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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera  ~  Reviews Posted – 17

December 2003

Just back from the Bahia (on the 27th) and thought I’d write a report to express my thoughts. I’ll preface this report by saying that this was about our 12th trip to the Mayan Riviera area and we have stayed at several other all-inclusives. Overall comments: It is a BIG resort! In short, the food, grounds and service were all excellent, however the beach was a definite disappointment and a major down-side for us. It has much more of a "Big Resort" feel than many of the others we have been to, and as a result it was a bit impersonal. After a few days, my husband started calling it the "Behemoth" instead of the "Bahia". There were many many positives, and it is a lovely resort, but we would not return. Read on for details. Many of my comments echo others, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to e-mail me.

TRANSPORTATION:
We left on Dec 17th and flew with Champion Air. The departure flight was uneventful (although cramped, as is typical for these charter flights.) We landed in Cancun with absolutely no waiting time through customs and immigration (note: we evidently had good timing, since we heard from some folks that arrived a few days later and had a 2-3 HOUR wait time.) Got the green light and went right to our shuttle bus. We had only one stop before us (the Barcelo) and then we arrived. No complaints at all!

CHECK-IN/ROOM
We arrived at around 2:00 PM and were checked in and shown right to our room. I had previously requested a third-floor ocean front room, both through our travel agent and via e-mail. I had requested villa 47 but was told via e-mail that that villa was not available but they would do their best to get me a similar room in another villa. The front desk people were very nice. They put us in villa 67, third-floor (6722), and it was truly a great spot in retrospect. The view was very very nice and since we we were so close to the rockier part of the ocean, there was more of a surf, and as a result we got to hear the ocean crashing at night, which was a major plus for us.

There was a bit of a walk to the nicer beach and restaurants, but that was not necessarily a bad thing, considering all the food we consumed in the 10 days we were there! As someone commented upon return to the airport, "It will be difficult to live on less than 7000 calories a day from now on!" More about the food later.

The junior suite room itself was nice – I’d say pretty comparable to the Copacabana or the Riu Playacar or many of the other "newer" all-inclusives in the area. Standard marble bathroom, & tropical decor, though a plus was that it included a jacuzzi tub (though the water didn’t get all that hot.) They included a little bed in the extra "suite" area for our 6 year-old, and a king bed for us, which afforded us some privacy.

Maid service (thanks to "Pablo") was very good – we tipped him a few dollars everyday and were rewarded by towel sculptures of every sort and shape for our little girl (he even incorporated flowers and my daughter’s stuffed animals into his "art". Every time I asked him for something, such as extra water, shampoo, etc. (I wrote notes in my best Spanish), he ensured that this was taken care of. We also left him a few gifts. Hats off to "Pablo"!

BEACH
OK. This was the most disappointing area. Since we are major beach people, we would not return to this resort. If you tuly are beach people, do not take this lightly. I had read the reviews from several people, so I knew I should have been sufficiently prepared, but it still was disappointing. I actually like lots of coral in the water, but prefer the reef to be a but further out. It is very close to shore, and as a result you cannot really swim in deep water. Because the only "swimmable" beach was a small area on the north side of the resort and then in between the two resorts, most of the people congregated here, which made the area feel very congested (probably excacerbated by the fact that it was peak season.)

We found ourselves walking to the Oasis Akumal beach (we have stayed there quite a few times) and hanging there for awhile, but that is about a 1.5 mile walk from the Akumal side of the Bahia (to the north). It just seemed so tranquil, low-key there and beautiful as compared with the Bahia. We started craving a smaller, more casual beach-oriented resort. To us, this is more important than the highly manicured grounds, 24 hour snack bar, etc. We also went to Akumal bay in the town of Akumal a few times (about a 5 minute cab drive north and $5 dollars) to enjoy the peace and beautiful beautiful beach there. We enjoyed that tremendously and vowed that we would stay there this summer when we return.

SNORKELING/DIVING
We are divers, and didn’t dive because our 6 year-old was with us, however we snorkeled as a family quite a lot. The snorkeling off the Bahia was OK, although the surf conditions did not make it real ideal due to how shallow it was next to the reef. I wore a shorty wet suit, and due to the current, was pushed into coral more than a few times, even though we are expereinced divers. I only was cut a little on my thigh, but saw quite a few people getting caught up. You are supposed to go out with a guide in certain parts of the reef in front of the hotel, but we used our own stuff and never where chastised.

The best snorkeling we did was both in Akumal bay and in Yalku (on the north side of Akumal, just north of Half-Moon bay).

FOOD
Hands down, the best we have experienced at an all-inclusive. The buffet was very very good. We like to eat more healthy oriented foods and there were many fruit and vegetables, along with seafood (they always had fish, and squid, and many times had large jumbo shrimp as well.) The Mexican food was not really spicy enough for us, but we quickly found the hotter sauces and jalapenos and aded them to most items to spice them up.

Breakfast was absolutely the best (as with most all-inclusives), since you truly could get whatever you wanted. Lunch was very good as well, but it really would have been great to have a beach barbecue in a more casual setting than going back up to the main buffet. Dinner was good as well. There was always a variet of chicken, pork and seafood (they served either fresh frilled grouper or mahi mahi every day). We ate at three a la carte restaurants, and found the food to be very good, and the service fine (though a bit impersonal). The best was certainly the Arlequin (gourmet), followed by the Dolce Vita (Italian), and then the Mexican (Tequilas). I’m not much of a dessert fan, but the desserts were just OK at the buffet, although they were very good at the a la carte restaurants.

Having said all the above, there was one down side. For the first time in a dozen trips to this part of Mexico, both my husband and I got sick (toward the latter part of our trip). I always thought it was in people’s heads or due to too much drinking, but it finally happened to us! I was extremely, violently ill for about 24 hours, to the point where we actually went to the hotel doctor. It was a good thing, because he gave me medication that stopped the vomiting almost immediately. This medication helped my hubby too because the following day it happened to him. We only ate off-site of the resort a couple of time (at the Lol Ha in Akumal), but our theory is that the Bahia is such a huge place, and the buffet food has too be handled by a lot of people. We could not pinpoint what made us ill, but I guess the odds were against us having gone so many times and not getting sick.

POOLS
Very pretty but mucho mucho frio! (that means cold, folks!) We are not really pool people, so it wasn’t too disappointing, since we prefer the beach anyway. On the Akumal side, they have three pool areas – an "activities" pool, a "quiet" pool and another one talked away a liitle further back in the resort. The activity pool was very very active – the usual "boom-boom euro music" and "crazy beach games" designed to get the gringos as inebriated as possible. Funny to observe for a few minutes, but there was no way I could stay there there all day. The "quiet" pool played "canned Christmas music" which we could have lived without, but we didn’t hang much there so it was no problem. We would have preferred a little Santana or other latin music, but nope, just the same muzac played over and over again.

WEATHER
Colder than usual for the first four days or so (definitely bring jackets this time of year), then it warmed up considerably. We really had no rain to speak of, but it did get quite cool at night, and as I said, especially the first 4 days or so, it was actually quite cold on the beach.

KIDS CLUB

The facility for kids was nice. The women at the kids club were very friendly and did a good job, but I was reluctant to leave my daughter there all day since they did a lot of inside activities. They did go to the beach and pool, but for limited amounts of time, and my daughter really was quite content meeting new friends at the beach and playing on the beach and snorkeling (which, after all was why we were there!) As a result, my daughter kind of cruised in and out of the kids club, which was perfectly fine.

OTHER
The service overall was very very good (I’ve felt that way at pretty much all the resorts we have stayed at.) These people work so very hard and deserve our respect. Frankly, some of the guests should have been slapped for their rude behavior toward both fellow guests and the service staff, but this was the exception rather than the rule.

The area that could use the most help is the outside lobby area where you arrange for taxis, luggage pick-up, shuttles, etc. We are not picky at all, and I speak passable Spanish, but still it was amazing how often we observed people missing their shutttles etc.

GETTING TO THE END OK, after that long-winded posting, in summary we liked the resort but due to the beach we would not return. It is really more a matter of personal taste. We are a very casual family and actually prefer a more rustic, smaller, casual setting on a beautiful beach that reminds us we are actually in Mexico. This resort seemed a bit removed from all that. If you are not hugely hung up on the beach, then I would have no trouble recommending this resort. Any questions, feel free to e-mail.

Oceanenvy@aol.com

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Bahia Principe Akumal Dave —Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

December 2003

Just returned from our trip to the Bahia Principe Akumal in the Mayan Riviera. I went with my brother (Tom) and our friends Jackie and Frank from Whitby. We went from November 22nd to November 29th. We flew on AirTransat. Flight was good, nothing spectacular. Arrived on time at the airport and arrived at the resort around 11 p.m., Mexico time. (They were 1 hour ahead). Very long drive to the resort. About 1-½ hours to the hotel with one stop at another hotel to drop people off and a stop for some Corona. (Not free). Thought we would never get there. However, once we arrived, even at night, we knew we had arrived in paradise.

The 4 of us are frequent travelers, having been to the Dominican Republic many times. This was my brothers and mine first time to Mexico. Our friends, their second. We researched on Debbie’s Dominican Travel for the best resort for the value. I believe we were successful.

As mentioned in previous listings, the front lobby is magnificent. It is a nice welcomed thing to see after a long drive from the airport. They had drinks waiting for us when we got there which was a nice touch. Check-in was a breeze. We had no problem with the front desk. Stefan at the desk was extremely helpful. Many times he went out of his way for us and he became our liaison during our stay. My brother and I got rooms in Villa 67 and our friends Villa 48. Both rooms were on the 3rd floor and with an ocean-view. We e-mailed ahead and requested the infamous Villa 47 and even though we were unable to get it we still got excellent rooms. The two Villas we were in were literally on opposite ends of the resort. We were going to change into one Villa but Tom and I didn’t mind the walking. It helped to walk off all of the food and alcohol we consumed. The rooms were extremely clean and our maid made sculptures out of our towels every day. We tipped a dollar a day. We shared a safe, to cut back on costs and it kept our minds at ease. Just a note, the room we were in had a hair dryer, so you don’t need to bring one like we did. Leaves more room in the suitcase for souvenirs.

After we settled in, we hit the 24-hour snack bar and had some pizza and drinks. Late at night, things really slow down as they have very few staff working. That was fine with us as we were on vacation and we were in no rush to do anything. The snack bar is exactly what it is, Snacks only. Burgers, Pizza, Hot Dogs, Ribs etc. That was fine for us, being midnight and all.

Restaurants – The morning buffet was my favourite meal of the day. We had champagne and orange juice everyday. Nice touch. Everyone just loved the choices. I loaded up every day with a couple of helpings of eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes and french toast. I can feel my cholesterol increasing as I write. The omelets were excellent and amazing how the cook does them. Very fast and efficient.

For lunch, depending on where we were lounging, we either hit the snack bar (if we were at the activity pool) and the buffet (at the other pool). It was just more convenient that way. Less walking. Both were excellent. You could also go to the Italian Restaurant and the Seafood restaurant for both breakfast and lunch. We went to the Italian for lunch one day. Less selection than the main buffet but still good. Excellent pizza and delicious pork.

For dinner you had many choices. You are able to go to 3 a la carte restaurants per week per room. We went first to the Arlequin restaurant, which is attached to the main buffet, but in a separate closed room. That is probably the best restaurant in the entire complex. My brother and I had the Prime Rib, and our friends had Duck and Chicken. Everyone agreed it was amazing. Done to perfection. The wait staff was incredible as they catered to your every whim. For dessert, we saw some people having a flaming dessert, so we asked what it was and it was Strawberry Flambé. We asked for it too and it was amazing. They prepare it right in front of you. However, we went to the Arlequin on our second day there and it wasn’t overly busy. We went also on our last day, and they couldn’t do it, as it was too busy. Also, try the Flaming Coffees. Again, they prepare it right in front of you. The waiters in the Arelquin do a better job at it then the ones in the buffet. The second time we went I had a Rib Eye Steak and the others had Duck and Chicken. Again, the food and atmosphere was exceptional.

We also went to an a la carte on the Tulum side. We went to the La Gran Tortuga (Grill restaurant). Wasn’t as good as the Arlequin but still good. Had steak again and was tolerable but unfortunately, I was spoiled with the Arlequin. We went to the buffet in both Tulum and Akumal. Yes, the Tulum is bigger but they also have more people. Both were excellent. They are expanding the Akumal restaurant and they are adding more Villas. The buffets will probably eventually be the same size. Large selection in both and more at the Tulum buffet. We were down for the U.S. Thanksgiving and they actually had Turkey and all the trimmings. We and everyone else took total advantage. Each day the buffets have theme nights. Italian food one night, French the next night and so on. Nice touch to give you a chance to try different things from different countries.

Activities – There are lots of activities to do. The Animation team is not as good as Dominican resorts but still OK. Tequila Volleyball in the pool was hilarious. The Animation team was pretty laid back. The Dominican’s are a lot more energetic then the Mexican’s I find. They were still nice to talk to, at least the ones we met. Went snorkeling at the resort a few times. Incredible sights. Bring your own equipment. There were times when the resort wouldn’t allow guests to borrow the equipment because of strong currents. The guests were disappointed but shocked to see us snorkeling. When they asked us we said we brought our own. They said that was a good idea. We took a few underwater cameras with us and got some really good pictures. Didn’t try the basketball and tennis. They are over near the Hacienda and they are lighted courts. You have got to try the hammocks and the bar swings at the beach bar. They are fun to just try.

Nightlife – There is a place a shuttle bus away on the resort called the Hacienda Dona Isabel. Lots of shops, bars and the disco are over there. Except for the shops, everything is all-inclusive. While we were down there, there were over 200 university students staying at Tulum. It made the nights at the Hacienda quite interesting.

Excursions – Went to Playa de Carmen and the Tulum ruins. Took a collectivo to both. The best way to go. Enjoyed the ruins the best. I enjoyed seeing the Mayan culture. Took a lot of pictures. Didn’t take a tour guide. You could have if you wanted to. Or you could just hang around one of the tour groups. We just walked around on our own. You have to walk up from the road to the front entrance. It’s not a long walk. Playa de Carmen is a shopping area. Lots of places to shop and most shops sell the same stuff. There is a beach and it is also where the Ferries come in for people to go to Cozumel.

Other – The resort is immaculately groomed. The security is great. We had brought a very large Canadian Flag with us to attach to our balcony to show off our Canadian pride. One night the wind was very strong and our flag blew off. We woke up at around 8 am and noticed it was gone. We went to the front desk and spoke to Stefan. He immediately called security. They mentioned that it was there at 5 am. When we got back from Breakfast, Stefan had a gift for us. Our flag. Security saw it fall and chased after it, caught it and hadn’t brought it back to the front desk yet. We were so happy. And to think it had crossed our minds that it may have been stolen. The nerve of us. The weather was great. It rained only one day but we still made the most of it. The pools were ours for the taking. It is still hot and you are getting wet anyway. The bartenders are great. Ask for a ‘boom-boom’ shooter. Watch their eyes light up. We met a lot of fellow Canadians and Americans. We didn’t notice anyone being rude, as everyone wanted to just have a good time.

Overall, this is truly a 5 star resort. I would go back in a heartbeat. Just relax any enjoy paradise.

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Bahia Principe Akumal Anne & Gary

November 2003

just got back 5th november2003, it is fantastic for the price, we went with airtours and found the trips slightly expensive but you can do all the same things but get the local collectiveo minibuses from the hotel gates and it will cost you a lot less. Also if you go to the echo parks it’s cheeper at the weekend and kids under 5 are free but if you book with the reps they have to pay half price.

The hotel is lovely and the swimming pools great with lots of variety,we loved the swim up bar and the beach bar. We stayed in villa 47 which is probably the best position in the hotel close to everything with a beach view,if you email the hotel prior to arrival they will try to give you a room there otherwise ask for 48.

there is a long strech of beach with great snorkeling so take your masks and fins,we saw baby turtles released into the sea which was

a once in a lifetime experience and you can adopt a baby turtle there as well. My son is five and was never bored , he loved the kids club which runs from 9-5 and they do bits for the kids in the evening. There are lots of bugs and we did get biten even though we took and wore lots of repelent.

We met another couple Ben,Tricia with two little girls near the same age as my little boy if they read this please send us an email as we didn,t get time to exchange adresses at the airport. If anybody wants any info about this lovely resort please email Anne and Gary.
No1annewills@aol.com

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Bahia Principe Akumal Jessica — Texas

August 2003

My boyfriend and I visited the Bahia Principe Akumal in Mexico for 5 days in August. It was a BEAUTIFUL place. The pictures you can find on the internet definately do not do this place justice!!!! And we were completely amazed on how clean the place was.

THE SERVICE:
The service was great. The maid did an awesome job cleaning our room. THe first night we were there we drank all the bottled water in the minibar and since they only fill it up every other day, we left her some money and she filled it for us. After that she made little things out of the towel and put it on our bed.

When you first walk into the resort to check in, there is a lady there handing out drinks (by the way, there is always a lady with a cart in the main entrance with things from drinks to snacks to fruit to sandwiches). I thought that was really nice. Those people are definately there to help and serve you. THE FOOD: The food was actually pretty good. I have been to hotels in cozumel and cancun and The Bahia’s food is 10x better than those places. By far, breakfast is the best!! Make sure your guys bring long pants to wear if you plan on making a reservation at the nice restaurants.

I had emailed the resort to ask for an upgrade in rooms. We had booked standard rooms, so we werent sure where we would be stuck. But emailing must have helped because they put us in villa 66 which is beach front .And we were on the 3rd floor, so we had an AWESOME view!! Villas 66, 67, 47, 48 are the best one’s. But there are others that have really nice views too. The place is really large but we found that to be good. Since it was so large, it never was crowded. I think they were about 3/4 full but it sure didnt seem like it. And you never have to walk anywhere because there are men on golf carts running continuously through the place.

On our last night there we also went and got full body massages. They were wonderful and the prices werent too bad. So if you have been stressed lately, I highly recommend it!!!

I only have one complaint……and it really doesnt have to do much with the resort. Europeans are very rude! So beware!!! Numerous times we were waiting in line at the buffett and they would just walk right in front of you. But, the bad thing is you cant say anything becuase they dont understand!!! That is the only thing I have to complain about for this resort!!

I would definately recommend this resort to anyone! It is a great place and you get a lot for your money……..definately a 5 star place. If anyone has any questions, they can email me. Jessica from Texas jessica_berres@hotmail.com

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Bahia Principe Akumal Dawn — Calgary, Alberta, Canada

June 2003

Read about Dawn’s wedding at the Bahia Principe Akumal

TRIP: From the Cancun airport the bus trip was about an hour and a half, air conditioned, and they even sold us some cold Coronas on the way! It was later in the evening so we didn’t do much once we got to the resort besides check in and have a drink and meet the rest of our group who had arrived earlier in the day.

ROOMS: We had sent in our room requests about 10 days in advance (what we were told to do) and unfortunately a lot of our requests didn’t work out. The biggest disappointment of all was that even though I had requested my fiancé and I to be the only people from our group on the 3rd floor of whatever building we were in (to ensure us some privacy) they wound up putting my mother-in-law-to-be right next door to our room! We spoke with the front desk a few times and they were not able to find her as nice a room anywhere else so we had to get over it! Fortunately no problems really ever arose because of this and at least we did have a wonderful room, Building 48 3rd floor, beautiful ocean view and the closest building to everything (pools, restaurants, front lobby, etc.). The rooms are fantastic with the seating area and balcony and jetted tub in the bathroom, and the cleaning staff was the most impressive of all. This is the fourth resort I’ve been to and I’ve never met such great cleaning staff: she was friendly and did a great job every day, they all do the towel arrangements which are very neat, and totally honest (I left pieces jewellery and money out accidentally a few times and she just cleaned up around it). Oh, and be aware that the Safety Deposit boxes are $4 US a day (we stayed two weeks so it was about $56 US…pretty pricey). Many of the buildings have great locations, specifically buildings 47 & 48 and further away where my parents stayed in buildings 65, 66, 67… they all have great views too although a further walk. If you are a wedding couple insist on Building 47 or 48 third floor (if you don’t mind the stairs)… phenomenal views and as I said very close to everything.

POOLS & BEACH: The pools were fantastic. The main Akumal pool that winds through the resort is neat because there are several small parts to the pool that allow for a more "private" atmosphere rather than being at a big round pool where it’s noisy and a party-spot all the time. When we were in the mood for partying with our group (which was most of the first week) we all hung out at the Akumal swim-up bar and as I’ve read in another review Jose is an awesome bartender who is lots of fun and was there pretty much every day. The beach was nice although I was a bit disappointed because of the amount of rocky beach (most of it was pretty rocky) but we did find some sandy spots by the piers that had great snorkeling. There is a fair amount of topless sunbathing on parts of the beach and at some of the pools, but nothing too obvious (although some of the men in our group might disagree!).

RESTAURANTS & FOOD: The food was fabulous, the best we’ve had at any resort. As per usual, we enjoyed the buffets better than the a-la-carte’s and we really enjoyed the Tulum buffet because it was much bigger and seemed to have more variety and a better atmosphere (nice central fountain with tables around it, etc.). We ate their several times. We also ate at the seafood restaurant (Frutos del Mar) and had the seafood bbq and it was fabulous; the italian restaurant (La Dolce Vita) was also really good; and the gourmet restaurant exclusive to the Akumal side (the Arlequin) was our wedding dinner location and it was a beautiful restaurant with a great ocean view and our wedding dinner was very nice. Just a note that they also do serve premium liquors if you request them at any of the bars, so we ended up doing that most of our stay!

STAFF: By far this was where we were impressed the most. Almost all of the staff was so friendly and hard working and very eager to please. The only time we felt the service could have been a bit better was in our dealings with the front desk. They were fairly unhelpful and not very understanding about my issue with our room fiasco; also when we ordered our complimentary room service breakfast for the day after our wedding it never showed up (they lost the reservation) and when we ordered it for a different day it didn’t show up then either, and I just didn’t find the staff there as friendly or helpful as everywhere else in the resort. However, the bartenders, servers, hostesses, entertainment staff, cleaning staff, etc. were really outstanding.

EXCURSIONS: We did a few excursions, only one "packaged" one offered through our tour company. It was called "Coba-Pachen" and we will recommend this one to no end! It is perfect for those who want to try out a bit of everything that the Mayan Riviera has to offer (adventure, ruins, cenotes, culture, scenery, etc.). We started by swimming in a cenote (a cave with freshwater in it), then rode a zip line across a raveen, went rock repelling down into the raveen, had a traditional Mayan lunch in a Mayan village, went to Coba and rode bikes around (the newest discovered Mayan ruins with the largest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula… bigger than Chichen Itza and much closer!), went for some tequila shots and dessert and then home in time for supper! It was fabulous and it was only about $90 US each which is not bad for what you get. We also went to Xel-Ha and loved it, if you love snorkeling you can’t miss this; it is the best snorkeling we’ve ever done (you will see the most beautiful an d huge fish there!). It is only a 5 min. cab ride from the resort and they charge either $5 or $7.50 US (we bartered for $5 one way and paid $7.50 on the way back). We also went to Playa del Carmen a few times and it too can’t be missed, the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to and of course all the shopping (the bus can be caught on the highway outside the Hacienda and it’s 20-30 pesos each way per person, very cheap for the 20-30 min ride and the buses are really air conditioned vans so they’re quite comfortable); and we went to Conzumel via the ferry from P.d.C. and rode scooters around the island to different beach clubs… try out Mr. Sancho’s – very cool place and free entry!

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera USA

June 2003

Just returned from 10 days at the Bahia Principe and it was FANTASTIC!!!! My sister, my husband and myself had a wonderful time. Flew down on American direct from JFK and other than a brief delay we were on our way. There have been a few improvements at the Cancun airport which was great. They had more immigration officers and was not as crowded or chaotic as our last few trips down – we were out of immigration in about 20 minutes. Had a little baggage problem as my luggage had been randomly inspected before being put on the plane so they wrapped this colored tape around my bag – so needless to say I had trouble locating it as I did not recognize it – anyway after thinking it was lost and almost having a fit, we found it…
Found the transfer with no problem and was pleased to see a vendor selling cold beer outside!!! grabbed a few Coronas and we were on our way.

The trip down took a little over an hour as we had to drop off some people in Playa Del Carmen – our driver was great and we stopped at a roadside stand along the way for more beer, great start!!!!

We turned onto the drive down into the Bahia and it was beautiful. My husband and I booked a junior suite on the Akumal side and my sister had an oceanview room on the Tulum side – don’t ask it just turned out that way. Actually it was better because this way we really had to do some exploring. Check in was easy and the front desk was so nice, welcome drinks and big smiles. We had emailed ahead (1 week prior) and asked for villa #47 and was really happy to learn they had booked us in 4704 which was on the ground floor – we had asked for the top floor but hey, you can’t get everything… We did not get a view of the water but had the sand and palms directly in front of us and it was beautiful. My sister had requested two or three villa’s and got one of the ones she requested as well. She was in villa #22 room 2222 which was on the top floor directly overlooking the quiet pool on the Tulum side and a great ocean view – really nice. The only difference between our rooms was that ours was a bit bigger and had a nice jacuzzi tub… Both rooms were great.

The mini bar is stocked with beer, soda, fruit juice, water, chips and a candy bar or two – was refilled everyday for us. My sister had the paper – Cancun edition of the Miami Herald everyday. Ours was not and was easy enough to just walk to the lobby shop for it (2 pesos though)

The Bahia is a HUGE place!!!! they have these little shuttles (golf cart type thing) that goes from each lobby to the Hacienda (great area for shopping and nightly entertainment – including a disco and 2 bars that are included in your all-inclusive package – also has a Internet cafe and a ton of shops) The carts also go from the Akumal lobby to the Tulum lobby and a third shuttle goes from each lobby to the rooms. The shuttles run every 5-10 minutes and they were really great – very easy to get around both sides of the resort. The Tulum side was much bigger, the buffet also bigger as it seats more people, great lobby bar and pretty big theater. The Akumal side had a better pool – really beautiful and it winds around to the swimup bar. Don’t get me wrong – nothing wrong with the Tulum pool at all. Both sides have a 24hr snack area which we used a lot. Loved the ribs and the burgers were great. Both buffets had great food always something to choose from and we loved everything. The drinks were great in all areas of the hotel. The best were the flaming coffees served everynight in both lobby bars and Tulum buffet. Try the amaretto and brandy – really great!!! The water at the hotel was purified so you don’t need to worry, you can brush your teeth directly from the tap.

The beach was of course beautiful – we have stayed at many of the resorts in the area and loved the Bahia beach. Heard some negatives before going about the rocks and yes there are some but certainly no big deal. The beach is very long and there are some areas were it is really rocky and they do most of the sailing in those areas – of you walk down between the Tulum and Akumal hotels there is a great area were they are only a few rocks. The water was wonderful and the sand is great. The fish come right up to you especially by the Akumal side of the beach were the pier is.

You can use the snorkel equipment and boats etc. You can also sign up for a great snorkel tour at the activity shack on the beach or also by the pool – Bahia dive co. will take you a few minutes up to Turtle Reef (town of Akumal) its great!!! tons of turtles – it is $30 US dollars and was well worth it. You can also snorkel for free right at the resort and they have another tour which is $10 US dollars and you will see a ton of fish etc.

Great evening entertainment – we enjoyed the shows at the Akumal side better and they were really good. The bars had a great drink selection, loved the Bahama Mama, dirty monkey (both bananna type drinks) mango daquari’s etc. Every day different drinks are available when you walk into the buffet. Mimosa and blood marys in the am and different types of tequila’s at night. Also had a martini cart 2 nights.

We stayed at the Barcelo Maya Beach last year and also loved it, the Barcelo does have a slightly better beach area but everything else I would give to the Bahia. The best part of the Bahia was the staff!! They were always friendly and no matter how big the place is you were always greeted with an Hola by everyone. We did leave $1.00 US dollar each day for Wilberth who cleaned our room and he left us extra items and towel animals everyday. The staff really did everything to make sure that all the guests were happy. One evening the manager saw that we were slightly unhappy that we had missed the flaming coffee (our fault – we were late and they stop serving them at 10pm that night) so instead we ordered Pina Colada’s – no problem.. The lobby manager had noticed and came over to us and asked if we had ordered? I told him we had and he asked if we wanted a coffee instead!!! we told him it was okay – we know they had already put everything away – he said it was no problem and had them make a few for us. It was a very nice touch because it was absolutely not necessary. Anyway, they really went out of their way for us. We were crushed to leave and if you have any questions let me know kowkitty3@aol.com

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Kristy — Canada

May 2003

Read about Kristy’s wedding at the Bahia Principe Akumal

We got married at this wonderful resort on May 8th! We were very fortunate to have 45 friends and family members travel with us and we all had a great time! Our flight arrived in Cancun early in the morning. We did not have to wait in any line-ups. The bus ride to the resort is about an hour and a half, but don’t worry, it is air conditioned! The resort is very beautiful and well maintained, as mentioned in other reviews. The staff are constantly cleaning – they even spray the sidewalks every morning! Because we were such a large group, we were given upgrades to ocean front villas. The view from our jr. suite was amazing! The rooms themselves were very nice and clean! We had many young people with us and spent many nights at the disco! The swim -up bar was also a hit. Jose is great! He’ll make you trays of drinks! There were a wide variety of activities -beer drinking contest, sports games,tours, casino night, etc.

Overall, everyone had a great time! The food is very good, and the pools and beach areas are beautiful! Just don’t eat any fruit in Playa Del Carmen!! If you have any questions please feel free to email me at krisboy25@yahoo.ca

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Doreen & Ap — Ottawa, Canada

May 2003

My husband and I (both in our early 50’s) just returned home after spending two fantastic weeks at the Bahia Principe Akumal. This was our third trip to Mexico and our second to the Mayan Riviera area. We were certainly not disappointed with our choice this time. We did get off to a bit of a bad start, but the friendly and helpful staff at the resort did their best to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.

We live in Ottawa, Canada and our flight with Air Transat was out of Mirabel (Montreal). The flight was at 6:00 am and since Mirabel was about 1-1/2 hr drive, we left home around 12:30 am. The flight left on time and arrived on time. With the one hour time difference, it was approximately 9:00 am local time when we landed. After making our way through customs, we had about a 1-1/2 hour drive to the hotel. We arrived at approximately noon (in the middle of a rain storm complete with thunder and lightening). We made our way to the check in counter and we were assigned a room, but told that the rooms would not be ready until around 3:00 pm. We were told that the buffet restaurant was open for lunch, so we went there to have something to eat. We checked back with the front desk around 2:30 and our room was ready. We had asked for a king size bed and an ocean view. We were assigned to Villa 73 (the very last one in the complex and the farthest away from everything). When we got the room we noticed that we did not have a king size bed (there were 2 beds pushed together) and the view was definitely not of the ocean. The mattresses were the hardest I had even felt. From reading previous reviews on this website, we were not too surprised by this. We had read that you could request that they put a foam cover on the mattress to soften it up a bit. We also discovered that we had not been given a key to the minibar in the room. We did receive the key and someone did show up to put foam on the mattresses. My husband and I stepped out of the room while the fellow was putting the foam on and making up the beds again. After he left, we went back into the room to discover that the two pieces of foam that he put on were not the right size for the mattresses. So basically we each had a narrow piece of foam to lie on with a big space between us. Bear in mind that at this point we had been up for 30 some hours without sleep and were running short on patience.

We walked back to the lobby and went to the Public Realtions desk. We explained everything that had happened and the lady said she would try to move us to a better location with a king size bed, but nothing would be available until Tuesday (we arrived on Sunday). We agreed that we would be happy as long as this was done for us. After a nights rest (and rolling into the "hole" a couple of times) we awoke feeling better and were able to laugh at the situation. The storm that we arrived in only lasted about an hour and a half, then for most of the following two weeks, we had nothing but sunshine and hot, hot weather. (It was beautiful). As promised, on Tuesday afternoon we were moved to Villa 53 were we had a king size bed and we could see the ocean from our balcony. The mattress there was also hard, but it was bearable.

Other than the initial problems, we have nothing but good things to say about the resort and the friendly, courteous staff. It is a beautiful resort and meticulously maintained. Every one that you meet as you are walking about has a big smile and "Hola" greeting for you. There was a very good variety of food in the buffet restaurant and we had no problem finding things that we liked. (The problem was deciding what not to take!) There was always a good variety of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, cold salades, cold meats, cheeses, all kinds of hot dishes and wonderful desserts. The waiters were so friendly and courteous (always with big smiles and friendly greetings) They were right there to bring you drinks and keep them refilled if you wished and would clear away dirty dishes the moment you took your last bite. We had the choice to book 3 a la carte restauants per week and we took advantage of this. The first one we tried was the Italian restaurante (La Dolce Vita). The food was good (not the same as Italian cooking that we are used to – but good none the less). The second one we tried was the steakhouse (Grande Tourtuga) We both ordered the T-bone steak and were kind of dissappointed with it. The third one we tried was the International (Arlequin). It was absoluely THE best. Wonderful atmosphere and excellent food. The fourth one we tried was the Mexican (Tequila). This was another favourite. I had the beef fajites and they were great. We were debating about going to the Seafood restaurant (Fruitos del Mar) because I don’t eat seafood. So one afternoon we took a walk over and checked out the menu. There were also chicken and steak available, so we made a reservation. Again we were not disappointed. We saved our sixth reservation for our last night at the resort and we sent back to the Arlequin. (It was just as good the second time around). The waiters at all the restaurants were great and we did bring pesos with us to leave tips for the wonderful service.

Most days we had a light lunch, usually at the 24 hour snack bar. There were always fresh veggies, nacho chips with guacamole and salsa. You could also order hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, pizza, ribs, chicken nuggets, etc.(and my husband’s favourite – self serve ice cream).

We did not do a lot of sightseeing while we were there. Basically we needed to rest and relax and we really didn’t want to be far away from the water in the intense heat. We were very happy that we had chosen to stay for two weeks, because it really took until almost the end of the first week for us to start to unwind. We did take a one day excursion to Xel-ha during our second week. We spend the whole day there snorkelling (a first for both of us) and tubing down a river. We really enjoyed the day!

It’s true that it is difficult to get chairs by the pool unless you want to stake one out very early. We didn’t bother doing that and were always able to find chairs a bit away from the poolside on the sand (under those great palapa shades). Do beware of getting too much sun! I have very fair skin and was carefull to always use my # 30 sunscreen, I wore a cap, I stayed in the shade when I was not in the pool, the ocean or walking around (and I still looked like a freckled lobster). But at least I did not get burned, just turned red!

There was only one other thing that we were not too pleased about. That was the fact that we had to pay $4.00 U.S. per day in order to use the safe in our room. At both of the hotels during our previous visits, the safe was included. We did pay the additional cost, because in the long run it would be much more costly if we lost our travel documents, credit cards and two cameras. But still, I found that to be rather expensive.

All in all, we were very impressed with this beautiful resort and would have no doubts about recommending it to anyone.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Tammy and Bill — Las Vegas, Nevada

May 2003

Due to flight delays, we did not arrive until 2:30 am, but were still greeted by several staff who checked us in, and got us and our luggage to our room quickly. Our room did leak water from a light socket and had ants, in the bathroom. In the morning we spoke to the front desk, and were upgraded and moved to a bigger room. The A/C didn’t work right away, but maintenance was there in 5 mins. and had it up and running. (The patio door has sensors that shut the A/C off if the door is open) Once he lined up our sensors, the A/C worked nicely.

Due to the late hour of check in, we did not receive any information about the resort, or activities as you would normally do during a welcome meeting. So we had a map in hand of the resort, and the next day we started to explore. I had picked Akumal due to the photos and reviews I had found on the Internet. The resort itself is beautiful and you will not be disappointed in anyway. It is very impressive to walk into. Even though it is all-inclusive, you are only allowed to eat at 3 of the main restaurants during your stay. The rest of the time, you are required to eat the buffet. We tried the Fish restaurant and did not care for it. (No salt, no sugar, no spice or seasons. everything was very bland). Order everything available, appetizer, soup, salad, your meal, and dessert whenever possible. The meals are very little, and you have a good chance of leaving hungry. (vegetables consisted of one piece of asparagus, and one carrot sliver).

We also tried the Gourmet restaurant, and were very pleased with the service and presentation of the whole restaurant. Although I did not eat some of my food, the restaurant view and staff made up for everything else. We found the buffet to be the best bet for a good meal. While exploring between Akumal and the Tulum resort, we both enjoyed the Tulum side much more, for the following reasons. 1. The buffet was much bigger, and food tasted better. Tulum kept their food fresh and moist, while at Akumal, pasta was often dried out and foods not stirred. 2. Staff seemed happier and more eager to assist you. Friendlier on the Tulum side. 3. Many, Many more Iguanas and Birds on the Tulum side. (Makes great photos). 4. The bars on the Tulum side have wonderful slushy drink machines where you can make your own slushy’s. Next to them are the bottles of rum, so you can make them as strong or as light as you want. On the Akumal side, the bartenders control the slushy machines and even if you ask for more rum, you very seldom get it.

5. We enjoyed the lounge band more on the Tulum side, although we spent more time in the lounge on Akumal. If you go to the Akumal lounge to see the shows, look for Peidid. She was wonderful! Very pleasant, and never did we want for anything, she was very attentive of her tables.

Back to all — inclusive. The buffet and restaurants offer the house wine….red or white. Any other kind of wine, they bring you a menu and you will pay per glass, or by the bottle. That is not included.

Service was hit or miss. Trying to get hot water for tea was often a 20 min. wait, and one time after the request being passed off by three different waiters, they brought me a bowl of hot water.
When at the buffet, get something to drink before you sit down as most drink waits average from 5 to 10 mins. One day, no one stopped at our table the entire time we were eating lunch. (approx. 35 mins.) Our last morning though, waiters were right there, and they were friendly, and my husband got coffee and I got hot tea without a problem.

Although it is all inclusive and you should not have to tip, unless you did, you were just a face in the crowd. If you tipped, you were remembered and received much better service than someone who had not.

The weather was warm with a nice breeze blowing. (our trip was in May) We were never able to do any water sports due to the winds (which my husband loves to do), but laying by the pool and swimming was very relaxing. Make sure to put on sun block as many sun burnt people were surprised, saying "I was only out there for a little while).

We did go see the ruins of Tulum. There is a 1/4 mile walk to get there, and it was very hot, and not much of a breeze that day. You can take the train, and ride up to the ruins, but that is extra. Your guide will spend about 45 minutes with you, and then let you wander around and look. There isn’t much shade this time of year, and many people felt like they were getting sunstroke. There are many Iguanas running around the ruins. (*Note… for a really great photo … get one of the red flowers. Approach the iguana slowly and hold the flower up. do not be alarmed. Iguana(s) will run over and they will eat the flower.) The Iguanas at the resorts though are banana eaters. Small pieces only though.

Overall we had a relaxing time and enjoyed ourselves. If you have any questions or need more information, you can write me at Treed1202@aol.com We also have lots of pictures to share.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Fred and Jeanine — KY.

May 2003

My spouse and I just returned from a wonderful week at the Bahia Principe Akumal (BPA) and it exceeded our expectations in spades. I must admit that we thought we’d made a grave mistake since the van ride from the Cancun Airport was hot and lengthy. However, upon arrival to the BPA, any regrets were dispelled as we traveled up the winding road to the entrance which was surrounded by immaculant grounds and beautiful flowers and foliage. The entry and the lobby was enormous and elegant and the staff greeted us with smiles and cold fruit drinks. We got building 61 on the top floor and were disappointed at first since we did not get the recommended 47. But, these villas in the back seemed quieter and were still easily accessible to everything by the hotel -run tram which ran every 10 minutes like clockwork.

**When you check in, remember to ask for a *safe if you have valuables since this was not mentioned by receptionist. Charges may apply but it provided peace of mind.

The room was extremely clean and there was a beautiful swan made out of towels and flower petals on the bed to greet us. All rooms have balconies which can be used for relaxing in the breeze and glimpsing the ocean. You may wish to bring **two washclothes since washclothes were not available until later afternoon for 2 days. Otherwise, service was top-notch and the servi bar was checked/restocked daily. We did tip our maid (You’re great, Hilda) two dollars per day. They, as all staff at the BPA, work extremely hard and deserve recognition.

FOOD-We had heard numourous complaints about the food. However, we did enjoy the nightly buffet and always found something good to eat. We did not listen to the reviews about the Italian ala carte restaurant (Dolce Vita) since we had not had any problems with the food and opted to eat there. After eating there, my spouse and I both had "stomach ailments" which lasted 2 days. Sad, because the staff there was so attentive.

Arlequin (ala carte) was saved until the last night (my birthday) and we ate there at dusk. The food was exquisite and staff were prompt and respectful. Views were breathtaking.

The breakfast bar at the buffet offered familiar choices from America in addition to more exotic cuisine. We found the Akumal buffet better than the Tulum buffet also. A 5 person band dressed in Mexican attire entertained at the Akumal nightly at dinner, at least when we were there around 6:30-7:30pm and we loved this! We did tip them but this was not required and also tipped our waiter $1-2 dollars per evening but this was also not required (they work hard and the service was very good). Book your ala carte’s the first day you arrive to ensure availability (you get a choice of 3).

Entertainment-Nightly entertainment at both hotels were offered (we only stayed at the Akumal) in the lobby bars. We usually arrived about 9pm to see the live band and then the show started at 10pm. Some shows were better than others but overall, they were all enjoyable and dancers were very good. Drinks can be ordered there with or without alcohol. Beer and house wines were stronger than the mixed drinks if you so desired. Mixed drinks were good but watered down likely to prevent unruly behavior, possible accidents and the day-after "blahs." Who wants to feel bad in paradise? If you do partake and feel less than wonderful the next day, the breakfast bar offers champagne and OJ and bloody mary mix to get you started.

Beach/swimming-The lobby side pool was beautiful with gentle curves, whirlpools and sunning shelves. This pool was also quieter and played soft mexican music via hidden speakers to drown out any chatter. The staff also prepared a special lunch 2 times that week on this side of the pool. For a livelier experience, the pool side closer to the snack bar was action packed with a man who spoke numerous languages to get you up and motivated with dancing, games and water sports. Multiple bars were located all over the property and one was right on the beach.

Water currents were strong when we were there due to strong winds. We went snorkeling on the other side of the created barrier wall (by the dock) and encountered some strong current. The water is not deep and clearance over the coral reef was minimal. For inexperienced snorkelers, this could become a problem. We later choose to stay on the inside of the barrier wall to snorkel where there was still a multitude of beautiful fish with no current to navigate. Water shoes are still recommended for this area since coral and rock line much of the ocean floor. The water is warm and beautiful. We walked on the beach from the Akumal side to the Tulum side one evening and we had the entire beach to ourselves-paradise found.

There was another dock there where we saw 2 weddings take place that week!

Tulum-We took a taxi to Tulum both there and back. We witnessed people waiting for the Colectivo’s and they were passed by since they were full. It is hot off of the ocean and along the highway and we opted to take a Taxi since we did not want to wait in the heat and alongside a very busy highway. We thought it was a more dependable option and worth the 15 dollars each way. Buy water on the outside of the Tulum entrance as there is no venders inside and it’s extremely hot! Rocks can be slick so wear good shoes with a thick tread. We also choose to ride the open air tram for 15 pesos to and from the Tulum entrance (it is a 3/4 mile walk on a dusty road otherwise) and this saved us! You have to buy this tickets for this at the mini-mall area close to the Subway sandwich shop at the outside of the Tulum entrance.

Misc.-Put towels out early before you go to breakfast to get your choice of seating under the pallapas(small huts that protect you from the sun/heat). Get your towel cards at check-in so you can get fresh beach towels daily (don’t loose the towel since it’s 50.00 to replace-most people do not bother anyone’s belongings). Trams ran like clockwork every 10 minutes and took you from your room to the lobby and back and also over to the Tulum side. These were extremely helpful and you just wave and say stop at your building (some drivers ask your building before leaving lobby). Hangers, hair dryer, small shampoo/conditioner/lotion, and a razor were supplied in the bathr. Someone asked for an iron and they were accommodated.

CUSTOMS-Try to limit your bags to 2 each since you will have to endure tedious weaving through amusement park type long lines carrying multiple bags-impossible. These lines move FAST and you are expected to keep up and also run from point A to B at times to connect to your next plane. If you have black bags, tie thin matching scarves or ribbons on to identify them since there can be 100’s of black bags and you must be able to locate yours in a timely fashion. We arrived in Cancun at 12:50pm and 300 people went through Mex customs in about 25 minutes.

Sun is intense so be prepared for higher number sunscreen (if you have some tan) and higher for lighter skin, at least at first. You do not want to get burned the first day or two and ruin your vacation! You don’t want to be miserable in paradise. Hotel water is safe to drink (it was filtered through a reverse osmosis system and was safe to drink) to keep you hydrated.

We did our shopping at the Akumal and Tulum lobby shops and at Hacienda Dona Isabel and did not go to Playa Del Carmen. However, some people said the shopping at Carmen was worth the ride. However, we did not want to take away from pool time. In summary, we would recommend the BPA and definitely plan to return. The facility was superb and the staff offered warm, Mexican hospitality. Enjoy your vacation and relax! It was well worth the wait! You can contact us at JFBEACHCOMBER@aol.com for additional questions.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Dave — Nova Scotia, Canada

May 2003

My wife and I recently returned from our honeymoon at the Bahia Principe Akumal, on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. Since we used this site, and others, to research our choice of destination, we felt we should add our thoughts as well.

The Resort Grounds
Immaculate! The people at this resort work very hard to keep the grounds and facilities in incredible condition. Workers can be seen daily replacing lights, manicuring the lawns and gardens, tending the pool, … whatever needs to be done, they are there to do it. As a result, the resort continues to be in pristine condition, with luscious green lawns, clean and litterfree walkways and public areas, and beauty everywhere. The desired effect is produced: you feel like you are in paradise.

The Rooms
Just like in the brochure! Again, the housekeeping staff work extremely hard to keep your room in tip-top condition. (They typically start at 7:00-8:00 am and don’t finish until close to 6:00 pm – and by then they are exhausted. While tipping is not ‘required’, it certainly doesn’t hurt to leave a couple extra dollars or pesos for these hard-working people.) We had a junior suite on the third floor of Villa 69 which did provide an ocean view room. Villas 47 and 67 are certainly the nicest villas, being right on the ocean, but we were very happy with our room. Yes, the beds are very hard, but by the end of the day we were too tired to care. Like other resorts in the area, a wonderful towel creation waits for you at the end of the day. So too, does more bottled water. Every second day, the mini-bar is restocked with pop (sodas for you American readers), beer, and munchies. Each room has a balcony/patio and the junior suites have a sitting area and a jacuzzi, which my wife appreciated very much. Regarding the water, the tap water (as well as all of the water used in the bars and restaurants) is purified. We did use the tap water to brush our teeth but stuck to drinking bottled water and we both managed to avoid turista! (We also stuck to eating and drinking almost exclusively at the resort.)

The Food
Undoubtedly, this area seems to have received the greatest criticism. We were generally very satisfied, even delighted with the meals we had. The selection at the buffets was incredible – something for everyone for every meal (and we only ate at the Akumal buffets!) The breakfasts are especially satisfying with fruits, breads, cereals, and numerous hot items from the grill, including a wonderful omelet bar! We also enjoyed their fresh bread with every meal. The selection does get somewhat repetitive however. We only stayed for one week, and we suspect that a two week stay would find even their wide selection somewhat boring by the end of the stay. Fortunately, the a la carte restaurants add a different selection. We ate at the seafood restaurant, the Mexican restaurant and the grill. The seafood restaurant was good but we would have liked a bit more variety. Selection was limited to only 10 – 12 items. We really enjoyed the Mexican restaurant, probably our favourite. A wider selection, although they have toned down the heat for the tourists! The grill was okay, certainly not an Outback Steakhouse, but still a nice diversion from the buffets. Each of the a la carte restaurants has salad/appetizer bar (the one at the Mexican restaurant was incredible!) and a desert bar. House wine and drinks are included, but a selection of bottled wine is also available – charge to your room. Word of advice for our fellow Canucks – the Jalapenos are much fresher, and therefore much hotter than what we get back home. Enjoy!!

Pools and Beaches
The pools are awesome. A good size activity pool with events going on all day. An immense main pool by the main building, including the main buffet restaurant. Each is open from daybreak until 8:00 pm, after which they chlorinate the pool in preparation for the next day – swim at your own risk after 8:00 pm! The beach area is close to a mile in lenth (1.6 km) including the Tulum side. While there is lovely sand along the shoreline, only a small area by the Akumal side seems to have a sandy portion in which you can swim. Most of the remaining beach is either rock or coral. This provides an incredible area in which to snorkle but swimming is certainly better in the pools. Word to the wise, there are lots of lounge chairs around all pool areas and beach areas, most under lovely grass huts, but they tend to get ‘claimed’ very early in the morning. It took us a couple days to realize that if you didn’t claim you territory (by putting a towel, book, pair of sandals, etc., on your preffered lounge chair) on the way to breakfast (7 or 8:00 am!) you weren’t going to have much selection. This applied even if you planned to take a short excursion in the morning. Quite often a lounge chair would site empty for much of the day which its ‘occupants’ were out and about. This system didn’t seem very ethical, but when in Rome …

We could probably go on much longer but the finale of Survivor is about start so we will bid our adieu. If you have any questions regarding this resort, please email us at dandbhanes@av.eastlink.ca. Also, we are starting to put some of our photos of the resort and the area on the WebShots Gallery. We found others’ photos informative/enlightening and hope you will enjoy ours.

BOTTOM LINE: We had a great time. We wish we could have stayed the second week, and we plan to return to this resort in another couple years … for two weeks. If you go, hope you enjoy your stay. We are sure you will.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Joe — Canada

May 2003

Just returned from Akumal.

All I can say is that so often you hear horror stories from people who plan a vacation and come home disappointed. That didn’t happen to us.

Bahia Akumal exceeded all our expectations and then some! Being in the Canadian Navy for years I’ve seen most of the Caribbean and must admit that the Mayan Riviera is truly to most beautiful. You find so much to do on and off the resort aside from being isolated on a resort with nothing but dirt roads and poverty as in Cuba or DR.

Where to begin, we arrived at 11pm in Cancun. Very muggy. The 300 people on our flight checked though Mexican customs in less than 20 minutes. Being at the end of the line, I thought we’d be there for hours. But it went very quick. I heard from other couples that they spent hours there as they flew in during the afternoon when may flight arrived at the same time. When you exit the airport a row of welcome booths with your tour operators sign, we were with AIRTRASAT Holidays, were there to greet us and made sure we got onto the right bus for our resort. The buses were large inter-cities types. Clean and air-conditioned. Travel time was 1 hour and a 5 minutes. to Akumal. No real traffic to worry about so our bus driver got us there quickly. The bus may spot at one or two other resorts on the way there to drop off. We where the first to be dropped off, but drops off do not take long. Relax, you’re on vacation.

When we arrived, we quickly saw the "’shock and awe" of the Akumal resort. Huge open expanse of the main building, marble and soft lighting everywhere. Check it was very fast. Careful which villa you get. 47 and 48 are nearest the beach so are 67/68/69. We got 59, almost the furthest away but the view was still nice. There are 8-seater electric golf carts running all the time so if you don’t feel like the five minute walk, take one. The resort is spread out over a large well lit and groom area. Much nicer this way. A large hotel in Cancun has a massive amount of rooms in one building while at Akumal, the small villa’s are 18 unit apartments each. So matter which on you get, you always within a short walk from everywhere.

We did talk to people that didn’t like their villa location and when they asked they were moved with a day to one closer. We didn’t mind because we really didn’t spend that much time in our room anyway.

When we finally got into our room it was around 1 am. So, a cool drink and turned on the ‘Sat. TV’ just to relax for a moment. Ha! Sat TV??? Maybe to the locals it was Sat TV. We got 20 channels, 18 in Spanish and the two English channel has Spanish sub-tittles blocking half the screen. Oh well.. wasn’t there for TV anyway.

There is a 24 hours snack bar located near the smaller pool. (The activity pool) I couldn’t find it the first night until I got myself orientated to the resort. But at first light it was easy. So if your hungry that first night just follow the paved road, (everything is fresh pavement, marble or interlocking paving brinks), past the villa’s #’ed 67/68/69.. right to the end of the road and you’ll walk into it and the ocean beach.

Morning brought the most incredible sunrise and birds calls. Buffet breakfast included champagne and OJ as you walked into the large buffet style restaurant. There never seemed to be a lack of Vodka and Tomato available as well to chase away the hair of the dog either. Food was more or less the same a breakfast and lunch but varied by theme every other day for suppers. Multiple choice of everything you could possibly want from fresh omelettes made to order while you wait to and waffles, pancakes fresh fruits etc etc. Lunches were also a chore in picking from the multitude of choices. Everything looked so great, but be warned, some of the salsa’s can be very hot, they are on the side in separate sauce bowls, just take a tiny taste test first.

Our tour representative had a ‘welcoming brief" for us that first morning where she pointed out the resort schedules and things to do on and off the resort. I highly recommend that you attend the briefing. 25 minutes well and informative, and besides, you can listen with a cold pina colada in you hand! While I’m on the drink topic, all inclusive is just that, drink away, but I think the drinks were watered down some what, not once did I ever get a buzz except when I had wine. Guess they can’t water that down. But the mixed cocktails were great! Moe often then not, my wife enjoyed ‘virgin’ drinks. They tasted identical to mine. Make sure you try a Miami Vice, mix of Daqcarri’s and Pina Colada, Coco Loco- a coconut-lime favourite and a MUST are the flaming coffee’s after supper. The prepare them in front of you and are an art form in themselves! Try the Spanish coffee. The use amaretto and fresh whipped cream. Awesome!

The pool, the beach. Two pools, one snakes around the rear main building. Great for lazily cooling yourself or to use as an excuse to swim up to the swim up bar! It has walk bridges going over it in several locations. The second pool is the activities pool where all day long there are different things going on like organised water polo, aqua aerobics etc. The main pool is much quiter. The beach is covered with the softest white sands. The travel pamphlets are not doctored, it really is clear white and soft. The water is warm and shallow enough for every the most timid of swimmers. I would suggest walking down the beach a little ways towards the Tulum resort. The is a small hut there called the dive hut. (A two minute walk up the beach from Akumal) and book a snorkel tour to the reefs in front of you. The coral is fragile and has been killed off close to shore by swimmers so they’ve effect a rope and buoy-off area for swimmers. The snorkel tour is free, they ask for a small donation to the "save the reef society" we gave $4US each because of the worthy cause that it is. Anyway, they give you life jackets to where so there is no fear of sinking or more importantly, toughing the delicate coral. I understand that it takes more than two years for it to recover from a signal touch. The tour guide will swim with you out past the buoy line and the fish and reef are a sight that you have to see!! Bring with you a underwater disposable camera! Actually bring two at least. One for hear and the other for Xel-ha. I’ll touch on that place in a minute. In a nut shell, the beach is cooler because of the ocean breeze. Walk along it and you find an area of hammocks to lay in and listen to the surf. Incredible!!!

You’ll have a choice of restaurants to chose from and 3 al-a-carte meals where you sit down and pick from a menu rather than a buffett style. Avoid the Duce (Italian and the Mexican ones. The Gran Totuga was steaks etc and really good. Save the Arlequin for your last night but book it as soon as you can because everyone does! Nice and romantic especially at dusk.

As soon as you get up in the morning, go out to the pool and lay your beach towel across two lounge chairs beside the pool under a cabaña, this save you the cabaña and no one else will take it on you. At first I felt bad doing this, not actually intend on using it until later but everyone did it, otherwise when it gets really hot by noon, you’ll have no shade to relax it. So do it early, before 7:30am, or just do what my wife did and poke me to get up and do it at sunrise. Ahhhhh yes, a woman with the know how to get things done!

There are tons of things to do one the resort. A guide in your room will explain them all. I’ll just tough on two. Shopping, you can take a collectivo, a small white minivan, air conditioned and clean, either north or south on the main highway at the entrance to the resort. North to Playa Del Carmen for shopping or south to Tulum or Xel-Ha. A cab to Carmen is $25US, the collectivo..30 peso’s each or $3US each. Big difference! And very comfortable. They run every 10-15 minutes or so, just stand beside the main highway and as they come up they’ll flash their headlights at you, if you way they pull over and you hop in. Pay when you get off. The distance you travel determines the cost. Only 25 minutes to Playa del Carmen and all the shopping you’ll every need. Some people say the prices at the local shopping centre at Akumal called the HACIENDA DONA ISABEL are the same but I didn’t find that so. Especially if you want hand made hammock or swing, half the cost in Carmen. The direction of collectivo you want to take is determined which side of the highway you stand on, cross to the other side to catch the vans heading southward to Xel-ha. Xel-ha (pronounced sell-ha) is a snorkelling heaven. Its huge and plan on spending at least 5 hours there. You can book a tour from Akumal but its cost 99US. Better off just hoping on a collectivo for $3, and pay admission at the entrance to Xel-ha. Two options, a $52 all inclusive package or $27 basic package. When you pay the $27 basic, you’ll end up renting a locker, renting mask, renting life jacket, renting fins……etc and it really adds up. Spend the little extra and get it all included, plus free meals, drinks ice cream etc. The whole park is awesome, with the life jackets on, you snorkel and just kick slowly without worry about the water. My wife was not sure of herself around water but had no problem here at all. Average water depth was ten feet, and you swim around beautiful coral reefs and so many colourful fish you’ll think you’re in a National Geographic documentary film!

You can tube down a jungle river through mangrove trees and jump off a 17 foot cliff into the cool water. Don’t be a wimp! I did and it wasn’t that bad! There are paid photographers at the key points in the park including the cliff, make sure they have your attention when you do something special. No cost. Check the photo board when you leave and you find you prints. The one you want you pay $9US for. 5X7 in a nice folder.

Don’t miss Xel-ha. If you only make one trip off the resort, go here. You won’t be disappointed.

Well, feel like I’m running on. You’ll love Akumal.

I found this sight to help greatly in my choice of resorts and am more than happy in returning the favour. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

chaput.aj@forces.ca

Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera John , Vivienne and Brady — England

May 2003

Got back nearly 2 weeks ago – WOW what a brilliant resort!! We’d stayed at the Bahia Principe Tulum side 2 years ago and whilst that was a superb experience , for us , akumal just shades it. Our son Brady (8), as we did, absolutely loved the entertainment, both by the activities pool and in the entertainment lounge at night. The rooms are spacious and VERY clean , the staff very helpful and the food is fine, though after a fortnight anywhere my tastebuds yearn for home!

We lost count of the amount of people that we met that rated the hotel as the best that they had stayed at. The hotel had a very high Canadian occupancy whilst we were there and we found the Canadians to be amongst the friendliest,most fun-loving people we’ve ever had the pleasure to share a hotel with.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Bonnie and Graham — Langley, B.C. CANADA

May 2003

We just got back from 2 weeks at the Bahia-Principe Akumal, so I thought I’d pass along some of our views on the resort.

There were 4 of us ( my wife, my sister, my brother-in-law and myself) on this trip. We booked it through Air Transat holidays and I’m sure glad we opted for the Club seats. While not truly first class, it was a lot better than the alternative. Our schedule was changed, but it was changed for the better. Instead of leaving on Sunday the 13th early in the morning, we left at 11:30 Saturday night, and coming back, our departure time was also changed to leave late on Sunday the 27th. In effect, this gave us a full extra day at the resort.

We arrived Sunday at the Resort about 9:30 AM, and what a sight to see. The Akumal is a very, very impressive resort as you arrive at the main building. The resort supplies you with a place to change and store your carry on luggage until your room is ready, should you arrive early. Needless to say we quickly got into the proper attire.

Upon checking in, you’re greeted with a cooling drink and lots of smiles. We had asked about getting into either villa 47 or 48, but were informed that they were both full. We were assigned to villa 53, and quite honestly, glad we were. It was close to everything, but not too close to be bothered by the noise from the activity pool area. Sunday was spent by the pool area and looking around. As I mentioned earlier, the resort on arrival is very impressive, and a tour of the pool area and the surrounding grounds didn’t disappoint us. It took a little longer than what I thought it should to get our room ready, but when we got to it ( a junior suite ) we were very pleased with it. Lots of room and very pleasantly set up. When I set on the bed though, the hardness of it surprised me, however none of us had any problem sleeping.

The buffet food held no surprises for us. There was plenty to be had, but we know that after a week of eating in buffets, the food does get tiresome. I’m not complaining, just making an observation. We ate at the Arlequin twice, and thoroughly enjoyed the meals there, same for the other two ala carte restaurants. I heard someone complain about the size of the portions in the ala cartes, but none of us had any complaints.

There was entertainment every night, and while not of the quality one would find say in Las Vegas, I thought the entertainers did a good job. I was in Las Vegas last September, and went and saw a couple of old TV Comedians rehash the same old shtick they had done 25 years ago. They were no more entertaining ( at $60.00 per person ) than the FREE show the resort offered.

We went over to the Tulum side of the resort, and we were glad we had opted for the Akumal. The Tulum side seems kind of run down, and we were NOT impressed with the meal we had at one of the ala cartes.

I’ve seen complaints here about the beach area. No problem from my point of view, but you should be aware that right in front of the resort is a reef, and you will find large bits of old coral in the water that have been tossed up over the years. We did some snorkeling and found that there is a current in the bay, but nothing to cause any concern. Besides, if you swim where you are supposed to swim, the water barely came past my shoulders.

I guess if I had to complain about anything, it would be the lack of concern on the part of the bar staff. There was never in my mind a worry about watered down drinks, but I do think the bar staff should pay more attention to those that imbibe too much, and become wobbly to say the least. There was one fellow at the pool bar in his mid 30’s, that must have thought he was at his Grade 10 Prom. Other resorts I’ve stayed at, would not have allowed him to get as drunk as he was. He must have suffered though, as he passed out on the grass and laid there for a couple of hours under the HOT Mexican sun. Didn’t see him for a couple of days, and when he reappeared, he had a red glow about him.

Overall, we were very pleased that we had chosen the Acumal, and would recommend it.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Ron and Rachel — Canada

May 2003

This resort is one of the best we have been to as far as everything goes. we went from April 7/2003 to April 21/2003. it is the new half of the bahia principe tulum. FOOD buffet was good but a bit boring for 2 weeks. Specialty restaurant Arlequin can only be used by Akumal guests and is the best as far as we were concerned. The tornedo was almost as good as a filet mignon. My wife really enjoyed her rib steak although it looked too thin for my liking. The rooms were spacious (whirlpool tub) BEDS hard but I slept well which I didn’t think I would. ACTVITY POOL games fun ANIMATION STAFF GREAT . especially PACO and RAMON (from Holland). LORENZO (bartender) at activity pool was GREAT. some tips for going. 1. always ask for a 2nd or 3rd floor room as some of the villas are next to the jungle. 2. Have a great time as it is an excellent resort to which I am sure we will be visiting next year again. If your ride leaves later than noon for the airport don’t worry as they have a wonderful change area with showers, soap, shampoo, towels and they even give you a locker for the day.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Dianne and Stephen — Vermont

April 2003

My husband and I spent two weeks at this resort. It is beautiful. we have been on several all inclusive’s and everytime there have been things we would change. The Bahia is one of the best we have experienced. The biggest complaint from us was the swimming was not what we expected. You cannot swim and play in the waves due to the coral reef. WE did snorkel and that was great. Pool beautiful, some cool and cloudy weather, food very good and plentiful. We met lots of people. WE were not there for the night life so we did not get disappointed by the entertainment shows. Very clean and friendly.

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Bahia Principe Akumal – Mayan Riviera Nancy — New Brunswick, Canada

April 2003

As we used the reviews to help choose our vacation resort I thought I would send in my own review. The reviews on the Bahia Principe Akumal were all very good. Although when you read them you really have to realize that what bothers some people is no bother to others and really look at them all with an overview of everything.

Myself, my husband and and another close couple went to this resort the last week of March 2003. Our vacation was wonderful. This was our second trip to Mexico. This resort truly lived up to the reviews. It is beautiful.

The Resort
It is truly beautiful and spotless. We found all the staff very friendly. They were all very quick to say hello. Even though they all seemed very busy with whatever job they held they always took the time to be very friendly. As we were travelling together we had requested rooms in the same building. Upon checking in that did not happen. We were in two different buildings but they said they would do their best to move us as soon as they could. For some people that may have been a major problem but we said that would be fine and in two days the 4 of us moved to building 67 which had an ocean view. Even though there are 25 or so buildings the majority do not have ocean views unless for a very few only if you are on the top floor. We had originally requested building 47 or 48 as did almost everyone we met. They are the most popular buildings due to their location but building 67 and 66 did have ocean views as well. With so many people reading the reviews and seeing that 47 and 48 are the most popular I can see why they cannot accommodate everyone. But for us – we spent so little time in the room that the ocean view or location were not a problem but really the ocean view is very nice to wake up to.

The rooms were really large and spotless and the towels made into different shapes was really a nice touch. Some days ours had fresh flowers as part of the towel display. The stocked mini- bar fridge is great and something I would look for if travelling to another resort. We usually tipped the maid $1 or $2 everyday. It was not expected we did it because we wanted to.

The Food
We found no problem with the food. There was so many choices that you would be hard pressed to not find something. I really can’t understand some comments about the food as it was always cooked in front of you – pork chops – steaks – salmon – chicken or burgers. Sometimes I asked they put it back on the grille longer – it was never a problem. The salsa was wonderful. We ate at three a la carte resturants – The Gran Toruga on the Tulum side the Mexican on the Tulum side and the Gourmet Resturant on the Akumal side. The Gourmet was the most elegant and the food and service were fine. I liked the Mexican very much but my husband and our friends did not and we liked the Gran Toruga the least. But none were bad. Remember to take your reservation slip with you as twice we did not as we were not told to do so and at the entrance especially to the Gourment Resturant the girl insisted we go back and get it – I told her it was too far and I wasn’t going. It was only when we informed her that we did not know we needed to bring it that she backed off. That was the only time we ever encountered something that bugged us.

The Beach and Grounds
The pool areas are absolutely beautiful. I won’t bother to repeat it all as others have already raived about it. The beach area was beautiful and you never seemed crowded. I would recommend you check out the hammocks down the beach. It is so relaxing to lounge in them with the waves rolling in a few feet away. Our pool areas were much prettier and nicer than the Tulum side. The Akumal is 1 and 1/2 years old as compared to the Tulum which they said was 5 years old. To us the pool area and chairs showed its age but the Akumal was so beautiful it was hard not to notice. Also the Tulum Resturant is much larger and had a few more choices it seemed at times.

The Hacienda Dona Isabel is a great place. We though things would be much more expensive there compared to Playa Del Carmen. But all in all the Hacienda was priced well. Also there is a really nice jewellery shop on the Tulum side that is worth checking out as well.

Going to Playa Del Carmen is a great side trip for shopping with lots of cafes that sell Corona. It was a great day there. Lots of live music too. You really got to see one extreme to the other. The beauty of the resorts and the poverty in the countryside and we never saw so much litter as we did at the entrance to the Tulum ruins. It was truly unimaginable. We also did not eat anything off the resort at all. Only bottled Corona without the lime and out of the bottle. We heard of some people that ate outside the resort which you should never do and they got sick. At the cafes they served salsa and chips which I would not eat. That was a personal choice for us. We just wanted to stay healthy.

Really the Akumal is wonderful and with having access to the Tulum side that doubles your food and a la carte choices. There was a live band playing at the Tulum side which we enjoyed. We did not see any live bands on the Akumal side. The shows were not that great. We had seen some amazing professionsl shows in Cancun a couple of years previous so I was comparing to that.

I heard some people and read some reviews of people complaining of perhaps slow service or what appeared to me minor complaints. But the way I put it into perspective is this way. We came to get away from life’s stresses if only for a week. We had put in a bitterly cold winter. We came to this exotic, amazing, beautiful, warm, spotless resort. Sure maybe the food wasn’t exactly like home – but we weren’t home and maybe the service was a bit slow but hey we were on vacation. Maybe we didn’t get the building we wanted but we didn’t spend that much time there anyway. Everything can’t be perfect – even a vacation. No one got sick – that was the main thing.( And we have travelled before and got extremely ill). If you expect everything to go exactly as planned or what you expect you may be disappointed so you have to expect some things may not go or be as you expected.

So don’t hesitate to book at the Akumal – it really is a wonderful resort and I don’t think you will be disappointed. We would for sure go back again.

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