We have just returned from a vacation in Cancun. We stayed at the Crown Paradise from January 17 to 24. We were travelling with 4 adults and 2 children (3 and 4 years old). As we spent a lot of time looking at reviews on this site, I thought I would give my thoughts.
We flew with Sky Service on a Sunquest package. I would not recommend either of those. The flight out of Ottawa was delayed by 5 hours due to mechanical problems. I can understand such delays, especially on a charter, but they knew well in advance that there was a problem. When we arrived to check in they asked if we were aware of the delay. I believe Sky Service could have done something to inform us prior to arriving at the airport. As for Sunquest, our only dealing with the rep in Cancun was on our first day there. He offered very little information and only seemed interested in selling us tours.
Due to the delay in our flight, we arrived at the hotel around 2 in the morning, instead of 9 in the evening. I thought the hotel did a pretty quick and efficient job of getting us to our rooms. We had adjacent rooms on the first floor of the farthest tower. At booking we had asked for rooms on an upper floor, but to me that really wasn’t an issue. Of concern at the time was the howling wind we could hear outside. Were we in a wind tunnel?? Turned out it was just a windy couple of days.
We had a few minor complaints about the room. Mostly, the bathroom. The tap in the bathtub didn’t quite reach all the way so a lot of water tended to end up on the floor. In addition there was a fist sized dent in the wall near one of the beds. Finally, the air filter was in obvious need of cleaning as it was so lined with dust. Otherwise, the room was quite comfortable. It was a good size for a family of 4. The balcony overlooked the pool with an ocean view and was also a good size. The kids kept wanting to play there and have snacks. Some have said the beds are not comfortable, but we seemed to have no problems with them.
The beach in front of the hotel was a little small, especially at high tide. If your chair wasn’t right up against the wall, you might get washed away! But that was really only a problem on two of the days. We generally had no problems finding chairs, though it was a bit frustrating to see so many of the chairs missing their “backs”. Perhaps it’s time to replace a few of these. The beach was clean and the kids had a great time digging holes and jumping the surf.
Finding space around the pools was more of a problem. People were putting their towels out around 7 in the morning, probably earlier, despite signs posted by the hotel that this practice is forbidden. I’ve always had a problem with people doing that. Everybody wants a place in the sun, but obviously some think it’s more their right. Anyway… the pools were nice. The two main pools were always hopping. One seemed more kid friendly, which presented a bit of a problem. Quite often, families would gather on the steps to let the little ones play there. That’s fine, except that it made it difficult to get slightly older kids in. Mine like to hold onto the railing, but that was hard to do with so many people there. Otherwise, the water was nice. I believe that pool was heated. The other pool, looking out onto the beach, was not heated. That was the activity pool and the one that had the best afternoon sun. I believe there was also a Jacuzzi in this area. However, if I’m not mistaken, it was turned into another kids pool and was never used as a Jacuzzi. Then there was the Kids’ Paradise where the slides were. Our kids never spent time at the kids club, but we did go do some sliding. The water was way too cold! If they can heat one pool, surely they can heat this one too. Otherwise, the slides were great. My kids can’t swim, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. I was in there with them but probably didn’t need to be. The sliding typically stops before truly hitting the water, so they don’t go completely under. Last is the adults’ only pool, which we used only on our last day. An interesting area. Nice to get away from the kids, but I found it noisy in other ways. There were a few groups that insisted on loud conversations and the bartenders were constantly blowing a whistle. Also a good place to catch afternoon sun. But I’m not sure I’d want to spend too much time there.
The a la carte restaurants were great, though hard to get into. Reservations generally had to be made a day ahead and if you wanted a 6:00 seating, this was sometimes hard to come by. But we did get to try them all. My husband and I quite enjoyed the kid free restaurant “50s”. Travelling with two young kids, it was nice to get a break. Wayne’s Boots was a little too loud, but the meals were great. I think my favourite was probably La Piazza, the Italian restaurant. Service at all these restaurants was good, but not great. Things tended to be forgotten, but I attribute that to a language problem. The buffet restaurant was OK. As others have said, the menu tended not to change, especially between lunch and dinner. It did change day to day. I think this was a plan to encourage dining at the restaurants. Anyway, breakfast was generally pretty good (waffles with chocolate sauce – yum!). However, I found the staff there not to be very friendly or helpful, for the most part. Is this because we didn’t always leave a tip? It particularly bothered me the day I was in there alone with the two kids. Trying to get food from a buffet with a 3 and 4 year old can be a bit of a challenge. Nobody offered to get us drinks and no plates were cleared. Meanwhile, a larger table across from us were getting lots of attention and help when they didn’t really need it. A little thing maybe, but that tended to affect my judgement of the staff as a whole. I found, generally, that the hotel staff was not very friendly. There were exceptions of course.
As we didn’t spend a lot of times at the bars, I can’t say much about them. The Pina coladas I had were great! Of my two experiences at the beach bar, I found the bartender to be very rude. On one occasion, I was advised very rudely that they weren’t open yet, which I was not aware. All that for a glass of water.
The hotel put on nightly shows at 8 pm. These lasted from 30 minutes to an hour. The shows were good, but not great. And I think a later start would have been better to avoid rushing from dinner. From our perspective, the best of the shows had to be what they called a “Fantasy” show, geared towards the kids. It had a variety of Disney and other kids characters – Shrek, Tarzan, Mickey Mouse, Barney, etc. Both of our kids loved it and certainly looked like the others in the audience did too.
Check out was not quite as smooth as check-in. First off, we weren’t leaving the hotel until 6:00 that evening. We asked for a late check out (mostly so the kids could nap) and were told to come back the day we were leaving. So at 9:00 that morning we asked and were told to come back at 11:00. At 11:00 we were finally told no. We made our way to the front desk for our noon check out where we were asked for the TV remote (which we had never even used). My husband raced back to the room to get it, only to find we’d already been locked out. A further inquiry about a room for the afternoon yielded nothing until the manager was finally called. Lo and behold, there was a room we could use. For $50 US. We took it as this seemed like the best thing for the kids. Two things with this. First, $50 US seems like quite a lot just for the cost of cleaning a room. Second, I didn’t understand the run around over the issue. Just let us know one way or the other. I tried to get an explanation from the manager, but that yielded little. While I liked the hotel, this episode left me with a bitter taste. It was a shabby way to treat their guests.
Although the Crown Paradise did nothing that really made me say “Wow”, I would probably go back. It’s a great place for the kids and it did have a nice choice of restaurants. I may not have liked it as much as other places I’ve stayed at, but I can’t really point at one thing that would give me enough reason not to go back there.