Old Reviews – Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe

  Barcelo Maya Palace   Frederick ~ Tequesta, Florida

April 2008

My family and I had the opportunity to spend a week at this newly opened resort within the Barcelo complex on the Riveria Maya. After an uneventful 1½ hour trip south from the airport, we arrived at the PALACE. The lobby area is a grand and impressive expanse of marble and onyx with open and breeze-filled views of the Caribbean. And as we made our way to the front desk, we were greeted with frozen strawberry daquiri’s.

Check-in was fast but not so simple. Inspite of booking and paying for this vacation some six months earlier, the Club Premium reservation we had made was unavailable, and we were assigned a standard-view room (#8233) on the Michoacan side of the property. It took them awhile to understand the terms “guaranteed reservation” and “refund”. But we finally got the $490.00 credit due us for this downgraded room after insisting on speaking with management. Other-than the view and closeness to the pool and lobby area, all rooms are junior-suites, all identical and well-furnished from massive marble and onyx bathrooms to comfortable bedding and wall mounted wide-screen plasma satellite TV. You will not be disappointed with your accomodations or with the spotless housekeeping provided! For special occasions, the PALACE also offers a handful of one and two bedroom and family suites.

Our standard room location actually turned-out to be blessing, as the pool-front Club rooms were subjected 24 hours a day to the blaring music, noise and vandalous merriment, of the hundred-or-so high-school seniors from Michigan that were there for their graduation trip. These out-of-control, inconsiderate, and mostly-underage teens and their handful of chaperones basically ate, drank, and vomited either on the beach or pool or walkways all day and all night for the first two days of our stay. Inspite of the fact that hotel security and the bar staff were totally worthless in trying to quell their behavior, I must give credit to the maintainence staff, as they worked overtime continuously removing lounge chairs, garbage, and beer bottles from the pool and ocean, as well as cleaning-up and sanitizing the regurgitations left essentially everywhere by these youths. Thankfully for us and the other guests, their stay ended quickly, leaving us all atleast a few days of quiet solitude until the end of the week when three bus loads of high-school seniors arrived from Alabama as we were checking-out! (As a side-note, most resorts in the Cancun/Riveria Maya area DO NOT allow spring breakers or class trips to their respective properties for this very reason and the Barcelo management needs to prohibit them as well, atleast from the PALACE, which they proclaim to be their most premium and upscale resort).

The buildings and grounds are spectacular examples of modern Mayan architecture and are very appealing and pleasing. They are well-maintained, albeit the flooring can be slippery when wet, so caution is in-order. In addition, all public areas are handicapped-accessible, including restrooms even by the pool area.

The pool and beach are huge areas with plenty of loungers, but not enough shade. Unfortunately, people are people, and you will definitely need to get out early (by 6AM at the very latest) to stake-out your area with towels or other belongings, unless of course, you love the full intensity of the tropical sun, in which case you can sleep late, as there are loads of non-shaded spots available anytime!

At the East end of the pool there is a wonderful children’s water park for those under 12. And there is a complete kid’s club on-site. Limited lounge chairs and shade are there as well, so get up early to get a spot! And don’t forget to bring your own inflatable floats. There is an air pump at the club desk.

There is also an adult-only pool where topless sunbathing is supposedly allowed, but apparently nobody can read the multi-lingual signs, and the resort doesn’t enforce its’ own rules, as it was filled with young children every day. As well as with people who weren’t even guests at the PALACE.

All pool and beach areas have numerous lifeguards, and there is a stretched, golf-cart style, beach accessible ambulance complete with the requisite advanced life-support apparatus available in an emergency. There is a full hospital and diving decompression chamber in Playa Del Carmen, about 10 miles North. The Barcelo complex also houses a 24 hour medical center and pharmacy.

The PALACE is home to the French, Caribbean, and Brazilian ala-carte restaurants as well as three buffet style restaurants. Guests at the PALACE can also eat at any of the restaurants throughout the other resorts in the complex. Dinner at the ala-carte restaurants was excellent, and you should make reservations at the concierge desk as soon as you check-in! The PALACE buffets all had excellent quality food, but the biggest complaint is that it was unvaried from day-to-day. However, the buffets at the neighboring CARIBE and TROPICAL resorts had a different theme every night, and proved to be a great choice over the PALACE buffet!

Bars are everywhere for either soft or alcoholic beverages. They pour lightly, so ask for a double if that is to your desire. Don’t expect premium liquor anywhere else other-than the lobby bar area. And if you like draft style Corona, bring an insulated mug with you!

Shopping at the PALACE is limited to a mini-mart and a logo shop that sells liquor and cigars at double the price of downtown Playa Del Carmen. By-the-way, be forewarned that any liquor you purchase outside of the duty-free shop at the airport must be packed in your checked-in luggage or it will be confiscated by the Federal Police as you pass thru security. Be sure to bring bubble wrap!

Entertainment both daytime and evening is provided by the resort’s animation staff. It is loud and sometimes obnoxious, but they get high-praise for their efforts. Nightly shows last an hour, and rotate throughout the complex. There is no casino gambling in the area. There is a centrally located disco within the complex, Club Jaguar. Naturally, it is oriented towards Latin dance, but the DJ will be happy to play requests.

There are trams that will take you from your lobby to any point throughout the Barcelo complex. They run about every 10 minutes. Be sure to hold on! The drivers are wild!

There is a complete business center on premises and internet access is $3.00 per 15 minutes. Be sure to clear your machine’s cache before leaving. And if you have a Club Premium room, you have wireless internet included, so be sure to bring your own laptop. The wireless signal extends from your room about 50 feet, so security-enable your signal. And remember, all computers are now subject to search and seizure at the airport or when clearing United States Customs!

One of the biggest complaints from guests is that PALACE management does not enforce its’ own posted rules. For example, at check-in, every Barcelo guest is given a colored wrist band to denote which resort they are staying at. A guest of the PALACE can eat, drink, swim, or visit any of the other properties. But the PALACE facilities are supposedly only for PALACE guests. This is NOT the case, and people who are paying a small fraction of what PALACE guest are paying, are using the PALACE as if it were their own, including reserving premium lounge chairs at the pools and beach.

At the Barcelo complex, tipping is not required nor is it expected. And it will not get you any better service. However, as usual, if someone does something extraordinary for you while there, then a gratuity is indeed deserved to be given!

In conclusion, while the new PALACE is a beautiful resort, it is far-from the premium, upscale property it is touted to be! The Barcelo brand also markets chiefly to the Hispanic and European leisure traveler, and not the North American crowd, whether U.S. or Canadian. Would we go back to the Barcelo complex? Simply put, there are far-better resorts in the Cancun/Riveria Maya area. And far-better yet are the resorts in the Punta Cana, Dominican Republic area. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding the PALACE, please ask! Happy Travels to you!

Frederick Storer – Owner Of Tix Travel In Tequesta, Florida – Tix198@aol.com

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March 2008

We just returned from the Palace and the previous review describes the resort accurately. It is beautiful and the rooms are lovely. We had the "Premium" package so had the advantage of quick check-in, free internet, ease of making dinner reservations etc.

The downside came on the weekend of March15 when scores of p[eople checked in for Spring Break. There were many, many teen agers and the noise level at the resort escalted significantly. The pool bar remained open until 1 am with enteretainment(LOUD) for the young people with the result that for a large number of guests sleep was impossible. I would not recommend this resort at this time of year for the noise level alone.

Before this great influx, pool chairs etc were readily available but after the 15 of March people were getting out to claim prime spots by 3:30 am -yes really!

We went over to the Colonial and their area was quiet and also very beautiful so booking at that resort would be a far better option. Forget the beauty of the Palace and go somewhere where thereis respect for all guests -not just one age group

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  Barcelo Maya Palace   Jean & Wayne ~ Dartmouth Nova Scotia

March 2008

Barcelo Maya Palace-Prestige Class-Approx 20 min east of Playa Del Carmen, approximately 1 hr or more from the airport, depending on the driver, and time of day (arrival). We travelled Air Transat from Halifax, my advice is book your seats on line in advance ($30 for two), each way, you can pick exactly where you want to sit, and no hassle with arriving 3-4 hours in advance for seat selection. Further when leaving Mexico (as is other destinations) your bus could be the last to reach the airport, and you might be assigned anywhere on the aircraft, and not necessarily together.

My wife and I stayed at the Palace Feb 24th to March 3rd 2008. This is a brand new hotel, part of the Barcelo chain, and the newest of the five in a row, on the total overall resort complex, called Barcelo Maya Beach Resort. One main entrance to all!, guarded and protected. Each are independent of the other, but can be walked (beach or ocean front walkway). The Palace was new and opened around the 1st week in December 2007. This place in our opinion, and we have been to quite a few, and different parts of the Caribbean, is called the Palace for a reason. Its totally beautiful. The workmanship, and detail is excellent. I have never seen so many staff employees on one resort, everything from grooming the beach, room service, grounds, bar staff, buffet & restaurant staff etc. On our arrival we were met by the baggage attendant, (bags to the left please) directed us to the lobby desk for service. Within minutes we were on our way to our room.

Ask your tour operator for a map of the entire Barcelo resort to put all the hotels, and grounds in the proper perspective.

Our building was called Oaxaca (J), room #s 8501-8996. The (K) building room #s 8001-8448, called Michoacan is closer to the lobby. After walking a distance (our choice), this room was large, loads of closet space, bar fridge-stocked/pop/beer/water/light snacks. Large tub/shower, with additional standup shower, with two dispensers (soap/shampoo/etc), double marble vanity with all amenities. Flat screen TV (32"), king bed, two large sofa sets, loads of dresser space, coffee table, large lighted wall decorations, large balcony with furniture.

I should note this room was emaculate, and stayed that way all week, due to the cleaning staff. My wife and I always bring (more than enough) giveaways (toothpaste/toothbrushes/shampoo/shaving cream/small kids toys (boy & girl) etc etc). Needless to say each morning we left a substantial amount on the bed (for our same chamber maid) with usually $1-2 Americian. Each day when we returned there were little extras she had done with the room. We were talking to her several times, it was well appreciated. They make very little!

The next morning be quick to book your resturants (5 when you have the prestige package). In the Palace we had the French/Brazillian & Caribbean, the Caribbean choice being the lesser of the three. You had the option of choosing 2 others from the 4 other hotels, or all from other hotels, your preference. The patrons from the 4 other hotels could not eat at the Palace, unless they paid $35 per person. Apparently they could bar hop, and come to the Palace for the shows, at least my niece and family did!. They were at the Barcelo Colonial, which was excellent as well!

Tipping is big here, as in most resorts, put aside at least $50 US. We found it goes a long way in service (bars/restaurants) etc, we tried to sit in the same usual area(s) in the one buffet (we went to) as we usually got the same waiter each time. It is the norm to tip the restaurants (depending on your service $2-4 US), and the buffet (depending on service $1-2 US). There were two buffets at the Palace, Hacienda & the Mirador (the Mirador is the best) especially for supper, morning time, depending on what time you got (to either buffet), the food was warm to hot, doesn’t matter where you go buffets are this way, especially with large numbers. The omelets were excellent. It almost appeared the two buffets were competing. One place not to forget during day time hours is the Coral Grill, above excellent (T-bones/strips/burgers etc etc). You will not be disappointed.

For those with kids they had the Bouncy water park at the Palace, water slides etc etc. Also had a day care, entertainment room, enclosed playground (sand) etc, 4 years and over. For the adults the one main pool was humongous, with the number of people there, there was lots of room, also had a swim up bar. There was also an adults pool only, with private bar, better loungers (pads) water beds, spa, and large covered lay down beds with pads. This hotel, and resort is no different than any others, in order to get the best place, and lounger, get up early, and place your towel, and some belongings, especially in the adult pool area. We were always late, and never really had a problem, it was our choice. Make sure you try the Carey hotel bar, any type of drink you wish. For those that are fitness minded, there is a fully equipped Gym, basketball and tennis courts, diving center, spas, shops, golf pitching greens, ball fields etc.

The beach (probably 1 mile or more) had a mix of coral, and sand, sandy areas were all roped off, at different locations on the entire beach, were excellent for swimming. My wife and I do a lot of snorkeling, this was also an excellent are for this, with several small coral reefs, which had an abundance and mixture of tropical fish, especially off the dock!

The entertainment each night was different, and very good, most shows ran for 1-1.15 hours. Our Palace theater was called The Monte Alban, indoors, air, mega bar area, mega size building, the best light and sound system money can buy, three big screens, in advance of all the shows they have various concerts playing on the big screens (Cher-Celion etc). You can also go to the other Barcelo hotels for their shows as well. Don’t forget the Jaguar Discotheque each night till 2. For transportation they have a shuttle train to all five hotels, make sure you check out all the properties via the train, no charge.

Do not book any trips/side travel etc from the hotel lobby. These people are usually independent, and we have heard of problems prior to our arrival, and heard from people there. Book all extras from your specific tour operator. At the Palace they are all located behind the lobby desk, down the hall. My niece booked the Xcaret tour, they were not impressed, especially for the price. Some prices for snorkeling, (The Original Snorkeling Adventure) brochure 9:50 AM to 5:30 PM $76 US per person. (Morning Glory Snorkeling) brochure 7:20 AM to 1 PM $62 US per person, there are inclusions with both. Catamarans (8 to 4) $89 US per person grilled lobster/steaks, open bar, visits several reefs. There are quite a few more!!! You can also book sea-doos, which we did $65 US for .5 hours, lots of fun especially on the ocean waves.

WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY, WE HAD NO PROBLEMS, I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL, AND RESORT TO ANYONE! GET A LIFE PEOPLE, MOST CAN FIND SOMETHING WRONG WITH EVERYTHING!!!!!! ITS WHAT YOU MAKE IT, in a lot of cases.

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