We stayed at the Palladium White Sand from December 4th –9th…. got an amazing deal through 1800hotels…we had not been planning to go away at this time of the year however the price was soooo ridiculously cheap we couldn’t afford NOT to go!!!! I had never booked anything through 1800hotels before and because the price was so low ($63 US per day all inclusive for TWO of us…yes TWO of us…that’s $31.50 a day per person folks) after I booked it I was starting to think maybe it wasn’t legit…however everything worked out fine and the service from 1800hotels was excellent. I am going to keep my eyes peeled on 1800hotels website from now on for any future off season fluky deals like this….wow!!! As we booked our flight separately we arranged our transfer from the airport with Jeromi Transfers…this is the 3rd time I have used them and I find them very professional and their prices are right in line with everyone else’s. The usual price would be $130 for a return transfer from the airport to the Palladium. They are very reliable and trustworthy so be assured that if you have paid for a return transfer they WILL be at you destination hotel to take you back to the airport.
As far as all inclusive resorts in the Mayan Riviera go I have stayed at the Bahia Coba once and the Iberostar Paraiso 12 times (consists of 5 different sections…the Del Mar/Beach/Lindo/Maya and the Grand….however for the purpose of the comparison of the Bahia, Iberostar and Palladium I am not factoring in the Paraiso Grand section of the Iberostar as it is in a high end luxury category unto it’s own).
I naturally compare every other resort to the Iberostar as it was my first love in the Mayan Riviera and it is hard to find other resorts that can match the overall beauty and over the top architecture of the Iberostar. The White Sand measured up in many ways. The Bahia Coba had excellent service and good food but overall it is not in the same league as the Iberostar. However you can usually get the best deal at the Coba so if you are on a budget the Coba is still worth it…but compared to the Iberostar or Palladium it just doesn’t measure up when all is said and done….for the things that matter to me anyway. Firstly for those of you who prefer a long story made short I am going to do a comparison chart of the 3 resorts…using a scale of 1-10…10 being a better score.
Architecture / Visual Interest: Iberostar 11 Palladium 8 Bahia 6
All of the buildings that house the bedrooms look the same on the outside at the Palladium and at the Bahia…and the lobbies look similar as well…we thought the White Sand and Riviera lobbies were a little nicer than the Kantenah/Colonial Side.
Gardens: Iberostar 10 Palladium 8 Bahia 5
There are a lot of bougainvilla and mandevilla growing around all around the salt water moat at the White Sand and some pretty gardens in some spots. A lot of the mangroves have been left to preserve the area…the cobblestone roads that lead to other sections of the Palladium are just surrounded by the natural jungle…so not really a lot of flowers as you walk along the road ways to another section.
Main Open Air Buffets: Iberostar 10 Palladium 5 Bahia 0
I think the only open-air buffets at the Palladium were more the snack bar type…i.e. not as extensive of a menu as the main indoor buffet…the open air one at the White Sand was not open when we were there…I am sure due to lower occupancy rate. The open air buffets on the Del Mar/Beach side of the Iberostar Paraiso property are REALLY pretty…surrounded by ponds, water birds visiting and gardens. I would much prefer to eat open air for breakfast and lunch as get enough of the indoors in Canada in the Winter.
Main Buffet Food Quality: Iberostar 9 Palladium 9 Bahia 9
Main Buffet Food Variety: Iberostar 9 Palladium 7 Bahia 8
At the Palladium things that I enjoyed about the buffet was that there were individual single serving containers of yogurt available which I liked for breakfast…at the Iberostar the yogurt is served in a big bowl. There was none of the famous Mexican ice cream available at the buffet at the Palladium. The Iberostar has “ice cream” bars that you can go to and there is always ice cream at the buffet….amazing ice cream…very high fat of course…nice for a treat. They had soft serve ice cream at the Palladium in the buffet but I found it to have kind of an icy grandular texture…it wasn’t rich and creamy like soft ice cream should be…minor detail but I missed my ice cream. I read somewhere that there was ice cream available at the pool bars but I guess we never had time to find it.
A la carte entrees: Iberostar 7 Palladium 9 Bahia 10
We ate at the Chinese a la carte, Portofino and Mare Nostrum…after we had eaten inside at Mare Nostrum I saw the very romantic outdoor tables for this restaurant…bummer…it would have been really nice to sit outside (photo included). The a la cartes at the Bahia were not properly air-conditioned…they were enclosed but really warm inside. The décor in the a la cartes at the Lindo are amazing and the décor was quite nice at the Palladium as well.
A la carte appetizer bars: Iberostar 10 Palladium 4 Bahia 4
Don’t count on anything too exciting at the appetizer bars at the Palladium or in great quantities…in fact I didn’t even eat anything off the appetizers bars as there really didn’t look like there was anything worthwhile on it…just had my entree
Beach (no coral, wide and sandy) Iberostar 9 Palladium 5 Bahia 4
Beach (for onsite snorkeling): Iberostar 0 Palladium 5 Bahia 5
Coral is dead at Palladium but saw large manta ray, smaller ray, lobster, lion fish (first time I’d seen one of those) and the usual reef fish. Sand is stirred up in water at Palladium so clarity not great but in a somewhat protected cove so a little calmer than the Bahia. It is very hard to get in the water at the Palladium because of the coral. Where the beach is more sandy and easier to get into the water there are a million people on the beach …same at the Bahia . However there was good coral at the Bahia BUT they blow a whistle at you if you try and snorkel yourself….they are trying to protect the reef there and will only let you go on a guided tour which you have to pay for…
Location (for touring area sights): Iberostar 4 Palladium 10 Bahia 8
If you go to the main entrance of the Palladium there is a collectivo stop on both sides of the road. Collectivos are a safe and inexpensive way to travel north and south from the resort. Collectivos are air-conditioned white mini-vans that run up and down the highway every 5 – 10 minutes…if the driver has room for you he will stop. You pay him when you get off…usually $2-$3 depending on how far you are going. For example you can get to Tulum for about $3 or you can pay mega bucks for an organized tour if you haven’t bothered to read this!!! Palladium is very central to local sights.
Pools: Iberostar 10 Palladium 7 Bahia 6
The pool in the White Sand section has a salt water moat surrounding…while something different I found this inconvenient as to get to the pool you had to walk up a lot of steps then over a bridge then down a lot of steps…I love exercise and I absolutely love BIG properties for all the chances to walk…but for people with kids/strollers, people depending on a wheel chair this would be a nightmear….you could see your companion at the pool BUT couldn’t take a bee-line to get to them with all these bridges…there is a way to get to the main pool if you couldn’t climb stairs but could really take you out of your way…there was a pontoon boat that constantly sent around the moat which was fun for one time but other than that I didn’t see much point to it. They had spotlights in the moat at night which was nice as the fish would gather around the lights.
Service: Iberostar 9 Palladium 10 Bahia 10
Friendliness of Staff: Iberostar 9 Palladium 10 Bahia 10
The Palladium and Bahia tend to have more staff that are of Mayan decent …the indigenous people of this area…even though I love the staff at the Iberostar as well…I find the Mayan people are even more genuinely sweet…very warm smiles…
Professional Evening Shows: Iberostar 10 Palladium 10 Bahia 1
As fate would have it …my long time friend that performed as a dancer in the evening shows at the Iberostar for almost 5 years, Marcelo… who is amazingly talented (he is like a nephew to me) left the Iberostar in September /09 …he told me at the end of October that he had gotten another job but I didn’t know where. I had not planned to go to Mexico in December as we had planned to go in January however when I find out about this amazing price we jumped on it. I e-mailed Marcelo to let him know we were coming in December instead of January (he has a home in Playa Del Carmen so I could still visit with him if I was in the area) and I got an e-mail back instantly…guess what Aunty….I am working at the Palladium…I love it when things work out like that…the reason that I am telling you all of that is that the shows at the Iberostar were amazing…you have to hit the right ones …they have a big budget for the evening entertainment. I thought nothing could match the shows at the Iberostar but of course Marcelo wouldn’t just dance anywhere it would have to be a good evening entertainment program….well the two shows we went to were amazing…..IF you see nothing else…please do not miss the Pre-Hispanic Show….it is amazing…they do something really different towards the beginning so get there before it starts….they actually do 2 shows a night…the first one is at 9pm at the Colonial Theatre and the second is at 10 pm at the Riviera Theatre. GO….the shows are really worth it…costumes are great and dancing is great too!!!
Organized Daytime Activities: Iberostar 10 Palladium 3 Bahia 3
Rooms: Iberostar Paraiso Lindo 9 Palladium White Sand 9 Bahia Coba 9
We had an open bathroom concept …a GIANT jacuzzi tub in the room…the open bathroom concept made the room look really big…would be very romantic under the right conditions!!! There is a shower stall with a frosted glass door and then there is another stall with a toilet in it with a frosted glass door as well. I really didn’t like the toilet being in it’s own little room like this…you could die in there man!!!…shower was nice…had nice tiles…had one jacuzzi bath in the room when I was there…BECAUSE I COULD….didn’t make the water as hot as I would have like to though as I didn’t want to heat up the bedroom. I did look at a room with the bathroom in a separate room…in this the toilet was in it’s own little corner too. All in all I thought the bathroom at the Bahia Coba (had a jacuzzi tub in it) was probably the nicest of the Iberostar Lindo and Palladium White Sand ….one minor thing I didn’t like about the room safe at the Coba was that it uses a key rather than being able to program a code in like other resorts and they charge you $5 per day for the safe. The mini bar in the Coba room was really cold…this is the first mini-bar that I have ever found that actually worked. They really don’t work well at the Iberostar or Palladium. One thing that I find different at the Palladium is that we had a DIFFERENT room cleaner for each of the 5 days we stayed there…no biggie but I had to tell each different person about a special extra sheet request that I wanted every day. Case in point….tip your room cleaner everyday…don’t save it up for the end…as you never know who will be cleaning your room.
Transportation System Around Resort : Iberostar 2 Palladium 10 Bahia 8
The White Sand Section is very central. I would recommend it for this reason.There is a train that runs constantly and quickly from the Riviera/White Sand Lobbies to the Kantenah/Colonial Lobbies (you can easily walk from the Riviera lobby to the White Sand Lobby and similarly to the Kantenah Lobby from the Colonial Lobby in 2 minutes….case in point get a room near the Lobby! You never seem to wait more than 5 minutes for the train. When I first got there (the princess doth arriveth) I had my heart set on either Building #58 or #59 as I had pre-requested this from looking at the property map I thought these would be best….well after pouting while we were waiting for our room to be ready, I finally had to take off my diamond tiara and accept that they we were “stuck” with a room in Building #54. Well it turned out to be the BEST building of the whole White Sand section. It was a 3 minute walk to the Lobby….and only about an 8 minute walk to the main buffet/Riviera theatre and I could have thrown a baseball over the moat to several of the a la cartes…case in point it is better to be near the Lobby because at night you are going to want to take those trains back and forth from the lobbies to the different sections for dining at night and for the entertainment and if you are way down the beach it would be much more inconvenient at night to get around.
Special thing #1 at the Palladium….the salt water pool….it is a neat walk along a natural rock path along the ocean’s edge to get there…there are big rocks in front of where the water comes in from the ocean so no big fish can get in there to bite your toes off…this is a perfect solution for someone who is afraid to swim in the ocean as you can still enjoy the theraputic benefits of swimming in the salt water and NOT have to put up with the chlorine in the regular pools or a great solution for a couple where one likes a pool and one prefers the beach!!!. It is just the sound of the waves down at the salt water pool….very relaxing…not crowded there…there is a bar there as well if you want to get a drink…probably used more by the folks staying in the White Sand/Riviera sections as it would be quite a hike from the Kantenah.
Special thing #2 at the Palladium…..I know a lot of people who get married in tropical settings like to get married on the beach…however…you must check out the church right beside the Colonial Lobby…it is so gorgeous…I happened upon it one day about 3:30 in the afternoon and the sun at this time of the year was just beautiful at that time the way it was shining on the front of the Church..there is a pretty walk up to it and there are no side walls to the Church…the side and back are surrounded by huge yucca plants…if I was a person planning to get married here I would choose this Church over the beach ….the beach weddings are starting to get a bit overdone…not so different anymore…and I would hate the part of having people standing their in their bathing suits gawking at my wedding as they do on the beach. Your choice!!!
Special thing #3 at the Palladium…..you don’t have to make reservations for the a la cartes….hallelujah!!!!…finally one doesn’t have to take time out of their holiday to sit with some concierge and wait precious tropical time making reservations…you simply go to the a la carte you want….now when we were there it was off season so we just walked in and never had to wait…it was great!!! But I understand when it is busier they will give you a beeper while you are waiting…so while you are waiting you can just go relax in the Lobby with a pre-dinner cocktail….Thanks Palladium for eliminating the need for a la carte reservations.
Please do feel free to ask me any questions about any of the resorts I compared here or about the Mayan Riviera area…I know it quite well!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa is located on a spectacular, private Caribbean beach-front complex that boasts of 800 meters of white, fine sand and turquoise blue waters. Guests of the Grand Palladium White Sand are invited to use the facilities provided by the adjoining Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa, the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa, and the Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa (excluding the Royal Suite facilities). ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Palladium White Sand Hotel Akumal
- Grand Palladium White Sand Resort And Spa
- Palladium White Sands
- Grand Palladium White Sands Resort
- Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa Akumal, Riviera Maya, Mexico