

  • Stayed: June 2005
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15  Thank Vacation11232
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2005

Well, my wife and I just got back from Club El Mandarin on June 1st. This was our second trip to Playa Del Carmen, we stayed at the Riu Palace in Playacar two years ago. Having the benefit of staying in a first class resort like the Riu Palace, I was better able to put Club El Mandarin in better perspective. Here's the bottom line folks, ya get what ya pay for! I liken the Riu Palace to the Ritz-Carlton and Club El Mandarin to a Holiday Inn. Club El Mandarin is affordable because it affords less of the finer things that people may want on their vacation.

#1)Staff- Contrary to what people have said previously, the workers were not all "Great". The front desk workers seemed aloof when you asked them questions and were a tad disorganized. The grounds crew took several days to find a palm branch strewn across the walkway just outside of our room. The bartenders did a decent job but were prone to give preferential treatment to locals who spoke the language and "marble bag" wearing customers who were inclined to cut in front of you at the bar.

#2)Food- The food at the beach restaurant was okay, they served the same breakfast daily (eggs, bacon, sausage etc.) and lunch (hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and salsa etc). We were there for 7 days so after about day three, I found my appetite was wavering a bit with the thought of having the same things again! The food in the Lobby restaurant was buffet style where they would have different themes nightly. I found just about everything they made was very bland and not very fun to look at. One positive was that the desserts were delicious and the ice cream was fantastic! Quetzal is the finer dining restaurant that is upstairs from the lobby. Though we only dined there twice, my wife and I found this to be the best place to eat. Surprisingly, they were never busy and we were immediately seated both times. The food was very good, the house wine was delicious and the service was great. For any future visitors to this resort, Quetzal is a must!

#3) Amenities- First of all, I saw reviews in the past saying that you could request an "ocean view" room. Oh yeah, tou can request an "ocean view" room for an extra $30 a night! Personally I think if you pay for your package ahead of time, you should be entitled to an identical room regardless of location. Like I said earlier, this is like a Holiday Inn as far as resorts go. The room was nice, their was a king bed and a couch, there was a nice size closet and we had a very little patio area with bird poop all over it. The bathroom was okay, there was an occasional sewery smell in there and I still don't know how you use one of those bidets, kinda scares me. Pool, the pool wasn't bad. There are plenty of sun chairs around the pool and aside from some greasy film I saw a couple of times, it was nice. Let me make something very clear to people who find this essential, there is no swim up bar! I was a tad disappointed as I think this is a nice addition to a resort. Beach, the beach was adequate. The water is clear in spots but there is a fair amount of seaweed floating around and if you're afraid of fish like my wife, you'll not like being in the water as there are schools of fish that swim around you while you're out there. I must say the staff does do a great job raking the seaweed as it is quite a task. Also, for those who enjoy a beverage or two, there is not a bar right on the beach as you'll find at some resorts. Yes the pool bar is only about a minute away but when you're being lazy on your getaway, it's nice to walk 20 feet to the bar rather than throwing on your shoes and fighting through pool traffic.

#4) Guests- Folks, as I said earlier, there are different class resorts and this one having reasonable prices has a more "mixed" crowd. It goes without saying that some people (most are wearing speedos) have never been taught that if someone is waiting at the bar or in line at the buffet you simply DO NOT step in front of them. I had bite my tongue numerous times as I patiently waited for a drink and some guy or girl would nonchalantly walk in front of me as if I wasn't there. Also, I may be crazy but it seemed like the majority of the guests smoked. I don't judge people on their vices but when they light up in the middle of breakfast, your vice is now mine! The lobby is a happening place in the evening, as my wife and I would go to and from dinner we would be inundated with smoke as most of the people in the lobby were lighting up. If you're looking for a relaxing time, enjoy your days during the week, because I'm not sure if the hotel slashes it's rates on the weekend or what but for Friday and Saturday there was a HUGE influx of new people who basically took over the pool and made for long lines at the bar and made it very difficult to find a table in the beach restaurant.

To summarize (and you may be suprised by this next comment after reading my review), my wife and I had a GREAT time! We had adequate service, a decent beach to spent our days relaxing, sunning and reading. I would recommend this to other travelers with the words of caution that this is not a first class resort but a decent resort that is worth the money. Like I said "ya get what ya pay for".

  • Stayed: May 2005
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16  Thank Escape1349
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2005

I was here during an Atlantis Exclusive weekend and give this resort a 3 out of 5. The resort is very well kept. It is fairly new and very nicely landscaped. The rooms were very spacious and clean and the service was better than normal. The resort is very relaxing and romantic. There is a beautiful beach and oversized pool. They have three restaurants but the food wasn't very good. They need variety. I got tired of getting fried flour tortillas every day. The drinks were not the best, they used some kind of watered down homemade mixture of lemonade for the Margaritas from Hell! Ask for a "Mamasita", a redish drink that tastes a little like a Pina Colada, only better! The staff was very friendly, often joining us during the evening parties. The only one thing I can say really troubled me was being without electricity and without A/C. I've done plenty of travel to Latin America and the Caribbean, so I've been a few times without electricity in several places, but at Club El Mandarin there was a power failure just about every night during my 8 day stay. On our third night, we realized that the hotel was shutting down the power. Maybe they could not handle being at maximum occupancy? Either case, we saw the maintenance crew going around and shutting down the power, but when we asked we were told that they were "resetting the breakers". We didn't buy this story! No A/C makes for a very very HOT SUMMER VACATION !!! Wear very light clothing and expect to be shirtless for a good portion of the time.

  • Stayed: May 2005
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5  Thank askeddie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 May 2005

Came back from this resort last Friday,27th May. We had such a fabulous time!
After reading some reviews we were a bit nervous but we had no need to be.
We found the staff helpful and cheerfull and VERY hard working. The hotel was extremely clean, the beach was great and both the sea (complete with angel fish!) and the pool were clean and lovely.
We found the buffet food to be good with plenty of choice, the Mexican restaurant was great and the upstairs dining was a little bit special. Some people we dined with found the main cours a little small but just asked for another one straight after and were served it without question!
Our room was spacious, the bed comfortable and we could not fault it.
Because this is not a big hotel it had a very friendly atmosphere.
It also did not entertain kids half the night so we did not have to sit through that every night.
The price was good and we enjoyed ourselves. For us it was perfecto!

  • Stayed: May 2005
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10  Thank linzechris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 May 2005

My husband and I have just returned from Club El Mandarin in the Playa Del Carmen area. There was a lot of variety in both the people who stayed there and the food we ate!! We stayed at Iberostar Tucan in 2/04 and spent twice as much. I can say that this place was just as good! There were a few things I noticed that Club El Mandarin didn't have but, overall, it was great!
There are three restaurants there but we only ate in two of them. We were only there for five days so when we found something we liked, we stuck with it. The main dining hall where most folks eat breakfast is just fine. It could be a bit more open as it has sliding glass doors but they choose to keep the air conditioning on. The food there is great. Mostly buffet but in the A.M., there's a chef cooking omlets any way you like them. The cafe con leche is wonderful also!! The Restaurant El Mandarin by the pool is perfect buffet style for lunch and a full service restaurant for dinner. That is where we had dinner most nights because it's by the beach and has the ocean breezes!! They have an all inclusive menu or a purchase price menu to choose from if you eat dinner there. We never strayed from the all inclusive menu and were never dissatisfied.
The people working at the resort are wonderful. Please feel free to tip them although your travel agent may say there is no need. They will remember you and if you're outgoing, they're bound to remember you by name! Drinks were not watered down that I could tell but if you tip them, I'm sure you'll get stronger ones!!
Our room was wonderful. Our bed was firm, but not rock hard. We had a bidet in the bathroom and the shower was plenty big with lots of hot water! We had a T.V. (didn't watch it), a couch, coffee table and a huge closet with both shelves and drawers!! There was a coffee machine also but the cafe con leche in the dining room was better. Also, we used the safe in the room for $2 per day. No complaints here. It's still half the price of the Iberostar!
We participated in activities on the beach like volleyball, soccer/football, aerobics classes and utilized the activity hut for the kayak and the windsurfing. The folks recruiting for the games and classes are so enthusiastic and are a blast to deal with.
We went into town one time on the shuttle. It's $3 per person one way. We went late in the day and took a taxi home. Make sure you clarify with any cabbie as to the fee for you trip before you get in the cab. Is the fee he's quoting for one or two people? Is he clear as to where you wish to go? Playa is a neat town, lots to do but tons of merchants yelling to you to come look at their wares. You can haggle with them if you want to and get a better deal. There are merchants with silver and t-shirts, etc. who come to the resort two times per week if you don't want to go into town.
The show we saw at the resort was cute. Lots of audience participation and silliness. We are not club type people so don't know how the night life compares to that of Playa in town. There is a ton to do at night in Playa Del Carmen though.
The beaches are beautiful at the resort! I'm going to try to include some pictures although I've been having some trouble getting them onto the TripAdvisor site in the past. The smell everyone speaks of seems to be the seaweed that is dumped just off the property. We smelled it too but not in our room or anything. Just when the wind blew a certain way. When we investigated, it really seemed to be all the seaweed that was cleaned off the beach and dumped just off site. Not too offensive, just noticeable.
There are visitors from all over coming to this area!! We met folks from Europe, Canada and the U.S. Quite a nice mix! Everyone was nice!
Hope this helps you decide! Have a terrific trip!!!

  • Stayed: May 2005
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15  Thank ChrissyRDH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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