Old Reviews – Akumal Beach Resort

  Akumal Beach Resort    Isabell ~ Canada

May 2009

Arrival: April 2009 We arrived at 10:15 pm at Akumal Hotel, we were really exhausted and hungary but even though the restaurant closes at 9:45 pm, they have waited just for us to arrive and have a dinner. This was very nice of them. But before that I was really angry a the airport in Cuncun where the people try to sell you all different trips to go around and visit, one of the guys was really pushy and didn’t rally care about us except his business.

The room was not I as expected, but when I come to think of it, it is a three star hotel so you can not expect a lot. The beds were hard, really, really hard. The tiles on the bathroom walls and on the floor needed to be replaced, the door from the bathroom was damaged, the door of the room had gaps. It wasn’t my type of a hotel.

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet restaurant was very good. Food was delicious. I can not complain about that. The Italian restaurant was very good to except the fact that you had to pay for all the drinks the offered, this really sucked because it’s an all inclusive trip so you shouldn’t pay for that. We didn’t go to the Mexican restaurant because of the drinks in Italian restarurant (althought i really wanted to). Bars were good too, I can not say anything about it because the only thing that I was drinking it was sprite with rum (that’s what I like).

The beach was wonderfull, I loved it. You don’t even have to dive to see a lot of different fish and also sting rays!!! Pool was amazing too, they had a lot of different games going on, but you need to save your spot early in the morning.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The activities were different each day and night. It was really interesting to see how different countries, hotels and people like to entertain tourists. The people that work there are friendly and open-minded. It seamed like all of them cared about each and every one that came to visit the resort.

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  Akumal Beach Resort    Christina ~ Calgary, Canada

May 2009

Arrival: April 16-19 With Signature,…the bus trip was 3 hours long (normally 1.5 hours) Staff kind of cold,..unaccomadating at check in.

Dumpy ! Dirty, old, beds were hard, chairs rusty (left rust stains on cloths), patio doors did not lock & were hard to open and close. no iron, no water, no fridge, toilet broken, hairdryer caught on fire. Bed sheets too small for bed Railings on balcony were not sturdy and some were broken, held up with caution tape.

Restaurants and Bars:
Food was terrible,..bland and everyday the same,..bread very very stale,..staff not knowledgable on how to cook

BUT the Beach was amazing !! but then the walksways pathetic, pathways rough and uneven. not many chairs on beach,..if you did not put a towel on a chair by 6:30 am there were none left. My dad who is 75 fell a few times due to roughness of the walkways !

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Activities were alright, activity staff were a little crazy, too "young minded". It was like being in Italy, music was Italian,..activities mostly done in Italian.

Other Comments:
Staff was cold and indifferent. Our bus back to the airport came did not ask for us by name, bellboys were useless. The bus took off without us as they did not ask for us even though we were standing right there, so we had to spend 160 US on a cab to the airport. We will never ever stay there again. The snackbar food was disqusting,.we sneaked onto the grounds of the Bahia Principe to get some decent food. The scuba shop was unaccomodating. Overall it was not worth the money (and we have travelled to Mexico a lot) I think it is a one star hotel at most.

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  Akumal Beach Resort    Kim ~ Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

March 2009

Arrival: March 5th – 12th
Very quick, welcomed with a yummy drink:)

Small, Older, but clean. Restaurants and Bars
Italian very good, Mexican so-so ( I would have liked it a bit more spicey) Buffet ok, a bit bland for my taste but fresh. AWESOME Margaritas:) Ask for the El Grande! Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds Beautiful! Beach wonderful , pool COLD and salt water:( Missed a regular pool with swim up bar but they do have a self serve Beer bar:) Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Activities and entertainment and staff AWESOME!!! Other Comments The snorkeling is what we mainly went for and we were NOT disappointed, saw Turtles, Rays etc… A bit pricey if you are not into the snorkleing for a 3 star. Cool thing is if you go 3 times the have a Palm Tree planting Ceremony with your name on your tree! A very nice personal resort, met some great people:) Top of Page

Akumal Beach Resort Kristen ~ Ontario, Canada

January 2009

Arrival: December 26 – January 3
We arrived in Cancun at around 9 on December 26. It was a 1.5 hour bus ride to ABR. Upon arrival at around 12am, we were served tropical drinks, then assigned rooms. The rooms had 2 sandwiches in them, for a tasty snack.

The rooms were very nice. 2 beds, airconditioner and ceiling fan, each room got a patio with chairs on them. The toilet in our room didnt flush easily, but we figured out how to work it properly. Other then that the room was quite comfortable. Restaurants and Bars: Bars: there were three bars, all spread out evenly through the resort. The drinks were good, but the bartenders used plastic cups instead of glass, (at two of them) which sort of gave it a different taste. The snack bar was really good, they had hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, pizza,chicken nuggets and wings, fruit, salads etc. Restaurants: food was good, breakfast was incredible breakfast: diff kinds of bread (make sure you have the croissants!!!!) fruit, yogurt, pancakes, omlettes, eggs, sausages, toast, fruit drinks. lunch: pasta,fish/meat, salads, fruit, bread, desserts of course. dinner was similar to lunch

all in all the food was great.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beach: INCREDIBLE. the sand was white, and soft on your feet. the snorkelling was amazing, we saw: barracudas, sting rays,tropical fish,turtles and lots of coral.

*if you want a hut on the beach, you have to go early to the beach and put your towels there. (like really early. 6am?)

Pools: unfortunatley, the pool was salt water. which is too bad because it wouldve been nice to clean all the salt from the ocean off in the pool, but we couldnt. there were three pools, (technically two were connected) Grounds: the grounds were always always cleaned up. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There were usually always activities going on around the pool ie: chacha lessons, aqua fit, beach volleyball tournaments. We took a half day tour to the Coba Ruins.

we climbed the pyramid, and it was an amazing epirience.

Other Comments: -staff were very friendly! Top of Page

Akumal Beach Resort Darrell & Brenda ~ Halifax, NS

October 2007


We LOVED it!!! It’s true, the ABR is not for everybody, but it was the right place for us. We loved the laid back friendly atmosphere. If you want glitz and glamour, them pick another resort. Our trip was Oct 6-13. We were celebrating our 30th Anniversary on Oct 8th. We arrived in Cancun at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. It was beautiful warm and sunny. On the way to the resort it started to shower a little. We did have an afternoon thunder and lightening shower. I thought the light show was a nice welcome for us. lol. We were given room 529. Second floor overlooking the pool and beach. We had a beautiful view. About five minutes after we got to the room there was a knock on the door. Two staff members delivered a bottle of champaigne and a lovely fruit plate. They also gave us a and Anniversary congratulations note. After walking around the resort and checking out the facilities we knew we made the right choice. The resort is so easy to navigate. Nothing is further than a few steps away. The ABR is located on a beautiful stretch of beach. Entry into the water is easy with no rocks to climb over. Our room was comfortable and clean. Everything worked the way it should. Our patio door did not lock automatically when you shut it. The humidity is quite high in October. I took a couple of dollar store garment bags to keep the clothes that needed to be hung in the closet free of moisture. I also took a couple of extra large garbage bags to keep the suitcases in. It worked perfectly to keep the moisture off the clothes. At the end of the week the few pieces of clothes that were hanging out of the garment bags were quite damp. I dried them with the hair dryer before I packed them. Problem solved. There was no fridge in the room, however we were provided with an insulated water jug that we took to the bar and filled with ice. We had a water cooler around the corner from our room that we added to the ice. Voila, ice water. The safe is a little smaller than some of the other resorts we have been to, but it was plenty big enough for everything we needed to keep in it. The water pressure in the shower was great. Lots of hot water. The tv had several english speaking channels. For the most part the rooms were pretty sound proof. We did hear our neighbours come home a couple of nights. I don’t think some people realize that they can actually shut their door without slamming it. We had no problem finding enough food in the buffet to keep us satisfied. Carlos in the buffet only asked us what we wanted to drink the first day, after that he knew and just confirmed it with us before he got our "cold milk" and agua. The selection may not have been as varied as some of the other resorts we have been to, but we didn’t find anything to complain about. There was the usual breakfast fare, omelet bar for eggs any way you liked them. They only had fried bacon on Friday, but there was always bacon chopped for omelets. There were also fresh pancakes, french toast, etc. each morning. Breakfast pastries, dry cereal, fruit, sliced meat, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, juice, etc. I’m probably forgetting something. Oh, the best muslie. Real nuts! Lunch in the buffet had fish, chicken, pork and beef in some form or another. There was a nice selection of salad fixings as well as a couple of different salads. Fresh fruit, yummy deserts. Soup, nachos, salsa, guac, a couple of different vegetable dishes, rice. There was also a pasta bar and something was always being freshly grilled. Supper was laid out similiar to lunch, but had nightly themes. They were carving roast beef one night and grilling fresh fish. I think we missed the BBQ night. Never had a problem finding something we liked. If you couldn’t find something to eat in the buffet at lunch, you could always visit the snack bar. Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, some days chicken nuggets, some days chicken pieces. Nachos, salsa, melted cheese, salads, fruit. Solf serve ice cream. We had a few through the week. I liked with topped with a spoon or two of the fruit salad. We ate one night at each restaurant, the Italian and the Mexican. OMG, too much food. Hubby is a little picky and doesn’t like spicy food so he didn’t enjoy the restaurants as much as I did, but I was stuffed when we got up to leave. If you book the restaurants, eat lightly at lunch or you will be sorry, soooo much food and soooo good. Because it was slow season there was never a wait for anything. The three bars are only about a three minute walk between each of them. Drinks were good, bartenders are very cheerful, always smiling. Service was great throughout the whole resort. Everybody was very helpful. Snorkeling was the best. It was like snorkeling in the worlds biggest aquarium. It was Darrell’s first time snorkeling. He was amazed. I loved it. The first day out we stopped counting turtles at 8. We saw the fish ball, the barracuda, a stingray, angel fish, beautiful beautiful fish. We had some wet weather while we were at the ABR but that was to be expected, tis the season. We didn’t let it stop us. You can still swim even when it is raining. I did get out of the water when it started to thunder and lightening. There was some rain the first couple of days but it didn’t last long. It did rain all day Wednesday when a system passed over us. Thursday morning came with the sun and it was beautiful. We had rain some days after dark, that suited me fine. We toured the Tulum ruins early in the morning. We took the collectivo $2 each one way. Much better than a taxi. I think a taxi from the ABR to Tulum was around $30. We paid $48 for a guided tour, transportation from the gate to and from the ruins and entrance to the park. I would highly recommend getting the guide. They explain things and answer any questions you have, it is most certainly the way to go. Go early, there is not a lot of shade and it can get pretty hot. We strolled the beach to Akumal several times, it is only a ten minute walk, if that. We didn’t realize that the Chomak was as big inside as it was. I though it was only a tiny little store. Was I surprised when we entered. They had t-shirts starting at $2 US. You could buy other souvenirs, jewelry, grocery items, liquor, pretty well anything you were looking for. There are a couple of dive shops in the area. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear and want to buy some, it is very reasonable priced. To sum it up, we had wonderful vacation. Everybody was so nice and helpful. Service was great. We met several very nice people from all over the place. We are looking forward to our next trip to the ABR. Thanks to the staff at the ABR for a wonderful week.
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Akumal Beach Resort Nancy ~ New Jersey

May 2007

Just got back from Akumal Beach Resort and had a spectacular time! Brought along our 3 children ages 17, 19, 20 and they were very happy with all.

1. Definitely a 3 star – no glitz & waterfalls & big resort extras. It was a basic resort with more of an intimate feeling. Rooms were very clean yet need to be updated ie. paint, decor, etc. I read alot of reviews about the beds being too hard but had no problem with ours. We were on the 3rd floor building 6. Our children were in the corner room building 6 which was a few feet longer. We really enjoyed the food – definitely an Italian flair to it with the pastas(perfectly cooked), sauces and interesting salads. Every night there was a special meat being served. And the grill bar cafe did have excellent soft icecream and guacamole & salsa. YUM!!!

The apple rep at the hotel was useless never made the appt times, etc.

2. Excursions –
Xel-Ha – We took the collectivo out by the main highway. Seemed odd at first but everyone does that. Xel-ha was okay. Beautiful, natural etc but commercialized. We enjoyed the swimming & snorkeling at Akumal Beach much more.

3. Beach –
Snorkeled all over the bay and saw sea turtles, stingrays, barracuda and zillions of colorful fish.

4. People –
Hotel crew were wonderful. The vacationers were mostly Italian and English speaking then some French and German. No problems with the bracelet coloring. Just gave the young crew a clue about what language to speak to you.

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Akumal Beach Resort D & B ~ Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

March 2007

As a Christmas gift, my wife and I brought our daughter and son-in-law, son and his girlfriend (all 23 – 27 yrs old) to this all-inclusive resort for the week of Mar 1-8. We all stayed in the middle block of the 3 older blocks at the north end. These rooms are definitely 3 star material at best, nothing fancy, but they were clean and maid service was daily. There are no tubs; showers only here. Depending on demand, sometimes the hot water wasn’t hot. Everything else was fine, although we are not fussy people. I’m sure the newer areas in the middle and to the south end of this resort are a lot nicer and more modern. However the beach at the very south end is lousy. If you stay at the north end of the beach, it is a lot quieter and the resort personnel don’t bother you to join in their games and activities. They could use more pylapas in this area. The pool area is very nice. Anything you have heard about a great beach is true (except the very south end). It’s a 5 star, reef-protected beach with great snorkelling. There are manta and spotted rays, all sizes of sea turtles, massive schools of fish, crabs, Barry and all the coloured fish and coral the Caribbean can offer. There was the odd topless sun bathing, but not in the main area.

This resort is a family resort and I must say they do cater to the young kids a lot. The staff treated us nicely and the entertainment team was fun and friendly. Impressively a lot of them can speak English, Italian and French. There were decent shows in the theatre and the usual bar games and entertainment at the main bar.

We found the buffet restaurant had a wide variety of food and was quite tasty. The only drawback for us was that there is no fresh coffee; it comes out of a machine. You can get strong, ground-on-the-spot coffee out at the bar, mind you. We enjoyed the Italian a-la-carte restaurant, but weren’t able to line up the Mexican one. The system they use for reserving the a-la-cartes isn’t the most user friendly. We usually tipped the different bartenders at both bars $1 every night and day. Possibly this made the service and quality of the drinks very good. If 4 mid-20 year olds are happy, the drinks must have been good. The maids and waiters sure appreciated the odd tips/gifts we left them.

We have been to a range of resorts from ones like this to the (sometimes ridiculously) lavish large resorts. Personally, we would rather come to a resort like this where everything is close at hand and not so busy. Xel-ha, Tulum, Actun-Chen and Hidden Worlds are all very nearby and interesting destinations.

Anyway, we don’t spend much time in our room, so if you can handle a 3 star room (possibly more, depending on where you end up) with a long 5 star beach, this is the place.

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Akumal Beach Resort Marlene & Graham ~ England

February 2007

The reviews on this website have been so helpful for choosing our holiday destination, that we feel we should add our own review hereafter.

The Akumal Beach Resort (ABR) was exactly what we were looking for. Quiet, beautiful and well away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun.

The Room
We had a lovely large room in one of the new buildings (6 I think) on the 2nd floor with an enormous King-size bed. The balcony was wonderful and the view spectacular! The shower room was roomy, but could have done with some kind of shelving to put Shower gels and Shampoos on. Also sometimes (I assume when everyone else is having showers), there was no water available, but that never lasted long and the water pressure was great!

The Beach
It was simply heaven to just walk up and down the beach, letting warm water splash over our feet. The staff is always making sure that any seaweed is removed and the beach kept clean. It was immaculate and there are so many Sunloungers and Palapas all along the beachfront that we always found shade at any time of the day. Because the resort is spread along the beach, it never feels too busy. We also took up snorkelling for the first time and the staff at the hotels own dive shop was very helpful. There are so many amazingly colourful fish just offshore and we even saw ‘Barry’ the barracuda. To see Sea Turtles, we heard it’s best to snorkel near the boats on Akumal Beach.

The Pool
The pool area looked very nice, but we never actually went into the pool once. Why would we, when the sea was so perfect!

The Food
The main restaurant is so pretty and perfectly placed in the middle of the resort right on the beach. The food was reasonably varied and very tasty. Especially the freshly baked breads and the desserts! Breakfast was our favourite; it was hard to decide where to start! We ate at the Mexican Restaurant once, but preferred the Main Restaurant and didn’t bother visiting the Italian Restaurant. The Snack Bar is a nice area and very handy, but we usually had lunch at the Main Restaurant.

Daytime Activities
There are lots of activities going on throughout the day, if you’re up for it and the animators are very friendly. We’re not really into sports and games and prefer relaxing. The staff respects that and won’t hassle you.

Evening Entertainment
This is the only thing we were disappointed in. The only place to go in the evening is the Main Bar and most evenings they had a duo singing cover versions. That’s fine for an evening or two, but after that we would have preferred some variation. Maybe a Mexican band, seeing as that’s where we were. From about 9pm, the animators will come out and try to get people to dance. Then they will hand out the medals to whoever won the tournament of the day or the ‘crazy game’. They would ask ‘Who’s from Canada? Who’s from England?’ and so on (every night!) and we found that quite annoying! Every other night, the animators put on a show in the Theatre. There was usually audience participation involved. Again, not our cup of tea! We came to be entertained, not to be the entertainment. The Theatre is huge and has a lot of potential, but it’s cold (Air-Conditioning) and smells damp. That might be a reason why many people stayed away. This all wouldn’t matter, if there were another bar open to get away from it. It’s just a question of what you’re into, really.

The village is very close and just a stroll away from the ABR. We went there every other day. It has a supermarket, art galleries, cafes and restaurant. We also ventured into Half Moon-Bay in North Akumal. It’s only about 20 minutes walk from the ABR. There is one amazing villa after another and a fantastic Bar/Restaurant called ‘La Buena Vida’ right on the beach. We went there a few times, even in the evening, and it’s safe to walk there. Bring a flashlight though. We borrowed one from Guest Relations.

We went to see Coba and Aktun-Chen on one day, which was very interesting.

Another day we went to the Jungle Crossing trip which takes you through the ‘jungle’ in an offroad vehicle to an ‘isolated’ Mayan Village where you get to swim in a Cenote and an Underground River. Afterwards it takes you to a Lagoon for Kayaking and Snorkelling. It rained for the first half of the trip, which put a dampener on things, but we were quite disappointed as the Mayan ‘Village’ was just a couple of huts 10 minutes off the main road (a souvenir shop and Lunch area). It was a bit of a rush-around and we didn’t really learn anything.

For our third trip we went to Tulum and Xel-Ha. Again it was a bit of a rush and we could have spent a whole day on either of those destinations. Both could easily be reached via Collectivo and would cost a fraction of what we’d spent. Xel-Ha is wonderful if you like snorkelling and is a very relaxing little paradise.

For our last trip we went to Xcaret! This is an absolute MUST! Wonderful park and a most spectacular evening show. Very educational! It was very surprising how well the huge groups of people spread out. We often found ourselves on our own! It’s best to take a Collectivo there and take a taxi back after the evening show.

We had a really lovely time at the ABR and all the staff was very nice. It was exactly what we were looking for (apart from maybe the evening entertainment). We would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a perfect setting and pure relaxation! I wish we were still there!

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Akumal Beach Resort Chris and Mike ~ England

December 2006

we stayed at the akurmal resort, it was excellent, the staff were lovely and friendly, the hotel was great and very clean and tidy, the food was delicious and everything we requested was available to us, all the staff bent over backwards to tend to all of our needs, we would definitely visit here again, the beaches are some of the best we have ever seen. the fish were excellent and swimming with the royale dolphin swim was one of our greatest highlights. Visiting the exacarte jungle park and swimming with the turtles was definitely an experience we will never forget. ,The weather was excellent, came up at six in the morning and the sun went down at six at night, i would rather stay at river maya than cancun as it is more of a taste of mexico, you must go just to see how it is at Cancun even if you only stay for a day .or a night,

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Akumal Beach Resort Paul and David ~ Canada

August 2006

My teenage son and I just got back from our first father and son vacation. It was as near perfect as one could have expected. It even surpassed my lofty expectations. But before I start with the review, I would like to say that with so many hotels to choose from, it is hard to rely on the marketing information – they all say the same thing. I found that personal reviews posted on this web site were a great help. My son and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to post their comments. So, here I am posting my comments so I may be of some help with your vacation planning. I will not repeat all the information that is already well written in the other reviews but provide some new insights.

With so many destinations to choose, I am glad we chose the Mayan Riviera (a strip of land from Cancun to Tulum) and specifically the Akumal Beach Resort. Why? Beaches, water, safety, sunshine, attitude and value.

Akumal beach is not as long as some of the other beaches on the “strip” but it is wide, clean and white. When the tide came in every day, it would leave seaweed and seajunk as it retreated. The clean up team would come out and return the beach to it’s pristine condition. The Caribbean has white sand that is generated from the coral versus the sand that comes from rocks on the west coast.

The water is bath water warm with a beautiful blue colour that a camera cannot truly capture. In the water at Akumal Bay there is a great coral reef and sea turtles (depending on the time of the year). The turtles hang around there because of they eat the sea grass that grows in the shallow part of the bay. In fact, only 25 feet off shore, we saw our first sea turtle… it was cool. DON’T touch them though as they are endangered and it is illegal. Hovering over them was still fascinating. It was one of the highlights of the trip.

The people that live in the Cancun to Tulum strip are extremely reliant on tourism. Given this fact, I knew we would be well taken care of and safe. We went to all the cities, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun and we did not feel unsafe. Naturally, if you speak no Spanish, you will feel uncomfortable and frustrated when you want to express yourself beyond the normal requests – where is the washroom, how much is it, etc? I must say that the people in the Tulum area seemed friendly and genuine. My Mexican friend who lived in Mexico City most of his life told me the following way to travel safe if venturing out into the city for a day trip. The common problem is having your pursue or wallet stolen because tourists tend to “stick out” and carry way too much cash and valuables on them. He suggests that you do NOT carry your passport but carry a photo ID. You cannot afford to lose your passport. Carry one of your credit cards with a small limit and enough money for the basics needs such as 500 pesos is equivalent to $50 USD. Keep the ID, credit card and money in your front pocket or fanny pack. This way you will never have to worry about having a “pick-pocket” steal your purse or wallet.

I was surprised how sunny it was. The weather forecast called for shattered showers and thunderstorm each day. We had fantastic weather for 6 straight days and only a cloudy day on the final day. The “bad” weather seemed to occur overnight. During the day, it was hot, sunny and humid. The sun comes up a 6:30 am and goes down at 7:00 pm. Plan your day trips around that. A great website is the following. It has a 10 day forecast as well as the hurricane and tropical storm forecast… don’t forget to check that out.

http://www.cancun.bz/cancunweather.htm and http://www.cancun.bz/hurricane_color_codes.php

The Akumal Beach Resort is for families or individuals looking for a vacation with no attitude or the “Club Med” experience. It is a place where guests can relax and really “recharge their batteries”. The resort is not new and it is not fancy. It is not large. It is a 3 star facility. The lobbies and restaurants are all open with no air conditioning – except the rooms. It is extremely clean and comfortable. In fact, after the second day, you will know most of the places in the resort and see the same staff members. We stayed only 1 week and wished we had stayed two. Most of the guests were from Italy, France and the UK and they stay 2 weeks because of the travel time. It was near the end of the first week when we started to know the people. You start to feel that you are part owner of the resort and the guests are your family… really.

Because it is not a 4 or 5 star resort, the price is extremely reasonable. You get all the beauty of the Caribbean, all the great food, drinks, service and a friend guests. As a bonus, you have the community of Akumal only 5 minutes down the beach which has quite a few nice shops, restaurants and even a very comprehensive fitness centre. Do NOT forget to go to the Yal-Ku Lagoon!


Lastly, we booked our trip through Conquest Holidays and flew with Air Transat from Vancouver. From both end, Vancouver and Cancun, they really went to great efforts to ensure our vacation went smoothly. For example, from the Akumal Beach Resort we had a car and driver take us directly to the Cancun airport. It was just to two of us in the car. When we arrived, there were thousands of people leaving and the line ups were huge! I was concerned that we would have to wait for 1 to 2 hours just to check-in. I was totally impressed that Conquest and Air Transat had coordinated things so well that we were taken directly to their section by a Conquest representative and had to wait only 2 minutes to check-in. Within 10 minutes, we were through security. Now that is service and a great way to end a vacation.

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Akumal Beach Resort Mick, Mel and Jordan ~ England

July 2006

Thought i would let you have our opinion on the Akumal Beach Resort Hotel as your web site has been very useful and ACCURATE and has been a great help to us.

Lets start, great flights with first choice, new planes, loads of leg room without upgrading, individual mini screens on the back of each seet with good films and computer games much to my 12 year old sons delight. Arrived at Cancun on time and a good journey to the Hotel. A great overall first impression of the hotel when we arrived bearing in mind we had been travelling in total 16 hours. A welcome was received

The ROOM – Fantastic, we were in block 6 , the newer blocks, which I had pre asked for via e-mail after reading previous comments on your site. the room was very spacious, being on the ground floor at the end we had a massive balcony, large wardrobes and dressing area. A walk in tiled shower room which was wonderful. The only thing lacking was drawer storage, again which I was aware off through your site. I did leave my comments on this with the hotel on their comment card, as with 3 people we certainly could have done with somewhere to have stored the smaller items of clothing.

The POOL area was beautiful, exceptionally clean, plenty of sun loungers just great.

The BEACH – amazing. The water is beautiful and warm just be a little aware of some coral on the sea bed in some areas, best to go in wearing footwear. According to my son the snorkelling was fantastic, he saw some wonderful fish and was delighted to see a Barracuda – or so he says!!
Lots of sunloungers not always easy to obtain a Palapa but we always managed to find some kind of shade. It was just lovely to walk up and down such a wonderful beach – typical carribean. Just a short stroll down the beach you were in Akumal, great little supermarket there, very reasonably priced compared to the Hotel shop. If you run out of sun lotion go to the supermarket.

FOOD – In the buffet resturant the food was exceptional, always varied and always fresh. The only problem was that if you sat by the window it was a struggle to tear yourself away from the fantastic view of the ocean!! Its the first time in a few years that we have NOT had an upset stomach. We didn’t think much to the Italian and Mexican Resturants but again thats just our personal taste, we thought the menus could have offered more choice, but the service was good and the settings lovely.
The beach snack bar during the day was excellent and the kids loved it although saying that even they were fed up with Burgers and sausages by the end of the two weeks!. The icecream on tap was delicious.

ACTIVITIES The staff worked exceptionally hard and all were very friendly and helpful, there was always something going on, from merenge lessons to beach activities. Again my only negative comments on this was that young children were catered for with the Kids Club but my son who was 12 often wanted to join in especially the water games but was told that it was not really for children. So i think the activity staff need to organise some of the activities for 10 – 15 year olds. Fortunately my son was joined on holiday by some friends he met 2 years ago so he was fine, but I do not know how he would have kept occupied without them.

The night entertainment was good, but we only went to see 2 of the shows in the theatre – but they were fantastic, very professional. Its a shame that not many people were watching the shows, but I think its because the shows are held in the theatre which is away from the main bar and resturant area. Still there was plenty going on.

The Grounds, were beautiful , always clean, the gardeners were always tending to the grounds. The maintenance staff worked very hard, any problems they were there in minutes.

TRIPS , we didn’t do many, we did the half day trip to Tulum, which in the heat is enough. Great to see a bit of Mexican history and then we went down to the beach at Tulum which was fantastic with great waves. We swam with the Dolphins, again breathtaking, what an experience, just be aware that if it rains you will not get any photos or DVDs. our swin lasted almost an hour but when we first went in the pool we had a downpour that lasted 20minutes so the photographers packed up. When it stopped raining I asked why the photographers had not come back out as for all of us it was a once in a lifetime experience, hence at the end of the swim no one had any photos. There were a lot of angry and upset people. The next day I mentioned it to our rep, explaining how if it had rained the full 50 minutes we could understand the photographers but our point was that there was 30 minutes of sunshine when the photographers could have come back out.

We left it with her and 10 minutes later she rang our room and told us that the bus from the dolphin swim would pick us up, take us back and we could go back in the water and have our photos taken again. FANTASTIC, we get to swim with the dolphins twice. We did this and nothing was too much for trouble for them, we were taken straight into a pool and just me and our son had our own private swim whilst they took photos, which turned out great. First Class service from First Choice and Dolphin World.

OVERALL A fantastic Hotel whose staff are a credit them. We had the most wonderful time and we would certainly recommend this hotel to anyone who wants a peaceful laid back vacation.

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Akumal Beach Resort Lee and Mike ~ Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

May 2006

We recently returned from two weeks at Akumal Beach Resort. This resort is rated 3 stars but we were very pleased with everything and would definitely return. We were in the older section of the hotel (Block 200)and although the room was not fancy, it was kept extremely clean and the sheets and towels were brilliant white. In general, the cleanliness of the whole resort was amazing. We understand that the newer section has slightly bigger rooms with iron & ironing boards and central air (as opposed to window air conditioner units). If you want to upgrade, it may be better to do it through your travel agent. The hotel wanted $40 US per night to upgrade.

It was 33 degrees and sunny the entire 14 days, with a constant breeze off the ocean. Because of the strong sun, people got up very early ( by 6 am) to reserve palapas on the beach or umbrellas around the pool. There was a shortage of shady spots, so the "PALAPA WARS" began – people were removing other’s belongings and claiming the chairs, people were claiming the towels on certain chairs were theirs (how can you tell when the hotel towels are all the same??), etc. The palapas on the beach are large and rectangular (room for 4 chairs underneath)and sometimes 2 people were reserving 4 chairs. By week two, some smaller round palapas were being constructed and there were 3 new smaller ones by the end of our vacation. This will provide more shade and hopefully prevent "palapa hogging".

We were lured by reviews of the awesome snorkelling herebut we were initially a little disappointed until it was explained to us how much damage the hurricanes of the fall of 2005 had done. In speaking with some return guests, they had noticed a huge difference in the reefs & ocean life since their previous visit prior to the hurricanes. The coral is beginning to grow again and sea life is returning to the area. We did get a chance to snorkel with 5 sea turtles of varying sizes – what an awesome adventure. Also, snorkelling at nearby Yal-Ku lagoon was rewarding.

There are some resident cats at this resort. Most of them are shy and don’t interact with the tourists. However, there is one very friendly female grey tabby that "resides" in the grassy area and bushes between the 100 and 200 blocks of the hotel (behind the Moonrise swing bar). We made sure that she was fed each day and she actually found out where our room was and came to visit us (on the second story by climbing up and over the balcony !!) on a few occasions. If you are a cat lover going here, please feed her (we never did find out if she had a name, but we called her Maisy).

The car rental at the resort is now Alamo (apparently was Budget previously). We wanted to rent a car and were quoted $75 US for 24 hours and no deals for more than one day. Unfortunately, the Alamo rep spoke little English, so we decided to take "collectivos" (public transportation) instead. A few days later the Alamo desk had a sign on it with a 3 day deal of $159 US. We spoke to two Canadians at Tulum who pre-booked a car on-line before they travelled and got a rate of $99 for 7 days (not sure which company). It sounds like booking a car in advance is a good idea because it sometimes takes a few days for the vehicle to be delivered to the hotel making spur of the moment travel more difficult.

We got to the 3 main ruins (Tulum, Chichen Itza and Coba) all of which were beautiful in their own different way.You can no longer climb Tulum or Chichen Itza, but we did climb Coba and what a view!!! Coba is in a more natural jungle setting than the other two, but all were worth visiting.

At the time of our visit, $1 US was equivalent to 10 Mexican pesos. Money exchange is available at the front desk.

If you are thinking of visiting this resort and have any questions, you can e-mail us at paws@rivernet.net and please put Akumal in the subject line so that we know it is not junk mail.

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Akumal Beach Resort John & Eva ~ Richmond Hill

March 2006

I felt compelled to write a review on the Akumal Beach Resort, since there hasn’t been one posted since last June. We just returned from spending March Break at ABR from March 9 – 16. I went with my wife and 13 year old daughter, and our adopted Nancy (who was a joy to party with!). In a nutshell, we all had a fabulous time! I will break down our thoughts into smaller paragraphs for easier reading.

We booked our trip through Signature Vacations, they used Skyservice. The flight left about 30 minutes late to Cancun (no biggie, what do you expect during March Break), and 60 minutes late on the return (again, it’s March Break). The flight was a little better than I had anticipated because we were on a B757, which is somewhat roomier than an Airbus.

Trip to the Resort:
ABR is described in the brochure as 50 minutes from Cancun airport, well maybe at 3:00 AM via a maniacal taxi driver. Once the bus actually left the airport at 10:00 PM (we landed at 8:20 PM), it stopped at 4 other resorts dropping off their guests on the way to ABR. We finally arrived at ABR just before midnight! There were only 2 other families being checked in at this time, so this process was quick. We were surprised when we got to our room to find 3 sandwich plates, 3 fruit plates, and 3 bottles of cold water waiting for us, how thoughtful! We have taken many winter Caribbean vacations including Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Columbia etc. in resorts ranging from 2* to 5*, and we’ve never had this thoughtful treat provided to us before!

The Resort:
ABR used to be 2 resorts at one time. Buildings 1-4 are mostly one storey, running diagonally from the beach, and is the older section. Some people mentioned low water pressure in those buildings. The newer section is buildings 5-7, which lie parallel to the beach, all rooms have a perfect view of the ocean! Building 5 lies directly in front of the busy pool area, building 6 & 7 lie beside the buffet restaurant. We stayed in room 611, the midpoint of Building 6, on the ground floor, almost the perfect location, a 2 minute walk to the buffet restaurant, 30 seconds out the sliding door to the beach! We had read that ABR mainly catered to Europeans, but we didn’t notice anything. We felt that the guests were pretty much evenly divided between Italians, Brits, Americans and Canadians.

Our Room:
Our room was basic, but clean. The room lacked a dresser with drawers, which would have been nice, but we had plenty of hangers, and a key lock safe. As mentioned previously, the beds were hard, but we all slept well and no one reported back aches, like I suffer from at home. Satellite TV worked fine, AC worked well, plenty of water pressure and hot water, the room was plenty big enough for the 3 of us.

Someone had complained about the pool being small, we didn’t find that to be the case. The main section was about 4.5′ deep, there was a small kiddie pool, a small deep pool about 8′ deep, and a ‘Hot tub’ area which was connected to the pool so the water was pool temperature, a nice area to sit with a drink. Unfortunately there isn’t a swim up bar, but there is a pool bar 10′ away from the pool. The one and only complaint we had was the lack of loungers, by 8AM they were all gone.

The beach was nice, with white sand, but away from directly in front of the pool, the beach was full of tiny bits of coral, so you had to be careful where you stepped. The ocean was warmer than the pool, but be advised to wear watershoes when going in, without them you were liable to step on a sharp rock or piece of coral, or stub your toe on the same. Four of the days we were there, it was extremely windy so there was a yellow flag up, and large waves. When the wind subsided, the flag became green, and the ocean was smooth as glass. Another fact, the palapas tended to be all taken by 8AM too, frustrating for non-early birds. We did notice every day that staff were raking the seaweed off the beach, and in the week we were there, we encountered one beach vendor, who smiled & left when we told him we weren’t interested.

There is one main buffet, and 2 specialty restaurants, an Italian and Mexican. We thought the buffet food was excellent, it wasn’t overly fancy (no ice carvings etc), but it was nicely presented. Every night there was a choice of meats including Pork, Chicken & Beef, and usually fish too. Breakfeast had many choices, including an omelette bar and a pancake bar frshly made with your ingredients. The coffee machine actually made good coffee! We ate at the Italian restaurant, others before us weren’t impressed, we thought it was okay for a change of pace to be served instead of the buffet. We never made it to the Mexican restaurant. There were different theme nights in the buffet though, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Seafood night etc. We heard of no one getting sick, the general consensus was that the buffet food was surprisingly good! There was also a grill, by the pool bar serving hot dogs, quisedillas, nachos, hamburgers etc. The guacamole was to die for! Be sure to check out the soft ice cream machine between the pool bar and grill!

We never experienced lineups at any of the 3 bars, drinks didn’t seem watered down. The Moonrise bar at the Building 1 end is great, not busy, great view of the ocean, and swings instead of stools for seats! Ask for Bacardi, or else you’ll get the local stuff. Try the Akumal Special, a colourful slushy type drink, very good! During meal times in the buffet, you can serve yourself to wine and beer, right in the buffet.

So many things to see in this area. Take a Collectivo from the hiway outside the hotel for $2/person anywhere on the strip, much cheaper than taxi, just as reliable. We went to Tulum to see the ruins by the oceanside (only 15 minutes from ABR), very nice, we heard Koba was the most natural one to see, but never made it there. The tiny sleepy town of Akumal is 5 minutes down the beach from ABR, a few gift shops, a grocery store which besides selling groceries, also sold reasonably priced souvenirs. Outside of Akumal is a lagoon called Yal Ku, great for snorkelling, or wading, we saw many types of fish, and a baby stingray. There is great snorkelling right at ABR, as there is a reef just offshore.

The energetic Animacion staff were terrific doing the daily activities, but they didn’t pester you if you chose not to participate. Judit was the best, if you visit before June, tell her John & Eva say hi! Every evening there was some type of show, some with audience participation, other nights in a professional quality theater. Loved the MTV Awards Show, and the comedy show! In the lobby off of the buffet, they had Sylvia & Lupo singing songs in a lounge act type of setting. And BTW Nancy, I still think they’re real!

All in all, we had a great trip, we prefer not going to those 1,000+ room mega resorts that take 20 minutes to cross. ABR was the right size, with friendly staff, good food and drink. We found that even their gift shop had cheaper prices than the dive shop down the beach in Akumal! We got hooked on the ABR theme song the staff constantly danced to, wish I had found out who the artist was.

We would definately go back to ABR!

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Akumal Beach Resort Edith and Eddie ~ South Carolina

June 2005

It was the perfect vacation and we loved the resort, the room, meals and the great people that we mmet. The snorkeling was the beast I have ever experienced. We saw turles, white stingrays and tons of beautiful fish. Everyday we experienced something new there.

Our room was 614 onthe botoom floor and we had asked for one on the 2nd or 3rd floor because of the veiw but we were well satisfied with the room. You could turn alittle to the left or right and the view was breath taking. Of course we never sat outside on room because we stayed at the beach or on the resort grounds. It was sooooo peaceful and relaxing and the weather was great. We didn’t see any rain until on our way to the airport for our return flight.

When we arrive we were greeted by nice people, given a glass of punch and told our room wasn’t ready yet. We arive early but lunch was being served and we were hungry. The food was very good the entire stay and we enjoyed the 2 resaurants as well. The service and food at both was excellent. We found the buffet to our liking and really enjoyed the fish, desserts, fruits, and salads. Breakfast was exceptional every morning! The staff was very attentive, my husband even tipped several of the waiters because of the service we recieved. Just remember the resturants are not air-conditioned! We had no problem with the water from the drink machines and used bottle water to brush our teeth. Each room has a insulated jug so you can put water in it or use it for the beach. The glasses are small as you have read in other reviews so we took mugs with us but didn’t use them. W efound the size was fine for us. The bar staff was very accomadating since we are non-drinkers, they fixed non-acoholic drinks and eveb fixed me frozen cappicina. Great!!!!!

The room was very big, showerroom was great, very clean and lots of storage in the closets. There was an iron and small ironing board in our room and a hairdryer. The air worked great, claening staff were fantastic we even tipped then for a job well done! It was perfect!

The resort has a beautiful beach,its clean and the water is soooo clear. It was a snorkelers dream. The turtles are doun the beach where the boats are at so be sure to go down there. I was so pleased with the snorkling that we did not leave the resort to go on any excursions. We did go to Playa Del Carman to shop, stayed here about 2 hours and was ready to come back I found the best deals at the little town of Akumal. It’s a short walk down the beach. There is a market there where we bought some shirts and across the shirt a few venders have booths and their prices are very good and they are very friendly. They will be glad to tell you about the turtles and their habits.

We did attend 2 shows at the theater, but use caution if you have children The first show was very off-colored and we did not like it at all. The second show LIFE was very good. The satff works very hard all day and then does a show so that have alot going on. They do have activites all during the day but we didn’t get involved because we were there to relax and we did! We meet some very nice people and enjoyed talking to them and even showed one couple how to snorkel. The pool is beautiful but we did not use it because the beach was so great. Ther are alot of chairs on the beach but people do get up early to save chairs and cabanas. The beach in front of building 6&7 has lots of room but is very rocky. Of course down in front of 1, 2 & 3 we did see a few topless ladies down there. I must confess I don’t understand their need to go topless as 98% of all the other ladies had on tops. I guess it’s there culture. We also didn’t have any trouble with people being rude or cutting in the buffet lines like we had read about. I was worried about this but there was no need to. We heard alot of languages and found it very interesting and talked with people from other coutries as we shared our snorkeling experiences. There was no part of the trip that we were not satisifeid with. My husband and I had a great time and will definitely go again and stay longer the next time. Remember this is a small resort and is graded a 3 but we would give it a 4 and a 5 for relaxtion and natural beauty.

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Akumal Beach Resort Keith and Jane from Nova Scotia

April 2005

We have just returned from our best family vacation ever, with our two sons aged 14 and 11. We flew Westjet from Halifax to Cancun on the 14th of April and stayed at the Akumal Beach Resort. We had researched "the best place" for a family snorkeling vacation and over and over people spoke of Akumal Bay. They are right! We have traveled with our sons since they were infants and Akumal Beach Resort was truly our best family vacation, out of a long list of great vacations.

In the past our vacations tend to be action packed, moving from one attraction to another and staying in apartments so we can cook to ensure the 10 year old eats adequately and is satisfied with his food at the same time. An all inclusive vacation was not something we had ever considered. It will be hard not to return to this type of vacation in the future.

We arrived 3 hours before posted check-in and were met with warm friendly smiles, fruit juice and to be told our room was ready. We had chosen to pay the small additional charge for an ocean front room. We were in building Chitzen Itza in room 662. 662 is on the third floor on the end of the building. It is large, somewhat austere, with lots of space and a superb view of the ocean with sunrises directly in front of the patio. We generally were out of our room by 8:30, only to return for brief times until at least 9:30 at night. The room was extremely clean and it was better than I had expected from some other reviews. Quiet and private compared to the action near the pool!

We used the resort facilities! Generally each morning ,as a family, after a truly wonderful breakfast buffet that surely has something for everyone’s tastes, we either participated in archery, sea kayaking, walks on the beach and always snorkeling. Much had been written about the best place to snorkel in the bay and even on site when I asked the dive shop people for the "best" areas they told be at the end of the bay near the cannons. While it is great there, we found there was even more fish life directly out from the beach area in front of the swimming pool. On day two we swam with a sea turtle to the delight of our ten year old, saw two truly large barracuda, scores of colourful fish and were startled by two eagle rays with "wing" spans greater than six feet.

The water was at times crystal clear in the mornings and some afternoons; this was dependant upon wave and wind action which tended to stir up the fine white sand. There is an abundance of corals in the immediate area, much of which are partially dead from coral bleaching or disease. Nevertheless the brain coral and elk horn are wonderful.

The boys usually spent two hours in the pool playing either water polo or water basketball while Jane and I swam or read. We participated in beach soccer and volleyball on two afternoons and pool most evenings, either as a family or the boys with new found friends.

The clientele were in large part European which added an interesting flair to the holiday with at all times five languages swirling around. We made reservations for both the Italian and Mexican restaurants which we thoroughly enjoyed. The boys were adventuresome with their menu selections knowing if they didn’t like it they could go back to the buffet. We didn’t have to do this and really liked the ambiance and superb service. I had read reviews that either didn’t like the surroundings or the food; we loved both!

We also took in a few Spanish classes and loved the soft serve ice cream dispenser near the pool. A truly great idea for young and old alike. We went to several of the evening shows which are conducted by the seemingly tireless, always friendly and happy recreational staff. Interesting to see your archery instructor from 9 a.m. singing and dancing on stage at 10 p.m. The boys really enjoyed the shows whether they were song, dance or the slightly naughty comedy that had them in stitches.

We followed the advice of others on this site and took the Collectivo that stops directly in front of the resort to Tulum for a morning tour. We hired a guide for just us, avoided the crowds and had personal attention and someone to answer our endless questions. Manuel was interesting, patient and took the boys to his secret hiding spot where he had coconuts to give away. Tulum is home to several small and large iguanas to the absolute delight of our ten year old. He discovered they love red hibiscus which is in very short supply on the site. We spent about three hours before returning via Collectivo and back to a wonderful buffet lunch and of course snorkeling.

A few days later we rented a car from Budget on site. It was a Sunday and he gave us the car for Sunday afternoon, Monday until Tuesday morning for a one day rate. We drove into Playa Del Carmen for some shopping and bartering on Fifth Avenue and were on the road at 9 a.m. Monday for Chitzen Itza. We went via Tulum and the road through the jungle. It is in very good shape, watch out for the large speed bumps that will honestly tear the bottom out of the car if you hit one. We didn’t but a few times it was close. Oftentimes there are four or five in a row. For anyone interested in the archaeology of Mesoamerica, Chitzen Itza is a must. I had been there 25 years ago myself but is was thrilling to see Jane and the boys light up when they first saw the main Pyramid. In temperatures approaching 40C at noon, we climbed the 94 steps to the top. It is a bit disconcerting to be at ten stories up with no guard rails and so many people. We inched around the outer walls, took in the site and the jungle and then back to safer ground . The site is huge and we immediately noticed that most tours were congregated around a few areas and we roamed around to areas that we were the only ones admiring the architecture, the brilliance of design and the location that the Mayans chose to build their largest city. We sat in the shade and discussed what life must have been like 1,500 years ago.

There are many sites in the Caribbean where you can spend time on perfect beaches and play volleyball, but only the Yucatan offers you that and access to some of the best archaeological sites in the world.

We are usually ready to come home after our vacations, but we truly would have liked to stay another week. It was restful, without any stresses of where will we go, what will we do or what will we eat? Warm and friendly staff, great and endless amounts of food, spectacular swimming and snorkeling, warm clear water, large numbers of European families for our boys to meet and the ruins of the Mayans. A vacation does not get any better than this. We LOVED Akumal Beach Resort. It is not new, it is not luxurious but it has a personality, it occupies the best piece of beach on the Mayan Riviera and it was made for families and likes them. For us, this 3.5 star resort scored a 10 out of 10. All future family vacations will be measured against our seven days in Akumal.

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Akumal Beach Resort Matt & Tanya ~ Nova Scotia, Canada

April 2005

We traveled to this resort the last week of March and first week of April. We travel often and are in our early 30’s, no kids…

We loved this place! Both my wife and I felt that given the fact it is rated a 3 star, we thought a 4 star would be more suitable.

The beach was great. White fine sand with a gentle or at times stiffer breeze that always kept the temperature perfect. Walking into the water knee deep, the fish were plentiful. Snorkeling in Akumal Bay was magnificent. I saw loggerhead and green turtles. They’ll eat in the sea grass as you watch them. Watch out for the schools of fish…if you swim through them the barracuda might get upset as I found out on my first day snorkeling.

The resort itself was everything we wanted. We stayed in the superior section 600’s. Room was clean, bathroom was large, shower was quite nice, all marble. No tub, but we don’t bath anyway. (You know what I mean). The king size bed we felt was comfortable, even though we heard others complain it was too hard. It’s all what you’re use to. The cleaning staff were friendly and did a good job making the room tidy and clean each day. No minifridge, but a 3 second walk to the water cooler. We filled up each night at the restaurant too.

The food we felt was excellent. Given the fact that there are less than 300 rooms, the meals were always varied at suppertime and lunch. Pastas, hot/cold foods, etc, and don’t forget the nachos and guacamole. The salsa is very good too. Just watch out for the hot peppers in one out of every 10 bites. Yikes.

We heard others on this website have complaints regarding nationality and favoritism. We weren’t sure what all the concern was about. We didn’t notice any discrimination. The staff was great at getting people involved in daily activities or leaving you alone if you wanted to read.

We’ve read many reviews in the past from this site but have never felt compelled to send in our own review until now. We’ve been to The Dominican in Puerto Plata twice (Puerto Plata Village, Bahia Principe San Juan), Punta Cana (Sirenis -very nice), and Mexico (Barceló Maya -very very nice), but felt this place was by far the best value for money and gave you all the best of the Mayan Riviera (cenotes, ruins, shopping, golfing, & especially snorkeling).

Golf was easy to access. Taxi or Collectivo or Puerto Adventuras and a round of golf in the am was $75 with golf car included. Very short 10 minutes maybe up the road.

We toured the ruins at Coba and Tulum, both interesting experiences in their own way. Also, went to Xel-Ha. This was worth admission price to jump of high cliffs, swim through small cenotes and snorkel. (A bit busy by midday, get their early.

Only downer was the 2 hours of rain from 8am to 10am one day. Ha!! Not bad for 2 weeks eh?

We would not hesitate to recommend this to people and in fact have interested a few family members already to consider it. Happy Traveling.

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Akumal Beach Resort Barbra and Bob ~ Calgary

April 2005

We just got back yesterday! Were there from March 25 to April 1.

The Beach
It is huge! You can have total privacy, be near the action and the pool or stay near the beach bar. You can get some swimming in in some spots where there is not coral and we had not problem getting into deep water. One day we had three kinds of fish swimmng in knee deep water. If you are a snorkeller then this is the place for you. Or if you are just a beginner this is a great place to start. For the serious snorkellers you can go quite a ways out and find tons of different sea life. Some people saw a barracuda, lots of sea turtles, manta rays etc. You could snorkel every day, for free, (bring your own equipment). You don’t have to take a long and expensive boat ride, come in for lunch, then go back out again. Our neighbours were up at 6:00 am snorkelling. But you could sleep in and still have the whole day to see things.

I am just a beginner snorkeler and my husband isn’t into it much, so I could snorkel on my own just a few feet from shore and still see a variety of fish. He tried it a couple of times and felt better about being not to far from shore. Go down to where the dive shop is, and then venture straight out from there.

The sand was awesome, and if you walked to the south end you could see lots of coral and small fish right near the shore.

The Room
We stayed in room 755, top floor of last building to the south (new part) about fourth from the end. This was quite a walk from the main building, but on the plus side, it gave us a chance to get some exercise, and it was very quiet as few people would have to walk past our room. We found once we left the room in the morning, we really didn’t need to go back til we were ready for a shower and supper. Great view of the ocean. Be careful not to close the door to patio when you are both outside!

Rooms were simple, but clean. Huge bed. But very hard, and pillows are hard. Got room in your suitcase? Bring your own pillow. (It comes in handy when you want to bring back that breakable item you bought. No problem with water or pressure. Some people who stated in buildings 1,2, or 3, older section had a few complaints, so if you don’t mind walking, I suggest 6 or 7.

Breakfast was awesome. Lunch was good, lots of variety. Or try pool bar snacks, excellent pizza, great fries, not bad burgers.

Dinner – was a little different. Big selection. Some things were a little strange, but always found something to fill up on. Addicted to making a huge salad, and always great veggies. Some nights were better than others, Roast beef was excellent, Chinese night – california rolls and noodles were great. Desserts were good.

Xel-Ha – was really cool. Good for novice snorkellers, saw a ton of fish, and even my husband who is a nervous water person, loved it. May not be as exciting for experienced snorkellers. Go early, opens at 9 – catch collectivo and get all inclusive, equipment, towel, food, drink. A little commercialized, but we went early and left when the crowds came, and still got a good 5 hours in. HELPFUL HINT: When you get your snorkel equipment (comes sanitized in fresh plastic bags) they need a deposit of either $20 or room key, so have that with you. You can swim with dolphins, looked great, but was fund to watch too. Saw tons of iguanas.

All in all it was great value for money. Not fancy but still good and relaxing. Good for large groups travelling together. Even though we were there during Spring Break,we never had to wait for drinks, no problem with chairs, large groups would have not problem sitting together on beach or in buffet. Not premium quality booze, but lots of Carona. Service was good, friendly, clean rooms, resort etc. Not a young party place, but again, if you had a big group, you make your own fun, with not crowds.

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Akumal Beach Resort Sue ~ Wisconsin

March 2005

Intro: I’m a faithful (addicted) reader of PlayaGuide, LocoGringo, TripAdvisor and DebbiesCaribbeanResortReviews websites and cannot overstate how helpful these are for gaining insight and ideas. This is a long and detailed report (which is why its taken me so long to pull it together) as I try to give something back to all you that have helped me so much.

First, a little background about who we are and what we’re looking for in a vacation (hopefully this will help you in evaluating our opinions/experiences). We are 2 women in our mid 40’s. Since we live in Wisconsin we feel an annual warm-weather trip in February or March is an absolute necessity. This was our 9th trip to Mexico and our 4th to the PDC area. We had previously stayed at the RIU Palace 3 times and absolutely loved it. The Akumal Beach Resort and the RIU Palace are the only all-inclusive resorts we’ve stayed at and we always venture “off-site” for walks, shopping, drinks and a few meals. We’ve also been to Ixtapa twice, Cancun, Mazatlan & Acapulco. Besides Mexico, we’ve been to Jamaica, Arizona, Florida and Palm Springs for warmth and sun in the winter. We like a quiet, relaxing vacation…mostly enjoy sitting by the pool or on the beach reading books, drinking some cocktails and enjoying nice dinners. We don’t do much in the way of sight-seeing or activities. We decided to try the ABR this year because, based on all the trip reports, it seemed to represent a good value. It was $700 USD per person less than the RIU Palace. We figured for that kind of $$$ we could eat out every night if we wanted and we’d still save money. We loved the ABR and Akumal and will almost certainly return next year. After our 4th year in the PDC area we thought we might be ready for a different destination, but we seem to be hooked on the Riviera Maya. I will try to compare the ABR to the RIU Palace throughout my report.

Apple/Ryan International Airlines: Flew out of Milwaukee through Apple on Ryan International. Had taken Funjet the last 3 years. Thought Apple’s check-in in Milwaukee was more organized and efficient than Funjet. Otherwise service, comfort, timeliness, etc was virtually the same. Seating was typical charter (crowded) but the seats seemed pretty new and were actually fine. There was drink service and a free meal served on each flight (had to buy the food with Funjet). Food was ok-omelette with sausage and hash brown patty on the way down and a sandwich with chips and Fig Newton on the way back. Return flight from Cancun left about a half-hour late but arrival in Milwaukee was on time. Even though we went Saturday to Saturday this year (as opposed to Friday to Friday) we were pleasantly surprised as we didn’t really notice any difference in crowds at the Cancun airport (maybe they open more lines/have more people working on Saturdays).

Arrival in Mexico/Check-in/Rooms: Arrived at about 9:15 on Saturday morning. We moved through immigration very quickly but then it took about 45 minutes to get our bags. There seemed to be some confusion as there was also a Funjet Ryan flight arriving at about the same time from Milwaukee. They kept changing our baggage claim carousels and kept moving the baggage carts loaded with suitcases. It was rather entertaining/amusing if you weren’t in a big hurry. Finally got our bags and hit customs (red light/green light). For the first time ever I got the red light. My partner got the green light with her bags and RAN through the glass doors to wait, watch and laugh while my bags were searched…so much for moral support. Actually the search was brief and no big deal. The hardest part was lifting my suitcase up onto the table. The “search” created a less than 5 minute delay.

Since we were saving quite a bit of money by staying at the ABR, we decided to splurge and hire private transportation to and from the airport. Thanks to all the feedback from the various web-sites I selected Cancun Valet. The service was excellent and I would highly recommend them. A guy was standing right outside the airport doors with a sign with my name (you can’t miss the private transportation guys…they’re all lined up with their signs to the right before you get to the charter transportation guys). Our car was a newer Malibu (assume they sent a car instead of a van since it was just the 2 of us). I stopped to tell the Apple Rep that we would not be taking the bus/van (as had been suggested on the message boards) so they wouldn’t wait for us. We started to buy some beers for the trip right outside the airport but the rep from Cancun Valet suggested that if we wanted he’d have the driver stop at the gas station (about 5 minutes away) as it would be much cheaper. He was right. We stopped at the 7 Eleven. Unfortunately nothing was marked with prices but it was still cheaper than at the airport. Also purchased a styrofoam cooler right away. Proceeded directly to the ABR with cold cervezas in hand…about a 50 minute drive.

We arrived at the ABR at about 11:15 and check-in was quick and included a welcome beverage. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, our room was not ready (check-in was 3pm). They gave us our towel cards and bracelets, explained the resort layout and told us we could enjoy the resort and come back at 3pm to get our room. I had made a room request (3rd floor, building 6 or 7, end room if possible) through the travel agent at the time of booking and via email a few days prior to departure. Following my email I had received a prompt response that they had received my request and they “would do their best but nothing could be guaranteed as it depended on what was available at check-in”. Since we had booked through Apple I knew that we had paid for the “superior ocean view” rooms and would be in building 5, 6 or 7, At check-in I asked what our room number was and was told 701. I asked (in Spanish) if the room was on the 3rd floor and was told yes. I guess I’m a cynic and just couldn’t believe that a room numbered 701 could be on the 3rd floor. We decided to check it out since it was so early and it was apparent that many people were checking out/in that day. Indeed the room was in building 7 and an end room but on the first floor. I went back to the desk and asked if it was possible to switch to a 3rd floor room and was told no…nothing else was available. They said I could check again the following day. I did check again on Sunday and was told they had checked the computer and we could move to a 2nd or 3rd floor room in building 6 or 7 on Tuesday. I was told to return Tuesday morning. On Tuesday morning we returned and were told that there was a couple that had wanted to move to the first floor but they needed to double check to see if they still wanted to move. I asked about the room that was supposed to be available when they “checked the computer” on Sunday but of course it was a different person and they looked at me like I had 3 heads. Unfortunately the other couple didn’t want to change at this point and they said all the rooms were full and there was nothing that they could do. This was the only disappointing part of the trip…it wasn’t so much that we couldn’t move, it was being told one thing on Sunday and something different on Tuesday. (RIU Palace comparison point: we’ve always been given our room request…if not the first day then by the second or third day and although check-in is also not until 3, we’ve never waited past 1pm for our room.)

Not having a view of the water from the room didn’t turn out to be much of an issue because unlike the RIU Palace you see the sea all day long…from the beach, from the pool, from the restaurants, from the bars, etc. The rooms are simple but clean, nicely decorated (drapes, bedspreads, sheets, blankets, towels are all relatively new and in good condition). The rooms were a nice size (this is high praise from a woman who hates tripping over suitcases or feeling like I don’t have a “place” for things). There are no drawers but we found the shelves in the closet provided plenty of room and there were plenty of hangars in the closet. There’s room on the tile counter top opposite the beds to open one suitcase and room in the closet (with a suitcase stand) to put another suitcase. The closet is actually in a “dressing room” area just off the bedroom and opposite the sink and vanity. Beyond this were separate rooms for the shower and toilet. It was actually a very nice set-up, but since the “dressing room” was open to the bedroom and the toilet room is small, there’s not anywhere that affords privacy (if you needed it) for getting dressed. Would only think this might be an issue if you had children/friend/parent sharing the room. The shower was very nice with good water temp and water pressure. I know some had complained about a lack of water pressure but that only happened to us once and lasted just a few minutes. The water was cold when you first turned it on and you did have to wait a while for it to warm up (me thinks the water heater was located quite a ways from our room). The balcony (remember we had an end room) was very large and had 2 resin chairs with nice cushions…very comfy for cocktails and reading. There was also one straight-back chair with a cushion in the room…not real comfy but a handy spot to place backpacks, etc. The lighting in the rooms was good with controls for all the lights and the fan next to the bed. There was a small electronic alarm clock in the room which was a real treat. There’s a ledge that runs the length of the wall above the bed that’s handy for keeping books, water, etc. The water in the rooms is not potable and there is no mini-bar or mini-fridge. However each room does have a little thermos type container and each floor in each building has a water cooler centrally located. The coolers have 5 gallon water jugs and are electric so the water was nicely cooled. We did buy some bottles of water at the Super Chomak in Akumal so we could keep a couple of big bottles next to the sink for brushing teeth and drinking and then had a couple of small ones to take on trips/walks. We just kept refilling them at the water coolers or at the bars. We also brought our own 4 cup coffee pot since we’re early risers and like coffee right away…this worked out great as we’d just fill the thermos container at the water cooler the night before and this was enough to make 2 pots of coffee. Highly recommend looking at the Loco Gringo website for pictures and description of the rooms/resort. The trip report link at the bottom of the page for the ABR also has excellent pictures. As far as comparison with the rooms at the RIU Palace, the main differences are that the RP rooms are actually junior suites with a dresser, love seat and coffee table. The RP rooms also have a bidet, in-room bar, mini-fridge and room service in the morning. Only problem we had with our room at the ABR were some small red ants on the tile counter opposite the bed. We simply bought a small can of bug spray for about $2 at the Super Chomak, sprayed the area once and the problem was solved. (We could have reported the issue to the front desk and I’m sure they would have taken care of it. However, since my partner is kind of an anti-pesticide freak…I mean this as a term of endearment…and I had visions of people in protective clothing with gas masks descending on the room to spray, I decided to handle it myself.) Again, we were more than pleased with the rooms at the ABR and thought they represented good value for the money. We also used the in-room safe and had no problems. Once or twice was slightly inebriated and left minor valuables out and didn’t have anything taken. We did tip the maid $2-$3 daily.

ABR Grounds/Pool/Beach: The grounds at the RIU Palace were always immaculate and constantly being cleaned and improved. Given the cost of the ABR and previous trip reports we didn’t expect the grounds to be as immaculate and they weren’t. However, the grounds were pretty and the public areas were all clean. While we sat by the pool almost exclusively at the RP we rarely sat by the pool at the ABR. This is the huge advantage that the ABR has over the RP. I just can’t say enough about the beach area at the ABR and the amount of space. You can sit by the activities/pool area or by the areas further north or south. As everyone has pointed out, the area south (in front of buildings 6 & 7) is very quiet. This stretch of beach is probably 50-100 yards long and I bet there were only 5 palapas being used on any given day…very peaceful and quiet. The pool was not huge but it was very nice and had multiple areas of different depths. Occasionally it was so hot we’d sit at the side of the pool and just dangle our legs while reading. The side of the pool had this unusual (at least in our experience) sort of zero entry all around the pool which made sitting along the pool and “dangling” very comfy. It looked like the pool had been recently renovated/resurfaced as it was in great shape.

Service/Alcohol/Food: Service was good but not the level of the RIU Palace. Primarily noticed the difference with the front-desk personnel and bartenders. Just may have been a communication issue as most staff in these areas didn’t speak English as well as the people at the RIU Palace. However, I’m pretty fluent in Spanish and most times would speak in Spanish but that didn’t seem to help. I guess the way I would describe the bartender/front-desk service is that people weren’t as willing to promptly acknowledge you in some way (smile, nod of the head, etc.). No big issues but at least several times each day we’d be the only people at a bar or at the front desk and we’d have to wait for several minutes while what was obviously a casual conversation with a co-worker was completed. Only then would the person acknowledge us and ask what we needed. Again, NOT a big deal but just a little irritating at times. It definitely would not keep us from going back. All other staff members (animation, towel hut, waiters, maids, etc.) were very courteous and helpful.

Liquor selection was mostly unrecognizable brands (not even common Mexican brands) with the exception of Presidente & Don Pedro brandy and Corona beer. In spite of this we always managed to find cocktails that we enjoyed. We did bring insulated mugs and they gladly filled these. The banana mama’s were our favorite drink and liked the ones at the beach bar the best as they used fresh bananas. The wines were fine and we actually liked the wines better than the ones at the RIU Palace. Unlike the RIU Palace there was no champagne at the ABR…again I didn’t expect any at the ABR prices. Since I enjoy mimosa’s we just purchased some Andre (only thing available & $6 a bottle) at the Super Chomak. This worked great as I’d put some champagne in my “Walmart” mug and then just get some orange juice at the buffet or bar.

We thought the food was fine. The quality at the buffet was similar to the RIU Palace although the selection was much more limited. Breakfast had the typical foods but in addition to made to order omelettes, there was another chef that would make French toast or pancakes while you waited. The pancakes were the best I’ve ever had…light, fluffy and tasty!!! There were always several breakfast meats, potatoes, Mexican dishes, cereals, fruits, etc. Lunch had all the typical stuff (again just a more limited version of the types of food we had at the RIU Palace). Loved the guacamole and pico de gallo!!! The pasta was also very good. The snack area by the pool had great soft serve ice cream and FANTASTIC freshly made pizzas. They actually hand-rolled the crusts!!! Didn’t discover these until our last day and can’t wait to go back just for the pizza. Dinner at the buffet was fine but not near the selection that there was at the RIU Palace. Again, we always found something we liked and had plenty to eat. We ate at both the Italian and Mexican ala carte restaurants (they took reservations daily starting at 10am). The ambiance at both restaurants was very nice and the service was excellent. We thought the wine at both of these restaurants was a little better than at the other bars and buffet restaurant (they said it was a Chilean cabernet sauvignon). Both meals were 4 courses (you choose from several options for each course) and nicely paced. The food was ok but nothing outstanding. We liked the Italian meal better than the Mexican (thought the Mexican food at the buffet was better) but again both evenings were pleasant dining experiences. Thought the ala carte dining at the RIU Palace (Sir Edwards, La Bodega and El Patio) was much better, but then I would expect it to be given the price difference. The waiters at the ABR were all very courteous and nice but we did miss the sense of “knowing” your waiter like you do at the RP (due to assigned tables). The best thing about the restaurants and bars at the ABR is that they’re all overlooking the beach/sea. The buffet restaurant overlooks the beach and is about 10 yards from the water. It runs parallel to the beach and has a wall of windows overlooking the water/beach. The windows can be opened or closed depending on the weather. It was a real treat to overlook the water at every meal. One of the best things about the food and drink at the ABR was that we didn’t get sick (not even a little bit). They obviously worked very hard to keep the hot food hot and the cold food cold. Nothing sat out long and if a dish was empty it was quickly replaced. Like the RIU Palace I’d also have to say that there were lots of vegetables and vegetarian options.

Off Resort Activites: Again, this is a trip mostly for relaxing and reconnecting. We didn’t do a lot but will summarize what little we did.

We walked into Akumal every morning to walk around and shop (it’s very quick and easy 5 minutes via the beach). The town is very small and quaint but it does have a couple of stores and restaurants. After doing a quick walk around town we’d head north along the road to Half Moon Bay/La Buena Vida/Yal Ku Lagoon. It was a 20 minute walk one-way from the town of Akumal to La Buena Vida. We typically had to pick up something every day at the Super Chomak and found their prices to be fine (and actually better than the smaller store across the street). We bought some cute souvenir type shirts and hats at the Super Chomak and thought the selection and prices ($8) were great. We had drinks in the evening several times at both Lol Ha and La Buena Vida. Both places are right on the beach and overlooking the water. VERY nice option that’s not as readily available at the RIU Palace and other Playacar resorts. The bartenders at Lol Ha were really fun…ask Rafael to balance your drink on his head and dance when he brings it to you. It was an easy and safe walk to both places (even after dark we just carried a little flashlight and used common sense). Thought the drink prices were reasonable (between the 2 of us we had 6 drinks one night at Lol Ha and the bill was $16 USD).

We went to Tulum to see the ruins (4th year in the area and hadn’t seen them yet…told you we’re into the relaxing thing). We took the collectivo (it’s an easy 3-5 minute walk down the ABR’s private drive to highway 307 where you catch the collectivo. It was 20 pesos ($2 US) per person no matter where we went (Tulum ruins, Puerto Aventuras, Playa del Carmen). I always tried to have exact change but one time I didn’t and the driver did have change. FYI, when the driver stops for the ruins it just looks like a big intersection in a town. You have to walk east to get to the entrance of the ruins. It’s very easy but at first I thought we might not be at the right place. The ruins were interesting and the views were spectacular. We took Laura “The Map Chick’s” and “Craig in WI’s” suggestion and after the ruins, we went to the beautiful stretch of beach south of the ruins with bars/bungalows/restaurants. It was a great afternoon of walking on the beach and cocktailing.

We went into Puerto Aventuras twice for dinner. We really like this little marina town with the shops, bars and restaurants overlooking the dolphin area. It’s particularly quaint at night with all of the white lights at the restaurants. We decided to go to PA on Valentine’s Day for dinner and had a terrific meal at Tiramisu. They had excellent garlic bread done on an outside grill. Also had a small salad bar included with all meals. I had gnocchi and my partner had lasagna…everything was very good. The second time we were in PA we started out with cocktails at Gringo Dave’s. Had margarita’s and they were some of the best we’ve ever tasted. They had live music (2 guys playing guitar & steel drums) and it was very enjoyable. We chose Richard’s Steak House for dinner (wanted surf and turf). We had the filet and lobster special which was $23 USD per person and included a bacon wrapped filet, 2 small lobster tails, potato and salad bar. The food was delicious and we thought the price was very good given the quantity and quality.

We also took the collectivo into PDC late one afternoon. Wanted to check it out and were really surprised at the number of new shops, bars and restaurants now that the 5th Avenue construction is done. There are quite a few new bars & restaurants that are up on the second floor of the buildings and overlook 5th Avenue. Very fun for bar-hopping and people watching. We ate dinner at Real Pasta…very nice meal but will probably try a different place next year just because there are so many options. Have to say that with the construction done on 5th Avenue there seem to be less “cheesy” souvenir shops and fewer people bugging you to come into their stores. Also didn’t see near the number of timeshare “sharks”.

Summary: We had a fantastic trip and are planning to return to the ABR next year. Again, a huge thanks to all who take the time to post reports and provide insight/feedback on the various websites…the info helps enormously and it’s fun to feel “connected” to so many different people from so many different places.

I also want to say a huge thanks to Laura “The Map Chick”. Your maps/guides make great vacation planning tools, great entertainment and most of all enable us to see places we probably wouldn’t otherwise. To all those planning trips to the PDC area in the near future…don’t worry about making a “wrong” decision. No matter where you go or what you do, you’re sure to have a great time.

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Akumal Beach Resort Peter ~ Ottawa Canada

March 2005

Akumal Beach Resort (March 2005) was excellent. Not ultra-fancy but otherwise more than a 3.5 star. The food was very good. The beach was terrific with wonderful snorkeling right there. A five minute beach walk to the village of Akumal. Animation teams are usually a pain; in this case they were talented, inviting but not bothering you, and fun. The room a bit small but more than adequate and you’re never there anyway.Highly recommended. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Akumal Beach Resort Grant ~ Canada

March 2005

My wife and I, along with another couple just returned from a one week (February 18 – 25) holiday at the Akumal Beach Resort. We had a wonderful time. The food was good, the service very good, the beach was excellent (white crushed coral, groomed daily), weather awesome (mid-eighties F, mid-twenties C, bit windy) and the diving was superb. My wife and I snorkel though she is not keen to dive. The other couple were PADI [OWD] certified twenty years ago and but had not been diving for almost ten years. I was certified PADI [OWD] last year and have been diving every few months since then. There is adequate snorkeling off of the beach. Saw lots of small colorful fish and the local barracuda (a two-footer called ‘Barry’). The bottom is white sand covered with a bit of white silt which unfortunately is easily stirred up by the waves cutting visibility to about 30′. Still, the bottom is easily seen along with the colorful shallow flora and fauna. Apparently there are turtles in the area but we did not see any while snorkeling.

We went to the on-site (Venta Diving) provider to see what was available via SCUBA in the area. We found the dive shack staff interesting and engaged. They spoke excellent English – I think one is Mexican and one is Italian. They were a bit concerned about my diving partners because of the length of time since they had last been diving and wanted them to meet the "manager." If we passed muster, they would consider taking us to the reefs without an orientation dive. We met "Alex" and he suggested a vanilla (local, shallow) orientation dive and since we are the kind of folk who follow good advice, we acquiesced.

We signed up for 5 tanks (one local orientation dive, two tanks at Cozumel, and two tanks at a cenote). Sorry I didn’t save the price list but it went something like this. NOTE: With 3 tanks or more the masks, fins, wet suit and BCD are included in the costs – for fewer dives there is a modest charge. I recall we paid about $200.00 USD for the five tanks which of course includes local transportation (boat), tank, octopus, weights, and instructor/guide. There was a further $70.00 charge for transportation to Cozumel and I think $20.00 for the cenote dive. Here is a quick briefing on the dives.

The first dive (Feb. 21) was to the reef just off of the resort. The trip out, while short, was a bit choppy due to the 6′ swells – as it was, we had to wait a day for the waves to settle down. There were seven divers in the twin outboard open boat – the three in our group plus an guide and two novices working on their certification plus their instructor. We dove to 45′ and cruised the bottom. Lots of reef stuff, multi-colored fish, brain, fan, staghorn coral, etc. We saw a 4′ manta ray, a 2′ turtle and a 6′ nurse shark – all within 10′. It was an entirely satisfactory dive though the wind had stirred up the bottom cutting the vis to about 60′. Apparently we behaved ourselves and Alex said he would take us to Cozumel. A word about Alex. He is Italian and speaks at least four languages (Italian, English, Spanish, French) and says he knows enough Arabic to get by on a dive. My wife says he looks like a bald-headed (he shaves his head) Brad Pitt but I must admit I didn’t see that much of a resemblance. He is personable, humorous and professional – pretty much what you want in a dive master. Clearly he knows his craft and local diving conditions and has excellent connections in the diving community. He seems to be well-known wherever he goes. He made excellent arrangements and we wanted for nothing – we felt safe and had a good time.

On our second day of diving (Feb. 22) we went to Cozumel. Alex drove our group of eight to Playa del Carmen where we caught a ferry to the island. Our group comprised we four Calgarians (my wife came for the ride), a father and son (12 years old) and a husband and wife pair, the last four being from France. Alex paid for the parking, arranged for our equipment to be taken (bicycle courier) to the ferry, and led us to the docks. We took the 45 minute ferry ride across to the island. The crossing was a bit rough but, as promised, the water in the lea of the island was reasonably calm. Alex led us to a chartered dive boat (1/2 covered deck, open back, dive platform, inboard diesel engine) that had a crew of two. We headed up the coast for about 1/2 hour to a popular dive area. Alex said there are about 3000 dives a day booked in this area. We saw about 20 boats in the general area though we didn’t see any other divers below. We dove the Cedral Wall and cruised at a depth of about 80′ with about 100′ of vis. The wall is quite something, drops off to about 400′. There is a very strong current so we just went with the flow. Didn’t see a lot of large fish but lots of very colorful smaller species.

We rested for an hour or so at anchor and ate a light lunch provided by the crew. We were invited to snorkel and while in the water I watched a 6′ ray fly beneath the boat. My dive partners on the boat saw its shadow against the white bottom. Our second dive was to Chan Kanaab (spelling?) and was a bit shallower, better vis and a lot of reef life including several huge lobster – made my mouth water. The ferry ride home was uneventful.

The final two dives (Feb. 24) were to a cenote (pr. se no’ tay) which is an inland (freshwater) sink hole. The entire peninsula is situated on old carbonate reefs which have been eroded by underground rivers. When the rivers got too close to the surface, the ground collapses creating the cenote. A typical cenote is a hole in the ground (about 100′ in diameter) with a rubble pile in the middle surrounded by slowly flowing fresh water. The water courses through elaborate caves which at one time were above sea level. The water dripping from the roof caused traditional stalactites and stalagmites. During the last ice age, the sea levels rose and most of the caves are now underwater. We dove at Cenote Dos Ojos – the name means ‘two eyes’ for the two holes in the ground at this site. Alex is the only Akumal Beach Resort diver certified to take people cenote diving. It requires special training and the guide must carry twin tanks (just in case). Alex is experienced at this cenote and insisted we get an early start. We were there by 08:30 and in the water by 09:00. The dive is a fascinating excursion into the cave (never deeper than 40′ and mostly at 25′). The shallow depth means a long bottom time. I expect each dive lasted about 45 minutes. Alex explained that technically this was a ‘cavern’ dive because we were never more than 110 feet from an opening to the air vs. a ‘cave’ dive where God only knows how far you have to swim to get out. The route we followed was probably about 1/4 mile long and comprised a large circuit. The river system we were diving in has about 40 MILES of explored tunnels – don’t even think about diving here without a certified guide. We followed a route marked with a yellow rope which never left our sight. We were given high-powered flashlights to illuminate the rooms. The visibility is astounding – I bet it was more than 300′. The Akumal Beach Resort is the closest dive shop to the cenote and Alex wanted us to be the first divers in. There is a bit of silt on the bottom and the visibility drops during the day. By the time we exited the first cenote, the parking lot had filled with about 20 vehicles and there was probably 60 divers in the cave following the same rope we had been using.

We exchanged our tanks and headed in for the second dive (to the Bat Cave). Again, wonderful sights, huge rooms, awesome vis. As we exited from the darkness, a professional diver/photographer was waiting to take our pictures. He has a 5 megapixel camera and flash and took pictures of us individually as well as a posed picture of our group (all at about 20′ depth). He also took a 20 second video of us swimming up from the depths. The cost is quite reasonable ($35.00 USD) for a CD with your pictures and video along with some other pictures (unremarkable) of the caves and local wild life. I asked if he would take VISA and he said, "No sir, I am afraid this is the jungle and we don’t offer that level of service" so we cobbled together enough pesos for the disc – take cash, you will be glad to have the vids to show your friends.

Well, that is a quick summary of a thoroughly wonderful diving vacation. Can’t say enough about the Akumal Beach Resort and the Venta Diving group. Try to get Alex to take you out. I expect he is their top diver and he is the person they all call the Manager. By the way, the equipment is in good shape but don’t panic when they say the water is cold. It is about 72 F. I am from Saskatchewan – learning to swim in June at 62 F with only a Speedo – that’s cold. I found my 5 mil shorty wet suit more than adequate though my colleagues said they thought the longer suits were better for them in the cenote.

Send me an email if you want to see some of the cenote pictures. Not much use using a disposable camera in the caves unless it comes with a flash. Mine didn’t have a flash so the only pictures we have were taken at the entrance by the professional.

Cheers and great diving,

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Akumal Beach Resort Angela & Kevin ~ Saskatchewan, Canada

March 2005

We stayed at the ABR from Feb. 12-26, 2005 in the 300 block. Our room was about 10m from the beach and had a great view of the beach and sea.

The ABR is a quaint resort that doesn’t jump out at you when you first arrive. No huge signs or really fancy architecture. Upon entering the lobby you find a large open-air greeting area with polished wood floors, a high cone shaped thatched roof and friendly staff. The resort grounds are kept very clean and staff are always on hand sweeping and picking up any litter the tourists may have forgotten. We didn’t use the swimming pools – but they looked clean and in good repair. Not a fancy place – but comfortable. We didn’t do much of the night life but saw a couple of shows – the animation staff give a good effort and are entertaining. We enjoyed getting up early and watching the sunrises – some very spectacular!

The resort is a 3 – 3.5 star so don’t expect gold-plated fixtures and persian carpets! We were in the "older" section of the resort and our room was clean and airy, but it was due for an upgrade as the brown tile floor, beige walls and older bathroom were dated and showing some wear. We saw some of the rooms in the newer sections and they were done in brighter pastel colours and the tile work was in better shape. No complaints about our room, but a few in the 200 block had a lack of hot water (temporary) and tiles in worse shape. Our room location was great and we didn’t spend much time in it as we were almost always at the beach or snorkeling so we didn’t care.

The beach here is quite long, extending from Akumal well past the resort boundary. Most of the beach has very fine sand but there are a few rocky areas as you travel to the south end of the resort. No trouble at all getting chairs, although the palapas are taken quickly in the day. If you want shade there are lots of palm trees to lie under. For those wondering – some guests choose to lounge topless, but it wasn’t quite as common as in other areas of the caribbean.

The area is so-so for swimming as it stays shallow for some distance out and there are lots of small coral formations in fairly close to shore in some areas. As for snorkeling – the resort is great! We snorkeled a lot (2-3 hours/day) and saw a huge variety of fish including a 5′ barracuda, blue tangs, various parrot fish, large stingrays and quite a few green turtles. Due to visitor abuse and declining water quality the coral reef is starting to show damage in areas. If you go out, don’t touch anything with your hands, fins, etc. and try not to stir up sediments with your fins as this has a negative impact on the reef. We also saw people feeding bread to fish in the shallows – not recommended as it does upset the ecological balance of the reef ecosystem.

Many people go to Yal Ku lagoon to snorkel as its sheltered and has a good variety of fish to see, but be careful as there are lots of sharp edges to scrape yourself on. We didn’t go to Yal Ku this trip as the wind had it quite murky and we had good snorkeling at the resort. We also didn’t like the fact that they artificially feed the fish in the lagoon.

The food was good at the Central buffet restaurant. Not a huge variety but there always seemed to be enough selection to satisfy us. The desserts (cakes, pies) were usually lacking in our opinion but their pastries were very good. We tried both the Italian and Mexican a la cartes and found the Mexican good but were a bit dissappointed in the Italian food quality. Service was very good at all restaurants and the staff are very friendly and hard working.

We only did one trip – to Tulum. If you take the organized tour it’s $39US per person. We went by collectivo (public van @ 15-20 pesos per person) and hired a guide when we got there. We had a good tour (6 of us with a guide instead of 30-40 people per guide) and it cost us about $10US per person for the day. We spoke to others about Chechen Itza and they said it’s spectacular and worth the effort – but prepare for a long day as the bus ride is about 3 hours each way. We were going to go to Playa del Carmen to shop but others said it was very hot in town and prices were not all that good as tourists from cruise ships flock in regularly and seem to be willing to pay higher prices. Best deals are found at the end of the day – hint, hint. Expect to pay 25-50% of the "asking" price on goods sold at the markets.

We would go back to the ABR. The resort is working to become more environmentally friendly as they use glasses for drinks a lot and began a towel recycling program (leave only towels you want washed on the floor) while we were there to cut down on unneccessary washing. Staff were great and the resort had the pleasant laid-back atmosphere, great beach and great snorkeling we were expecting. We heard about previous people complaining about preferential treatment of some guests but we saw none of that at all. We are english speaking and met a lot of nice people from Canada, USA and Europe – exchanged e-mail addresses with many!

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Akumal Beach Resort Tracey & Darryl ~ Winnipeg, Canada

February 2005

A group of us (13) just returned from the best time ever at the Akumal Beach Resort. We vacationed the week of Feb5-13/05) We loved this place from the moment we arrived. We’ve stayed at Beach front resorts before, but this is ABSOLUTELY BEACH FRONT !!!!. The beach is to die for !!!!! Snorkeling is great right from your lounger (and yes there are always lots of loungers to be found) We stayed in Block 300 which is part of the older section. Our view was great, but I have to say the rooms could use some work. They are abit shabby, however were clean and everything worked. We got over it real quick, how much time do you spend in your room anyway??? The buffet was delicious and offered different selections for dinner each day. Breakfast was awesome, freshly made omelet’s everyday. We tried both of the A La Cartes and most preffered the Italian but my son will never forget the Tequila Boom-Booms we had at the Mexican restaurant. We all LOVED the snack bar especially our 6 yr old who could help himself to all the soft ice cream he wanted. It was so close to the beach, we never did make it to the buffet for lunch. The animation staff were great!!! They put so much energy into the work they do and try really hard to please their guests. They were really a big part of us enjoying ourselves so much. Alma (Suzie big tits) is so sweet, she even made a point of seeing all of usl to say Good-Bye just before we left. Alex at Venta Dive Shop (on-site) is the best guy to see if you want to know anything about Diving. My husband and son (15) went scuba diving for the first time with him and had the time of their life !!! My husband enjoyed it so much he ended up getting certified there. They also offer excursions from the Dive Shop. Serena took us on a Catamaran Cruise to Cozumel. It was a whole day full of fun and sunshine. Thanks for such a great time Serena !!! During our visit approximately 70% of the guest were European, mostly Italians and French. Canadians were the minority but certainly not treated any different. The different languages heard throughout the resort was an experience by itself. The Akumal Beach Resort is a 3+ so if you want marble and chandeliers you won’t find it here. However if a friendly resort (with great staff), good food and a great beach is what you want, you’ll find all that at the Akumal. We will definitely be back, next time for 2 weeks. THANK YOU AKUMAL !!!!

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Akumal Beach Resort Dianne

February 2005

ROOM: The room had a beautiful ocean view with balcony. We had no problems with any type of bugs and rooms were clean. They provide a hair drier that worked very well. The toilet, shower and sink were in 3 different rooms. There were no towel racks, only hooks. We were not able to adjust room temperature so we froze most of the time. One night they turned off the air and it was muggy and stuffy. The fan wobbled. There was low water pressure in the shower. They had distilled water in the hallway that was empty by morning and always warm. The screen for the sliding door of the balcony kept going off track.

FOOD: Buffet had a variety of food, but none of it was tasty. Breakfast and lunch were okay but dinner was awful. None of the restaurants are air-conditioned. The Italian restaurant was very stuffy and the food was average. The snack bar food was scary. All juices at resort were watered down tremendously. The bartenders at the main bar were very nice.

WRISTBANDS: The staff uses the wristband to identify what language to communicate with you. Yellow-English speaking, Red-Italian, Purple-French, Pink-Sicilian, Orange-Spanish speaking, and Blue-German.

GUEST: 45% Italian, 45% French, and 10% Canadian or French Canadian. If you are from the USA you are gum on their shoe. There were some that would only speak with the Italians and French. In the beginning it didn’t bother us but towards the end of our stay it began to eat at us. We participated in most of the activities, but we had to find out when they were starting because the staff would "forget" to tell us at times. We went there with an open mind hoping to mingle with the European guest. We speak fluent Italian and thought language would be no problem. We found out differently.

ACTIVITY STAFF: Some were better then others. They all have different backgrounds, Argentina, Mexico, Holland, Cuba, etc. The staff is not permanent. Normally their stay is 6 months, only a few stay longer. They had so many things you could do; darts, bocce ball, kayaking, beach volley ball, aqua gym, aerobics, water polo, dance, and Spanish lessons. They worked very hard to have contact with every person. There were only a few that ignored us, but then became nice the last night because we were leaving. Their nightly shows were fantastic. The humor was corny but we enjoyed it very much and found it very funny. The games and competitions were fun. I will have to say the activity staff really gives it their best.

POOL: It was very nice. It’s hard to find a hotel in Mexico that has a pool over 4 feet but this one had a section that was 10 feet. There were always plenty of chairs by the pool or beach and we were there during full capacity.

BEACH: The beach was gorgeous. It was very picturesque. You could definitely go out far and swim. Water shoes are a good idea because even in the good part you will find some rocks, dips or seaweed. The good part of the beach was directly in front of the pool to the swing bar. The beach by the 600-700 building was deserted with big rocks but they had chairs if you wanted to lie there.

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Akumal Beach Resort Steve/Kathy ~ Edmonton

January 2005

Hola amigos!

Well a lot has been written about this resort so I’ll just touch on a few things.First a little background, wife and are in our early 40’s,this is our 6th AI,3rd in the area and our first 3.5*

One of the best things about ABR is the staff.We got into our room,(the one I had requested! ) ,about 10pm, knowing the restaurants were closed I said to my wife "we’re gonna starve!" just then there was a knock on the door, and there was a guy with trays of sandwiches and fruit and bottled water!! AWESOME!! he even offered more if we liked! Very nice touch,we never got that at Barcelo Maya or Palladium! I don’t know if we looked lonely or what but we often would have one of the girls join us for lunch! Erika,Sebastien,"Pamela Anderson" and the girl from Holland we’re all GREAT! All of the staff we’re very friendly and hard working,probally the best we’ve found anywhere. Great shows too,a lot of effort goes into them,really enjoyed the funny ones.

ROOMS; We were in building #7 top floor,this and #6 are the closest to the beach we’ve ever seen. Yes kinda basic but,really nice showers,lots of great towels and ofcourse very clean. The only times you can hear your neighboors is when the exterior doors close.And with the great views,the 3.5* rooms were not a issue at all.If I was gonna get picky,there’s not a lot of privacy on your patio but this can work to your advantage when you lock your self out on the patio like we did! hahaha

FOOD!; Always a biggie for us, and once again the previous reviews all proved to be true.Food was good and we always found something to eat,( still gained 5lbs in a week!) but if you we’re here for 2 weeks it would get old.You can always walk down the beach to Akumal for a change.Great coffee,carefull filling that cup!

BEACH; Excellent! Beautifull sand,incredible snorkeling,lots of shade and 3 bars close by. The amount of fish that would surrond you when you we’re just up too your knees was amazing! We would look down the beach and see lots of people in the water up to there knees just staring at the water!

SUMMARY; Best deal in the area!( don’t tell anybody!) Very well run,great beach and some great room locations,awesome ocean views.Love being able to walk to Akumal.Also had no problem getting a late check out for a mere 15$ Met some great people and would definetly return hopefully for two weeks !

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Akumal Beach Resort Karen and Steve ~ Winnipeg

January 2005

Holiday was booked on-line through www.escapes.ca with tour operator Signature Vacations. The resort is rated a three star. Travel dates were December 16 – 30, 2004.

We are married, in our 30s, have no children and have previously stayed in all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

If we were to rank our four winter holidays that we have taken, we would rank this as Number 1. We had a fantastic trip and made great friends on this vacation.

Arrival- We flew from Winnipeg on Sky Service. The plane departed and arrived on time. The airport was not busy upon arrival and we made our way through customs quickly. While we received the “green light” I saw a couple that received the dreaded “red light”. I noticed at the buses that they were not far behind us so it doesn’t seem that the red light held them up for very long.

The drive to Akumal Beach Resort (ABR) was fairly long. It took almost 1.5 hours to get there. We made numerous stops to drop others off and the drive through Playacar felt particularly long. We were the last and only people to be dropped off at ABR.

We were pleasantly surprised upon arriving at the resort. We had seen pictures of the lobby and entrance but we still felt unsure what to expect. True, there are no fountains and you won’t see marble floors here but we thought the lobby was beautiful and peaceful. The wide-plank wood floors and the rattan furniture and unique light fixtures (look up!) made for a nice, comfortable feel to this resort.

During our stay we often got a drink or coffee and sat in the lobby area just off from the front des. They have the daily newspaper there and it was always peaceful and quiet here. Well, except for the day the French lady went absolutely berserk and almost started a fistfight with one of her travel mates – yikes – that was a site!!! During the last week of our stay this area was decorated beautifully for a wedding. They obviously took special care getting ready for the wedding. There had to be at least 6 people decorating and it looked lovely.

Check-in was extremely efficient and made more pleasant with the arrival of a beverage. We were shown to our room by a bellman (Luis I believe) and we made the long trek to Building One. Yes, we stayed in the dreaded OLD section. We often saw Luis during our two-week stay and he was always smiling and cheerful and greeted us like old friends.

The Room – We had requested to be in Building One. We had seen a map of the resort and knew that this building was right on the beach and in a more secluded section of the resort. We were happy to find that we were in room 101, the corner room and right on the beach. One step off the patio and we were on the sand. There were two hammocks right outside our patio door and the Moon Rise bar (which operates during the daytime) was mere steps away which was actually quite dangerous having such easy access to margaritas!

The room itself was a little old but was kept very clean. The tile work in the bathroom left something to be desired but as long as it was clean we were happy. It actually looked like I had tried to tile the bathroom myself so I was amused. We had a king size bed and it was very comfortable. My only suggestion for immediate improvement about the room was that they could have added a chest of drawers (there was plenty of room for it) as there wasn’t a lot of space to store your clothing. Also, they need to put a screen door on the patio door. The other rooms had screen doors and I think this one just happen to get broken and never did get replaced. We mentioned it to the front desk.

I think in the long run the resort will likely upgrade these rooms. They will have to in time. But, for us this room was so close to the beach that we loved it. Our maid service was excellent. We never lacked for towels and our room was cleaned by 10am every single day.

Oh, and by the way – Can I make a suggestion? In resorts like this the floors are tile or marble – ladies, don’t clomp around in your heels! Put your shoes on just before you leave the room. Our neighbors were all nice and quiet for the most part, except for the occasional stomping around in heels. Just a pet peeve of mine I guess.

We did have two note-worthy visitors in our room during our stay. The first and regular visitor was the cat, which we named El Dorado, who seemed to think that room 101 was her home. She actually belonged to the fella from Italy that runs the dive shop on site. El Dorado found a friend in us and was very lucky that we are cat people.

Another visitor was the little green lizard that got in one night. After a bit of scrambling we helped him make his way back to the beach. I had no idea that a little lizard could make such a loud noise! Go figure. They are fast little suckers too!

The Food – We thought the food was good at this resort. We had no complaints. By the end of two weeks, heck, by the end of one week, we always get a little tired of food and booze but we always found something good to eat. We don’t eat a lot of meat and were thankful for the many veggie options provided at every meal.

The Main Buffet – The location of this restaurant is more than you could ask for! The ocean is mere steps away and the sliding glass windows open to let the ocean breeze through. It’s lovely. When it’s busy it’s hard to get a window seat! We felt the service was excellent. The waiters were efficient, pleasant, and extremely hard working. They would often get you a drink, if it wasn’t too crazy in the restaurant, and they were constantly clearing tables.

The drinks are all self-serve, including the beer. There is a beer tap on either side of the restaurant at both drink stations. If you want something other than wine, beer or non-alcoholic you will need to visit the main bar before you go to the restaurant. The main bar is right outside the doors of the main buffet. One note, the house wines were both drinkable but the red wine is chilled because it is in the same dispenser as the white (Hint- find a warm wine glass fresh out of the kitchen). We liked the red wine in the a la carte restaurants better than in the buffet.

Look out for the coffee dispenser. For those of those that have been to ABR you will know what I mean and understand how easy it is to overfill your cup which can become a messy issue. For those of you yet to visit – you will figure it out!

Breakfast – They would make pancakes, French toast, or omelets for you. There was an excellent selection of breads, yogurts, muesli, fruit, eggs and other items such as bacon, ham, oatmeal, cheese, etc.

Lunch and Dinner – There is always a salad bar area that consists of the makings for green salads and also pasta salads, etc. The fixings for the salads such as croutons and dressings are often found in the middle island, away from the actual salad food. They always have eggs, capers, oil and vinegar, olives and other extra fixings. There is always a pasta station on the far right side of the buffet area. It usually had at least two kinds of pasta and one risotto dish.

The staff in the buffet takes a lot of care to constantly be changing the serving pans and utensils. Whether you ate when they first opened or just before they closed the serving area was always clean and there was always food.

At both lunch and dinner there is always the wonderful option of tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole and lime – I have to admit we enjoyed many plates of this treat and never tired of it. I miss that guacamole!

Theme evenings in the main buffet included Asian, Italian, German, French and Mexican.

A la Cartes – There is no limit to the number of times you can book at the Italian and Mexican restaurants. The trick is to be in the lobby bar at 7:45 and wait in line until the fellow shows up with the reservation books ay 8am. You can then sign yourself up for either restaurant. There are two sittings for both, 7:30pm and 8:30pm. Sign up is usually all done by 8:30 so if you snooze you lose.

We ate at each a la carte only once. Both were very good. We enjoyed the dinner buffet and often met friends that we had made during our stay for drinks and then dinner so the buffet was most often the easiest way to go. We would recommend trying both restaurants, as the service and food were both very good.

Christmas Eve Gala Dinner – The resort did a beautiful job of Christmas Eve. At 6:30 around the pool it was decorated with lights and the usual duo from the bar was there for entertainment (more on them later). They had tables set up with canapés and various punches including sangria. The staff had obviously worked very hard getting ready for this event and it was lovely.

They extended the seating in the main restaurant to include the lobby bar area and had an additional buffet line set up there. There were hosts that would help you find a table and the tables were set in red and white linen and there were Christmas oranges and nuts decorating each table. They also placed a bottle of water on each table. It was really well done.

The food was excellent and the buffet menu was extensive. We sat with friends and had a glass of wine and watching the frenzied crowd rush for their food as if they hadn’t eaten for weeks. You’d think these people had never seen shrimp before!!!! I don’t understand why so many people have to be so pushy about food. It’s not like they are going to run out and you are going to go hungry. Relax – you’re on holiday!

After the evening show at 11pm they again set up around the pool and you could celebrate with champagne.

Snack Bar – The snacks are located by the main pool and pool bar. They have pretty much the same stuff everyday including pizza, burgers, tortillas, quesedillas, fries, etc. They also had self-serve soft ice cream that I found to be quite tasty!

The Bars – There were three bars, the Lobby Bar, the Pool Bar and the Moon Rise Bar. The Moon Rise had good drinks, swings that were a bit dangerous and some seriously weird music at times. It operated from 11am – 5pm each day. The pool bar is just that, a bar by the pool. The Lobby Bar is the main bar. This is where you could also get cappuccino and espresso starting at 8am.

Every evening, expect Sunday, there was duo that sang three sets. They sang everything from the Bee Gees to Elton John to La Bamba and we found it quite cheesy. Strange though, it was oddly quiet on Sunday evening without them and we found ourselves wondering, where are Lupo and Sylvia tonight? I won’t say anymore cause it would ruin the surprise or perhaps the torment….you decide. I give them credit, they had people dancing and rockin’ out on many an evening.

Vendors set up their goods on Sunday evening in the main bar area. The prices for some things are really high and even bartering might not get you to a reasonable price.

The Pool – The pool was nice and we saw it being cleaned every day. We never did take a dip in the pool. Why bother when the ocean is right there just begging you to come in for a swim or snorkel!

The Beach – Once word….FANTASTIC! We loved the beach at the ABR. We never found there to be a lack of beach chairs. We often made our home for the day at the far north end of the beach, mainly because that was were our room was located, but it was also nice and quiet.

The snorkeling right at the ABR was amazing. There was a lot of wind during the two weeks we were there but it rarely stopped us from snorkeling.

Entertainment- There are two parts to the entertainment at this resort, the daytime activities and the evening show. All the entertainment is done by the animation crew and I have very high praise for them. Alma, Flavio, Angel, Erika, Sebastion and the many others were amazing. They always remembered your name and we never felt pressured to participate. We have never actually participated in animation crew activities at any other resort on past holidays and we were surprised to find ourselves playing darts one day and beach volleyball with water balloons another day.

If you don’t want to get up in front of everyone at the bar at 9:30pm at night and receive an award (tequila) for winning a daytime activity, and then dance the weird line dance to the ABR theme song, then you need to work hard at losing. Though losers are sometimes punished during the activity. What was that stuff I had to drink after hitting the palm tree with my dart, yuck! And really, sexy dancing and darts? Too many margaritas that day, and it was only 11am.

The animation crew works crazy hours, six days per week. The evening shows are sometimes in the theatre or there are crazy games at the bar. They work very hard on the shows in the theatre and though they didn’t interest us, some people obviously liked them very much. Again though, I give huge kudos to the crew for working so hard at all of the shows.

Once evening (Mexican theme night in the restaurant) there was a Mexican folk dance troupe that performed for the evening show and they were good.

Friends made at ABR – I can’t forget to mention the dear friends we met while at the ABR. John and Heidi and their daughter Gabrielle from Colorado and Claire, Chris and their girls, Courtney and Danielle from the UK. Steve and the three girls made many sand castles (Mayan temples of course) and I usually had a drink in my hand courtesy of Chris. Meeting these folks added immensely to the enjoyment of this holiday.

What else did we do? Other than drink, eat, sleep?

Snorkeling – We snorkeled a lot right at the ABR and in Akumal Bay. We had an issue though. It took almost the full two weeks for us to finally see a turtle!!! We actually had a joke going with everyone….we were positive it was the turtle conspiracy theory. There were actually no turtles in Akumal.

We saw fish galore, beautiful and bright. Steve saw a ray. We saw the barracuda. We saw schools of beautiful blue fish. No turtles were found.

We finally took an afternoon snorkeling trip with our ABR friends and their kids. It was a two-hour tour booked through the dive shop in Akumal. We went snorkeling about three bays down from Akumal. (I wish I could remember the name). The snorkeling was good and the coral and eel were especially notable. It was a cool, cloudy and windy afternoon and we were all chilled to the bone. I told the guide we still hadn’t seen a turtle yet so on the way back into Akumal Bay he stopped the boat when he spotted a turtle and we quietly got in the water and enjoyed a bit of time with two turtles.

Please note: This took place within site of our hotel room! It is a conspiracy, we had to pay $25 each to see turtles right where we had snorkled for the last 10 days! All jokes aside, the afternoon trip was great and we enjoyed ourselves.

Another note, on our last day at the resort our friends John and Heidi were leaving and Heidi said, “go out snorkeling this afternoon, I know you’ll see a turtle”. She was right, finally we saw a turtle all on our own!

Yal Ku Lagoon – We took the long walk down to this lagoon. We enjoyed the walk and loved looking at all of the homes, condos and hotels along the way. It took about 40 minutes to way each way. They let us in to take a peak for 5 minutes. We had planned on going back to snorkel at some point but ended up finding the snorkeling so good right at the hotel that we never did walk back. It did look very nice and if I recall correctly the admission fee was about $6.00 per person.

Tulum Ruins – We got up early one morning and took the Collectivo down to the Tulum Ruins. The Collectivos were such a great way to get around. It dropped us off on the highway and you have to walk about 10 minutes down the road to get to the gate. There is a trolley to take you but I wouldn’t bother with it. You have to pay and it’s just not that far! We were there so early that I don’t think the trolley was even running.

We were at the ruins by 9am and we were very thankful. We took lots of pictures with no people in them and felt very fortunate. When we left later that morning we met literally hundreds of people walking down the road to the main gate. It was a bit overwhelming. We stopped in the little tourist trap area, there is actually a Subway there (good grief), and had a cold beer and waited for the Mexican Folk dancers to do their pole climbing thing. It’s hard to explain but it’s worth waiting for. I think they only do it about 3 times per day though, due to the set up of the pole and rope, plus the need to read newspapers and visit with their friends.

Tulum Pueblo – After our visit to the ruins we walked to Tulum on the sideroad beside Highway 307. It took about 45 minutes. We wandered around Tulum for awhile but the need for another cold beer and food got the better of us. We had beer and lunch at Charlie’s restaurant at the south end of the main drag. Lunch was excellent. The salsa they serve with their chips is good and spicy! Not like the gringo salsa at the resort!!! I had chicken tostadas and Steve had fish tacos.

Coba Ruins – We were up early again for this trip. It was a cooler day with quite a few clouds so we knew it would be perfect for Coba. We caught the Collectivo to Tulum and then negotiated with a cab for the ride to Coba. We asked for him to wait for us and drive us home as well. Again, we were at the ruins early so we enjoyed peace and quiet and dealt with very few people.

You can rent bikes or a taxi-bike but we hiked it. We loved the long walk. It had to do with the rule of “walk off the guac” that we made for ourselves after much overindulgence on the guacamole at the resort. I’d say we hiked about 4-5 kms in total. We really enjoyed the peace of Coba.

Playa del Carmen – We took the Collectivo to Playa for a morning of shopping. Honestly, we didn’t enjoy. It was too busy and too commercial. The pressure to buy something was annoying. We’ve been to other countries where the sales pressure is even worse but I just don’t think we were in the mood for bartering. We ended up buying a couple of items about 5 blocks off of 5th Avenue and we got them for great prices and didn’t have to mess around and barter for a half hour.

We ate lunch at El Chino and really enjoyed it. Cold beer and good food. It was about 3 blocks off of 5th Avenue.

ote regarding shopping – We ended up walking from the ABR down to the Hacienda dona Isabel at the Bahia Principe resort. The Hacienda is like a small outdoor mall. The purpose I think is so that guests at the Bahia never actually have to leave their resort. Anyone can go to the mall, you do not have to be a guest at the resort.

The walk was 35 minutes each way and we again took the side road. We found the prices here, particularly for silver to be the best we found which totally surprised me. I did a lot of comparisons with vendors and stores in Playa and Tulum but the silver store at the Hacienda beat them all. Pay in pesos and you get another 10% off. The walk was fantastic (remember, walk off the guac) and you are not pressured to buy anything and there is no bartering in most of the stores.

Lol Ha – We were pleased to meet some of the locogringo.com gang at Lol Ha for drinks one evening. Meeting Christie, Larry and their boys Ryan and Matt, and Tracy, Adam and their kids Meg and Christopher was a highlight for sure. We went back a few times as the margaritas are certainly addictive – and heck, it was about a 3 minute stumble from our room at the resort to the bar at Lol Ha.

Akumal Library – We dropped off colouring paper and crayons, and mini candy canes at the library. We missed the Christmas party which was too bad. We stopped by twice and both times there were a number of children there reading. The staff really appreciated the donations.

Akumal Pueblo – We did take a wander over the Pueblo one morning. It’s worth a wander over, mainly so you don’t think that the Akumal by the beach is the ‘real’ Akumal. We wandered through a few stores and checked out the two restaurants on the main street. It was too early for lunch (the chickens had just been put on the grill!), and we also couldn’t find the one restaurant that we had read reviews about so we didn’t stay and eat there.

Golf – We did bring our clubs and went golfing one day at Puerta Aventuras. We loaded our clubs on the Collectivo (that was a sight to see) and walked in off the highway. The course is about a 20 minute walk from the highway. The course itself is not bad. We would compare it to a municipal course at home. The cost was $78 each for 18 holes (it’s a 9 hole course) and the price included the cart.

The club house isn’t licensed so you’ll only be drinking coke or water on course, unless you remember to bring your own cervezas.

And that’s it folks. Let us know if you have any questions. Please feel free to take a peek at our photos at http://community.webshots.com/user/sidneylothar . You can email us at kmeelker@shaw.ca if you have any questions.

All in all we had an amazing vacation!! We would not hesitate to return to Akumal Beach Resort or the area in general.
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