The Good: •Clean and fairly new property •Rooms were large and very clean •Full access to 2 other sister resorts so lots of variety of pools, beaches, bars, restaurants (buffet & a la cartes) •Good snorkeling for kids around Akumal/Coba beach. You can stand up so very shallow. Not allowed to feed the fish. There is often a person there policing this and policing that you don’t go beyond bouys (of protected coral reef). I did sneak out there once and it is pretty nice but I did notice many inconsiderate snorkelers standing up and damaging the reef so I can understand why they enforce it. There are more variety of fish beyond the bouys (squid, sea turtle, grunts, trunk fish, damsels, butterfly, anglefish, tangs, surgeonfish, etc………) Even within the bouys you can see many of these – mainly surgeonfish, seargant fish, and schools of white fish. •Great waves to play on Tulum beach side beyond sand bags. A bit tricky to get out but once out there amazing. •A la cartes were pretty good esp Mikaido, Gourmet, Arlequin. •Half decent Chilean wine only at Gourmet & Arlequin (white is better, red a bit weak). Other places including buffet is not by the bottle and very weak but not sour like in some resorts. •Good selection of brand name liquor if you ask for it. •Great pools. Good variety given that you can use all 3 resorts and there’s prob 2-3 pools per resort. Coba’s quiet pool was a nice retreat after blasting music of the main one. Akumal’s winding pool is nice as close to beach and you can get your own little stretch or corner. Tulum’s pool was pretty empty as was there resort. •Ocean temp very nice and water is crystal clear. •Nice sandy beach. Easy entry at Coba/Akumal area. Tidal pool and coral on the southern Akumal side. Combination of smooth rock and sand on the Tulum side. •Nice touch with bag of potato chip and a milky way in the mini bar. But really 1 bar/bag for 4 people. A little tip in the fridge with a note cured the problem. •Dolphin show at 11:30am everyday on the Tulum side. But as others say I feel sorry about the dolphins in that tiny pool. The Not so Good: •My daughter got bitten by the squirrel monkey that was being carried around for photo on the beach. BE CAREFUL of what they may carry. Went to Dr at Hacienda who cleaned the wound and warned about Tetanus. Daughter needed Tetanus shots, then the painful rabies shots (x5) upon our return home. If you have not insurance, the rabies vaccine costs $2000 for adults !!!! And now, we will always worry about other potential transmittable virus to my poor daughter.. These are wild animals so unpredictable !!! DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS.
•Inconsistent housecleaning. Some days only 2 towels and no toiletries. No biggy as we would just call down for more but a pain. This had no reflection on tipping
Arrival: •Air conditioner appears to only work best on weekends?? During the week it’s a “damp” cool air rather than cold air but still not as bad as some resorts that put it on economy vent every night in the middle of the night only to have you wake up in sweat. So during the week you would need the ceiling fan on also to circulate the air. Note you are not imagining things, its how hotels save on their energy bill. •Very difficult to connect Wi Fi in Lobby esp during peak times (after dinner and before shows) •Food at buffet is not as high quality of other resorts in terms of things offered such as not offering shrimps/prawns, smoke salmon, procuitto, and nicer cakes. •Pasta bar sauces were nasty esp the creme sauce. Bland. Unlike other resorts where the cook to order pasta would be a highlight. Pizza crust and pizzas are sub par. Taste more like frozen type. •Food at buffet not refilled quickly enough – often empty trays or very dried up looking food. This simply meant going back many times when or if refilled. I think this is due to the number of choices of buffets within the 3 resorts and also due to the fact that the buffet food area has 2 mirror sections so they often neglect one side if other side is still somewhat full. •Meats (pork/beef) typically tough in buffet esp if in a roast or cut up for tacos/fajitas. Many times filet fish were undercooked and some occasions hamburgers red inside. •Water in pools could be a little cool this time of yr esp if cloudy but refreshing. •Guacamoule was pretty bad and inconsistent most of the time compared to other resorts. Very lumpy or watery and sometimes included the skin. •Drinks inconsistent everywhere eg a mohito is made so many diff ways there. •Desserts worse than other resorts in the mayan. Mainly cut up cakes into squares. •Shows are too late at Coba starting at 10pm. Hop over to Akumal or Tulum if you want earlier shows that start at 9pm. Problem is you don’t know what shows are on unless you scout before hand. This is probably my 10th time to the Mayan Riviera so I’ve think I got a good handle of the standards that are offered by diff resorts in this region (Barcelo, Palladium, Gran Sirenis, Turquesa, Iberostar etc..). The Gran Bahia Coba is very similar to all the above resorts with some strengths and weaknesses over the others. I will try to list so of the goods and the not so goods below. Before I forget, thanks Felix for making all the prearrangement before my arrival. It took a load off my shoulders having a convenient room, the a la cartes booked, and late check out arranged before hand. You are the best !
Rooms: FOOD Buffet: – do the buffet 101 rule. If it doesn’t look appetizing or there’s not much left don’t take it or wait for a fresh batch. Also test it and not pile a plateful just in case you don’t like it. Breakfast is regular stuff but cold cuts variety very few. Croissants ok, Churros at Coba only are amazing. Fruits typically due to season was mainly pineapple (not ripe), cantelope, honeydew, watermelon, papaya, guava —- BUT where are the bananas. Had to request them all the time from the drink maker. Good thing they had was Soya milk in the healthy corner. Lunch buffet very simiar to dinner. Always Mexican corner with pollo taco, empanada, cheese bread. Other Mexican stuff not too appetizing. Guacamoule was inconsistent and often not mushed or too watery. Dinners were themed but only hit Thursday night Mexican. It was sad so lucky we only had one buffet dinner. We peaked at other nights after the a la cartes and pretty sad compared to other places like Barcelo or Iberostar or Palladium.
Restaurants and Bars: A La Cartes: Le Gormuet (9 out of 10) Salmon platter app was best as was fish carpaccio. Seafood bisque soup was good. Filet Mignon was good not the best. Snapper deep fried was so so, Grilled shrimp were good but small portion. For dessert the chocolate fondant was best. Pappaya pie ok, raspberry ice cream with sweatbread was ok too. Wines were best a the gourmet. Makaido Grill Table (8.5 out of 10) This is the first time I was impressed by a Japanese restaurant down south. Food was done well and not overcooked and not overly drenched in soya sauce. The cook just cut to the chase and cooked everything perfectly instead of the show which is ok in my books. Apps were great. Real negiri sushi – large piece of salmon/tuna/shrimp. Rolls were nice too. Spring rolls not too exciting. Fried rice was good – well they used butter so of course. Entree was plenty with filet mignon and seafood (shrimp/mussel), or chicken breast. Dessert was coffee jelly or deep fry ice cream as usual. Sake they served was disgusting and tasted like cheap Chinese cooking wine. It was made in China and not Japan ! Arlequin (9 out of 10) For appetizer, the smoke salmon was good, the puff pastery mushroom was gross, the soups were both good, fish soup and creme of mushroom. Filet was very good here and filet group was ok too. For dessert, creme brulee was like egg rather than creamy. The chocolate cake was good. Dolce Vita (8 out of 10) The soup was minestrone or creme of tomato. Antipasto bar had some fish carpaccio, smoke salmon, grilled eggplant/zuchinni and calarmari. More than enough to fill you. For entree was pesto linguine with chicken breast – good. Veal wrap with spinanch mash – good. Alfredo linguine – good. Dessert was good tiramisu, cappacino and nice show from the waiter making Mexican Coffee for us. Le Pescador (7 out of 10) Least favourite of the 5. Appetz had seafood cerviches, fruits, cold mussels etc…..Soup was cream mushroom or seafood. Entree uneventful grouper (taste like one in buffet everyday), coconut shrimp ok, scallop steak (best of the ones ordered). Desserts were at the buffet, flan/stawberries, other cakes.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Comparing 3 Resorts: Coba- busier newer resort. Liveliest of the 3 esp by lobby at night were they have outdoor dancing. Away from beach. Usually better buffet given higher turnover Akumal – nice but less busy. Beach and pool and lobby all right there. Nicest theatre of 3. Cozy fell Tulum – very tame compare to the others. Oldest of the 3 properties but closest to Hacienda. Beach and resort is more spread out
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Entertainment: Some shows lame. Michael Jackson had biggest crowds but was very similar to other resorts. Circus was basically Lion King tribute – so so.Gala Show had some good singing and good acrobat guy in it. The other shows looked a little lame like Ideal couple, or lip sync and dancing. Actually best show was on Friday nights at Coba where the kids mini club has a very good Character, shadow puppet show. I thought prob the best but never publicize and if so it would be to the kids. I think this was better than the normal shows. Coba had great lively dancing after dinner and before show. Lots of dancing below the lobby in open area. Other resorts were dead compared to the Coba. Lounge music bar. Not as lively as lobbies. Felt like I was in a 3rd world during the war watching some starving keyboard player play all the hits of the past. Disco is at the Hacienda and that’s prob why the resorts seem dead after 10-11pm. Excursions Save $$ and do it yourself. As you have access to take collectivos on your own, most places are within 30 Peso $2-3 US (even Xel Ha). Also by being able to access the highway, you can bargain with taxis if that’s the way you want to go. I found collectivos just as fast as taxis in some cases and much cheaper alternative. The ones right in front of the gate are often not the best ones as they will wait for some sucker to guage. Just flag one down and then bargain hard 1. Yal Ku – poor mans Xel Ha. Ensure to go early in the morning as visibility is best and less tours there. Grab a cab that will take you there as it’s 3km beyond the town of Akumal. Make the taxis to stay at the park while you snorkel as it will be hard for you to find a cab there and it’s a long walk back. I managed to bargain hard and got the cabby to take me there and wait for 1 ½ hr then drive me to Akumal town for 140 Peso (the going rate to Akumal by cab to town is 120-140 then to Yal Ku is another 60 Pesos. To get into Yal Ku is 110 Pesos per adult ($10) and kids are about 80 Pesos and Locker is 20 Peso. They will not allow you to wear sunscreen unless organic. Even biodegradable sunblock is forbidden. They will make you show it off as they can smell it. Bring a T Shirt to snorkel !! This was my 3 time to Yal Ku. There didn’t seem to be as many fish nor huge angel/parrot fish as in the past. But it was still great esp for kids as it’s calm water. Tons of Seargant , Surgeon, Parrots, angelfish, butterfly, mullets etc…….Nice caverns to explore. Towards the open outlet the water’s visibility was poor – green and cloudy that you couldn’t see anything. Still a nice visit in this natural freshwater lagoon.
Other Comments: 2. Akumal Beach & Sea Turtles – This is a definite highlight and cheap excursion. We did it after Yal Ku. The beach in town has powdery white sand. Set up under a palm tree and you can just swim out and see the sea turtle straight out from the dive shop/coffee shop. You only have to swim out 3 mins to see the seaturtles. We saw a total of 8. Go futher to the reef another 5min swim and you will be rewarded with huge eagle rays, spotted rays, trumpet fish, grunts, tangs, butterfly fish, damsels etc…… and even flounders. You can also start at the small bend then swim out as there are some nice coral formation. Shop in the market for souveniers. Reasonable. Grabbed a cab back (paid 80peso after walking away from all the ones sitting there not budging for less than 140 Pesos!) Alternatively grab collective by highway for 15 pesos back to the hotel. 3. Azul Cenote – initially wanted to take cab there but too expensive. This is a hidden gem without all the tour bus of larger more popular cenotes. Locals and a few foreigners. Go in afternoon when sun is out. It’s right near the Barcelo resorts so about 15km from Gran Bahia. Took collectivo from highway and we got there in 15min going 120km/hr. Quick and cheap. Paid 20 pesos each (1.50$). Bargain. Entrance to the cenotes were 70 Peso for adults and 10yr and up and 40pesos for little kids. Fish food was 5 pesos a bag. You walk down to 2 small cenotes and you can see tons of guppies and smaller catfish. You will get bitten alive by bug in the bushes so stay in the water. A bit further came the main cenote and your jaw drops. Gorgeous is the word. Nice deck and jumping dock. Deep in the middle and shallow at the edges with tons of catfish/guppies and other colourful fresh water fish. You can even see the caverns and caves on the side of the cenotes. Bring a mat and sit in the sun and relax. Very tranquil and beautiful esp if sunny. 4. Tulum & Beach – a quick collective there 20 Pesos each for the 15km ride. This was my 2nd time there and I knew to bring bathing suit and towel. From the highway you must walk to the entrance gate which is another 10min walk. Ignor all the tourist infor booths as they war just sharks/timeshare etc… Entrance was dirt cheap. 51 peso for adults (about $4) and kids were free. Followed a few tour groups to listen a bit but then just went out on own to see Castello and took famous pic of the ocean and ruins. After 10 min kids were bored tired and hot. It was beach time. This was definitely the highlight of the visit. Crystal clear water and white sand set against granite cliffs. Great waves for riding. Stayed 1 ½ hr on the beach which did get a bit crowded but still you can find your own space in the ocean.