Old Reviews – Barcelo Maya Beach

  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   David, Cathy, Rachel & Michelle ~ Toronto, Canada

June 2009

Arrival: June 2009 Just got back today from a great 7 day stay at the Baar Cel Lo (like Barcelona) Tropical. It was closed for 1 1/2 months after the swine flu scare. This was the toughest planned trip ever. The swine flu scare is just that, a scare created by the media. You have no fear in going here. I booked 1 day after the official travel advisory was lifted and got an amazing price. There was still lots of uncertainty if the airline was going. At the end the flight did go. When landing in Cancun you fill in a questionnaire answering yes or no if you have any symptoms. Then a person takes you temperature either aimed at your throat or forehead. Can’t see that instrument being that accurate. Upon departure same questionnaire but no check up. Occupancy at the Tropical/Colonial got up to 80%. I had high expectations of this place as we paid a slight premium compared to other resorts. I’ve been to 4 other resorts on the Mayan Riviera (Palladium Kentaneh, Gran Sirenis, Princess Riveria and Occidental XCaret) and this resort did not disappoint. I guess that’s why they rarely discount this resort and there is great loyalties of the guests to come back. One of my best stays as it has the basically everything – good food, amazing beach, variety of pools and waterparks. Comparing to the other 4 it prob has the best array of beaches avail. Buffet wise prob the best (Palladium came a close 2nd) and definitely the only one with a kids waterpark.  Some of the a la cartes at Princess/Grand Sirenis/Palladium were better than Barcelo. The key to Barcelo is consistency and that to some people may be worth the slight premium it usually charges over the other places. I’ve been to other parts of the Caribbean (DR/Cuba/Jamaica) but always favored the Mayan Riviera given it’s higher stds for resorts and proximity to interesting excursions. Summary of Rating out of 10: Beach                           10 Buffet Food                  9 A La Cartes                 7.5 Facilities                       10                                                                                            Rooms                         8.5 Service                         7.5 Overall                         9.0 PROS: •Amazing beach. Endless. Caribe/Beach side is fine powder sand and is shallow. No one there (as still closed til Dec 2009) but lounges are set up and the watersports activities are located there. Remember to bring water if you decide to hang out on the Caribe/Beach side. Free 1 hr hobby cat lessons too after that you can take it out yourself !!! Kayaks are fun too. You may see rays or turtles there. Nice sandy parts on Colonial and Tropical. Palace is coarser coral sand. So you can walk forever, have sandy beach or coral reefs. What more can you ask for. •Snorkelling was good for offshore snorkelling from a resort. There are basically 3-4 areas in which you can snorkel. You really have to go out to the buoys (either ahead or to the side) and that’s were the best reefs are. Easy to see as this is where there are dark patches in the water and this is where the wave breaks. One popular area with easy access was in front of Tropical adjacent to volleyball nets. There are sting rays in the sand as well as barracudas. There is a school of blue tang there and some butterfly/parrot/box fish/sergeant majors etc… Even as soon as you enter the water, there are fish surrounding you. Not tons but pretty good snorkelling off a resort. Snorkelling by the Palace has better preserved coral formations (less damaged) but still not lots of fish. Yellowtail, giant angel fish, and Bob the barracuda is around there. Didn’t see the sea turtles when I went out but others did. At the pier there are hundreds of fish. People feed them there. 2 mornings in a row I saw a nurse shark there. One morning I saw 7 sting rays on the bottom by the pier. Tons of other fish always there. Snappers and Sargent Major and the odd groupers. Just jump in or go down the ladder and you are surrounded by a few hundred fish there. •Dinner Buffet were great. Better than avg from my 10+ AI experiences. Smoke salmon all the time, Prosciutto, Lots of fish (Mahi Mahi, snapper, grouper, salmon), Giant prawns galore (sometime mushy sometime good), calamari, chicken, stews, Ribeye steak the best cut at the resort, Flank is ok to make your own fajitas. Crepe stand. I did however find that there were little cooked veggies/greens on most days. Remember to do the BUFFET 101 rules. If it looks old wait, for a new batch. And sample before hoarding a plateful in case you don’t like it. There was very little chocolate desserts. Good selection but seen better at other resorts. Ice cream was always melted at the main buffet so I never ate it. Too bad as Mexican ice cream is the best (esp Mango & Cookies & cream) Themes (subject to change): •Sat – Caribbean •Sun – French •Mon- Seafood •Tue – Spanish •Wed – Gala •Thur – Italian •Fri – Mexican •Breakfast has a diet corner with Soya Milk, omelettes made with olive oil etc…(hint no line up to get omelettes at the diet corner) Tons of homemade donuts and great homemade coffee cakes. Great quality and selection of cold cuts and cheeses (jalapeno too). OJ and Sparkling wine and made to order fruit juices/smoothies. •Lunch buffet was good at the main buffet. Less variety at the Grills (colonial/tropical) but still sufficient. Amazing burgers (1/2 lb ones) – add some guacamole/cheese to it and your in heaven. Great ribs, prawns, chicken breast too etc……Better breeze and views at the Tropical Grill than the Colonial Grill. •Pools are great. Palace pool is one lake size pool with lots of water loungers whereas the Tropical & Colonial are like a series of interconnected pools (so feels more lively). 2 waterparks for kids one on Colonial and one on Palace. Great for kids. Slides are fast!!! There’s even lap pools. There are 1 swim up bar at the each the Colonial/Tropical/Palace main pools. If you don’t want to line up get out of the water and go to the other side where there is  no line up. Never had problems fighting for loungers at this resort either beach or pool. A nice change from the regular 6am towel game!!! •Kids club seemed good as was Carnival/Fiesta/nights at 6:30 at the shopping area on M, W, F (piñatas for kids). Mini disco is daily at 8:15 to 8:50pm at the theatre (except Sunday). •Rooms are avg looking but Air conditioners worked amazingly unlike some resort which would turn it off in the middle of the night so you only have a fan -to save $$$. Slippers/robes in room and mini bar had chips/peanuts and chocolate too!!! Free safe too unlike some resorts. Bed are lined with a towel underneath so it made the bed puffier and made it more comfortable as the sheets could breathe and you wouldn’t feel plastic underneath. Various types of pillows offered. There is a pillow menu if you cared to request. Made room request the week before leaving and got everything we asked for. We were on the 2nd floor and literally 1 min walk to the pool/beach and still only 5 mins to the lobby. Excellent location •Design of resort is great as its’ laid out with – width rather than depth as like most other resorts. Everything seems to be close by. The pools are right next to the beach. Lobby to beach is no more than 5-7 min walk. From Tropical to Caribe Beach side is about 6 min walk depending on the building you are in. For us, the Tropical was 2 mins away from the Palace. •Great fitness centre but weights area is not A/C. Exercise machine area is A/C. There plenty of towels and ice cold bottle of water there. There’s also a hot Jacuzzi and a sauna there (not that anyone would  want to use them). •Short walk to highway so you can catch collectivos ($2 US pp) to PDC/Tulum/Akumal/Xel Ha

•Although they advertise domestic liquor there are some brand name liquors included (vodka/rum/gin). Some whiskeys and cognac extra charge on Tropical/Colonial. Corona on tap they had dark and light but both tasted lighter than normal. Often beer was warm. If you want a show, ask for a Mexican coffee at any a la carte. It’s a show in itself with flaming liquor. Taste was like drinking luke warm Vicks Liquorice cough medicine. No coffee in it just Kaluaha, an Anise based liquor and something else. Very sweet. Felt obligated as the waiter spent 5 min making it so had to drink most of it.

•Colonial lobby bar is far nicer than Tropical. It’s A/C and nicer with piano etc. The tropical was just a casual bar. Cons:

•A LA CARTES. First time I must say that I was a bit disappointed with the a la cartes compare to the buffet and other resorts. Seems like the buffet was better as it offered a wide variety and some good quality food, but it’s always nice to be served. One good thing was it was fairly easy to book the a la carte and get half decent times unlike other resorts. Not sure if it’s because of the swine thing. You can reserve at the front lobby or at the concierge desk located in each building.

•Seafood Restaurant was a bit disappointing (7 out of 10). Appetizer of assorted seafood platter was just like buffet (some cold seafood salad/snails/tiny mussel), Lobster crepe was awful, Seafood Boul. soup was good but a tad salty, Lobster tail was ok but not spectacular. Baklava was dry – unlike the real type.

•Steakhouse had some pretty bad cuts of filet (6 of 10). Salad bar not too exciting. Assorted grill appetizer was like the buffet (a bit of ribs/chicken wing/guac/quesed/chimichanga), Crème of Broccoli good but consume not too good. 4 of 6 orders of Tenderloin at our table was awful. It was a strange hunk of tenderloin meat. Should usually look like a hockey puck but ours was like a hunk of meat cut with and not against the grain and was not too tender, Other 2 were the traditions cut and tasted better. Guess it’s hit or miss. Salmon was huge portion but dry – Prob not Atlantic type which is fattier.

•Italian was ok (8 of 10) with the Antipasto bar(beef carpacio, prosciutto, shrimps) , soup was not great (salty bean/minestrone), Osobucco was good as was Grouper, Tiramisu was moist but a bit tasteless. Canolli were ok. Choc cake explosion prob the best.

•Bali Hai was fun and food was ok (9 of 10). Hand maki rolls/sushi/or sashimi or tempura, miso soup or salad, then teppanyaki. Surf and turf was the thing to order. But found my tenderloin a bit over cooked and not as tender as a tenderloin should be. Lobster tail was ok but nothing spectacular. The Rib eye was a better choice. Fried rice was ok as were vegetables but everything’s seem too have a bit too much soya sauce. Guess that’s tailored to the North American taste buds. Don’t forget to order Sake – it’s no extra charge. Almond tofu was disgusting. •Lack of service at restaurants. Too much self service on drinks unlike other resorts. Waiters would never pick up dishes either. (not sure if this was due to understaffing due to layoff). •Shows are professional – great dancers/singers/choreographers but that seems to be all they do sing and dance all week. No variety of shows. The Broadway and Fantasia ones are probably best as they had more of a theme and nicer costumes. Others got a little boring as it was all singing and dancing everyday. There is usually a band playing before the show or the kids mini disco. •Not too many seashells. You might find tiny ones near the Palace end. • 1 hr and 15min from airport (1 hrs if no traffic and or no stops to other resorts) I would definitely consider coming back as this is definitely a complete all inclusive.

If you have any questions you can contact me at namabeer@hotmail.com

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Kim ~ Colorado

May 2009

Arrival: May 12-17 Our checkin was quick and efficient. We were greeted with cool clothes to wipe our hands and drinks to sip on during the checkin process. At checkin, we were given our tickets for our elegant evening meals. After checkin, they sent us straight to the person to get our evening meal reservations made.

Rooms:
We stayed in the Colonial part of the resort. Our rooms were very clean. Everyday the rooms were serviced by at least 4 people. One person stocked the minifridge. One person cleaned the bathroom and replaced towels. Another person made the beds and swept. At the conclusion of the day, someone came in and turned down the bedding and put candies on the night stand. On our arrival there was a basket of fruit and MANY toiletry items in the bathroom. Let me not forget, there are Barcelo slippers and robes in the closet. Just keep in mind that the beds are double beds.

Restaurants and Bars:
The restaurants are fantastic. We ate at the Italian, the Sea Food, and the Japanese restaurants. The service is outstanding everywhere. There is always a nice variety at all the buffets and grills as well.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. There are pools all over the place with fountains in them. My kids loved the swim up bars.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did the Tulum tour, shopping in Cancun and my family had a snorkeling excursion scheduled. You must go on the Tulum tour early. It gets HOT and there is a lot of walking. Take the train. It is worth the $2. My family had the snorkeling trip planned, but we suffered from pretty bad sunburns and decided to cancel. The resort is so full of activities you don’t have to go anywhere to have a great time.

Other Comments:
Make sure you have NEW sunscreen. Sunscreens expire and can leave you with a bad burn. Funjet is absolutely awesome. They took care of us from the time we arrived until we left. We moved into a hotel in Cancun to be closer to the airport. I didn’t book the hotel through Funjet, but they still sent a shuttle to pick us up at 4:20 AM.

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  Barcelo Maya Tropical Resort   Jake ~ Halifax

May 2009

It all started out with beer and Tequila at the airport in Halifax at 5:15am on Sunday April 19th. Had a great flight down 5hrs 20mins from point to point. Things went pretty smooth at customs, although they thought I had too much money with me, until I explained it was a stack of US one dollar bills for tips (they saw it on their scanner). Pushed the light "green for go" and we were off. As we were boarding the bus, we noticed our registration cards showed us staying at the Tropical instead of the Beach which we had booked. The bus had 55 beer on board, which is the maximum they can carry, the Barcelo was the first stop, "sorry" to the others on the bus, as there was no beer left after we got off.

Check in went good, rooms not ready until 3, so we were off to the Tequila bar to meet our new friends. Wandered around a little, what a beautiful spot, all the fountains and the flowers were so nice. Everything was so clean, it really showed how much work goes into the resort to maintain it this way. Rooms were ready around 3 and in we went……very nice room (7139). One other couple was with us on the ground floor (the ones who stayed two weeks) while the others were on the third. Checked the bathroom, balcony, bar fridge and yes, we removed the bed spread and put it away. Everything checked out fine and the A/C worked great, kept it on 18 the whole time we were there. Some of the group wanted to head down for a swim, while my brother in law and I went to meet some more friendly bar staff, our day ended early that first day….that was my four security guard escort day.

The next day, it was time for the beach, wow it was everything we had heard and more. Plenty of loungers available and very few towels placed as reserves. The sand felt sooo good on the feet, warm and soft (the sand, not my feet). I went down to try out the ocean, walked right in and didn’t have that little bite that I am used to, it was beautiful. Tons of fish around and waves to play in too. We walked over to the pier later in the morning and there he was "Bob the Barracuda", all 3.5 – 4 feet of him. I missed his friend, but one of our group got a pic of a 5 foot shark swimming under the pier, it wasn’t anything to worry about, he isn’t looking for people, he is more interested in plankton. The beach is a wonderful spot to spend many hours of your day, but it is a further walk to the bar or washrooms than at other resorts we have visited. Make sure to wear your swim shoes at all times around the beach, not just while in the water. One guy we saw, had a big gash across the bottom of his foot from something he stepped on while walking in the sand…..there was also an ear ring and someone lost their retainer too, not to mention bottle caps and other pieces of plastic laying around. The beach is swept every morning, but the tractor doesn’t drop his rake enough, so most of the debris remains. The grounds people rake around the loungers, but it seems they miss quite a bit. Best idea is to just wear your swim shoes and avoid any problems. The Bubba mugs came in real handy, as did the soft sided cooler bag we brought along. We filled it each day with the beer from our fridges and topped it up with ice, which you get from the machines in the hallway of your building.

We ate at the buffet most meals, as it was always easy to find something we all liked. The beach grill on the Tropical side was good for lunch too, hot dogs, burgers, guac, chips, salad, ice cream…….and on and on. We went to the Steak House twice, fantastic meals there, didn’t really care for the desserts though, preferred the ones in the buffet actually. The Oriental was fantastic too, the entertainment really added to the meal, they put on quite a show there…….you’ll love the "heart beating rice". The Mexican surprised me as many others didn’t seem to care for it much, but we enjoyed it just fine. I got a little cranky while we were there, two couples came in without a reservation and got seated any way. Not a problem, except the two guys were in shorts and sandals, and one guy was wearing a t-shirt…..and I had to wear the proper clothes because(?). Our other meal was at the Bali Hai (sp), again, a great meal for all, the soup was really good there……but the desserts are still best at the buffet I found.

We went into PDC three times during our two weeks, first trip, we didn’t do any shopping other than beer and eats……oh and Tequila at WalMart. Second trip, we did gooder with shopping, plus more beer and eats. Then on the third trip, we walked the full 5th Ave and then back to 8th and up to WalMart for more Tequila…..don’t ask how much I brought back and I won’t have to lie. The food, bars and service were all great and we never had to wait long for anything. The pools were warm and clean, and loads of room for everyone. The shade under the roof of the swim up bars was a nice touch too. Plus there are lots of places to find shade around the pools. On the last couple of days there, we noticed the work beginning over at the pier. When you walk out the pier and turn left at the end, they had staging set up in the water out another 40ft headed toward the Palace. Then they had more staging set up from there out to the point on the end of the small island, with a series of ropes running between all these sets of staging. Looks like "it" is about to begin, the Dolphins will be coming soon I think.

All in all, we liked this resort, but found it to be really huge and too spread out. It does have everything you need right on the resort, but it can be quite a hike from point A to B. Sure there is a trolley you can jump on, but a lot of times it isn’t going where you want to go, or when you want to go there. Not a big deal as you are on vacation, but it was something we did notice. There are quite a few things we didn’t get to see, but maybe next time we will get out and explore more. The whole "Palace Royals" idea was very obvious to us too. We knew how it would be, but when you see it first hand, it is rather frustrating. We talked to a lot of people who couldn’t get reservations because people from the Palace had things booked already. Just because they pay more, shouldn’t mean others have to miss out on a reservation opportunity. Sure we can go there too if we want to pay extra, or we could go over to the Beach, but we had five spots to pick from on the Tropical, so we were fine at our own resort. If the Palace is meant to be exclusive to the people staying there, why would they want to come over to the other sections, when they paid the extra to be "exclusive" over there?

Of course during our second week the news of the flu made headlines all over the world, but we were not all that worried about it. The resort posted a news brief in each room explaining the precautions they were taking and we knew we would be fine. Then came word that many Airlines were canceling flights to Cancun and we kind of took a new look at everything we read from that point on. Many people were getting panicky, but it was of no use, you couldn’t do anything about the situation. It was recommended that we limit our travel off the resort until our departure. Not a big deals as we already had all our shopping done and were just looking for sun and sand the last few days there. At the Cancun Airport, we filled out a form and had out temp checked, and away we went. Well that’s about it, if I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to add it later.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach Resort   Mike ~ Nova Scotia, Canada

May 2009

Arrival: April 26-May 3
Arrived via Sunwing, excellent airline, great meals on plane, will difinetly fly with Sunwing again. No problems at the airport.

Rooms:
We were in the Tulum wing third floor very clean rooms, beds and pillows were a little hard and the mini fridges were not very cool, quick tip take two ziploc bags double bag them with ice and put in fridge. we did this each day and our beer and water stayed cold.

Restaurants and Bars:
We ate at mostly the buffets and one a la carte the Rancho Grande, we never had a bad meal once highly recommend the Steak house filet mignon was excellent and the staff is very friendly

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Pools were immaculate and the beach was well maintained , there is a nice reef withen the swimming area where you must bring a water camera to get shots of the many tropical sea creatures we saw stinrays , eels, angelfish and 100’s of other colorful fish.They have too many activities to do in only a week, but we managed to do the catamarans, kayaks,beach vollyball,snorkling,pool vollyball, pool bingo and dance lessons.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We were supposed to visit the ruins at Tulum but due to the Flu scare it was closed so we visited Xai Hal where the Blue Lagoon Movie was filmed, this was amazing lots to do and all inclusive food and drinks , my daughter swam with the dolphins for one hour at a cost of $159.00 U.S. and it was worth every penny to see the smile on her face.

Other Comments:
This is a true 5 star resort and I will difintely go back, as with the Flu scare this was a lot of media hype, as they were no cases in all of the Mayan Riviera and Cancun, many Mexicans have lost their livilhood for no reason other than selling newspapers and television ads. The media should be ashamed at how this event has been portrayed to the global community

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  Barcelo Maya Colonial Resort   Bill ~ Nova Scotia, Canada

March 2009

Arrival: March 8 – March 15
Our arrival went smoothly – going through customs went quickly and we were off to our resort with only 2 stops along the way. Took about 1 hour 40 minutes

Rooms
Spotless! Very nice King size bed (very comfy), quiet, away from noise. We were on the third floor over looking the Palace resort. We had a balcony that was huge 9’X 12′ with clear glass in front so you could sit and still see everything. #7655

Restaurants and Bars
You got to admire the crew working the buffet – they were fast considering the amount of people they are dealing with. Love the self serve beer and wine at the beach bar. Never a line up for that. Did 5 a la carte; my list is best to worst. Steakhouse great tenderloin, Japanese very entertaining, Italain loved my pizza, Mexican best salad ever, Seafood great service and friendly staff but portions were small.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Grounds are so well kept and very green with huge palm trees. Walkways were bright and provided all the cover you would need to avoid sun or rain. It was sometimes hard for me to get around as the place was so huge it became confusing at times. So be prepared for some walking as we checked out all the other resorts. Also walked the full length of the beach. You can stay in shape at this resort! Finding a seat around the pool or on the beach was never that hard as they had plenty of seating available in and out of the shade.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The only trip we made off the resort was to go to Playa del Carmen to explore 5th Avenue. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride which cost $18.00 US or local bus for $2.00; we took the taxi and our driver was terrific. He prearranged a time to come back for us and when we arrived a few minutes before that time, he was standign there waiving to us. This is a great place to get some better deals at a cheaper price. We went early in the morning before the sun got too hot and the place became too crowded to maneuver around. Lots of sites to see, tons of restaurants and bars and you can walk the beach to have a look at accomodations in that town as well as see the ferry to Cozumel.

Other Comments Definitely a lot to do at this resort. Tennis courts, ping pong, shuffleboard, chess, mini golf (really neat set up walking through the rainforest), pitch & putt (although this one was not the best it was still a fun diversion for us) and for when you wanted to get some relief from the sun there’s a sports bar tucked away with pool tables, air hockey and more! Really nice fitness centre that gets busy in the morning and the saunas, Turkish baths and hot tub get busy in the afternoon. We didn’t try the spa but it looked top quality! The animation staff were well organized and enthusiastic about the pool activities whether it was noon aerobics, beach volleball, water polo, dance classes or volleyball in the pool. We tried a few and they were fun. Evening entertainment surprised us – some very talented singers. We enjoyed this resort and would recommend it as a place to stay!

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  Barcelo Maya Tropical Resort   Andrew

March 2009

Arrival – Feb 20-27
This was my first ever all-inclusive so I don’t really have anything/other resorts to compare it to but here is my two cents.

As this was for my honeymoon, I had requested to have an upper level oceanview room, I requested it with Sunquest as well as emailing the Barcelo reservation department directly. I received a prompt email saying that my request was received.

Unfortanately when we go there they said they were completely booked and didn’t have any oceanview rooms and there was no way to twist her arm even with the "it’s our honeymoon" speech. We did however get a 3rd floor room. When we got to our room there was champagne and a welcome fruit basket waiting for us which was nice.

Rooms
The rooms were very clean and spacious enough for the two of us. The balcony didn’t really look onto much, just the next building with trees in the middle so we didn’t have much of a view

Restaurants and Bars
All the buffet restaurants and A La Carte’s were amazing. We had a few lunches/dinners at the buffets and the food was amazing. Even the food at the grills were great. The only minor complaint I would have is that sometimes the food was a bit too salty. With that being said though, I definitely did not deter from my general taste/opinion of the food. For the A La Cartes, we went to the Italian, Mexican, Seafood, Steakhouse, Teppenyaki..here are my thoughts:

-Italian – the food was amazing here. I had the ravioli to start off with and couldn’t get enough. I had the steak as my main and it was a well prepared steak, very tasty

-Mexican – I had the shrimp for dinner. I definitely don’t think their shrimp was anything to write home about but the taste/presentation was good nevertheless

-Seafood – my wife and I both had the grilled lobster tail and thought it was excellent!

-Steakhouse – we were looking forward to this meal but it was by far the worst. I had a New York Striploin and asked for it medium-rare. THe steak came out looking like it had been sitting there for hours and it was well done. MY wife’s tenderloin wasn’t any better.

-Teppenyaki – The showmanship of the chefs was superb, the food was also great. I had sushi to start off with and then the surf & turf.

Here is my list from best to worst: Italian, Seafood, Teppenyaki, Mexican, Steakhouse

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pools were amazing in front of the tropical/colonial. Everything was maintained very well. Lots of towels to exchange when they got dirty. Our beach was very nice, we walked along the whole grounds and the beach in front of the caribe/beach part was the nicest, getting rockier as you went towards the palace.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Just a quick note that we travelled by the collectivo bus almost everywhere. It’s defintiely the cheapiest and is super easy. It cost 25 pesos/person each way. We went to Xel-Ha one day and another adventure park called Hidden Worlds another day. Hidden World was particularly fun, you get to ride their sky-bike, zipline across the jungle as well as zipline into a cenote, as well as rapelling into a cenote and finally snorkeling in the cenote. They provide all the gear for you at each station so you really don’t have to bring anything! WE also went to playa del carmen for half a day as well as Coba.

Other Comments The resort was amazing. I can’t say enough about the wonderful experience we had and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It is generally an older crowd away from the spring breakers but overall is a nice mix in the age range. I also did my scuba diving certification with dressel divers on the resort. They were friendly, professional, and very helpful. I would highly recommend them as well although i heard that the diving at Cozumel was amazing.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Mitch ~ Waterford, Ontario

February 2009

Arrival: August 2008
arrived about 2.00 am attended to immediately and in our room right away earlier arrival would have been nicer.

Rooms
two bed room very neat and very close to pool it was nice you could hear ocean from balcony

Restaurants and Bars
there was no waiting at the bars and the restaurants were awesome .i ate foods i have never tried before and i never found anything i did not thoroughly enjoy.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
i found the beach to be beautiful,everything was always clean,the pools were huge i dont think i have ever swam so much in my whole life

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
we did a snorkeling with sea turtles and snorkeling in the caves and i have never seen anything so great in my whole life it was the best part of the trip

Other Comments i have to honestly say that this was the best resort i have ever been to and i am planning to return yearly if i can afford it.i think i have found my dream vacation spot.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Helen ~ Flake

February 2009

Arrival: Feb 12 – 15
The staff was very friendly. Especially our maid.

Rooms
The beds are like sleeping on boards. The pillows are just as hard. The rooms are clean. They are a little tight with wash clothes.

Restaurants and Bars The hotel lobby bar have the rudest bartenders. They won’t even acknowledge you.

The restaurants were awesome. You can’t possibly go hungry. There is always a variety.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pools are great. The beach has alot of rocks. You better remember your water shoes.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There are lots of activities around the hotel. When you check in they should give you more information.

Other Comments Overall the resort is beautiful. I think this is a place for families and older people. We had a great time anyway.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Tottie ~ Wisconsin

January 2009

Barcelo Premium Maya Beach

Arrival: January 11-17, 2009
we checked in around midnight and everyone was wide awake and friendly. They got us checked in very fast so we could get to our room and get to sleep.

Rooms:
The room was just about 1/2 a block from the white sand beach. Very large with a stocked fridge. King size bed with a large heart of rose petals. (it was our 10th anniversary)

Restaurants and Bars:
the main restaurant was a buffet restaurant sitting next to a pool of crystal clear water with lots of pretty fountians. The food was fantastic! everything made fresh right down to the fresh squeezed pineapple and watermelon juices. Sitting at the bar, you only had to ask for your first drink because after that the bartender would have one ready for you by the time you took the last sip.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
the grounds were very well taken care of. no trash or even stray leaves. the pools were wonderful. The beach was the main focal point. it was like walking on fine sugar. I had seen pics of white sandy beaches but to see it person was like nothing else. the water was an amazing shade of blue/green and just warm enough to keep your teeth from chattering. I had never seen anything like it before. the view was just stricking!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
we went deep sea fishing, horseback riding, took an atv and a speed boat tour and also went to chichen itza to see the mayan temple. That was the best! it left me speechless. just walking the grounds gives you a real feeling that you are connected with the past. this is a MUST DO!

Other Comments: everything was great. I would go back to this resort without a doubt. If your looking into going to mexico, this is the best place to go. everyone was very friendly and pleased to help. all of the employees gave you a smile and a wave or a friendly hello from the desk clirk right down to the grounds keepers cutting the grass. I have never felt so pampered and special in all of my 38 years. You didnt have to look any faurther then a few steps if you needed help or had a question about anything. we will go back for sure. My husbend and i both said that we cant wait to go back. job very well done. it was rated as a 3 star resort, but we would give it a 5 for sure.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   John ~ Ottawa

December 2008

We’ve been to quite a few resorts around the Caribbean, and this is definitely the best we’ve stayed at. The food is great, the grounds are huge but very well-kept, the beaches are nice, the entertainment is fun, the staff are friendly, and the rooms are clean. We bar-hopped every day and there are so many bars across the resort, it was hard work. Snorkelling is not amazing but it is decent, and there are lots of birds and bats on the grounds, so bring your binoculars and bird book if you’re a bit geeky like us. I don’t one have serious complaint; my only complaints are minor: (1) the buffet staff are hard-working, but someone needs to teach them the concept of specialisation. Wait staff are trying to do everything at once, so accomplish nothing very well.

They need to have dedicated busboys, waiters and waitresses, and drink servers, instead of wait staff trying to serve coffee, clean tables, make tables, and deal with special requests at the same time. (2) they fog the entire resort for mosquitos every evening around dusk, which may be necessary due to the swampy nature of the Yucatan, but they need to communicate to their guests that they are using an environmentally friendly and non-toxic insectiside (at least I hope they are) (3) requests to cleaning staff to not change our sheets and towels every day were ignored, even when the requisite supplied signs were left in the room – not very eco-friendly.

As you can see, not much to complain about: a solid 9 out of 10 in my book. My only complaint is with Air Canada Vacations, who cancelled our confirmed and booked a month earlier reservation for no apparent reason, so that when we arrived at the Ottawa Airport at 0545, we were told we had no vacation. After 5 hours of fighting with rude Air Canada staff, we had to pay another $2500 to fly out on a later flight, and we missed the first half day of our time in Mexico. We never received an apology, but after a week of complaints ot the President of ACV, our $2500 was returned with a terse email saying that Air Canada Vacations accepted no responsibility. Selloffvacations, the agent, was great throughout the whole thing, but Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations lived up to their consistently awful customer service reputation (on top of the standard delayed flights, broken equipment, and no meal service). We will never, ever fly Air Canada or take a vacation with Air Canada Vacations again, which, while it may preclude some holiday destinations, will be worth it to see the backside of that horrible organisation in perpetuity.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Shirleyujest

December 2008

We flew via Westjet Vacations from Vancouver. Flight was great and on-time. Great Westjet staff and service that we’ve come to expect and enjoy. We had booked the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort but due to renovations of the Beach / Caribe sections of this large resort, we were "upgraded" to the Tropical. This upgrade consisted of basically a couple more chits for the a la cartes. Not having been to this resort before, we don’t really know what else the "upgrade" gave us.

This was our first trip to the Riviera Maya so we weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at the airport. Just to give you some background on us as "all-inclusive travellers", we have been to Punta Cana (2 x), La Romana (1 x), various Cuban destinations ( 8 trips), Cabo san Lucas (2 x), Puerto Vallarta (1 x), and Loreto, Baja (1 x). This is just to give you an idea that we have travelled before and that we sort of know what we can expect when we travel like this.

Arrival at the Cancun Airport was quick and painless. Once we had gotten our bags off the carousel, we just high-tailed it out of the airport, looking for the "Best-Day" kiosk where we were to grab a shuttle.

Being the first group to arrive outside the airport and into the hands of the "Best-Day" reps (of which there were about 10 of them) we were approached by one of them and asked to show our confirmation number. This info was written down by the rep on his piece of paper on his clip-board and we were told they would be getting us a shuttle. Just to wait a moment. There were six of us in our group. We were thinking this was great service and that we would be on a shuttle in no time.

I have to say that after two more reps came and asked for the same info and told us the same thing. An hour later, and we were the last group waiting, we finally got a shuttle. "Best-Day" did not start our vacation off to such a good start. We got into the shuttle and had a wonderful, very informative driver. We had to stop at another part of the terminal to pick up a group of 4 people who were also headed to our resort. This meant we had no stops along the way, although our driver did offer to stop along the way to get some beer for us. We all declined. We just wanted to get to the resort.

So began our hour or so trip to the Barcelo. It was dark so there wasn’t really much to see along the highway, but it was interesting to see all the signs of the other resorts along the way that we had heard about or had researched before we had chosen the Barcelo.

Once we reached the resort we were in awe! What a beautiful resort! We have never been to such a huge resort with such "opulance". Our kids, who have never travelled this way, were VERY impressed! They asked, and we had to tell them, that we have never been to a resort like this! It was gorgeous.

I had emailed the resort ahead of time our requests and got the usual, "we will do our best to accomodate your requests". No problem. We had booked 3 rooms, one for a couple, one for a couple with a baby, and a single. Check in was quite smooth.

We had asked to at least have all three rooms in the same building. Well, the "single" was in a different building. Strike one. We didn’t "complain" as we are all adults and really, in the scheme of things, who cares? It just would have been nice.

So, the "single" got his keys and went his way to find his room. The rest of us were escorted to our rooms by a bellman, with all the luggage, and taken to the third floor of the Yucatan building. We stopped off at the first room where the "family" was going to be staying. Since we each held the cards to the rooms (not the bellman), we put the card in the door lock, opened the door, and there was someone in the room! Hello!?! We apologized. The fellow inside said, "No problem. Welcome to the Barcelo." (sarcastically). The bellman didn’t know what to do so he told us to follow him a few rooms down where the "couple" (us) were booked. Ah, no one was occuping this room and the bellman got on the phone immediately to the Front Desk and got things sorted out.

Meantime, the "single" was waiting for us and his luggage to appear. Before we could do that, however, the bellman got a "new" room for the "family" that was at least in the same building as us but way down the hall. No big deal – at least there wasn’t anyone occupying the room.

We dropped them and their luggage off at their room and headed off to visit our "single" along with the bellman and the luggage.

Like I mentioned, the room was in the next building over, the Veracruz building.

All the rooms had the same configuration – king-sized beds (we requested) and not on the ground floor (another request). All the rooms where roomy enough and in great shape. The housekeepers kept all the rooms in immaculate condition all week and we had no complaints. We didn’t bother changing rooms to be closer together as we spent very little time in our rooms.

The mini-fridge was stocked daily with beer, soft-drinks, water and snacks. We also got ‘turn-down service" in the early evening. Nice touch. Ours was the only room (in our group) that got towel sculptures and we all tipped.

So, once we sort of "settled" into things in our rooms (that didn’t take long as we were hungry), we all arranged to meet in the lobby and head off to the buffet for a bite to eat. We had arrived around 10:00 pm and the buffet was going to close around 11:00.

The food, I have to say, was some of the best we’ve had at any resort we’ve been to. I can’t believe that anyone would complain about the food. We sure don’t eat that way at home and we don’t expect the food to be the same when we travel. There were lots of options and choices of everything from veggies to salads, to meats to fish to chicken and then …. the desserts!

We didn’t have a problem with any of the staff, the service all week, nor the food, in any of the eating spots on the resort. Our favourite place to eat lunch was the Palmeras Grill which had the best views of the ocean and it was open air. We tried the Mariachi and it was good, too, and the views of the ocean were nice, we just preferred the Palmeras.

We spent a week of doing the typical all-inclusive vacation things such as walking the resort, eating, drinking and checking things out.

The mini-golf was fun but make sure you have insect repellant! They will eat you alive!!! Lots of iguanas live there and it was really kind of a "neat" place to walk around and visit. We had brought our own balls as we had read that it will cost $2.00 if we lose a ball (yes, you can "lose" a ball at mini-golf) and at the end of our vacation we donated them to the staff that were tending to the mini-golf. The fellow there was ecstatic and said he would take them home for practice. He told us he had a practice green in his back-yard. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. He seemed happy to accept them.

There is also a "Business Centre" in the same building as the mini-golf attendants and you can find a book exchange there if you are so inclined.

We also found a book exchange just to the left of the Front Desk at the Tropical, and this room also has the "public" computers if you want to pay for internet service. There is no printer for use, however. We only used the computer once near the end of our trip so we could select our seats for the return flight home. v We attended the nightly shows every night and thought they were some of the best amateur acts we’ve seen. We always enjoy the shows at all the resorts we go to, hokey or not, and these shows were more on the "professional" side of things. Lots of talented folks performing skits, dances, circus acts, singing, etc.

We went to the Jaguar Disco every night after the shows and it was fun. It’s a huge place and there always seemed to be lots of people in there dancing. I don’t think the resort was full so we were actually quite amazed at how many people were there. It didn’t really seem empty at all. We didn’t see anyone up in the VIP lounge.

The process to book the a la cartes is pretty easy. The Guest Services desk is located in the Lobby of the Tropical and the attendant is there all day. You can book your a la cartes up until 3 pm the same day and hope they still have the time and restuarant you want. That’s the chance you take. Or else, just plan ahead of time which nights and which restaurants you want to eat at and you can book them all at once.

We always opted to eat later (8:30 – 9:30) and never had a problem getting in. We really enjoyed the Sante Fe Steak House the best and the Bali Hai was our second favourite! Very entertaining and the food was good. The hostess there could have been a bit friendlier but then again, it didn’t bother us.

I thought the Havana Lounge would be the nicest place to sit and enjoy a beverage but, since I am highly sensitive to smoke, I couldn’t use it. Too bad, it’s lovely in there.

We enjoyed the open-air Tequila Bar situated in the Tropical Lobby more than the Puebla Lobby bar (at the Colonial) which I think is the piano bar. It’s air conditioned and we just prefer the open air lounges. Take note, too, that the grand piano in there is a player piano. We saw a fellow in a tux playing the piano in there just one of the evenings and we were very impressed with his talent, that is, until we walked in another time and noticed the piano music and the keys of the piano moving and no one actually playing it.

We did one excursion as a family – the Mayan Encounter I think it was – which was an all day event. We were picked up at 8:00 a.m. and didn’t get "home" til about 9:00 p.m. This included a tour and climb of Coba, zip-lining, cenote "swimming", hiking through a natural forest, a "snack", canoeing, an opportunity to see how a Mayan family lives, and a meal. We were then taken back to the "store" of the company and we could buy pictures and/or a CD of our days’ adventures. We could also buy souveniers and clothing there. I would not recommend this trip for anyone 5 and under. It’s a very long day and if you do plan on doing it, bring water and something to eat with you. We booked it through the "Best-Day" tour operator at the resort.

We enjoyed all aspects along the beach. We walked as far as we could to the neighbouring resort that is partially open but the rest has been devasated by a hurricane and there are no plans to rebuild it. We were met by a "guard" who told us we couldn’t even swim across the "lagoon" as it was full of barracudas. Well, whatever. Who are we to argue?

We enjoyed the snorkelling off the beach, mostly in between the Tropical and the Palace, and there were lots of turtles there. They didn’t seem to care that we were there. Lots of fish to be seen but nothing bright and colourful as I would have thought.

Our "single" took the scuba course in the pool and then did a couple of dives. This was put on by the Dressel Divers, a company I have heard good things about. He had a great time and bought the DVD to bring back home – it doesn’t work! He has since emailed them and is awaiting to hear from them. Other than that, this was something he will never forget and would like to do more of.

My daughter and I tried the water aerobics once in the pool and that was enough! I have never been in a pool that was that cold! We rarely saw anyone in the pool just sitting and the swim-up bar staff looked terribly bored and the bar was empty.

Check out was easy. Once you "sign out" you get a piece of paper with your room number on it (we don’t know why we got the paper). The interesting thing about this is that our "single" got his piece of paper and the room number on it was the room number next to ours! These were adjoining rooms! So, for some reason we had the room next to us booked but we didn’t get to use it. Ah, es Mexico!

We didn’t have the greatest weather and always had to bring a sweater along at night. The days were not hot and sunny as we had anticipated but it sounds like other Caribbean destinations had the same during this same week. Just a cool week all around.

All in all we had a good vacation and everyone enjoyed themselves. We would recommend this resort if you like, or don’t, mind huge resorts. It’s beautiful, well manicured and clean. It has great food and great staff. The only downfall of this resort is the "domestic" liquor they serve. For a 4 – 5 * resort, one shouldn’t have to pay extra for brand-name liquor.

If you have any other questions I would be more than happy to try and answer them. You can find me here at Debbie’s.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Steeves and Celeste ~ Regina, Saskatchewan CANADA

December 2008

Arrival: March 2008
We visited this resort in February of 2007 and March of 2008. We greatly enjoyed both our visits.

Rooms:
The rooms were very nice, clean and roomy. The mini-fridge was replenished every day with beer, cola, water, and treats. We also had bathrobes and slippers.

Restaurants and Bars:
Food: The buffet has a good variety of dishes. We spent one week and could not try everything we wanted.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beach and Pools: Beach and pools are very nice and well kept. The pools are cleaned every day. The resorts has a private beach which makes for an pleasant stay. Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Trips and excursions: During or first visit we went to Chichen Itza. The trip include a visit to an underground “cenote†and had lunch at an authentic Mexican buffet restaurant. Even though, the round trip to the site from our resort was 3 hours we enjoyed it and learned about ancestral Mayan culture. Over our second visit we went to “Coba†and visited a Mayan Homestead.

Other Comments:
Service: The staffs were always polite and friendly. We tried to tips as much as we could, which helps. They did everything to make our stay an enjoyable experience. We have found that most employees spoke good English.

Overall: We stayed at this resort twice and we would go back in a second. We highly recommend it.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Denise

November 2008

Just returned to Atlanta from 5 days at the Barcelo Maya Tropical Beach Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico (November 14-19 2008)- Fantastic quality for the price, would return again in a heartbeat. I traveled with 3 other ladies in our 40-s (one in her 60’s) and everyone agreed we’d love to return again next year.

The Flight: You can’t beat Spirit Air for the bargain price- cheapest airfare around by far, but beware that everything extra will cost you. If you check any bags, they’re $15 each. If you want to reserve your seat in advance, that costs too. We saved money by checking one suitcase for 2 people then each taking a carry-on with most of our belongings. Just read the fine print on their website. Even a bottle of water on the plane costs money- they don’t take cash, just debit and credit cards. But the plane was new and just as nice as the major carriers, and it was on time.

The Hotel: We paid the $84 pp per night, double occupancy rate because we booked the Maya Beach but because it was under renovation, we were moved to the Tropical at no additional charge. We had a garden view (pool/beach views go to people who buy the premium package and get the gold arm band) Regular folks get a blue band. Our room was spotless, maid service was immediate if anything was needed, but you HAVE TO ASK FOR WASHCLOTHS EVERY DAY or you’ll never get any. Everything in the room looked brand new and there was plenty of space for 2 people, with a table and chairs plus a sofa. They brought us a bottle of champagne and fresh fruit plate right after we checked in and the champagne was quite good, not too dry or too sweet. If you want the high-end liquor, it will cost extra if you have the regular blue arm band. When I asked for Bailey’s and Sambuca, I was told, it was extra, but the bartender didn’t say how much, so I skipped it.

The food: Beautifully presented even at the buffet. Delicious and fresh fish, chicken, beef, you name it. The desserts in Mexico are usually flavorless fluff and these were no different. Go for the gelati if you want something sweet at the buffet. We were given 3 complimentary nights at the a-la-carte restaurants and they were superior to the buffet with beautiful presentation. The Italian restaurant was the best with a fantastic salad bar, I had the Chilean sea bass, the appetizer of gnocchi was so rich and delicious it melted in your mouth. The steak restaurant, Santa Fe had the most tender fillet mignon I’ve ever had cooked to perfection and the best desserts of all the restaurants. Get the chocolate mousse. It comes in a white chocolate cup. The brownie was dry. The Japanese restaurant was exactly like Beni- Hana or Sho-Gun here in the states with the show and great food. The only a-la-carte restaurant that disappointed was the seafood place. I had the shrimp and it was fine, but the entrée of mussels were tiny and chewy, the lobster was rubbery and the lamb chops were chewy. The desserts were nothing special either. As to the difference between the Tropical and Colonial- there isn’t much. They share a kitchen and all the food is the same. If you don’t like to walk a lot, stay at the Colonial because most of the shops center around the Plaza Mexicana which is at the Colonial, as is the disco and the spa.

Xel-Ha was worth every penny of the $75.00 entrance fee. This is the most beautiful natural creation I’ve ever seen- and you will need all day. Get there at 8 am when the gates open and start checking it out. The food was wonderful and plentiful with great variety and service. The alcoholic beverages were bigger and better than at the resort. Make sure you go all around the park and save your drinking and lounging for the end of the day when it starts to get dark. You won’t want to miss the rope swing and sky-bridge (I think it’s called the wind walk) and if it’s chilly, I recommending paying the $6 for a wet suit. Dolphins, manatees, emerald green water, caves and natural wonders words just can’t describe.

Transportation- we took the local “collective” or bus from the street right in front of our hotel. It comes every 10 minutes and costs 2 or 3 dollars each way to most destinations. We took it to Playa Del Carmen and Xel-Ha. Don’t plan to go to Cozemel on Sunday because all the shops are closed. Also, stores don’t sell liquor on Sundays after 2 pm (but you can still drink in a restaurant).

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Glenn

September 2008

We are going back to the Barcelo Maya Beach resort for 2 weeks in April for the 10th time. We have been to Cuba, Puerto Plata and Punta Cana and this resort is by far the best yet. Your beach is private and with thousands of palm trees for shade and thousands of loungers. No need to get to the beach at 7 to put your towel on one. Why go anywhere else, when you know you won’t be disappointed here. The food is great and the staff are the best and most speak English with the exception of the maids and grounds people. They work long hours in the heat and most only make $5.00 a day so tip generously. We now have many friends here at the Barcelo and look forward to seeing them every year. It is like our home away from home. We have 2 grown up daughters who plan on getting married here at the Barcelo and I would highly recommend this resort to anyone for a wedding. We renewed our vows here for our 25th Wedding anniversary and they did all the work. It was absolutely awesome getting remarried here on the beach in bare feet. Better than the 1st marriage. There is also so much to see here in the Mayan Riviera with the ecological parks and mayan ruins in the area. The snorkeling at the resort is also very good by the pier and there is never a lack of activities to participate in if you wish to do so. Water aerobics in the ocean is lots of fun. You may even see a stingray or turtle while you are out there. There is also so much for the children to do with the Barcy kids club and the children’s water parks at the new Colonial and Palace resorts are awesome. Don’t believe the bad reviews. I can’t understand why anyone would not enjoy themselves at the Barcelo. Even if you are a picky eater, you can always find something good to eat. There is more variety at the main buffets, but the buffets at the beach aren’t bad either. This resort has also received awards for cleanliness in their kitchens. Go and relax and enjoy your vacation here at the Barcelo. I have sent many people here from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and everyone that has been there can’t wait to return.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Fullhouse714 ~ USA

June 2008

Just returned from the Barcelo Tropical in Riviera Maya June 8 – 15. What a place!

There were 6 in our party. My husband and I are in our 40’s. Two boys each 16, and two girls ages 12 and 13. This is a place for everyone!

Our vacation was booked through Northwest World Vacations and my AAA travel agent. When we arrived at the Cancun airport transportation was waiting for us – all included through Northwest. Straight to the resort- no other resorts to stop and drop people off.

Checking in was easy. Our room was not ready as it was way before 3 o’clock. We had requested an adjoining room and of course none were available so the first night we had rooms near each other. The clerk suggested checking early the next morning to see if they could move us to adjoining rooms. I did this and we were able to move to adjoining rooms. Not a huge deal to move, but I was glad they were willing to make this change for us. If you are asking for adjoining rooms it will more likely happen if you request one room with a king size bed and the other with 2 double beds. We met with our NW representative right away and he explained the in’s and out’s of what our vacation included- basically everything. We also discussed the day trips available- did not pressure us into anything just gave us the facts. One suggestion is to schedule your sit down restaurant meals right away. We checked in on a Sunday and could not get into the Japanese restaurant until the following Saturday. It was worth the wait though 🙂

Our first room was in the Veracruz building on the 2nd floor. Our adjoining rooms were one building over (closer to the lobby area) in the Yucatan building. I thought the Yucatan building was closer to everything- lobby, restaurants, activities center, etc. Really just a matter of opinion thought the buildings are identical; so much so that my kids kept going to the wrong building to find our room. The rooms all have a little smell of damp Mexico. It’s humid in Mexico. I don’t think it is anything resort is doing wrong. The rooms were absolutely CLEAN. Bring a Glade Plug In if you are afraid the smell will bother you.

The food was EXECELLENT. Anyone who complains on this web site must be really picky. There were 6 of us and there was always something for everyone at the buffet. Trust me if all 4 of my kids could be happy at the same time there was plenty to chose from. The sit down restaurants were all nice. Our favorites were the Steak House and the Japanese.

The pools and the ocean were beautiful !!! Some places on the beaches were rocky. I would not want to stay at the Palace for that reason. The Tropical and the Colonial are really the same place so you have about the same beach there. The beach that is most clear of rocks is down at the Beach Resort. But again that is just a matter of opinion.

The pools at the Tropical had lots of entertainment; volleyball, water polo, water basketball, etc. The pools at the Colonial were more quiet- and had more for babies and little kids. The Barcelo Life employees make hanging out by the pool very fun. After 4 days of watching the dance lessons I finally made myself try it. It was very fun. I wish I would have started the first day- maybe I could have been good after a week of lessons. My 12 year old made friends with some of the employees and kids from all over the US. There is also chess, table tennis, a volleyball court, boche ball, and bowling near this pool. Tons to keep kids and adults active. But if you wanted to just sit and relax they left you completely alone. Also the grill is right there if you are hungry, there are 3 bars right there if you are thirsty and plenty of restrooms. They absolutely thought of everything. There were some waiters and waitresses to get drinks. Mostly you did go to the bar and wait on yourself. I considered this my exercise so it was not a problem for me. I know others on this web site have mentioned that as a problem- that’s just silly.

Day trips. We took the 3 hour trip and did the Chichen Itza Plus tour. Well worth the money. Our tour guide was the best guide I have ever had on a trip. He really knew his stuff! It included lunch in a Authentic Mexican buffet restaurant and about 45 minutes at a cenyote. Kids loved that! We also did a 1/2 day snorkeling trip suggested by the Northwest Rep. Also very fun. Guides were so nice and very helpful. We also took a taxi to Playa Del Carmen one morning. Very fun. Not busy and the shop keepers were very willing to dicker on prices.

All in all the trip was awesome. Staff was very accommodating and kind. Place was neat freak clean. Rooms were nice, not over the top but nice. Pools were perfect. Ocean was beautiful. Food was unbelievable. Something for everyone. Northwest World tours was very organized! And my AAA travel agent put it together perfectly. We would go back in a heart beat. No doubt about it!

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Gina

April 2008

We just returned from Barceló Maya Caribe, April 8th-15th 2008. We had a great time and the people there were very friendly.

Me and my husband are in our 40’s and my parents came, plus my sister, her hubby and 2 children, 13 and 15yrs old. Just some advice, have your travel agents phone # with you!

When we arrived, they said our reservations had been cancelled in Nov.! I quickly called my agent and it was straightened out but I was a bit stressed at first. We had upgraded to the Premium Club and that must of been why they thought we cancelled. We loved the upgrade because it allowed us to eat at any alacarte restaurant at the other resorts of Barcelo, except at the Palace, and more than once. It also gaurenteed us an ocean view room, which is actually a poolside view room because the ocean is past the pool, anyhow we loved our room, big and clean! Beers in the mini bar everyday, leave a tip right in the refrig.

We loved the Santa Fe steak house, Oscar was great and helped us to celebrate my nephews 15th bday there , awesome steaks, and we went there twice. The Italian place, Capri, was great- try the lamb, Mar Nostrum, the seafood reataurant, was very good-try the lobster and the Japanese restaurant was the favorite, the 2 teenagers liked that best. All 4 of those restaurants were at the Colonial/Tropical, you can take the Barceló "train" for free or walk. We never even booked at the restaurants at our place because I had read they were bad. Book all your dinner reservations on day one, our first 2 nights the earliest they could get us in was 10pm! The rest were at 7pm. Allot of last years reviews complained about the hard mattresses, they must have listened because ours had a thick cushioned cover and I slept like a baby.

I agree with the other reviews NOT to buy your excursion tickets from your travel people at the hotel, the transportation is a rip off, you can get transported antwhere much cheaper by bus or taxi. We liked Xel-ha very much but it was way over priced, Disney tickets are cheaper! My husband and I did Coba with the zipline and repelling, we were the oldest ones there and it was very physical and scary, it was an awesome experience and I’m lucky I didn’t kill myself, only recommended for athletic people and wear sneakers!!

It bothered me how many people don’t tip the workers at Barcelo. The Mexican workers make 6 dollars a day at the hotel and work 16 hour days!! They always smile and most know 3 langauges! Please people leave a couple bucks for every waitress, bartender and housekeeper who waits on you. We brought 50 $ in ones and that was plenty for tips for the week. They appreciate it so much and treat you like gold.

The place is very big and a bit over whelming at first but by day 2 we knew where everything was. The buffet was OK, plenty of choices. The booze was definitely watered down but with the Premium Club we were able to get top shelf booze like Absolute, Stolyes, Baileys etc. so then the drinks were good.

I suggest if you have time to sit through the time share thing that they get you with at the airport, to do it. The rest of my family did do it and they got tickets to Xcaret for one forth the price and got cash and gifts and they never bought a timeshare, it took 3 hrs out of their day and they got like a thousand dollars worth of stuff.

We booked our own deep-sea trip with Tequila Sunrise before we even got to Mexico online and that was awesome, all 4 of our guys caught huge fish, blue marlins, tuna, barracuda etc( catch and release), once again don’t book it through the hotel.

It bothered us how many highschool kids were drinking alcolhol when we first got there, Michigan highschools were on break, and it was hard to get a drink, they took over all the bars all day long, most left on Thursday and then it was fine.

Just a note that 60% of the tourist at Barcelo are from Europe so many of the women are topless on the beach, no big deal to us.
It was just a shock at first but the guys in our group enjoyed it!

We would go back and stay at Carbi Beach again, they had the best beach although Colonial and Tropical had much prettier buildings and better restaurants. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes, we walked so much and some of us got blisters. Wear lots of sunblock, we wore 50, we are all very fair and did get red.

Hope this review helps.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Mark

March 2008

We just returned form a week at the Barcelo Maya Caribe and wanted to post a few comments for other first time travelers to resorts in Mexico. First, bring along twice as much sunscreen as you think you may need. Sunscreen at the resort gift shop (and any gift shop in the region for that matter) sells for anywhere from $18 to $25 US for small bottles or tubes. Second, take the public transportation whenever possible-much cheaper than using anything arranged by the resort. We paid $2 per person to go to Playa del Carmen vs. $20 for a one way cab ride. Also, do not, I repeat do not, book your excursions at the hotel from the vacation representatives. We paid $440 for two adults and two children (this was bargained down from $500) to go to Xel-Ha and Tulum. As one other reviewer noted, it was very rushed at Xel-Ha because we spent about 90 minutes first thing in the morning picking up people at other resorts. We could have paid the same $75 fee at Xel-Ha for entrance and caught the public vans plus the $5/person entrance fee at Tulum for about $100 less had we known of this option in advance. We personally thought Xel-Ha was highly over-hyped. Unless you are an avid snorkeller, there really isn’t much to do. The ride down the river is slow and pretty boring plus very uncomfortable in the two person inner tubes.

If staying at the Barcelo complex, go into Playa. Lots of fun and gives you more of an idea of the local flavor. You can bargain a little with the vendors. My daughter got the hair on her crown braided beautifully for only $10.

The Barcelo Maya Caribe was a great resort but not all that kid friendly despite being advertised as such. Ours are 15 and 9 and the 15 year old was pretty bored. Not much other than hot dogs and hamburgers at lunch for kids either. We were on the second floor. We had asked our travel agent to request a no-smoking room because our daughter has asthma and our entire building was no-smoking so that really helped. Our room was very clean but for some reason the maids never left face cloths or soap. We had to ask for those every single day we were there. The refrigerator didn’t cool anything which seems standard at the Barcelo. The shows in the evening don’t start until closer to 10 even though the signs say 9 or 9:30 PM. The Circus Night and Variete night were the two best. Both specialty restaurants (Spanish and Mexican) were very good and we had no trouble getting reservations at either but I highly recommend making them as soon as you arrive.

There is a tram that runs between properties so we went exploring. They would not even serve us a soft drink at the Palace. The beach at the Palace and Tropical is not as nice as the beach at the Caribe and Beach properties. No problems getting lounge chairs. As far as the water sports go-beware of the life jackets. They all had mildew on them and our daughter broke out in a terrible rash after using one to go on the water bicycle with her mom. The rest of us had rashes but not nearly as bad as hers. You would have to wear a turtleneck to not be exposed to the mildew!

One other word of caution, if you book with Northwest/MLT/Worryfree vacations, make your representative call and verify that the bus will arrive as scheduled the day before you depart. We were in the lobby at 0700 as required to catch the bus to the airport. There were 12 of us at our resort stranded until 0830 when she finally managed to get a bus to pick us up and then it went to the Colonial, Tropical and Palace after we boarded. Altogether, about 30 people were stranded. This happened the week before as well so we were not an isolated incident. We had all checked the day before departure and were told the same thing-be in the lobby at 0700. Someone obviously forgot to order the bus for us.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Dana and Paul ~ Cape Breton; NS

March 2008

We just got back from this beautiful resort two weeks ago and would highly recommend it. It is a big resort but a beautiful one! The landscaping is stunning – lots of palm trees, flowers and other plants. It feels very tropical. The lobbies and restaurants are all connected by ceramic tiled walkways that are covered by a thatched roof so you’re protected from the hot sun as you walk to your destinations. On either side of you as you walk to restaurants, the lobby, the theatre, etc. you is either lush vegetation or pools with fountains. You can even hear birds calling from inside the trees and bushes. The food was very good. I recommend the Japanese (entertaining and delicious), Steakhouse (get the beef tenderloin), Seafood (salmon was very nice) and Mexican. We booked our reservations every morning around 9:00. We usually ate lunch at the Captain Morgan, but the other buffets are good as well.

The pools are huge and gorgeous! Again lots of palm trees and fountains. The tropical side pool has the music and daily activities, and the colonial is more quiet. Never had a problem getting loungers at any time of the day and we usually went to the pool in the late afternoon after spending most of the day at the beach. We loved the beach. It isn’t just a long white sandy beach. Rather it is a mixture of sand and finely ground up shells and coral. There is also some large rock and coral in the water in different areas which we also loved! Between the great snorkeling and the variety of shells/coral, it’s much more interesting than a pure sandy beach. There are always pelicans diving into the water trying to get the fish, so you know there are lots of fish out there. Bring your underwater camera!

As far as excursion go, we went to Playa del Carmen. Great spot to walk around, see the sights, and do a bit shopping. Prices are cheaper here than at the resort and airport and you can barter. Get the $2 minivan ride at the resort entrance. There is always one going by picking up tourists at their resorts. Highly recommend Xel-Ha. Don’t do the Tulum/Xel-Ha package as I hear it is too rushed and you want more time at Xel-Ha. Get the $2 minivan ride there and back. It’s about 15minutes away. For $75 dollars you can go from 8:30 am -6:30pm. Includes snorkeling equipment (bring $20 for deposit), restaurants and bars. The swim with dolphins and snuba cost extra, but by the time you snorkel, go down the lazy river, eat and have a few drinks, and walk around the lagoon you’ve been there a few hours. The lagoon is beautiful! A giant turquoise lake! The fish are plentiful and colorful! Lots of fish around the rocks and under the bridge. Again, bring an underwater camera. Lots of palm trees, music, places to relax around the lagoon, and a walking trail around the lagoon. You can continue to go swimming in the lagoon and cenotes as you walk the trail. The lazy river is just that – LAZY. It’s very slow and we wished we still had our flippers on to propel ourselves a bit faster. Along the way there are places to stop and jump off a cliff and walk a tight rope. Many people abandoned their tubes and swam the rest of the way back to the main areas (probably to get food and drinks!) It was still fun though.

The drinks were always good (and strong!) and service was quick. Corona is always on tap and ice cold (self-serve). Tried Mojitos for the first time. Very refreshing! Mini-bar in room always stocked with beer, water, sparkling water, pop and snacks. Rooms very nice and clean. IF you have a problem with tiny ants (we had them on the bathroom counter and entertainment stand a couple of times) simply spray the surface with bug repellent. I sprayed some between an opening where the inside of the sink did not meet up with the counter and it seemed to work for a few days. Not a big deal. The cleaning staff also have Raid on their cleaning carts if you want them to spray.

We loved our stay at Barcelo Maya Tropical/Colonial and will return again someday!

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Janet

March 2008

We returned from our week long family holiday on March 6th. Our trip was anticipated all year but we had to wait for our kids to be done hockey and Ringette, so we booked on Monday and left on Thursday. Our Canadian dollar was being well recognized. Skyservice was excellent, our flight was full, weather was great. Some cool temperatures when we arrived but that cleared up for our usual burns – we are blonde and blue-eyed! Our family travels every year since 2000 but never to Mexico. Our hotel list includes the Paradisus Varadero – which we loved, RIU in Punta Cana, Cayo Cayo which has new ownership but was our favorite for the gorgeous untouched beaches. I believe the Mayan to be much like a theme park. You pay big bucks to see an attraction and there’s always a gift shop at the end. I guess we are lucky in Alberta to have natural wonders that don’t have tour guides hounding you, or gates at the Tulum ruins that close at 430 pm! We got caught and didn’t get to see this. Shop around for the tours you want to see. We booked Xei-ha as a tour while our family at another hotel got the same package for $20 less per person. Great pictures. You don’t need to take a coach bus to see it. Grab a taxi or a smaller tour company, there’s less waiting that way too. The ride down the river was good, we tried out the ropes, jumped off the rocks, snorkeled. The cenote’s looked like our Alberta lakes, a hole full of algae. We had big winds and walking across the floating bridge was fun. Snorkeling was OK. We had a clear day but didn’t see anything that we hadn’t before.

Our hotel had a beautiful beach which allowed our family to swim in the gorgeous Caribbean ocean and terrific pools. We love the ocean for the sports and snorkeling but wanted to make sure our 9 and 13 year old can swim back. Even with some winds and a yellow flag it was excellent. As you went down the beach toward the Palace the beach wasn’t as sandy with objects to dodge. There was always a shade and a lounge chair. You don’t have to save early in the day. The dock was fun! The water surrounding was full of 4-5 different fish that get fed on a regular basis. We brought buns, day old work the best. If you swim with them, they will surround and bump into you.

I took a hobie cat lesson. Our guide was weak at this sport and frustrated when he couldn’t get the boat to turn.

Our room was far, far from everything which made us crazy. The hotel boasts a train … you will need it. This resort is huge. Although the watersports centre was close by, the kid’s waterslides were not. We brought our two way radios to help but forget it. Their multitude of buildings made from stone was impossible for the radios. If you stay at the Beach side, you will be second class. Our kids were turned away from using a basketball at the Caribe Beach and told they had to go back to the Beach section. It’s a huge walk. I’m not sure why this happened when we could eat at their buffets. We had great luck at getting beach towels which are really nice. In our room was a different story. I had to ask for room towels a few times. Room was clean, small, and never mopped. The hair dryer has one setting, hot and full speed. There was an iron, which I cleaned to use it. The room robes were handy. Beds were comfortable but only in a double size, do not hope for queen! The cot was tough to sleep on for my kids. Full of springs.

The mini golf was fun for the kids.

Food was ok. It got bland quickly. We tried to eat at different buffets. The buffet at Beach needs some work. There’s limited selection and they need to do some cleaning. Be careful on the floors. I saw a couple of people whip out because they are filthy. They need to be mopped and scrubbed, big time. I had to wash beer from my sandals because there was a problem with the machine that overflowed earlier in the day. We lifted the table cloth once, only do this if you have a great stomach! It was dirty and there was broken dishes stashed underneath. ??

Booking the restaurants is a treat ( that’s sarcasm). Do this at your first opportunity. Our girl was not friendly, she set us up for two and told us the Japanese / Seafood was $15 extra per person. I could live with that and agreed. She looked at me like I was unable to pay, asked when we were leaving, then offered us 9 pm on our last day. Hey, my 9 year old is long in bed by then from his day swimming running, etc. I booked the Mexican and Italian. We needed to change a reservation later in the week. She said she couldn’t and didn’t care that we couldn’t use the Mexican booking. I guess it was lost for the week and no other guest could use it either (more sarcasm).

To go again we would book at a smaller resort. We’ve found the staff to be friendlier at smaller places. Do not trust a cab driver for good information. Their English is better than they let on. The public busses (vans along the highway) are good. You meet some great people and it’s cheap plus fast. Playa del Carmen was fun at night. We got some good deals and some normal prices overall. Our shopping trip included the huge hammocks for $23 each. We should have bought more than two.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   A & J ~ Toronto

March 2008

We have benefitted for years from your web site and taken the reviews into consideration when deciding on a vacation destination. We have travelled extensively, and we feel compelled to share our experience at this resort with others.

My husband and I stayed at this resort from Feb 11-18 of this year. The tour operator was AirTransat, it was our first experience with AirTransat, previously we have mostly dealt with Signature because their service is outstanding.

The resort itself is absolutely beautiful and stunning. The buffet and restaurants rank amongst the best, and the room was clean. I will not go into more detail because the positive reviews of other travellers do this resort justice.

The reason for our review is to share our very bad experience with AirTransat. We booked the Prestige Class at this resort, which cost more than the "regular" service at this resort and is only offered by AirTransat. Do not waste your money for this upgrade. There is no difference in service, everybody is Prestige class and is just a money grab on behalf of AirTransat. There is no separate check-in. In fact, everybody is standing in the same line up, which was painfully slow because there were only 2 people at the front desk when we checked in at lunch time. We in fact received only one turn-down service, every room has soaps and lotions (not just the "prestige class"), there were no beach towels in our room and the concierge service was non existent.

The biggest problem was our room assignment. There seemed to have been a problem finding a room for us at check-in, and after lengthy debate we were assigned room 6145 in the Jalisco building. If you get this room, do not accept it, unless you are blind or you do not care about looking at weeds and shrubs.

This room was on the ground floor, the terrace was enclosed on 3 sides and there literally was no view. We looked straight ahead to a wall of weeds and bushes. We did not see the sky and had to go past the terrace to see if it was sunny or cloudy. There was no botanical landscaping infront of our room that would have reminded us that we are in Mexico. We are very tolerant people, but this was even too much for us. My husband called it the "bat cave". We contacted the front desk and requested a room change, and were told the hotel is full and to come back tomorrow. The next morning (day of the AirTransat welcome briefing) we went to the front desk again, explained our concern and asked for a room change again, and were told that they put us on the list and to come back tomorrow. We then decided to talk to the AirTransat rep. There are 3 at this resort, 2 girls and 1 guy from Montreal. One of the reps (the Paris Hilton clone) could not care less, and the other rep assured us she would look into this. Day 3 was a repeat of the previous days: hotel still full, we’re on the list, the rep did not care. We worked our way up to the manager of the front desk. Her name is Arsenia, the assistant manager’s name is Rosaria, just in case you need to know!! We were appalled by the lack of consideration by the AirTransat reps and their blatant disregard for our concerns. The only thing they truly care about is selling tours. We then found out the name of the Hotel Manager (Mr. Willbur) and contacted him, as well as the front desk and the AirTransat reps. Every day we were told the same story: that the hotel is full and there are no rooms. Visitors are arriving and leaving on a daily basis and we did not comprehend why a room change was so difficult, other than that nobody wanted to bother with it. I believe the philosophy behind this is to hope that we would just eventually give up. The AirTransat rep actually told us that they really only get involved with hotel matters is if there is a death or a serious illness. In short, they were rude and useless. On the evening of day 4, I approached the front desk manager again in a more forceful way and it was quite evident that I was very upset. We were moved into a Junior suite on the third floor with a gorgeous view of the ocean and the pool the next day!!!

We certainly would go back to this resort, but under no circumstance will I ever book with AirTransat if I can avoid it.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Heather

March 2008

I have just returned from a one week stay at the Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach Resort in the Mayan Riviera booked with Air Transat Holidays. I was on vacation with three other members of my family and we have all been to various resorts in the Dominican Republic, Cozumel, Peru, Alaska, Jamaica and none of us have ever experienced the utter chaos that we endured upon arriving at the Colonial. We arrived on time and were at the check-in counter at 12:00 noon. We were then told our rooms would be on the ground floor and would not be ready until 7:00 pm …. we had sent an email the week prior requesting 3rd floor rooms because one of our party has asthma and the ground floor rooms were too musty. We were then told there was nothing available but they would upgrade us to the Palace. So we picked up our luggage and shuttled to the Palace …. they had not been advised by the Colonial that we were being moved and we were then told the only rooms they had were on the ground floor as far from the pool etc as possible. We again said this was not suitable and after standing at the counter at the Palace for over an hour waiting for someone who knew what they were doing and after being treated so rudely here we asked to be returned to the Colonial. Finally someone came to speak with us and again we picked up our luggage and were shuttled back to the Colonial. By now it’s about 2:30 and we are very tired, very hot and getting very frustrated. We were then told again that they had no rooms for us and we could go and eat and come back in an hour and hopefully they would find something for us. Finally at 3:00 they found us one room on the 3rd floor and would have a second room somewhere in the same building in about an hour or so…. so we finally got checked in after 5:00 pm. Our rooms were not together but we had no choice at this point. Our first day at the resort almost over and we hadn’t even unpacked yet. They did promise to move us to better rooms together in two days but that never happened and we never got our welcome drink, our welcome gift basket or welcome bottle in the room. After 5 days the young lady on reception at the Colonial (Nalleli Peral) managed to make this happen but by then it was too little, way too late. Our Air Transat reps at the hotel were full of smiles and promises but they did absolutely nothing for us. We advised them of our problems at our welcome briefing and they promised to look after eveything and we visited them on 3 other occasions asking for their assistance but they never got back to us. Although the resort was beautiful, clean, well kept etc. our check in experience ruined our first day and our overall impression of the resort was tainted. Among other things we also had difficulty getting reservations at the a la cartes …. we were supposed have four but were only able to book two ….we booked them within a half hour of arriving at the resort (while we were waiting for rooms) and that was all that was available. The a la cartes are very small and very slow and can’t handle the capacity of the resort. All in all, we managed to have a good time over the rest of the week but we would never consider returning to this resort and have severe reservations about booking with Air Transat again. I overheard another group in the lobby say that the Barcelo was a Five Star Resort with Three Star service and this was definitely the case for us.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Robert

February 2008

Me and the girlfriend just got back from the Barcelo Colonnial. It was awesome…..best resort I have stayed at ever. We are in our late 30’s and early 40’s. Enjoyed everything, food, rooms, pool, people!!!! Went snorkeling and scuba diving and toured around a bit. Only thing is you do have to go off restort to do some things but why wouldn’t you tour around a bit there is lots to see around there. The drive around Cozumel was worthwhile as well althought it was too windy to snorkel from shore but had a nice tour of the island. Barcelo rocks and so does the night club there The Jaguar!

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Elisse

February 2008

My husband, myself, my 16 year old son and his 16 year old friend just returned from the Barcelo Maya Colonial Resort in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico. This is definitely not a resort for teenagers! There is basically nothing for them to do, particularily in the evening. We were let down time and time again at this resort. It started when we arrived. Our plane landed in Cancun at 4:30pm and by the time we got through customs, got our luggage, and the bus trip there, we never arrived at the resort until about 8:30pm. When we arrived there was one person on the front desk so there was a long wait to check in. We requested 2 rooms, one with a King and one with 2 double beds and an ocean view and be adjoining rooms. We never got any of this, we got 2 kings, no adjoining rooms and no ocean view. We were told to come back in the morning and they might have something for us. We did and they didn’t have anything, and we did the next day, and the next day and the next day etc. They kept telling us to come back again and again but they could never accommodate us. Meanwhile we heard several people on the resort complaining because they requested king beds and got double beds, very unorganized. We were told by the travel company that we booked through that we were getting the “top of the line” package with all the bells and whistles, the “Prestige” package. However when we arrived we never got any of these “extras” that we were promised. We were actually told when we got there that we just had their basic package which they called “Prestige” and the better package was called “Premium”. I complained to our Air Transit Rep about the way we were being treated and all the let downs we have had since weve been there and she was a bit curt with me and said they couldn’t do anything for us (all they help you with is booking excursions). While I was talking with her regarding our issue, another couple came along and was complaining of the same thing and saying they had been promised the top of the line package by their travel agent and when they got there, they were also surprised to learn they get nothing of the sort. When we got to our room we had ants galore everywhere crawling around. I complained to the front desk but had to kill ants for 3 days before they got there and exterminated our room. There were none found after that (thank goodness). We were on a ground level room and it smelled musty. We soon found out that our kids were not allowed to come to the disco, you had to be 18. We rented jet skis on the resort for the boys but soon found out you had to be 18 for that too. They would however allow an adult to go on with them. So I rented the jetski for 30 minutes and $60 US, and they put my husband (220 lbs) and my son (180 lbs) on the same jetski and it would hardly go out of the water. They brought it back and asked for a different one which they gave them but it was hardly any better. The water was rough that day and it was actually dangerous for them to be out there with no power and so much weight on the jetski. They called them in after being out there for 20 minutes because the Mexicans were going for lunch. So we paid $60 for 20 minutes. When it was check out time, I went to the front desk to ask for an extra 1 ½ hours in our room and was willing to pay for it even though it was supposed to be included in our package (we were told by our travel agent) and they wouldn’t give it to me, even if I paid. It was just one thing after another there and we were very disappointed. The hotel itself though is very beautiful and clean (except for the ants we had). The pools are lovely and the beach and ocean is amazing. The food is good and so are the drinks. This hotel would be fine for an adult couple and even for small children as it has a lot for children to do including some amazing water parks for the kids. We however, would not return to this resort with teens. We went to Cuba last year and stayed at a small resort and found the Cubans to be way more friendly and accommodating. At this huge resort you are just a number.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Bob & LJ ~ Vancouver Canada

December 2007

My husband & I just returned from our 2nd trip to this fabulous resort in less than 1 year. We first went in late January and had such a wonderful time that when we decided to do another winter vacation in November (Nov 18-Dec 2) we chose to return. We were worried that we would not enjoy ourselves as much as the first time – but not the case. It was just as we remembered it except we had a softer bed (Maybe they do listen to complaints about the hard beds – now they just have to work on the pillows). The rooms were clean, the bar fridge always fully stocked and the staff friendly without being intrusive. Never any problems finding lounge chairs (in fact one day we had an entire pool to ourselves – must have been a quiet time at the resort). The only loud noise came from the one pool in front of the Tropical where they did the usual All Inclusive pool exercise and games. If you went one pool over it was peaceful. The beach is beautiful – and yes there are rocks in front of the Tropical & Colonial but if you pay attention you’ll be fine – much better in front of the Caribe and Beach but still some rocks.

What we really enjoyed about the resort was the variety of food – the buffets always had an excellent selection of everything from duck to sushi. The only thing lacking was vegetables and salad stuff. If you stay on the Colonial or Tropical side you have your choice of 7 a la carte restaurants. There is Thai, Japanese, Italian, Steak House and Seafood plus you can enjoy the Mexican and Spanish on the Beach/Caribe side. We managed to get to all 7 this time around and again enjoyed the Mexican and Steak House. First time to the Spanish and we wished we had booked in a second time. Same goes for the Seafood one – we had 2 lobster tails (cooked to perfection) as our main course and a shrimp salad for starters. Never once on either trip did we have problems with the serving staff – we tipped occasionally but not always.

The night shows are good – much better than many resorts. My husband & I are in our late 40’s early 50’s and went to the night club (Jaquars) and had a good time (loud music and flashing lights) not something we would do every night but you’ve got to do the whole experience. There is lots to do at the resort and we still didn’t get it all done. We didn’t do any organized tours – we always rent a car and do our own thing. Roads are easy to drive on and we were able to tour the ruins at our leisure. Last trip we did Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza – all beautiful in different ways. This time around we went to Muyil (very small but interesting and no tourists – we were the only ones there) and Ek Balam – well worth it. We took the Collectivo into Playa del Carmen (20 pesos per person) – easy 20 minute trip but remember you are in Mexico so they do tend to worry about how many they squeeze into these vans – you could find yourself sitting with 3 other people on a seat built for 1 (but when in Mexico) – we always felt safe and they are the best way to travel. Just stand out on the road in front of your resort – they come along fairly regularly – no schedule. Coming back be sure to let the driver know where you want off or they’ll go right past your stop. You can also take these to Tulum for the same low price of 20 pesos per person.

Only one complaint – the trip from the Airport to the hotel. This time we landed in the new part of the airport at the same time as other flights so it was long line ups to get through customs, wait for your luggage and then another line up to get through your final check point. Once outside we found our bus and then sat there for another hour. (Beer at the airport is $5.00!!!) We arrived at the airport at 2:30 pm and didn’t get to our hotel room until after 6 pm – next time we’ll arrange our own transportation.

If you are looking for a relaxing place with good food, something for children of any age or just yourselves this is the place to go. I would highly recommend this resort and will go back again some day but first we have more places in Mexico to see.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Tod

December 2007

Hi there,

We just returned from a fabulous time at the Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach resort, Mayan Riviera, Mexico. We were there the last week of November 2007.

My wife and I with our five year old daughter travelled with my sister, and our parents (senior citizens). Other than the parents, we are in our 40’s.

Check in and bus ride to the hotel was easy. Don’t bother with the $3 Coronas on the bus. It’s only a 1 hour and 20 min ride to the resort and once there, the coronas are free.

Room: We had emailed several weeks before we left and asked management for a poolside room on the third floor after reading the reviews here about musty smelling rooms on the the first floor. Upon arrival, check in was very quick but they put us on the first floor. I complained and they told me to return in the morning to fix things since people behind us were waiting to check in too. We went to our first floor room and confirm what others say here. The room was VERY musty smelling.

I went to the front desk the next morning and we were moved to a third floor room. Unfortunately, there are no pool or ocean view rooms at this resort unless you upgrade to a jr. suite which costs $70/person/night extra. Well, we only paid $1000 each total (taxes included) for our trip so that kind of money was out of the question.

There was a ‘beer fridge’ that had four beers, several bottles waters and lots of pop (read ‘soda’ if you are from the US).
The beds were comfy and the air conditioning and ceiling fan kept us cool enough to sleep. Outside temps were around 82F or 28C every day but got cooler at night. You get a free room safe and put the code in yourself. This provided a huge laugh for us when my mom said there was something wrong with her ‘microwave’. I went with her back to her room to see and she had mistaken her safe for a microwave. That was really funny.

Grounds:
I can’t say enough. They were stunning. Just like everyone else says here. The nice part is that there are covered walkways from the room complexes to just about everything in the place. And contrary to some, yes, the resort is big, but getting around is pretty easy. Even my 70 yr old parents agreed with that. The ground can best described as sculpted jungle. Bring your camera and have extra batteries, film or memory cards.

Pools and Beach:
Pools are great. There are five resorts all in one here. Barceló Maya Beach, Colonial, Caribe and Tropical and now the Palace (completed Dec. 07). The Caribe and Tropical hotels are a little older and not as nice to look at. Their restaurants and buffets are limited unlike the Colonial, where we stayed, and the Palace about to open. There is a pool at each of them all within a short walk (5 to 6 mins). Most of the loud music is in the pool in front of the Beach hotel. We stuck to the beach and pool in front of the Colonial and seldom heard much other than birds and people splashing having fun.

There is no not tub unless you go to the gym. The gym is right beside the Colonial pool, just past the bar. My wife and I are fitness types so were in the gym every day. While there were lots of free weights, a universal, and several other stations, the cardio equipment was top-notch. There were 8 treadmills, 4 steppers, 4 recumbents, and four rowers. All worked well (unlike the ones in my gym at home in Stoney Creek). This was the coolest gym I have ever been in. Padded floors, thatch roofs with dozens of ceiling fans and speakers playing music lightly (not loud) and NO walls. I was running on the treadmill staring out at the gorgeous grounds, Caribbean sea, or the swim up bar just waiting my turn. And the place was seldom busy. I was there at 2pm each day and my wife at 8am. Neither of us complained. The hot tub here is great and seldom busy except one day when there were about 8 ’20-something’ girls in the tub that holds likely 20 people. Oh well, I sacrificed and went in.

The beaches are gorgeous, Beautiful white sand and hardly anyone on them. You do NOT need water shoes for the beaches. No one had any on while we were there in November 2007 and no one got injured. We saw the odd rock which I guess might hurt you if you weren’t paying attention. But then again, some people can trip on a speed bump at home too.

Water shoes should be mandatory if you want to go into the water in front of the Palace, Beach or Colonial hotels. There are huge rocks the size of footballs just under the surface at ankle height. We could have really hurt ourselves had we not paid attention to this site and taken the water shoes. Now, if you don’t mind a 5 or 6 minute walk down the gorgeous beach, the water in front of the cheaper Caribe and Tropical hotels is perfect. No water shoes needed. Simply walk out onto sandy bottoms and keep going…..

Loungers and ‘palappas’:
Whoever said you need to get up early at this resort to reserve good ones must have been visiting at Spring Break or something because not only were we the first ones anywhere near the pools or beach at 8am, but no matter what time we were there, there must have been hundreds of unused loungers and palappas on the beach. In fact, we couldn’t figure out why there were so many of them unless, like every other hotel in the world, this one is jammed at March Break.

Bars and Restaurants:
Very good to outstanding in rating. The drinks are good. Beer (corona, and not the $3 type on the bus) is on tap and the taps face the customers. Simply walk, or swim up, and take what you like. Curiously, I was never without a drink or two in my hand yet didn’t get drunk. I wasn’t trying to get drunk, but just found it curious that I only got a slight buzz.

We saw lots of people with insulated mugs for drinks and the overpriced Canadian Tire bubba keg. You don’t need ’em since the bartenders will give you as many drinks as you like and doubles too. Unless you plan to sit on the beach for hours, and don’t want to make the 2 min. hike to the bar, they are not necessary. Although some people on this and other sites swear by them.

The buffets were good, not outstanding, but good. There is so much food and so many different choices that if you can’t find something you like here, just stay home and eat your tofu. I will say that the food at the buffets was the same every night. We went to all four of the a la cartes. It should be noted that if you stay at the Colonial, as we did, then you get four a la cartes. If you stay at the less expensive Caribe and Tropical hotels, you only get two a la cartes.
We went to the steak house, seafood, Japanese and Italian. All were excellent, not good, but excellent. Our fav was the Japanese one only because they cook everything right in front of you and the chef is an absolute hoot. He throws food in the air and catches it in his hat etc. Don’t worry, that is not part of your meal!

Oh, at the a la cartes, at least one if not all nights, you must try the Mayan coffee at dessert. It was worth the price of admission. They make the coffee in front of you and light the alcohol on fire and then pour the flaming coffee from one mug to another and back and forth. My five yr old daughter couldn’t take her eyes of this, come to think of it, neither could us adults.

Trips and excursions:
We had so much fun at the resort and only had really six days so didn’t do any trips or excursions. Although, it should be noted that if you want to go into the closest town, Playa Del Carmen, don’t bother with the expensive cab ride. For one dollar, you can catch the bus in front of the hotel. We didn’t do that but heard from dozens of people there that they did. It is very safe.

Scuba:
While sitting at the swim up bar with a mojito and mango dacquerie in my hands, this guy comes up behind me and with a heavy French accent nicely asks if I would like to try scuba. It turns out he is from Quebec and enjoyed chatting with me in my very poor high school French. Like a sucker, I decided to try the ‘free’ pool scuba. This was really fun. I got to put on a tank, BC, regulator, mask and fins and swim around the pool looking at the "butt-fish". Swim under water in a pool, open your eyes and you’ll figure that one out soon enough. Anyhow, my wife joined us and we decided to give the real scuba a go. We have snorkeled before and that’s it.

We went over to the dive school, took the one hour course, spent our $118 each, donned our gear and stumbled out to the dive boat. We got two dives to 40′ for one hour each for our money. What an incredible experience. I thought it would be scary but once under the water and seeing what there is, I quickly forgot how scared I had been. We saw turtles the size of my five yr old daughter, eels, one sand shark, two dolphins, one manta ray and so many coloured fish that it put Finding Nemo to shame.

Snorkeling is outstanding right off the beach of the hotel. They say this is the second largest reef in the world.

Overall:
We would go back in a second. For $1000, tax in, each, there is no better value. Great food, friendly staff, gorgeous beaches, great gym, and tremendous ambience.

Within a day, you’ll be saying "Hola" to everyone. Oh, one more thing…most of the staff speak English. Especially front desk, restaurant and bar staff. They all greet you with Hola and you will say it back. In fact, it is so commonplace to say Hola, that you end up saying it to other guests. OH, by the way, Hola means hello…..although I suspect you figured that out. About the only staff that didn’t speak any or much English, they were the maids. But we never saw them except twice. They did a great job cleaning up the sand we kept trekking into our rooms. Tipping does not seem to get you any better service but we did tip our maid, the waiters in the buffets and restaurants and the one bartender we seemed to see daily. And by tip, I mean we left one Canadian dollar which always got us a loud and friendly "gracious" or thank you. Oh, and just for fun, when you run into an American, be sure to show them a ‘loonie’ and ask them if they have ever seen what $2 US looks like…………………….

Have fun!!

Should you have any questions, feel free to email Tod or Paula at tod.mckay@sympatico.ca.

Hola and Merry Christmas!

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Lucie ~ Montreal, Canada

December 2007

My husband and I went to the Barcelo Maya Colonial -nov 15 to 22, 2007. We had been at the Beach complex (next door) a few years ago. We found the hotel very nice and clean, and the food very good at the buffet and at the restaurants. There is one thing however we were furious about was the NOISE during the day. There was noise at the pools and the beach- loud music, people screeming in microphone with huge speakers- for either aerobic classes, volleyball, spanish courses , salsa courses….. It was impossible to be peaceful anywhere during the day. It was the same at the Beach side. I felt I was in a place for teenagers during school break. Annoying. I will not return there for that reason.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Kathy and Dave ~ British Columbia

December 2007

The Barcelo family have created a unique experience for those of us who want to parachute into another world for a week. After an easy trip from the airport, my partner and I entered a massive lobby simply but exquisitely decorated in marble with water flowing softly from the many fountains. The palapa covered walkway to our room is a pathway through carefully tended but jungle-like gardens. Our room was a pleasant surprise. While the rooms in most of the resorts in the pictures online look very similar, this room was beautifully finished from the quality of the furniture, the mirrors, to the plumbing fixtures. The balcony was roomy. One odd but interesting detail was a bathroom scale tucked in the closet.

We found the food to be the best yet and we have been to many all-inclusive resorts and we are picky about the quality of the food from both health and taste perspectives. This should not discourage people who want to gorge on rich food. It’s there, but there is a choice. Seating in the buffet is nice. The room is circular, and all windows face water, fountains and lush foliage.

The a la carte restaurants were a treat. We loved the Santa Fe enough to go twice. The Bali Hai, a Japanese steak house, is entertaining and delicious. The only restaurant we would not recommend is the Thai. Our head server smiled warmly at us but was very nasty to the rest of the staff and the food was so-so (the Pad Thai was sweet and insipid). But nothing that a quick late trip to the buffet didn’t remedy. Our experience with this staff member was unusual. The rest of the staff were that mix of efficiency and playfulness we so enjoy in the Mexican people. Please tip–these employees work long hours and return to hovels at the end of the day.

We suggest you make reservations at the a la cartes no later than 7 or 7:30 so that you don’t miss the hour long shows! The caliber of the entertainment is stunning. These performers could be on stage in New York. We enjoy the beach rather than the pool, but at Barcelo the pools are in the lush treed setting that characterizes the rest of the resort. Every evening on our way back from the beach we had a drink by the pool and listened to the soft music and the sound of the birds singing.

The beach! We sat under palm trees choosing shade or sun at our whim. We swam, but mostly we snorkeled. Right in front of the resort is a series of reefs with so many varieties of coral and fish. We saw turtles at close range. An important distinction to make is between the four different parts of this resort. The Colonial and Tropical (where we stayed) are newer and superior to Caribe and Beach. You should be saving a significant amount of money if you choose to stay at either the Caribe or Beach sections. The fifth part of the resort opened the day after we left and is reported to be even lovelier. Enjoy.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Shell

December 2007

My husband & I just returned from the Barcelo Maya Tropical – Mayan Riviera (Nov 18 – Dec 2) & we absolutely loved it. First some background this was my husband’s 1st trip to Mexico & my 5th (2nd go around in the Mayan Riviera) & we want to go back again.

I’ll break my review into sections to make things easier;

GETTING THERE: Just a reminder don’t talk to the time share sharks in the airport & unless you really need help with your bags NEVER let go of them, because the second you do a porter will grab them ($$)

We didn’t get a big bus from the airport to the hotel, we rode in a mini van (no extra cost) – which to me was better because: 1) we got there faster – less people to drop off and faster speed & 2) our driver told us a lot about the area.

Check in was a breeze being that we were the only ones arriving.

THE RESORT: Huge & lots of walking!!! Beautiful!!! As everyone has said the gardens are amazing and all along the paths are info signs of the types of plants & animals in the gardens. There are water fountains from the lobby to the pools – great for photos. One of the things I loved about this resort is that it is between 20 minutes to an hour to the majority of the tours – it’s still about a 3 hour bus ride to Chichen Itza, which you can no longer climb (we went to Coba instead). There is lots of stuff for everyone to do on this resort: pools are huge but not heated – chilly getting in. Lots of games to play or you can paint some pottery($$), Barclay Kids Club looked great for little ones – I even wanted to go play in the kids waterpark it looked like so much fun. You could play tennis or 18 hole mini golf. There is a "shopping center" on the resort so if you don’t like to play the haggling game or pay the $40.00 in cab fare to go to 5th Ave then buy your souvenirs here and save the aggravation and time. It’s all the same junk you don’t need and nobody really wants.

Remember if you stay in either the Tropical or the Colonial you can use all the services of the Barcelo resort but if you stay in the Caribe or Maya Beach you are limited. When we go back we will be asking to stay specifically in the Tropical Yucatan building (not the Veracruz building) or the Colonial building but not on the side that faces the theater (the theater can get loud).

THE BEACH: BEAUTIFUL but bring water shoes. Both in the water & on the beach people were stepping & cutting themselves on coral or rocks. The beach seems to go on forever & it’s great for both sunrise and sunset pictures. Bring your snorkel gear & an underwater camera, we saw everything: squid, turtle, and tons of different fish. At the pier you can feed the fish right from your hand (bring cereal or a banana from the buffet.) We never had a problem getting a chair either on the beach or at the pool but it was November.

THE FOOD: Yes the food gets repeated but there is so much I can’t believe anyone could get bored or say it was bad. The buffet has a different theme night each day of the week. Also we never got sick (Thank you Imodium, I’ll never use Pepto bismal again). Bottled water is everywhere. For all my fellow beer drinking Canadians, they have free pour Corona on tap. You can eat from 7am till 10pm either at the buffets, grills or a la cartes. As for a la carte restaurants we went to 4 – Capri (Italian) very good, Bali Hai (Japanese) very good & the food is cooked in from of you – lots of fun, Santa Fe (steakhouse) great – but hard to get reservations at, and Marenostrum (seafood) our absolute favorite & the best service out of all – Thanks Jose!

You must try a Mexican coffee when you go to any bar or restaurant, my husband is now hooked on them.

THE ROOMS: We found the beds comfortable & rooms very clean. Great showers & a nice touch having shampoo, conditioner, & body wash available. Here is the negative part of my review – the walls are paper thin, at least on the ground floor. Imagine having a great sleep & then being woken up almost every night at about 2:30am by drunks yelling & slamming doors (coming back from the Jaguars Nightclub also on the resort) or hearing your neighbors t.v. & baby crying till midnight. If the resort reads this review please post some security or night guards in the hallways from about midnight till 4am & then maybe we’ll all get some sleep.

I don’t blame the resort for this, just remember when you go on vacation don’t be an ignorant, selfish jerk & have some respect for the other people that paid thousand of dollars to enjoy their vacations.

EXCURSIONS: I know everyone has different experiences on tours and what they find interesting, so this is just my opinion on what’s good to see & remember I’ve been here twice.

Xel-Ha – (less than 20 minutes from the Barcelo) awesome, worth seeing every time. I recommend doing a whole day here and not the half day in Xel-ha & half in Tulum. You can not see all of Xel-Ha in 1/2 a day.

Xcaret – (less than 30 minutes from the Barcelo) awesome, & here’s a money saving tip – bring food from the hotel. Buying food there is expensive & to pay for it with your tour isn’t worth it, pack some sandwiches, snacks & bottled water & save up to $60.00 or more.

The underground rivers are chilly but more than safe (you must wear a lifejacket), it’s a relaxing float. Above ground it’s like a big zoo, aquarium, and historical park all in one. My suggestion is opposite from the guides – I suggest you tour the above ground first & then do the underground river, that way when you’re tired, hot & sweaty from the above stuff you can cool down & relax in the river. Just put you end of the day dry clothes in the supplied bag & it will meet you at the end of the river float. The guide suggests the river first but if you do that then you will be walking the park in a wet bathing suit. It’s all up to you. The night show (2 hours long) is a must, 260 dancers/singers, it’s wonderful & interesting.

Coba – (about an hour from the Barcelo) we took a large bus to Coba (amazing guide Geraldo) hiked 2km into the jungle, learning & seeing the Mayan culture along the way, then climbed the highest pyramid in the Yucatan. We then had lunch at a little restaurant (o.k. food-I brought some from the hotel just in case), our guide fed an alligator some chicken. Then we went to a small Mayan community where we gave the kids the presents we brought. If you want to bring stuff they love anything – when we go back I will bring crayons & coloring books, that way they have a gift & they learn. After the village we went to a cenote in the jungle, it was very green and "refreshing" (cold) water but it felt good after climbing the pyramid and being in the hot village. Definitely worth the money for the all day tour.

SeaLife Plus – ( less than 10 minutes from the Barcelo) Probably the most disappointing of all our tours & the one that cost the most money. Unlike the dolphin swim where you just swim with the dolphins, SeaLife Plus you swim with Manatees, touch a Sea Lion & swim with the dolphins (2). You also get to waste a lot of time sitting around while they set up their video of you swimming with these animals. This sitting around happens twice – once after the manatee/sea lion swim & once after the dolphin swim. Before you swim you also have to sit & watch a video about manatees & dolphins. If you want to buy your video it’s $60.00 and if you want to buy the pictures they take they are between $12.00 & $15.00 per picture. NO UNDERWATER CAMERAS ALLOWED. It also seems like the staff are very disorganized (do not get separated from your group) – although the trainers are very good. Another money saving tip the Catamaran is included/free if you do the tour on Wednesday otherwise you have to pay extra & for how much the tour originally costs, the free catamaran eases some of that. Please take motion sickness pills if you even think you’ll be sick, we had to come back early because people were sick. You can also drink lots on the Catamaran but the lunch is just a sandwich & a bag of chips. Although it was a wonderful experience swimming with the wildlife, overall it was an extremely overpriced, nickel & dime you, poorly run tour.

Overall we loved the Barcelo & couldn’t find anything wrong with the resort, the staff (super helpful & friendly) or the location & we can’t wait to go back. Just remember it is a huge resort so if you have problems walking it may not be great for you & if you’re a light sleeper bring ear plugs. Also the floors are slick & there are rocks so save your feet & body & bring non-slip footwear/watershoes.

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  Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort   Ted

December 2007

Our family of 23 just spent eight glorious days at the Barcelo Mayan Beach Resort on the Mexican Riviera The rooms were large and beautifully decorated. The food was delicious and there were activities for all.

Some Suba Dived, most played tennis on five well-maintained surfaces and everyone enjoyed the beach. There is a "kids club" that all five under eight years of age could hardly wait to go fro, nien AM to 8:30 PM. I rate this a great big five star resort.

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Sheila ~ Vancouver

September 2007

My husband and I just returned from a week at the Barcelo Maya Beach resort. We had stayed at the Colonial side last December, but this side was $200 cheaper each, so we chose it. We would stay here again unless the price difference wasn’t that much. These resorts are all in a line along the water and it’s hard to know where one ends and the next begins. Our side is older but not old. The difference between the Beach/Caribe and the Colonial/Tropical is more in the surroundings. The newer side is gorgeous, whereas the older side is a bit more casual. Also, in the older part, you get two alacarte meals versus four. You can eat at the new side for $15 each which is well worth it. We especially liked the Japanese for the show the cook puts on.

I wrote a review on the Colonial, so I don’t have much to add. This hotel is very nice, the food is great and for a fussy person, I still managed to gain four pounds in a week. Speaking of which, the gym is great. It has something for every fitness level. The showers have the added touch of having toothpaste/brush, combs, lotion, shaver/cream, nail file, etc. free. It’s the added touches like this that make you feel special. The hot tub is kept at 104 which is comfortable.

When you stay on the Beach side, you can walk around the newer part, but you can’t eat or drink there. If you stay on the Colonial side, you have the run of all four resorts. In closing, I would say that if it is for a special occsion , stay at the Colonial but if you are going to save a lot of money, stay at the Beach/Caribe. It is a lovely resort and we will go back again.

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Nick and his family (9 of us total) ~ Ohio, USA

July 2007

This was the fourth time I had been to the Riviera Maya in Mexico. I am only 21 years old but I feel like this list of reviews needs a younger perspective. This was the second time we stayed at this resort and it has definitely grown a lot. The other two resorts we have stayed at were Iberostar and Grand Palladium. We always use Apple Vacations and they get us to the resort to the best of their ability. We arrive early and we expect to wait a few hours before we get a room, but it is never a problem if your swimsuit is readily available. I shared a room with my cousin and when we finally got our room it was actually only a single bed, that is not what we reserved of course. We were already a little tipsy and solved the problem with a simple phone call and a trip to the front desk. They delivered our luggage within a few minutes. Now, since we have been to Mexico before, we kind of already did all the touristy stuff like go to the ruins and what not, so we just stayed at the resort. I am going to compare this resort with Grand Palladium because the vacations were only a year apart and I was legally aloud to drink alcohol at both resorts. Barcelo is beautiful, the beach is one of the best, and you can go to any pool out of the 4 resorts if you just walk a little bit. The pools are very nice too. But I must say Grand Palladium is extremely beautiful but it is also a little more expensive, thats just one thing you have to keep in mind, you get what you pay for. I never had a problem finding a seat anywhere, and the hammocks that they have are awesome! I never really cared about a towel too much either so you’ll have to rely on other reviews for that aspect. I never thought the pool or beach was too crowded and there were never too many kids at the Maya Beach pool. I am not going to lie, I am a college kid at OSU and I like to have a good time, and I did go out everynight. I know some people in their reviews complained about too many drunk people at night and underage drinking. In my opinion theres nothing you can do about that, just don’t plan your trip over spring break or whenever. Anyway, of course there is a show everynight, and when we were there, aparently a really famous salsa singer performed and that night the theatre was pretty awesome. I was never a fan of any shows that resorts put on, so I really didn’t go this year. But, after the show the disco named Jaguars opens up from 11pm-2am. This was by far the best disco at a resort that I have seen. It was very simple, by that I mean there wasn’t a bunch of pictures and murals or whatever on the walls, like at Grand Palladium where their disco has a Rock n Roll sort of theme (kinda cheesey). I can’t say this disco is exactly "classy" especially because of course you’re going to have your drunk 18 year olds running around. Don’t let that discourage you though, there are plenty of mature people there. And of course there is going to be a lot of Americans in there because many Americans are not used to the club scene and just want to experience it. I also really liked the music they played, I’m a bedroom DJ and I love clubs. Everynight there would be sort of Salsa dance music, of course Spanish/American Hip-Hop/Rap (think Sean Paul and Gasolina) but also a good selection of house music. They would change the order in which they played these types of music but one night there was a good hour or more of house music, which I like. Some people complain its too loud but I have been to many much louder clubs. There is a VIP area where you can get access to top shelf liquor for 10$ for guys 5$ for girls. You can also just charge it to the room. I never went up there cause the people up there just end up watching people dance rather than dancing themselves. Didn’t sound like fun to me. I had fun everynight and you can actually meet a lot of people. Now here are some negatives about the bars/Jaguars: At Palladium they had Dos Equis and dark beer readily on tap. It is a better beer than Corona but everyone loves Corona anyway. In our mini fridge was Modelo, in my opinion not a good beer at all. And whoever says they don’t have enough bar tenders is absolutely right! Sometimes it takes forever to get a drink! Jaguars only has 2 bar tenders working all night! We also wanted some champagne on our last night before the disco and after 10 o’clock we couldn’t get it. Palladium also has a bar/grill open all night so you can grab a drink and a bite to eat before bed. After 2am at Barcelo you just have to go to bed. We were also aloud to swim in an adult pool late at night at Palladium but we did not know where to go if we wanted a late night swim here. We went to 4 of the nice restaurants, the steak house was the best but they’re all alright. The buffets are alright but not air conditioned at Maya Beach, unlike what we had at Palladium. Mosquitos really got me on a couple of nights. I almost forgot, but of course the rooms are nice, yes the beds are hard, you can get a pad but to be honest it is best to have a few cock tails, you’ll pass right out. Again, if you pay a little more you can have an even nicer place but Barcelo is still a great place, I would certainly go again.

Let me narrow it down for anyone who doesn’t want to read all this:

Pros: Awesome Disco, good music Hammocks by the pool and on some decks The nicer restaurants are tasty Everything is definitely very pretty Besides bartenders, service is as good as it gets, from waitors, bell boys, bus boys, drivers, everyone In my opinion, one of the nicest Beaches The staff is friendly like at all resorts, just remember English is not their first language so don’t treat them like it is 20 mins or so from Playa Del Carmen I guess the shows are pretty good but I don’t care for them anyway.

Definitely plenty of activities to do around the resort, scuba, snorkling, sea-doo’s, tubing, kayaking all kinds of stuff.

Cons: Clearly not enough bar tenders Corona instead of Dos Equis (but whos complaining) Mosquitos around the buffet at night ugh! Palladium had a little train that took you from the Disco to your lobby when it closed, Barcelo’s is not as regular The rest of my family loves the buffets but I guess I’m just a picky eater. No 24 hour bar/grill/pool, I realize it’s not neccessary but I would have liked it

Hard beds, but I’m young, it wasn’t a problem

Hopefully I gave a younger perspective on this resort. I did not pay for it (my parents did) but it is not too expensive, especially if you live in the south. It would be a great vacation for any young adults who just want to relax for a week. It is not a senior trip/spring break destination, it is a mature place but caters to people who want to have a great time. I would not recommend going on a honeymoon here just because it is also a family place. But there are not a bunch of little annoying kids running around like what you might find in Cancun. Many resorts in Riviera Maya are like this, I just keep mentioning, if you can spend an extra couple hundred bucks per person it is worth something. But if this falls in your budget range YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Todd, Lee and kids ~ Alberta.

May 2007

I must say I was a little leary before heading to this resort, as it has not gotten good reviews previously. Thankfully I didn’t need to worry.

Arrival was fine, no lineups at Cancun airport, no problems with time sharks, got to the resort, a welcome drink and checked in quickly, getting the adjoining rooms I had previously requested.

We had read that the resort was gorgeous and is it ever. Was always spotless, countless fountains, gorgeous pools and beach. I think it helped that we went after Easter break was over, the pools were usually empty, service was never a problem, no towel games, and the weather was fantastic.

Our rooms were cleaned daily, mini fridge restocked daily (with all my kids’ requests), we never had any problems getting service at any of the bars, buffets or restaurants. We did tip daily and frequently.

Off the resort, we went to Playa Del Carmen, Tulum xtreme tour (fantastic, I highly recommend that one, we all enjoyed it immensely), swam with the Dolphins at Puerto Adventures (I booked this months before we went, knowing it books up quickly) and Xel hu. All enjoyable.

I wouldn’t hesitate returning to this resort with my kids. But never during school breaks!

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Julie ~ Buffalo, NY

April 2007

My family of five traveled to the Barcelo Mayan Tropical Beach Resort in April 2007 for Easter week. We will never return to this resort.

First the positives. -The resort itself and the grounds are beautiful and meticulously cared for. The place is clean and well kept. The beach is gorgeous and the weather was spectacular.

Now the negatives. –This resort was totally oversold. When we arrived from the airport after reserving two rooms eight months in advance, they did not have both rooms. They put us in one room. The next night they had two different rooms for us and upgraded our bracelets to VIP status (top shelf liquors) for the inconvenience. Unfortunately the upgraded bracelets did not mean much because most of the staff did not know what VIP meant nor could they tell us. We did receive top shelf liquor when it was available which was not often. I have never seen so many irate guests yelling at the front desk staff due to the fact their rooms were “not available”.

The hotel did not have enough beach or pool chairs to accommodate the number of guests. If you did not put out a towel on a chair to “reserve” it by 7:30am there were no chairs available on the beach or by the pool. Since the towel hut does not open until 8:00am you had to keep your towels from the day before to accomplish this feat.

The hotel ran out of drink cups constantly and a couple days we were they ran out of vodka, beer and wine. This could be attributed to the fact rampant underage drinking was in excess. A few pesos paid to the front desk manager could get most teens a “legal age” bracelet which they then went crazy with. Sleep was had at a minimum because our rooms were on the first floor of a building and roving packs of drunken teens were constantly running up and down hallways swearing and yelling. We were woken to teens throwing up over the balcony one morning onto our patio. Security had to be called a number of times to monitor the kids poolside who were inebriated by 10:00am. The beds in this place felt like you were sleeping on a concrete floor.

Good luck trying to get reasonable dinner reservations at the restaurants on the premises. Too many guests means not enough availability and we only had choices of 5:30 or after 9:00 reservations. This whole reservations process was unpleasant and very convoluted. The concierge helping us was surly and seriously stressed. These restaurants had food only marginally better than the buffet. Ex. The seafood restaurant had no lobster and it is my guess they never do but just tell guests they have it. We tried to order bottles of wine from the wine list but their answer was they “ran out”.

The food generally was heavily salted, greasy or fried. There were not enough seats available at the buffets in the morning. If you missed the buffer times there was no food to be found unless you went off the resort property.

My husband went to get a haircut at the “beauty salon” on the property and there were four employees in the property none of who could cut hair! Laughable.

Make sure you have cash at this resort. Generous tipping means better service which you definitely need and truly defeats the purpose of “All-Inclusive”.

At the pool the staff announced “Any guests willing to leave the resort would be given a free room in Cancun”. No wonder foreigners call us “Ugly Americans” I can see why. There were so many people complaining in this beautiful setting we must seem over privileged and spoiled. But when you pay a lot of money for a “five-star” experience, there are some expectations that need to be met. Do not contribute to the Barcelo coffers and fell like the “suckers” that we did.

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Donald ~ Ontario, Canada

April 2007

My partner and I (39 and 40) just returned from another great stay in the Mayan Riviera and would like to add just a few comments specific to the BMBR. There are more than enough competent reviews of the resort, so I’ll concentrate on only a few topics.

Dive Centre
We visited this resort specifically to get our Open Water PADI certification. The course took four days and the staff of the dive shop were just great. A tad disorganized at times, especially around the 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. pre-dive rush periods, but still conscientious about us getting all our pool and ocean dives, and ensuring that we understood all the theory.

The course cost about $450 US, which included all instruction, equipment, dives, and a really nice dive log and binder. Taking the course there also entitles you to one free dive as part of an excursion, once you complete the course. The only excursions they offer are a three-dive trip to Cozumel and a two-dive trip to the cenotes, but this would shave $49 off your costs for the day.

We did the course quite easily, generally spending about three hours each morning and afternoon doing the skills in the pool, the dives in the ocean, and watching the videos. We spent part of the evenings reading through the manual and doing the knowledge exams. All in all, a relaxed experience. We even took an afternoon off after getting quite seasick on the first ocean dive, hardly setting us back at all and the staff was more than understanding about us wanting to sit on the beach and focus on unmoving objects for a while.

Note to those not used to small boats and wave action — a gravol taken about an hour before the dive works wonders!

Some of the equipment is a tad beat up, especially the non-critical stuff like masks and fins. Pretty much what you would expect of a busy rental place. Take a moment or two to carefully inspect the gear, and they’re quite happy to exchange it for you.

After the course, I went along on a reef dive one afternoon, followed by a wreck and reef dive the next morning. Both were fun, and I took along my underwater camera for some shots (resort and dive photos available at www.donmacpherson.com).

In summary, a great experience and I’m looking forward to working on my skills so that my next trip will produce considerably better underwater photography.

Food
The buffets were well-stocked and the variety was okay, but the food could use a little more excitement. Not much in the way of spicy or unusual foods, really. Not a major complaint, as it’s about what you would expect from a cafeteria, but a tad more imagination would be nice.

We ate at the Mexican and Spanish restaurants, where the food was considerably better and much more tasty.

Was quite surprised that a resort of this class and size did not have someplace to eat during the night. We arrived with just five minutes to spare before the buffet closed at 10 p.m. They were very good about it, mind you, and let us eat in peace while cleaning up around us, but if we weren’t the first people to check in we would have gone hungry. Having been to the Iberostar Paraiso Beach and the Bahia Principe Tulum before, I naturally expected a 24-hour snack bar someplace, but no. After 10 and before 7 in the morning, you would have to rely on room service for a fee to deliver some small tidbits to your room.

Check-Out
Here’s a handy tip for those who have to check out by noon for a later departure. Pack your travel clothes and such in a bag and leave it in a locker at the old spa, next to the gym. The locker is free, and they have nice showers and change rooms for you to clean up in prior to getting on the bus for the ride home. Once you’ve changed, you can head back to the lobby, stash your dirty clothes in your suitcase, and head home fresh.

Comparisons
For you handy comparison shoppers, we found this resort to be the best yet. The Iberostar resort takes the cake for overall luxury, and the range of wildlife was better (flamingos, swans, peacocks, and the guinea hens racing about the walkways each morning), but the beach there was rather Spartan and the pool was long and inconvenient for relaxing. The Bahia Principe resort was fine, but the swimmable portion of the beach is rather small and distant from any bars or grills. Overall, the pools at the BMBR were fantastic, with lots of chairs and hammocks available throughout the day (never bothered going out to reserve one with a towel!). The beach was long, wide, with sandy and rocky sections, with wavy and sheltered sections, and with loads of lounges always available. Best of all, with covered walkways and long residences, you could walk from one end of the resort to the other in the midday sun without spending a lot of time outside… great for those of us with thinning hair 😉

Finally, just wanted to stress that we had a great time and would go back in a minute, providing my 6/49 Pension Plan comes through this week in a big way!

Cheers!

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Dave & Cheryl, age 44 ~ Canada

March 2007

We in our mid 40’s and took our 18 year old daughter with us on this trip. We have been to the West coast (Mexico) many times but this was our first time to the East coast. We found the Riviera to be quite westernized compared to Mazatlan, etc with not as much culture but the waters are beautiful here. The resort has something for everyone and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Airport
Be careful with the weight of your luggage. Before we left we checked with the tour company (Transat/Nolitours) and with the airport on how much weight we could take and were told 75 lbs (~40kg) each. Upon leaving Mexico, the tour company reps told us we could only take 40 lbs or ~20kg home? The charge is $10.00 per pound for over weight luggage so be wary of this scam starting with the tour operator. You can pick up fairly nice back packs in the Playa del Carmen square for $10 each (close to where the collectivo’s drop you off). Put all your heavy stuff into these and carry them on the plane so you don’t have too much weight in your checked bags (but be aware of what you can and can’t take on the plane).

It’s nice to not have the timeshare people swarm you at the airport. The tour company people will try and grab your bags from you even if they are completely manageable, not just to be helpful but because they want a tip from you when you get to the bus (not far). Just tell them NO if you can handle your luggage yourself. The bus ride is about ~1 hr depending on the stops at other resorts. They will have beer on the bus for ~$4.00 American – no free rides here.

Once you get settled in the hotel, the next day you will meet with the tour reps for your orientation. Unfortunately the tour hosts didn’t seem to be that knowledgeable, were very arrogant and somewhat rude at times, with a general condescending attitude. They gave our group the wrong information on the cost of the local buses and a few other things and didn’t seem to want to have anyone ask any questions. Questions that were asked did not receive a very informed answer so it’s best to do you own homework before you go. We asked about renting a car and they used some scare tactics to get us to take the tours and not rent a car and explore. I found them to be more concerned with ensuring you buy their tours and not someone else’s than really being your hosts. When we returned home a friend of ours told us they actually wrote the tour company (Transat) to complain about the hosts but with the same general demeanor.

Hotel
The Colonial has the largest and most grand lobby. Upon check in make sure when they put the bracelet on you that it’s not too tight. You want it to easily slide around so you don’t have a white band from tanning when you leave. We sent an email ahead requesting a 3rd floor room with Ocean view and King sized bed. We got the 3rd floor but had to push for a better room + king sized bed which we got the next day. There are very few Ocean view rooms at this resort the way the hotel is situated unless you’re in a suite which is very, very expensive and not worth it as you don’t spend much time in your room. If you stay at the Colonial, try to get a room in the Jalisco building somewhere between 6333 and 6340. We had room 6335 with probably one of the best views of the pools and distant ocean. Also had a larger and more private balcony. Suite 6336 is identical, again with a larger and private balcony.

Rooms
The rooms were very nice and roomy. Lot’s of amenities and very clean. Bathrobes and slippers (you get to take the slippers home).

The fridge was stocked most days but not every day. Helps to leave a tip in the fridge separate from the maid. If you leave the empty wrappers or bottles of what you want most with the tip you will get just that. Also be careful as they don’t check well for bottles of pop or water in the fridge that have been opened by the previous guests and left there. We found several bottles that were opened.

The air conditioning seemed sporadic. Was nice and cool most nights but at least one night each week the air conditioning seemed to be non existent. I noticed a maintenance worker going into a panel outside each room one night and wondered if they had a policy of turning it off or down one night a week to save costs or energy.

The beds are hard as reported in other reviews but the pillows are even worse, like rolled up blankets in pillow cases. A pillow is quite light and packs down to nothing so I brought my own from home and it was great. I highly recommend bringing your own pillow. We even went into town (Soriana’s in Playa) and bought a second one for $7.00. Well worth it.

One thing we noticed was that there seemed to be a lot of people hobbling around on broken legs or ankles at the resort. Not sure why but many looked brand new (unsigned) as if they had injured themselves at the resort or while on vacation. Be careful as pool stairs are slippery especially after a few drinks.

Beaches
Beaches are quite nice. There are some rocky spots and coral and some thin spots from the hurricane last year but generally very nice. You can feed the fish in the water just off the beach. Get a banana from the buffet and feed it in small pieces to the fish. We liked the beach in front of the Beach hotel best. They had activities, volleyball, music playing etc and the bars were close by. There are at least 2 beach lounges for every tourist at this resort so you’ll never have trouble getting a lounger at any time. Shade is another story though. It’s a bit more challenging finding shade after ~10am but we didn’t have any major problems. Lot’s of room and shade at the pools. A word of caution, you can tan and burn right through the clouds in this part of the world. You can burn even with a really good tan so be careful.

If you go to Playa del Carmen you will find that the cost of beers on the beach is $4.00 per. Walk down the beach a couple of minutes away from the ferry dock and you will find much better seating right on the beach for $2.00 a beer.

Bars
At the hotel the bars are great. You often have to wait to order your drink and it’s frustrating because they don’t follow any semblance of order. You could be waiting for 5 minutes to order and someone else will walk up to another part of the bar and they will serve them first. You can self serve pop and beer yourself which helps but they don’t leave any ice or limes out so you have to wait in line anyway. I think this is so they can get some tips. If you have a favorite high ball with pop that you like (say rum and coke) they mostly dispense the coke out of the taps which tastes terrible. In the last days I finally started taking the bottled coke from my room to the bars and asked them to use that instead. If you purchased the upgrade package you can go to the bars located between each a la carte restaurant, or lobby bars that have the premium liquor. I noticed the restaurant bars also used bottled coke. You don’t have to be having dinner to use these bars. The lobby bars are kind of boring except the Colonial Caribe lobby bar. This is a rock’n little bar with lot’s of action going on at night. Next favorite would be the Tropical Beach lobby bar. They also have a cigar salon there to buy and smoke your favorite.

The Jaguar Disco is quite a place. They have real Go Go dancers here and are fun to watch. Lot’s of young people go here, it seemed as though it may have been a lot of the local staff as many did not look like tourists, but the hotel is so far from town we surmised they were off duty staff. The hotel has a large housing complex for staff right on the grounds. Regardless, you have to go at least one night to see this place.

The resort does a good job of moving people around by coordinating the closing of buffets and bars with the opening of others. At 6-7 the beach bars close and the buffets open for dinner moving people away from the beaches. At 11pm most all the bars close completely moving everyone to the disco. I’m not sure why but the resort didn’t have a bar close to the ocean that was open late. Captain Morgan’s bar / buffet located at the Caribe’s pool side would be an ideal place for mid evening dancing, mingling but it is closed at 7pm for the night.

Restaurants
All of the restaurants were very good. You’re supposed to only wear closed top shoes, long pants and shirt to these restaurants but they won’t refuse you. There were many men in shorts and sandals. If you paid for the premium class package you can get premium alcohol here without paying more. They will ask you to see your bracelet and you will have to sign a receipt but you don’t get charged.

Buses
If you want to go to Playa del Carmen or Tulum, you can get a collectivo (white van) at the hotel entrance on the highway. Not at the lobby. You have to walk to the road and it will stop to pick you up. The walk is only a few minutes. Only get in a white van with an orange or green stripe on it – anything else is questionable. When you get in, tell the driver where to let you off. Our Transat tour guide told everyone the cost is 30 pesos, or $3.00 US per person, but the truth is the collectivo is 20 pesos or $2.00 US per person. Don’t give the driver anymore (and don’t ask the driver how much, if you ask they will tell you $3.00 because they think you don’t know any better – just hand them 20 pesos or $2.00 US each when you exit the van). No sense advertising your ignorance by asking the price. They will pack up to 15 people in a 12 seat van so try and get the first seat behind the driver.

Rental Car
We rented a car for a day after carefully watching how the driving works down there. The hotel has a Budget Rental Car office right by reception and cars are brand new. You have to be careful on the highway in places they are only 2 lanes and everyone passes one another regardless of oncoming traffic. You especially have to watch for trucks coming the other way towards you as this will inevitably mean that someone is going to pass that slow moving truck, in your lane. Watch for oncoming traffic and always pull onto the shoulder as they pass (in your lane). The shoulders are extra wide and slower drivers drive over half of the shoulder so others can pass. We saved literally hundreds of dollars by renting a car and doing the tours and sights ourselves. Watch out for the speed bumps…. They are killers and can wreck a car quickly. Inspect the car carefully before you sign for it and also check under the front end to see if someone before you catapulted over a speed bump. I’m not sure of the truth of it but our tour hosts tried to scare us by telling us we are not brown enough and local police will pull us over and we may have to bribe them. I pulled everything out of my wallet except my driver’s license and a 100 peso bill in plain sight so if I had to hand it to a Policia, he could make up his own mind what he wanted to do.

Tours
Tours are expensive but are very structured and take the worries away. We did the sights ourselves. For example, a tour may cost you $85.00 US per person, but the reality is that the entrance fees to the sights can be quite cheap, like $4.50 to see Tulum or Coba. We preferred doing it ourselves as we did save a lot of money, and we weren’t on someone else’s clock. If you do the math, 3 of us X $85.00 = $255.00 US. (Coba tour price). 3 X 65.00 = $195.00 US (Tulum tour price). Total is $450.00 US. We rented a car for $100.00 and paid a total of $27.00 to see both Tulum and Coba ruins, a savings of $320.00 dollars or more. Another worry with booking the tours is you have to book when you first arrive and if it’s raining on the day of the tour, you have to go anyway. Let’s say your going to Xel-ha ( water park – a must see). It wouldn’t be much fun in a down pour. It did rain 4 of 14 days were there and there are always high clouds each day with frequent afternoon storms. By renting a car, you can see what the weather is going to be the next day or so and rent the car at the best time. The Bell Hop stand at the very front entrance of the hotel has a Miami / Cancun paper each day so you can check the up coming weather reports there. Also, if you do a tour and are expecting a nice comfy tour bus, you may get a white van instead. Ask which mode of transportation they will be using.

To see Cozumel, you will take a 35 minute ferry ride from Playa. There are 2 different operators. One is regular boat and the other is a huge catamaran We took the regular boat if the wind is blowing it does get tossed around a bit and we got a bit sea sick on the return trip. I would recommend the catamaran as it is wider and more stable. It is a little bit more money but worth it. Sit up top if you can, as you get a much better view and it will lesson any sea sickness. Go a few blocks into town to escape the tourist area. This is a whole day trip and you can rent mopeds if you don’t want to walk anywhere. The town by the ferries is quite a busy little place but to really get a feel for Cozumel you have to rent a moped and travel around the island. Driving in the town may look intimidating because it’s so busy but I’m told it is much better once you get away from the main area.

A must see is Xel-ha. If you buy the all all-inclusive day package, please note that you will still need to provide a $20.00 US deposit once you’re in the park, in order to get your snorkel gear (you get to keep the snorkel). Also, when you enter the park, stop at the information desk to swap your sunscreen. You cannot (well your not supposed to but there is little control) wear your own sunscreen as the park is eco-friendly, so they will hold your sunscreen until you leave, and will provide you with eco-friendly sunscreen at no charge. It’s a small packet, but it goes a long way. Get a locker and put everything in there. The park supplies large towels but don’t bother to get one until you get out of the water. They are readily available in the locker areas. Take the ride down the river early as it gets pretty busy in the afternoon, it’s really fun. You can take a tube down, or just wear a lifejacket. Skip the tube, it’s too much work and we heard a lot of people complaining about how hard it was – way more fun floating down with just a lifejacket. Part way down the river, watch for the photographer to take your picture. If you stop and pose, you will end up with a great photo which you can purchase at the end of your day ($12 US for photo and optional $8.00 US for frame). Also, make sure you go across the floating bridge and look on the sea word side to see some really big fish as you cross. Don’t forget your underwater cameras. Snorkeling is great here. They provide you with the equipment (deposit necessary) but the snorkel isn’t that great. You get to keep it when you leave but if I were to do it again I would have brought a better snorkel from home that doesn’t continually fill with water.

Coba is where the big ruin is. If you drive, make sure that when you get to the fork in the road where the Coba signs are, you stay left. That is, you will approach a large turn circle in the road. Keep to your right and go all the way around the circle until you exit to what would have been your left as you approached it. Most of the sites in Mexico are not marked well. Tulum is a good example. There is no large sign that says “Tulum Ruins” you just have to turn left at the junction of Tulum and follow the road down a block and its there. You will drive right through the small town of Coba. Watch out for more killer speed bumps here. Follow the road to the lake and go left. 1 block down on the left is a large gravel lot with a small sign that says “ruins” or “historical sight”, there will also be some vendor stalls there. Again, there is no large sign or advertisement and we actually drove right past it twice before realizing that it was the right spot. You will pay 15 cents to park your car and $4.50 per person to get into the ruins. It’s quite a hike to get to the big ruin, so rent a bicycle or bike taxi (believe me it’s worth it) If you rent the bike taxi, the driver will stop at all of the smaller ruins on the way to the big one. If you are not afraid of heights, climb to the top, as this is the only significant ruin that you can climb in Mexico – and the government is going to ban climbing of this ruin in a few months. I’m told it is the highest point in the Yucatan, a must see. Remember to look down frequently as you climb. It’s easy to go up but really scary coming down. Many people were doing the bum slide on the way down.

Tulum is only $4.50 US per person. You can take the $2.00 collectivo and it’s an inexpensive day. The ruins and beach are beautiful. You cannot climb any of the ruins. Bring mosquito repellant as there are a few bugs when you walk through the jungle to the main property.

Side Notes
Bring one or two disposable underwater cameras. Bring lots of sunscreen, it’s expensive in Mexico. We tipped the mini bar guy 10 pesos ($1.00 US) each day. We tipped the maid 20 pesos $2.00 US each day and left a small gift on the pillow with her tip (candles, lotions, hair accessories, etc.). Leave a decent tip in the ala carte restaurants – we left 70 pesos ($7.00US) because you will have 2 servers looking after you, your waiter and his assistant who will keep your table clean and your water glass full. Do your shopping in Playa early in the morning or after 3:00pm when the cruise ship tourists are gone – you will get much better deals as the local won’t barter during the day when the streets are packed with the cruise ship crowds. It slows down later in the day. Shop around for what you want, go have lunch and then come back after 3 pm to buy your stuff. (A rainy day is also a good time to shop). We we’re paying 50-70% less than the starting price. If you have paper pesos, make sure that there are no rips and the corners are not missing. The vendors, hotels and banks will not accept any paper money that is damaged in any way. Bring an insulated cup or mug. We saw many tourists treating the vendors and employees like second class citizens – these are just people trying to make a living – if you are nice and polite, you will meet some great local people, get some good bargains, and get good information about the area. Also, remember to take water with you when you’re traveling around. It’s also a good idea to take paper napkins as when your away from the hotel the girls will find someone handing out toilet napkins outside each bathroom so if you bring your own you won’t have to worry about constantly tipping these people.

If you have any questions feel free to email us at fishhunter@telus.net

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Dave

March 2007

We just returned from a 1 week stay at the Barceló Maya Colonial from March 9th to 16th,2007 This was our second visit and it was better than we remembered. The property is gorgeous, rooms large, attractive and kept immaculately clean.It’s a joy to stroll around this beautiful resort with lush gardens and numerous fountains.

The food was above average and staff worked very hard.The pool and beach area are in very close proximity to one another and were truly wonderful. Enjoyed the shows and a trip to Playa de Carmen was really interesting.

You have to experience this facility to truly appreciate how wonderful it is…no words can describe it’s warmth and charm….an escape from reality. We would HIGHLY recommend this location to anyone. You’ll be guaranteed to have the vacation of a lifetime.

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Mark

March 2007

Just returned from a one week stay at the Barcelo Maya Beach. We selected this resort after hearing about it from friends. This was our first visit to this part of Mexico.

Arrival
Our arrival at airport was wild to say the least. Lots of people herded through customs. We booked through Apple Tours, and our driver, upon reaching our supposed destination dropped us off at the Barcelo Colonial even after verifying our voucher for Barcelo Beach, told us we were where we were supposed to be, then left. We went to the front desk to check in and were told that we were at the wrong part of the Hotel. Although it is the same property the front desk refused to get us a ride to our lobby, it was raining, and 9:00 P.M. We finally talked to a very nice lady at the front information kiosk, and she called a porter with a golf cart to come get us.

Room
The room was very clean, but maid service became spotty. My wife was sick for a few days and we ran out of toilet tissue due to maid not cleaning. Dont call GUEST SERVICES they never answered in 7 days. It took 3 calls to front desk and 2-3 hours to finally get room service. Beds are VERY FIRM.

Pool and Grounds
Pools were both numerous and spotlessly clean as were the grounds. Everything is well maintained and manecured. The swim up bar at Captain Morgan’s is the place to have fun all day, its right on the beach, the drinks are good and the bartenders are willing to make anything you want. A side note on Captain Morgans, there is also an inside bar in the shape of a Pirate Ship, and also a really great buffet for lunch, we ate there every day. The waiter, Ceasar, is outstanding !!

Restaurants
The numerous buffets were overall very good. Some of the items we didnt like, most we did. You can pick and choose from the large selection and always have a satisfying meal. Dont bother with the restaurants that require reservations, their not that good. The buffets were better and the waiters were great. The outstanding people there were Jose ,our favorite waiter and Luis, who will whip up, any Omlet you can make up.

Beach
The beach is beautiful, and the snorkeling was pretty good with several varieties of fish. You can take a lesson and learn to sail a Hobie Cat or wind surfer. They also have free use of kayaks, and Huge Tricycles that ride on the water with balloon tires. Be carefull walking on the sand, they dont have any specific beach rules about glass items, and there were the usual hazards of broken glass in the sand from uncarefull people.

Trip back to airport
Our Apple Tours driver was 1/2 hour late, and talked to his buddy on a 2 way radio, joking about the gringo’s most of the way to the airport. He made a side trip to pick up personal items, and stopped at a pay phone for a personal call, then drove 25-30 kilometers over the speed limit the rest of the way. The return trip took almost 2 hours, which is much longer than it took to get there.

Overall impressions The Barcelo is beautiful and well maintained, and the wait staff are excellent at the buffets and bars, however the attention of guest services, and general lack of concern from people in charge would keep us from returning. We were in a group of 4 couples and all had very similar experiences.

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Barcelo Maya Beach/Caribe/Colonial/Tropical Resort Keith and family ~ Guelph Ontario

March 2007

We just got back from the Barceló on the 23rd of February, our most favourite place of all the resorts we have stayed at. Anyone who finds fault with this incredibly friendly and nicely appointed resort is just too darned picky. Remember, this is a developing country and new construction abounds, trying to keep up with demand. If you want marble, brass, high efficiency,fancy shmancy go somewhere else.

Some folks go to Mexico thinking and expecting that they operate on the same high speed, multi tasking, snap to attention pace that we have been forced to adapt to in our lives. I hope they never get there. The Mexican people sure smile and laugh a lot more than the visitors, as a rule. This was our 5th visit to the complex and were given a little upgrade because of it. Our room overlooked the pools, ocean and gardens. We were surprised by a fruit basket and a nice bottle of champagne that was delivered shortly after our arrival. The rooms are not generously appointed but wonderfully clean. If you thought to leave a dollar or two in the morning, there would be a towel carving and sometimes a flower waiting for you at the end of the day.

Our only cause of frustration, and this is our own self imposed stress, is the checking in and out at the hotel desk. It is slow, deliberate and one must stand in lines of smoking travelers trying to saturate their lungs before the long bus ride to the airport. We wondered why there was only one staff member when so many were trying to leave.

The beach is gorgeous, well cleaned, daily and it was fun to watch the children taking little bits of bread to feed the flying fish who would eat out of their fingers. Beach chairs are plentiful and there’s lots of shaded area.This is truly Mexico. Gardeners worked from morning to night, pruning, clipping and picking up leaves, generally making the grounds as lovely as we have ever seen.

Although the resort is "all inclusive" it’s always a good idea to" slip a dollar" once in a while. Remember, these hard working family people work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and NO HOLIDAYS. You will amazed at the attention you will get.

We will go back soon.

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