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Reviewed 1 March 2012

My review title says it all. This is not a bad resort; the grounds are immaculate, the pools are great and just being in the Mayan Riviera during the winter is great! We were travelling with our two girls, ages 7 and 10 and this was their first trip to Mexico...they loved it.

We are not particularly "picky" people but my wife and I were spoiled by our stay last April at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro in Punta Cana where you also get what you pay for.

We booked through Air Transat with the "Royal Golden" package which gave us robes, slipper and an extra a la carte meal. Check-in was fine but very little detail about the resort and how stuff works i.e. Trams, towels, etc. around the resort. We just sort of figured it out as we went along...no biggie. I had contacted Felix by e-mail for our a la carte reservations prior to the trip....no word of a lie, Felix responded to me within 20 minutes of my sending of the e-mail with confirmations for all four reservations.....great service to say the least!

Rooms:

Musty...wow...really musty...not our first trip down south and I've never been in a more musty-smelling room even with the fan on ALL the time....the clothes we never wore reeked of mustiness when we came home. Bed was rock hard BUT a mattress pad had already been added...so, not horrible. The front desk also had an extra single bed sent up free of charge for our one daughter. As some have pointed out, the cheap CRT TV seems anachronistic in today's age of flat screens but really, hardly a big deal. Maid service was fine.

Food:

Not good. The best buffet for all three meals is Tulum but none are actually any good. Even my girls who love waffles, chicken fingers and bacon, dreaded going for a meal. Really bland and mostly unappetizing.....the a la cartes varied wildly. Le Gourmet an Tequila were not good (steak is not supposed to taste like roast beef?), Mikado was pretty good and the show entertaining at least for the kids while Don Pablo at Tulum was EXCELLENT. We went to Don Pablo's on the last night and it was air conditioned (finally a restaurant that had AC!) and the food and service far superior to any we experienced at the others.

The service in the buffet's....wildly inconsistent from waiter to waiter...you never knew if your request for water, coffee or oj would ever be fulfilled. Some were great, some you never knew if you'd see them again.

Grounds:

As stated many times....immaculate, as close to perfect as you will find. I have not seen better.

Beaches:

Obviously, they've been torn up over the years by hurricanes with all the giant sandbags protecting what's left of the beaches. That said, most of the Tulum and Akumal beach frontage is rocky and generally, not to be enjoyed by swimmers. The Akuma beach area with the piers is awesome for kids as their are so many fish everywhere for both snorkeling fun and for feeding them bread...kids loved it. We'd walk out of breakfast or lunch with at least one loaf of bread for the fish!

Location:

Apparently, it's a long trip from the airport if you take the transfers from the vacation operators--knowing that, we booked a private transfer with USA Transfers and they were great and cost competitive. Took around an hour each way.....other folks said it took between almost 2 and 3 hours to get to the resort from the airport....no thanks!

Overall, a good trip with the kids...they can't wait to go back to Mexico. Next time though, we will be looking at the Iberostar chain again with whom we've been really happy several times before. This resort costs less than others and it's apparent why.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank John T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2012

We have completed are forth trip to Gran Bahia Principe Rivera Maya Resort and our third time to the Coba resort. I have to say we did have some small issues the first three days which, we had not seen in the past. We did notice a lot of staff in training tags and that may have been the reason for the issues. My wife talked to Carla in public relations and with in hours the issues were all taken care of, thank you Carla. All in all the food was great again and 3 of the 5 la carte resturants were very good. I recommend the Tequila, Mikado, and le Gourmet Resturants.

Room Tip: Close to a buffet resturant will also put you close to a pool. Villa 28,29,30 or 31 will do that.
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Dunner15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2012

Booking:
We booked with Sunquest/Thomas Cook through a local travel agency.

Sunquest representative at the hotel:
There was an Irish guy and a local rep. Neither were "in" to their job. We seemed like a hassle to them.
When we had an issue with being eaten alive in our bed by some sort of insect, the Irish guy (I don't even know his name because we had very little contact with him) dismissed it and seemed to take the side of the hotel, we felt like we didn't have anyone on "our side" in Mexico when it came to trying to be treated like a guest at a 5 star hotel.

Check in:
Easy, pretty quick.
We seen others getting welcome drinks when the next group checked in, we didn't.
We were on our honeymoon and had been told (by our travel agent) to present our marriage certificate at check in and we would be upgraded. They made us feel dumb for showing them the certificate and said we'd have to check in to this room and come back in the morning and talk to public relations. When we did that they, again, made us feel dumb. We decided to be happy with our moldy smelling room and carry on.

Room:
Our bed was quite wet, more than damp.
It smelled like musty basement/mold.
The bathrooms were very clean and the maid always did a good job - IF you tipped. We forgot to tip one day and she made the bed and left everything else. When you tip you'll see a much nicer looking room and a better stocked mini fridge when you return.
We ended up with some sort of insect like was biting us in our sleep (more on this below).
Beds and bedding leaved a bit to be desired, stained and uncomfortable but that wasn't a big deal.

Food:
The first day we thought the food was great at the buffet, we were starving from the plane ride.
At a tropical-like destination, you would expect at least the fruit to be fresh and it was VERY near expired, you wouldn't eat it out of your own fridge.
They changed the sign outside the buffet each night for a theme of some sort but the food was always the same. It was alright, be sure to book your a la cartes as you'll be sick of the buffet after a few meals (at the Public Relations desk as soon as you arrive).
We did the Mexican and Mediterranean a la cartes, we didn't bother with the Brazilian on our last night as we were definitely over the food situation.
Service at the a la cartes was great.
Service at the buffet was hit and miss. Some days you'd have to go looking for forks and go the whole meal with no water, other times you'd have a great server. The men were usually better waiters than the women.
I asked for a coffee one time, the man rinsed a cup from a tray of dirty cups in the sink and poured coffee in to it. It was a plastic drink cup. That was weird.
The snack bar has a bit of a selection but the food didn't look very safe. We stayed clear.
Drinks were alright, most of them were made with a syrup of some sort instead of real fruit. We stuck to plain drinks most of the time and they were good. Absolute Vodka and Bacardi or Appleton Rum.

Service:
Front desk staff were TERRIBLE. They were so useless and not helpful. They didn't seem to like tourists or their jobs.
The bell guys were usually pretty great, as well as the cart drivers - willing to help.
The Public Relations women were kind of pointless and rude, we didn't feel like anyone really wanted to be there.
As mentioned, restaurant staff was hit and miss.
Bartenders were usually pretty friendly and welcoming.

Issues:
We woke up one morning covered in bites. Legs, ankles, back. Called the front desk about it and they said someone would be up to check, we said we would leave the room for the day. Returned to the room untouched. Called again and was transferred around a few times. Got Antonio who is the "head" of something from what I understood, he said they'd be up to fumigate the room. I said we didn't want to sleep in a room that was sprayed with something toxic so we'd need a new room. After a few minutes of back and forth he said "You'll sleep with the bugs or you'll sleep with the spray, you're welcome" and hung up. This is when I went up to the desk to talk to our Sunquest rep., wasn't much help. I said I was expecting to have our luggage bagged up and put in the dryer and moved to a clean room. Shouldn't have been a big deal. They refused to switch our room BUT "generously" offered to do our laundry at 50% off the marked price...I think a T-shirt started at 16-25 dollars, and we had to fill out a form for each piece of laundry. Some guy showed up with a can of Raid-like stuff and a maid came and changed the sheets. We're now home and covered in bites, waiting for the exterminator to come check our house and possibly spray, starts at $500-$1200 for a treatment.

There was a very unfortunate incident at the resort when we were there. The staff are untrained, there is no equipment to deal with an emergency. There happened to be two paramedics there on vacation that were trying to take charge of the situation but the staff kept pulling them away and telling them they were trying to make a scene, they were trying to save a life. An oxygen tank arrived 10 minutes later and it was empty. All the staff/hotel cared about was hiding the problem and covering their own behinds. They seemed to have no compassion or regard for human life. It was really, really bad. The swim up bar staff didn't even stop mixing drinks. I've heard from a few others that the doctor and "ambulance service" (Toyota hatchback) are a money grab.

If you're Caucasian or a non-Spanish speaking person, it seems service isn't as good.

Do not rent a vehicle to drive yourself around, some were pulled over and robbed by the police. We took the Collectivo bus service and it seemed bad enough, I wouldn't recommend leaving the resort.

The time share sellers are constantly at you every time you walk by them in the lobby. They offer free excursions, shirts, tequila, etc. They say it will be a 90 minute tour, if you're able to get out in 2 hours or so...it's a nice mini tour of the resort and you'll get some free tickets. The breakfast they take you on is just to the buffet and you have to eat at a table with your tour guy. You'll get some free stuff anyway if you're able to get away alive from the sales guys.

MONEY:
Take enough money with your to last the trip. The ATM machine charges you about $30 USD to take out money in pesos, it was even more to withdraw USD. It was crazy.

Pool and grounds:
They were very well kept. The pool was warm from the sun, the grass seemed to be cut every second day, there was always someone pressure washing the walk ways, etc. Very clean. Along with the lobby and entry way.

Yaxmuul was a fantastic day trip. Tulum ruins, cenotes, zip lining, Angela was our tour guide with AllTourNative. That was the best day of the trip. We also had great weather and met great people on the resort to hang out with.

We're a pretty laid back couple and don't worry about too much. But when we booked at a 5 STAR hotel, we expected the service, food, etc, to be tolerable and it was very under par. We will never return to this hotel and may not be back to Mexico for a long time as we didn't feel safe and we weren't fond of how the health care, especially for tourists, was just a money grab and you never know when you'll need the help. Credit card number up front. They seemed to have no empathy. Very unsatisfied with the people we dealt with and the service received (at the resort, Playa del Carmen, etc).

I would definitely consider other destinations before staying at this resort/in this area.

Room Tip: Try to get a room off of the first floor, it was very damp and no view.
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Courtney H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 February 2012

FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT!!
If you don't like long transfer times from the airport give this a miss it takes a good two hours to get here.

All round a lovely hotel and the size of it WOW!!
We had 2 weeks here in November and it was all in all a good holiday, the only bad things were the fact I thought the rep was a little racist about the Mexican people and was really curt at times, and the really poor "free" Wifi, otherwise great place.
if you do intend to visit here there are 3 resorts in one Akumal (where we stayed) Coba, and Tulum. You can use the facilities in all three and it is easy to get around on the frequent transport provided.
The only let down was the fact we paid for an evening of mexican entertainment which we weren't to keen on but others enjoyed it. (bit of advice buy the tickets at reception not on the night they bump the price up.
The beaches are quite noisy but there is one right at the end of Akumal which is usually peaceful enough.

overall a great time and a good holiday.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with family
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7  Thank Bookerwood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 February 2012

We were lucky enough to “win” our stay at the Coba with the Sunquest Roulette package. We stayed February 16-23, and only wished it could have been longer. We opted for the private transfer as we knew the bus ride could be long depending on the number of stops along the way. We would definitely do this again, $135 round trip for 3 of us through USA Transfers. We arrived by noon and our room was not ready, which was fine with us. We had a couple of cocktails in the Coba lobby and then had some lunch at the Kukulcan Buffet next to the lobby.
I had emailed the guest services manager, Luis Perez, a few weeks prior to our arrival to arrange for a room on the top floor of a villa near the pool and also to book our a la carte meals so as not to be disappointed if times or preferences were not available once we arrived. I also mentioned to Luis that it would be my husband’s birthday while we were there and asked if he had any suggestions to make it a special day for him. Luis went above and beyond my expectations and brought a bottle of champagne and a bottle of tequila to our room and ensured there was a birthday cake at the restaurant we had booked for that day.
Our room – We did get a room on the top floor in a quiet area not too far from the main lobby. This was an excellent location for us. Nice and quiet – we did not hear much noise other than the odd trolley going by with some vacationing revelers after an evening out, nothing ridiculous. The room was quite spacious and clean – thank you to Angel for his daily cleaning and the lovely towel art – we had 2 double beds, a couch (where our daughter chose to sleep) and a table with 2 chairs. If you want to watch tv, stay home as there is one channel playing english language movies all day and night, all the others are spanish. This was not an issue for us. The washroom was really nice with a great shower and incredibly enjoyable tub with jets that soothe your body after an exhausting day enjoying life in Mexico!
Food – Kukulcan Buffet has excellent service, from our experience. We ate dinner here 3 of our 7 nights. There is an excellent variety of delectable food. Between the 3 of us, we must have tried almost everything. My mouth is watering just thinking of the mussels! For breakfast, most mornings we ate at the main buffet at Akumal as it is close to the beach. Service here was hit and miss for us. The staff did not seem as interested in being there as they did at the other buffets. The food, however, was great. We did not always have lunch, depending on what time we had breakfast. We did try the snack bar near the activity pool at Coba, which was adequate and the one near the “quiet” pool which was good as well. Nothing fancy, just burgers, dogs, pizza, salads, chips and guac, etc. We were given 4 a la cartes, which was a bonus. We ate at Mikado and had a show table. This is by far our favourite and others we spoke to while there agreed. The food was delicious and the show was fun to watch! Next we tried Le Gourmet which was good, Mikado I must say put some pressure on the other restaurants for us. For my husband’s birthday we chose Tequila and it was enjoyable. There is a mariachi band that floats around entertaining. Luis made sure they brought out a lovely cake and sang happy birthday, which was lovely. Portofino is the other one we ate at. We really liked this one also. The service at all of the restaurants was great. I would like to add that of the 3 of us, none got sick once during our stay.
Pools – We only spent 2 days at the pool, one at the Coba quiet pool and one at the Akumal quiet pool. For Coba, get up before the sun does if you want a lounge chair! I preferred the pool at Akumal as it is almost on the beach and has a neat layout. As long as you are there by 9 or 9:30 you will get a chair.
Bars – The bars are abundant at Gran Bahia between the 3 resorts you don’t have to walk far to get another drink! We brought our own double-walled cups with straws and found this to be well worth bringing and would do so again. The drinks were great – mostly drank margaritas and our daughter tried most of the non-alcohol cocktails, her favourite being the Sabroso.
Beach – Awesome. I like the idea of the sand whales to allow for easier enjoyment of the ocean. We primarily stayed near the Coba beach area or further over near the swing bar. Our daughter enjoyed the snorkeling around the piers.
The grounds are immaculate and they are always tending to something around the resorts. We cannot comment on any shows or nightlife as we are “early to bed and early to rise” type folks. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this vacation and would not hesitate to recommend this resort to our family and friends.

Room Tip: Email in advance with your preferences. We were in #21, which is a great location.
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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7  Thank AreJayEm43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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