We have enjoyed our 12 Mexican Vacations, so this time I thought I would try something different - compare 2 resorts that we have visited back to back - the Iberostar Quetzal/Pariaso Beach and the Bahia Principe Coba. Both are about the same price point. The Quetzal and Pariaso Beach are very similar, that's why we have included them as one. We are a family of 4 who always visit with a crowd of people - last year, Iberostar with 12 people, and this year Coba with 20.
Arrival - Tie
Booked both with Funjet Vacations. Both have excellent check in/out service that is fast, friendly and efficient. Both are spectacular resorts with lots of marble. Both resorts were at maximum capacity (over 95%) when we vacationed their.
Rooms - Tie
Both resorts are decorated in a Mexican theme, but the Coba rooms are much larger - suitable for a family of 4. If you choose to stay in the Akumal/Tullum sections of the Bahia, the same cannot be said. These rooms are tiny, like a room at the local hotel. Most of our party had some type of complaint about our rooms at the Coba, but nothing ever seemed to be done about it. Our toilet was continually clogged. After 10 days of visits from the staff, you would think they would fix it - no. Others had no face clothes in their room for several days, some missing towels. Our friends had a fridge that didn't work, and every time the repair guy came to fix it, he would give it a shake, and say he would come back again. The next day, a shake, and so on... Rooms at both resorts were very clean and well kept. The beer fridge at the Iberostar was stocked with much more than at the Coba.
Restaurants - Iberostar
Buffets are better at the Ibeorstar. There is far more selection with varied theme nights. They claim to have theme nights at the Coba, but it's a small section of the buffet that varies night to night. 90 percent of the items are the same at the Coba buffets day after day. The big disappointment was the snack shacks located throughout the complex. These had the exact same items every day. (Hamburgers/Hotdogs/Chicken/Nachos. The Ibeorstar has a far wider selection that changes all the time. There will be items that you see only once or twice during your vacation. While we were at the Coba, they continually ran out of items at all sittings - not to say you are going to go hungry - but a bit disappointing. The specialty restaurants at the Coba are superior. Although the service seemed to be a bit slower, the quality of food was better at the Coba in the 5 restaurants we attended.
Pools - Iberostar
Both locations feature large pools with tons of activities throughout the day. The Iberostar featured better activities during the day, and lots of them aimed at children or young adults. The Iberostar has 3 swim up bars throughout the complex, while the Coba has one. The pools are clean, although a bit cold on a cloudy day. The Iberostar was warmer and deeper. Hard to find a lounger, especially by the pools of both locations after 9:30
Beach - Tie
Both have beautiful turquoise waters with a little bit of rocky areas. The Iberostar seems to have more beach chairs available throughout the day. The Coba has a bar right on the beach, while the Iberostar offers beach service.
Location - Iberostar
If you want to stay close to the beach - the Coba is not for you. The Coba is quite removed from the beach, and although they have trams running continually, it's not the same as a few minute stroll. The trams are advertised as continually, but the truth is there will be 4 in a row minutes apart, then nothing for 10 minutes. The Coba is a massive resort that takes several days to get used to. Traveling with my parents was a real eye opener as they continually got lost even days after our arrival.
Grounds - Tie
Both are beautiful and well maintained. Workers continually cleaning and polishing.
Activities Crew - Iberostar
While both resorts offer excellent activities, the Iberostar are clear winners. They involve the children far more - are classier, and more personable. The Coba entertainment staff tends to cater to the 20 something bikini clad models or wanna be wrappers. There was more than one instance when the activities crew at the Coba were playing volleyball while the guests sat out. NOT A GOOD THING! Both were very good overall, but the Iberostar is better.
Entertainment - Tie
The shows at the Coba are better, more professional and slick. The only problem is that when the show is finished you have to physically go somewhere else to continue the party. At the Iberostar, the party continues in the same theatre as the show. This keeps the party going. A big plus goes to the golf course located within the Bahia Principe. Very nice course but extremely difficult. I am an ex. single didget handicapper, and I found it to be one of the most difficult courses I've ever played. Some crazy things too - like the pin position on all greens at the front one day, then in the middle the next - HUH?
Smoking Policy - Coba
Far more enforced at the Coba. Lots of Europeans at both resorts that ignore no smoking signs.
Staff - Tie
Both resorts offer good service and in certain instances, excellent service. If you are excepting 5 star service at either resort, you will be disappointed, but Mexico has its own certain charm. If you want consistency, again, Mexico is probably not your destination. One day you will be treated with 5 star service, followed by a restaurant manager who threatens to cancel your dinner reservation if you are more than 5 minutes late. Certain staff members always stick out. These people who "get it", we gravitate towards and reward them with our tips. We have always enjoyed finding those who "get it" and enjoy the adventure.
Overall - Iberostar
These are probably 3.5 - 4 star hotels as you would rate them in the U.S. or Canada. You can't really go wrong with either resort. If a big room is very important, and you are a twenty something, then maybe the Coba is for you. Out of our group of 12, all but one wanted to return next year to the Iberostar. Although the Quetzal and Parisio beach is a big resort, it is nothing in comparison in size to the Coba. Especially if you have children, the Iberostar is a much better fit. One big bonus of the Quetzal is being close to Playa Del Carmen. One final hint - pack a lunch for the airport. I have visited 40 airports throughout North America, and the Cancun airport is the BIGGEST rip-off anywhere. Expect to pay at least $50.00 for a small lunch for 4 people.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services: 2 lake-style pools, 3 Jacuzzis, large sun terrace and gardens with sun umbrellas and loungers, pool and beach towel service, BAHIA SPA (additional charge). Sports facilities: gym, 5 tennis courts, basketball court, bicycles, motorized sports (additional charge), water activity centre, entertainment amphitheater. WiFi access in the lobby (1h per day free of charge), buffet restaurant, 4 a la carte restaurants, 8 bars, 2 snack bars. Riviera Maya Golf Club: 18 long holes and 9 executive holes with lakes, natural wells and Mayan forest. Hacienda Dona Isabel: karaoke bars, shows, live music and disco Rooms 1080 rooms including 4 types: Superior Junior Suite, Club Golden Junior Suite, Family Junior Suite and Master Family Suite. Room facilities: Two full size beds or a king size bed, sitting area with sofa, fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bathtub, shower, wash basin, magnifying mirror and hair dryer, bathroom amenities. Balcony or terrace, air conditioning, ceiling fan, telephone, radio alarm clock, flat screen satellite TV, mini-bar, coffee-making facilities, safe (additional charge), ironing set, terrace, Wifi. Family Junior Suites and Master Family Suites, the perfect choice for families, including: All the facilities and services of a Junior Suite; bathrobes and slippers for all the family for use during your stay, children's bath kit, welcome basket with sweets, mini-bar with juices, shakes, milk and soft drinks for children, two fully independent connecting rooms (Master Family Suites), Club Golden Junior Suites Children Bahia Scouts Children can enjoy a range of specially-tailored facilities: Children's pool Mini Club with daytime activities Evening Mini Disco Bahia Scouts Water Park Teen's Club (11 - 16 years) Baby Station Other services On-site miniature railway providing access to all facilities Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Personalised diet option for celiacs and diabetics Cash point Specialised service for organising weddings, events and anniversaries Casino ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Coba Akumal
- Hotel Gran Bahia Principe
- Bahia Principe Coba Mexico
- Gran Bahia Coba
- Gran Bahia Principe Resort Coba
- Gran Bahia Principe Coba Hotel
- Gran Principe
- Gran Bahia Principe Mexico
- Bahia Coba
- Grand Bahia Principe Coba Akumal, Riviera Maya, Mexico