Arrival: Golden Crown Paradise Stay: Sunday August 29th, 2004 Room: 102 Guests: 1 26yr male, 1 27yr female We booked 2 nights at the GCP but only received 1 because they were overbooked and bumped us to their sister hotel. This isn’t really a problem, and we loved the GCP when we got to it. We arrived around 12:30 on Saturday, got our stuff checked at Bell because the room wasn’t ready, and had a look around. Everything is very easy to find. Outside the main entrance, is the steakhouse (cool atmosphere), tennis courts, and theatre. Inside the main door is the front desk on the left, and the beer garden on the right. further in (the lobby is shaped like a plus symbol) there’s a statue in the centre. To the left from here is the mini-golf, with the business centre at the very end. To the right is the lobby bar, and the entrance to the buffet. in the far end of the plus, is the shops on the left and right, with the stairs to the gym and spa on the right. There’s an exit, which leads to stairs to the pool area. Down the stairs is the pool (divided in to quiet and activity areas by a bridge) and a smaller, shallow, lounger pool to the left of the main pool. Across the bridge is the stairs to the beach. To the right of the stairs from the hotel is the snack bar and the gourmet restaurant entrance. To the left of the lounger pool is the pool bar (no swim-up bar) and the seafood restaurant. When you go down to the beach, there are several rows of palapas for shade, then a beautiful, vast beach. This hotel is built further back form the water then some others, so there is quite a bit of beach.
Our room was great. Tap water is purified but gross. Ran into the same problem as CPC, the water coolers either have great water or gross water. We had a ground floor room, but they gave us a jacuzzi to make up for the bumping. Wow! My GF loved it! Down at the pool and beach, they provide drink and even sometimes snack service. The snack bar has the usual nachos, burgers, hot dogs, etc. Watch your footing in here. The exhaust hood above the grill isn’t vented, so all the grease stays in the room. The ceiling, walls, and floor are very greasy. You can see the grease stain extending about 1/2 a metre out from the entrance. We lazed away some time exploring, then got our room, and had lunch at the snack bar. We checked out the various restaurants and decided on Pier 12 for dinner because of the patio overlooking the beach. Then it was down to the pool and beach for some relaxing. Back to the room for a jacuzzi bubble bath and get ready for dinner. We decided to stop at the pool bar for a drink before dinner as it was early (we didn’t need reservations though! Excellent.) Watch out for Jose at the pool bar. We ordered one drink each and our order was doubled because it was suddenly "happy hour" (which means they made to much drink so we get extra). I tried another drink that someone else had, and then randomly a couple more drinks arrived for us. Jose is a great bartender, a hoot to watch, and very friendly to talk to. Try his Bahama Mamas and grasshoppers.
Dinner and Breakfast and Departure: We staggered up to Pier 12 for dinner. We had stopped in earlier to check out the menu. The man (I missed his name) who saw us then was also our server. He was also super-friendly, helping us to make a food decision and also to learn some more Spanish. If you only have one night here, make sure you eat at Pier 12. The patio over the ocean is beautiful, the sunset is reflected in the clouds, the moon comes out. it was the most romantic dinner of my life. After dinner, more drinks at the pool bar, then we tried to get changed for fantasy casino night but jet lag and Jose’s drinks caught up with us. Sunday morning I checked out the gym which is well equipped. We had breakfast in the buffet – good, great selection, made to order smoothies, omelettes, pancakes, etc.. More pool time, then we checked out, and went for lunch at the buffet. Very good, numerous cook-to-order station (Mexican, oriental, pasta, and stir-fry Mexican.) Don’t touch the Sushi though – it’s not kept cold enough to be safe. Then we were off walking out the front (the hotel is on a little side street so it’s about 2 blocks to the main street, Boulevard Kulkulcan) and down to the bus stop. We caught the city bus for 6.5 pesos each to the bus terminal where we got our bus to Playa Del Carmen. This tale is continued there under "RIU Tequila" Overall I would rate this a strong 4 star, but lacking a few little things to make it a 5 star.
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Good. The buffets had great selection, snack bar was fresh cooked, Pier 12 was good (and I don’t like fish, so…) nice thing about the a la carte restaurants was there was several choices in each category. The gourmet restaurant had a different menu posted for each day, and the steakhouse had lots to choose from (steak, chicken, ribs, burgers, etc.)
Very Strong. Ask Jose for his Bahama Mama.
Super-friendly, always willing to help us with our fledgling Spanish. We’re not big on tipping at all-inclusives (and I have a coworker with family who works here. At the major resorts, the staff DO NOT make only $5 a day.) and we never felt like we needed to or that we were being served less because of it. Had we been here longer I probably would have left something for Jose.
Beautiful, clean and vast. Lots of Palapas for shade, and loungers
Smaller then other hotels, but sufficient.
Great things about CPC:
The staff, the lack of reservations for the a la cartes, the variety on the menu at the restaurants, the beach, the ultra-romantic Pier 12 setting. Tap water is purified but gross
The purified water sometimes tastes pretty bad. Not as much choice of restaurants as some hotels. Dinner buffet was closed on Sunday night. Snack Bar grill needs to be exhausted to avoid the grease issues. There’s no map or services directory. Room Service is supposed to be included, but there was nothing in the room to indicate so.
Paradise Buffet: breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet. Was closed Sunday night.
Pier 12: Seafood restaurant overlooking the beach. Good menu selections, great food, salad bar instead of preset salad.
Old Barn: Steak House. Great atmosphere.
The Breeze (las Brisas): Daytime snack bar, buffet style. Good snacks, by the pool. International gourmet. new menu daily.
The Place: snack bar/a la carte dinner. From their website picture, looks to be at the lobby bar, but the staff have never heard of it.
Afternoon tea: Held at Beer Garden at 17:00 daily.
Bar info: Lobby Bar outside the main buffet. Beer Garden/bar to right of main entrance when you first enter. The Breeze / Las brisas: Small bar at the snack bar Pool Bar: very close to both pool and beach.
Amenities info: Pool: 1, split roughly 60/40 by bride to beach. One side activities, the other quiet. A small lounger pool next to it. Gym: full set of cardio and weight equipment. Spa: extra charge. Mini-golf Shuttle to Marina and sister hotel for activities and use of facilities.
1) When shopping, catching a taxi, etc. You will usually be given the opportunity to pay in US dollars or in pesos, and for simplicity most people use a 10 to 1 exchange rate. ie. 100 pesos, $10 US. Since you should be getting 11 pesos to the US dollar or more at the exchange house (the best rate I got was 11.28 at Scotiabank in Playa Del Carmen) by paying in pesos you’re getting about a 10 % discount. Whenever possible, use your pesos instead of US cash or even instead of credit cards. In chain stores like Plaza La Fiesta (a tourist shop) you’ll notice on the price tag they’ve factored in a proper exchange rate.
2) Tours: unless you are rich or really need the guided package, everything is more affordable to go on your own. Some examples: Bus tour from Playa Del Carmen / Playacar resorts to see the Tulum ruins is US$49 per person including lunch. On your own: round trip taxi from hotel to bus terminal, first class bus round trip to tulum, shuttle train to the ruins, entrance to the ruins, total for two people $28 US. Similar prices apply throughout the region.
3) Transport: At Cancun airport, you’re pretty much stuck paying 90 pesos per person for a shared shuttle to your hotel, unless you leave the airport and get out to where the taxis are or beyond that to where the city bus runs. I didn’t see any other option for that part of the trip. In the hotel zone, the city bus is 6.5 pesos (only 4.5 pesos if you’re not in the hotel zone) or around 60 cents US. The R-1 and R-2 and I think R-27 go almost everywhere you’d want to, and the destinations are listed on the front of the bus. Wal-Mart, plaza Las Americas (big mall where the locals shop, including Chedraui market) and the Terminal Del Autobuses can all be reached by city bus. The Wal-Mart bus says Wal-Mart. For the bus depot, take an "Av. Tulum" bus and get off at Av. Uxmal. To get to Costco, get a taxi on the street from Wal-Mart for 15 pesos. Getting back to the hotel zone should be around 50 pesos. Returning to the airport from the hotel will be around 180 pesos. Taxis in the hotel zone, and shuttles at the airport, are fixed rates (each of the hotels will have a price list posted by the door). If the doorman summons the taxi for you then you should pay exactly that amount (again remember to pay in pesos to save money) but if you grab the taxi then it might be more. If you get a taxi in the city, or in Playa Del Carmen, or anywhere else, be sure you and driver agree on the rate before you go anywhere. It is negotiable, but not much. Tip is built in, you don’t tip the cabbie. The intercity bus system is great. Service is provided from the bus terminal by ADO (1st class, A/C, etc.) and Riviera/MayaB (second class, more stops, etc.) There’s also playa Express that is a shuttle and is cheaper. Sample rates: ADO 1st class, Cancun to Playa Del Carmen 32 Pesos every 20 minutes, same price returning every 10 minutes. The MayaB is about 12 pesos less, but less frequent. Playa Del Carmen to Tulum or Coba 32 pesos each way by ADO, less by MayaB. Playa Express should be less but I couldn’t find their depot and didn’t really care at these prices.
4) Alcohol: If you’re buying alcohol, start at Costco, followed by Wal-Mart. Example prices: 1 litre Kahlua. At home about C$45. In the tourist stores and mini-marts, around 90 to 200 pesos. At Chedraui 81 pesos, At Wal-Mart, 73 pesos. At Costco 61 pesos. Likewise, Tequila starts at around 65 pesos per litre and goes up.
Things to bring with you: Lots of sunscreen. We took 3.5 250ml bottles for 1 week, and went through 3 of them. I’d suggest taking a mix. We took SPF45 normal, SPF30 sport sweat proof, SPF30 eco-friendly (needed if you’re going to one of the eco-parks.) Caution: Don’t forget a hat, even in the pool, and sunscreen lip balm. If you put sunscreen on in the morning before dressing for breakfast, put more on when you take your shirt off at the pool. That’s the only way we got burned was having our t-shirts absorb all the sun block off our shoulders. Also take after-sun gel and bug-bite cream just in case. Disposable waterproof camera for pool, ocean activities, and snorkelling. Thermal mugs for drinks at the pool. They hold more and keep things cold, and keep the sand and crawlies out of the drinks. A backpack for carry water and stuff if you do a tour of the ruins. Immodium, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol. Especially the tylenol! Instead of taking pepto or immodium every day as a precaution, start eating yoghurt every day 2 weeks before you go. You can continue this when you’re there. Lots of shorts and shirts because you’ll sweat a lot. At least one pair of long pants and closed shoes for the men for dinner. Chargers/spare batteries for any electronics, like digital cameras.
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