Old Reviews – BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya

  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Debbie ~ Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

May 2009

Arrival: April 24-May 1 It was fine. We arrived at 1:30 and were quickly looked after.

We started out with a standard room, but decided the second day to upgrade to a swim up suite. Best decision we made, it was incredible (2 huge closets and 2 bathrooms!) and increased our enjoyment of our vacation ten-fold! The room was gorgeous and we pretty much had our pool to ourselves.

Restaurants and Bars:
The food was the only thing we were disappointed in. The food is definately not five star, more like three star. Very bland and frankly not very good. We tried a few of the a la carte restaurants but had problems getting reservations, even for the next night. We would check them out anyhow, and they were never more than 30% full. Don’t understand why we couldn’t get reservations.

The beach was fine, a bit of seaweed in the water but otherwise it was beautiful.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
No tours but we did check out real estate in the area, you can get some nice places for reasonable prices.

Other Comments:
We were there during the swine flu situation, and all that I can say is that it was exaggerated hugely. We knew of no one that was sick and it didn’t even seem real until we got to the airport and saw the "thermal imaging scanner" set up. Next time, folks, don’t believe all that the media reports (ever).

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Marianne ~ OH

May 2009

Arrival: April 26- May 2
Easy and fast- no troubles checking in, and our luggage arrived to the room when we did.

We had 3 adults in a standard room, which worked out just fine. We requested a roll away so we each had our bed, plenty of room in the bathroom and a nice balcony with a view of the pool. We were in Building 7, so we were furthur from the beach, but closer to restaurants/ theater.

Restaurants and Bars: We only ate at the Festival Buffet once for dinner, and did the specialty restaurants every other night. We had breakfast and lunch at the beach cafe near the main pool- there was a lot of variety– the typical selection at a resort like this.


Mexican– this was our least favorite- the margaritas were good, but everything else was just ok. Italian– Our favorite! We actually went here twice! The menu was great and the appetizers with cheeses and meats was fabulous!! Great service here too. Steakhouse– We all enjoyed our meals here, but one minor detail that we didn’t like was that there is a "restuarant pet" white cat that roams around asking for scraps… French– really enjoyed this restaurant. The seafood soup was delicious, as was the steak. This was the hardest to get a reservation for, so I would suggest booking for the next night if possible. The reservation system was easy- we liked eating later, so we didn’t mind an 8:30 reservation. We also sat in the "lounge bar" area before dinner to enjoy a glass of champagne- there was even live music some nights- very Miami/ posh setting.


Swing bar was fun, and great service! Never had to wait for a drink! Beach Party- they have a nightly beach party from 11-1 in the VIP area of the beach. This was fun to dance on the beach with a DJ, but there was only 1 bartender to service A LOT of thirsty guests! If you’ve been to other all-inclusives, this is their version of the "disco". Sports Bar- open 24 hours, this was the spot for before and after the beach party. If you have the chance, sit in Wilber’s area. He is AMAZING! Such a great bartender- we enjoyed watching him work and he was so attentive.

As other reviews have said, the beach is a little lacking. The first few days there was sooo much seaweed coming in we didn’t even want to get in! By the end of the week the water was better and much clearer. No problem finding seats in the sun or shade. There are 2 pool areas- the main has a lot of activities and waiters to get you drinks. Our favorite was to sit in the chairs that were partially in the water. We were there while there was a bit of a health scare, so there was no problem finding a seat. The other pool was much more relaxed and smaller. It is the focus of the 6-8 buildings. We usually ended our days there after spending time at the main pool.

Other Comments:
I did want to comment on the H1N1 virus— we were there during the biggest scare and didn’t have any problems. The resort installed hand sanitizer dispensers at every restaurant. We never felt like we were in danger of catching the flu. The sad part was that while we were there, they laid off a lot of workers for the near future because of all the cancellations. Hopefully this doesn’t effect the tourism industry too much in this area because it was really helping the area to thrive!! Coming back to the US was not an issue either. We had to fill out a survey asking about symptoms and got our temp taken. As long as that was ok, you were good to go! I’ve been to 5 other resorts in this area, and I would rank this one in the middle. The staff was great and the grounds were super clean. It also didn’t hurt that we got an awesome deal— I would recommend this resort to anyone that is looking for a nice, carefree vacation!!

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Vincent ~ Montreal, QC

April 2009

Arrival: April 1 to April 7
My family and I arrived in Riviera Maya in the afternoon around 5:30 pm. We took Zoom Airlines (no longer exists) and everything worked out fine! We first got our room’s key at the reception and every one was very friendly.

Rooms were my clean, beds were comfortable (two double beds) even though I had to sleep on a sofa bed becasuse we were 4 guests. The maids were very nice people and they clean and arranged the room very nice everyday.

Restaurants and Bars
The restaurants were amazingly delicious, my favourite was the Mexican and the French because of it’s variety and flavours.

The beach was unswimable due to seaweed and rocks. The water was not clear. If you are someone who loves to spend their vacation on the beach, everyday this is not the resort for you! The pools were very nice, spacious and the pool chairs were never taken. The water was very clean and so were the grounds.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There were many activities on the resort sites. But, my family and I took a catamaran to Isla Mujeres which was an amazing island. The beach was a beautiful turquoise water with white soft sand. We also took a mini car to visit the island but unfortunately the car didn’t seem to work so we had to turn back and it was a rip off! but other than that, we also did some snorkeling which wasn’t what we expected by it wasn’t that bad! We also visited the cities of Tulum and Playa del Carmen. At Tulum, we went to this wonderful beach called Paraiso Beach which the beach is extremely unbelievable. Totally different from Blue Bay beach!!

Other Comments Overall, I would give this resort an 8/10 because of its service, rooms, pools and restaurants. The only disappointment about this hotel is that it is located at a unpleasant beach area/site. Although, our travel agent informed us that if we walked for about 15-20 mins further along the beach the water would be alot better and more pleasant. And in fact it really was alot better if you walked further down.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Amy ~ Calgary, AB, Canada

April 2009

Arrival: August 2008
Our flight (Sunwing) left and arrived on time with no problems with luggage or customs. Our only complaint would be the lack of space on the plane but there was an option of paying extra for an exit seat which had more room. Our bus taking us to all the different resorts were held up by an hour though as we waited for some people who though getting extremely drunk was more important than making it to our hotels at a reasonable time.

When we got to the hotel, we were greeted with refreshing drinks and they took our luggage away as the staff told us about the amenities in the hotel and a basic run down of how to access services at the resort.

There are carts at the resort that can make it convenient to go around, but I would not recommend waiting around for one as the time between carts does not seem consistent, especially if you’re in Building 6, 7 & 8 because those buildings are farther away from the beach. When we got to our room about an hour after arriving, our luggage still had not arrived and we had wanted to shower and change into some fresh clothes. We called the front desk and they said they would look into it. Half an hour after calling, our luggage arrived.

We were in Building 8, second floor with a view of greenery. It was very quiet which we liked and didn’t need a view of the pool. The room and bathroom was very lovely and spacious. The air-conditioning worked very well and we had no issues. The room safe was free and easy to use. The mini bar was well stocked except for one day when they must have been short staffed or extremely busy. The maid service was really impressive some days with towel swans and fancy drape designs and other days it was so so. They kept forgetting to restock the coffee and sugar. They changed our towels every day even when we put them up on the hooks to reuse.

Restaurants and Bars
The al la carte restaurants were excellent. It was not hard to make a reservation the day before either at the front desk or bottom of your building. If you forget to make a reservation, the buffet is very good with a different theme each night. The hot food was hot and the cold food was cold and we didn’t get sick except once from the French restaurant. The fresh fruit and wide selection of food is excellent. The only complaint would be the other diners who would either take too much trying to decide what to eat or would rudely cut in line when trying to get some ice cream.

The beach did have a lot of seaweed which the staff were constantly trying to clean up. The beach/water wasn’t very good. The pools were nice and seemed clean. The grounds did have mosquitos and I would recommend spraying on bug spray at night when they come out. We also saw families of anteaters on the grounds.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went on a few tours. One to Chichenitza and Xel-Ha. And my fiance went on a fishing trip.

Other Comments We would stay here again. We consider it a 4 star hotel, but if they make improvements in consistancy of good service, they could easily be a 5 star hotel. The only downside were some of the other patrons at the resort being very rude and selfish. The free internet was being abused by some families/girls but over all the resort was wonderful.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   The Rogers Family

April 2009

We booked through Sunwing and flew out of Calgary to Cancun on July 6 – 13.

Let me start by saying that we have travelled to this area on 2 other occasions and stayed in All-inclusives in Cuba and Punta Cana also.

We often read the reviews and take the bad reviews and good reviews and use them to determine what to expect. I respect both sides of the story and I am hoping to give an honest and open review of this resort .


The flight on Sunwing was early, very comfortable and friendly. A total of 15 minutes in the airport and the bus ride to the resort was easy and relaxing.


We were told that the main reception/checkin was very busy so they pulled us all into a back meeting room to give us our room keys and documentation. We were given our room keys and then salespitch about the resort’s Blue Bay Club (they will all deny it, but it IS a timeshare). We felt a bit like we had been suckered into a sales pitch.

As we had booked the Super Saver Deal through Sunwing, we received a room on the first floor of BLDG 8, furthest from the beach, but it had a nice quiet pool in the same area of the resort.


Upon exploring the resort, we were pleased with the resort itself. It had beautiful pools, and the beach was right next to the main pool so you could lay on the beach and use the pool also. The beach on this resort is as advised, it was eroded and lots of seaweed. There are very few palapas and you need to be up and get them no later than 6:30 – 7:00 a.m.

The buffets were okay, the Restaurants were great. We especially liked the French and Mexican restaurants. Reserving the restaurants was very simple. You can book for that day and the next night also, so each day we would stop by our building’s concierge and book a Restaurant for the next evening.

We found the location of our room to be very noisy, so we asked if we could move to a building closer to the beach for the last 4 nights. The reception staff was very accommodating and we were moved to Building one (Tulum).

The nightly shows very entertaining, but the late-night entertainment was limited after around 10:30 p.m.

Beware, the spa pool and workout rooms are not part of the all-inclusive. It was available for a cost of $30/per person / day.


The staff in the restaurants and generally around the resort were very friendly and ready with an “Hola”.

The concierge staff at this resort are rude. They do not seem to understand that when something goes wrong, defusing the situation only takes a warm smile and a friendly "let us help you take care of that".

On three occasions the our room door keys stopped working and we had to trek to the lobby on the other side of the resort each time to reset the keys. On the third occasion resetting the keys no longer worked and even the concierge’s master key would not work. We approached two different concierges in two different buildings to try and get the lock mechanism fixed. The concierges both indicated that someone was coming to fix the lock. After a one hour wait outside our room, we went to the concierge desk in the next building. They greeted us very rudely and we sat there and waited another 45 minutes. While waiting, the concierge then got on the phone and spoke (in spanish) to someone in the front lobby and proceeded to have a 10 minute conversation while we sat across the desk from her. Now I have to say that we tried very hard to keep a smile and keep the situation light, but we got the feeling that we were disturbing their night with our problems. I don’t speak a lot of spanish, but I did recognize some of the conversation and it was about us being impatient.

Finally someone arrived with the mechanism to reset the lock and curtly said to us "come" and we followed her. No conversation, no apologies for the delay, nothing. She reset it and said "there" and swiftly turned around and left.

We missed out on the nightly show and spent a total of 2 hours just trying to get back into our room.

The room we had also had a "phantom fan and fire detector". The fan and light seem to have a short as they would come on without being turned on. This happened several times, but we just laughed it off as a "ghost". The fire detector red lights would blink at times, stay on at times and then go off completely. When we casually mentioned our ghost, the staff did not send anyone to check to make sure it was not an electrical short or such.

We also had problems with getting our fridge re-stocked. The fridge was emptied of water the first night and even after repeated calls and visits to the concierge and the room service staff, no-one ever came. We had to buy water from the store before we headed out on an excursion by Saturday.

One night when we arrived for dinner at the Mexican restaurant and while waiting for our table, we sat in the waiting area. it was then we noticed a gardener was spraying the bushes right across from the restaurant with a bug smog. The smog floated over and took over the whole area.


Now I read these reviews often and we really hate reading reviews that are only focussing on the negative. So I do emphasize that we felt the resort was beautiful and had loads of potential to be a highly-recommended resort, but the management needs to teach some of the staff the art of dealing graciously with customers. A warm smile and a simple "we are sorry for the inconvenience" would have defused all of these situations very easily.

We will be back to the Mayan Riviera, but we will be trying a different resort.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Fritz ~ British Columbia

March 2009

Arrival: March 17 – 24
Waited in line for a few minutes but were into our room with all our luggage very quickly.

Very nice and clean. Included balcony, safe, a two sink bathroom.

Restaurants and Bars
Plenty of bars located everywhere you went. Several Buffets and 6 à la carte restaurants although 3 of these served as buffets during the day. Foods was good and the service was mostly good. Pool and beach drink service was not great, but I think that was due to the huge size of the area.

Prepare to do a lot of walking. The resort is divided into two areas with a 5 minute walk in between the areas. There are shuttles but we didn’t find them that regular. Even if your room is in the complex close to the beach you will need to walk to the other complex to go to several of the restaurants, main evening buffet, entertainment, shops or lobby. The walking is not a bad thing as the grounds are beautiful and with all the extra eating and drinking the exercise can’t hurt.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We went to Xel-Ha and Tulum. Be prepared for a very long bus ride there and back. Tulum was very worth while especially for history buffs like myself. Xel-Ha was an all-inclusive snorkel resort. If you plan to do anything extra there, like swimming with the dolphins then doing both Tulum and Xel-Ha in one day will not give you enough time to really take advantage of all Xel-Ha has to offer. If you do swim with the dolphins be aware that they provide a topnotch DVD of your swim for $50 US.

Other Comments Go for at least 10 days as it takes 2 or 3 days to figure out how it all works. We were not really ready to go home after 7 days.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Dee ~ Alberta

March 2009

Arrival: November 2008
Arrival at Cancun early after a good flight. Airport was overwhelmed by three large flights. Took over 2 hrs. to go through and get luggage. Third trip to Cancun area, never had this problem before, all trips in November

Room was nice, large, kingsize bed. They did not change the sheets our entire stay, to me that is not 5 star service.

Restaurants and Bars
Food just so so. Seafood a la carte actually burnt my lobster if you can imagine. Not enough waiters and hotel not full. Very poor selection of drinks. Not a good margarita in the whole place. Main buffet only serves wine or beer, no mixed drinks. Sports bar reaks of cigarette smoke even during the day.

Beach not a bad a some say. Only had 2 calm days. Pool is one huge down by ocean, one smaller a mile away. Almost like 2 resorts. Grounds well kept, but did smell sewage some evenings, and then they came by around 4pm and sprayed a pesticide into swamp area to kill mosquitos. At night this resort or H10 beside would burn garbage then smell was noxious and ruined many evening walks. Music at the pool was very annoying, same songs over and over.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Did not attend any shows in smoke filled theatre area. Went on catamaran tour to Isla Murelos to swim with dolphins, snorkel. It was a fantastic tour, reasonably priced with the friendliest and fun loving guide and captain. Did Ek Balam tour to Solidad and a Cenote and ranch. Very long day, Ek Balam was worth it though.

Other Comments Not the best resort. They are trying, but just miss the mark most of the time. Definately not a five star in service or amenities. Not as pushy about time share as other places however.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Jay and Sheryl ~ Kingston, Ontario

March 2009

Arrival: February 18 – 25
Arrival to Cancun was smooth with no problems. Sunwing reps were easy to find. Waited approx.1/2 hour for the bus to load and then 3 stops at other resorts before arriving at ours. Check-in was quick and took less than 15 min.

Rooms were very clean and tastfully decorated. Washrooms with granite and tile and walk-in shower only. We stayed in building 7 which is close to the lobbies, sports bar and pool but a 10-15 min walk to the beach.

Restaurants and Bars
A la carte meals were very good as was the service. Bars varied, some bartenders friendlier than others but never encountered anyone rude.

The buffet was OK with selection and quality but not that of a 5 star. Always something to eat but lacked some of the more higher end meats, cheeses and desserts.

The grounds were very well kept and lush. Pools were clean and cool the deepest being 4 ft.

Beach, Nice to sit at but if you go to the south to swim and soak in the ocean this is not the place to go. Rocky and muddy and as far as the roped off areas allowed you to go I could not get any deeper than mid-thigh. To try and swim was impossible. Very disappointing.

Some travel agencies make note of the sea weed being an issue but this was not observed during our stay.

There is nowhere within easy walking distance to swim in the ocean.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Rather low key resort for its size and the shows are typical of what you encounter at any other.

Other Comments
This resort is a fair 4 star with no real thrills. The service and staff were excellent and made up for some of the other areas it lacked.

We have been to Jolly Beach Antigua, Beaches Varadaro, Grand Paladium Mexico, Playa Tambour Costa Rica, Royal Decameron Panama, Occidental Grand Pappagayo Costa Rica and Grand Bahia Principe Ambar Punta Cana.

Based on our experience with this hotel it is a 4 star but the beach itself would be the reason not to return.

A lot of children at the resort. Appeared to have a kids club and the staff took very good care of the children from what we observed.

If you can get a good deal and enjoy the pool more than the ocean this resort should suit your needs.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Dale ~ Winnipeg

February 2009

Arrived at 11:30 am. Checked in very easily. Very efficient.

Clean, very clean. They scrubbed our room clean every day.

Restaurants and Bars
Wow the food was awesome. We tried the Mexican, Steak house and Seafood plus 2 buffets. The food and service was fantastic.

Of course the pools are cool. Nobody in the Caribean heats their pools. The pools were awesome and fun. And once again very clean, staff were cleaning the pool area and the grounds 24 hours. Very well maintained. The swing bar in the evenings was our favorite. the bartender at the swing bar was the best I have ever seen.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Lots to do on this resort.

Other Comments Do not listen to the negative comments posted anywhere. This resort is well worth it and I will go back.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Brian ~ Canada

February 2009

Arrival:Jan. 17 – 24
Sunwing late

Clean,nice,large,bed very comfortable,large shower

Restaurants and Bars
were very good, al a cart restraunts, buffet was clean and food was good,lots of choice

beach not so nice,sea weeds,murky water. pool was cool,very large, with cycles in pool for spinning.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Excaret worth visiting while on the Mayan Riviera.shopping in Playa Del Carmen 5th Ave.

Other Comments I have been to many resorts and this is a very nice one 4.5 stars

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Shirley ~ Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

October 2008

Arrival and Flight : We arrived late (about midnight on September 28/08) We were exhausted after a long day and just went to our room. Sunwing had a little mixup with seats in Calgary but it all got straightened out fairly quickly.

Rooms – The room was great. It was nice and clean with a huge bed and a large bathroom with 2 sinks. Maid service was provided twice a day.

Restaurants – The food was very good. We ate at the buffets most of the time as there was such a variety that you could have something different every night. We did eat at the Seafood Restaurant and Mexican Restaurant and they were also good.

Bars – We spent our evenings in the Sports bar & theatre. We are not really late night people so the entertainment they had was sufficient. It would have been better if there were not so many small children running around all over the place. During the day we were usually at the pool so we used that bar.

Beach and Pools : We only went to the beach once and were not impressed. However, we enjoyed our days sitting by the pool. The pools were kept clean and there was always someone on duty to clean out any debris. Grounds – The grounds were clean and well kept .

Activities and Entertainment – Some of the entertainment could be improved, but we enjoyed the shows that were offered and also the Blue Bay Band. The Miss Blue Bay contest on Thursday night was hilarious. We didn’t participate in other activities as we were there to relax.

Tours – We went to relax so we only went on one tour to Chichen Itza. It was very interesting and we had no trouble booking with the concierge at our building.

Departure and Check Out : We left in the middle of the night (3:00 AM) but we were checked out quickly and painlessly.

Conclusion : All in all we were very pleased with the resort. Food was great, drinks were great, and service was great. I am definitely considering a return visit if I can get another deal next year.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Amy ~ USA

August 2008

We had a great trip we just got back today August 14, 2008 after a five day trip. We had wonderful service and our conceriege Liz was wonderful as well. I would like to make a suggest for the Apple Representatives. Have them there more. 9-11:00 am and 3-6:00 pm was not much time especially if there alot of people booking tours.

We felt the food was great and the service was excellent as well. If you had any concerns they were there to help fix any problem there might be. They are always cleaning, sweeping, or trimming. It was a beautiful place.

Although this is nothing with the resort, I was wondering if we could ask for a small request. my son left his Nintendo DS lite in the room, which was in the Coba building in room 2207. I can describe it, along with the games that was in the system as well as the serial number. We would appreciate it if we could receive help on retrieving this item. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Claude and Annie ~ Northern Ontario, Canada

May 2008

Hi, my husband and I (30’s couple) stayed at the Blue Bay from the 28th of April to the 5th of May for our 10th year anniversary. It started out pretty bad since our flight (sky service) was delayed 12hrs! Needless to say we lost a full day. We arrived at out hotel late in the evening so everything was quite quiet at our arrival…..no special welcome drink this time….but I did receive a rose at the check in counter.

We were brought to our room promptly after checking in since we were only 7 people at our arrival. We entered a very hot muggy room…the air conditioning was broken…after maintenance attempted to fix the problem…but the air kept on shutting down, reception was quick to offer us an upgraded room…ocean view. We were very appreciative, especially since being up at the airport since 5am and now it was 2am the next morning!

So the worst of our trip was over the first day…Everything after that was great!!! Food was exceptional, buffet, steak house, Italian, French and seafood…we weren’t crazy about oriental but that’s just our taste.

Our Room (in Palenque building) was gorgeous, clean and roomy. They cleaned our room everyday and changed our towels twice daily! Couldn’t ask for more…we never needed anything. At night or early morning we could hear allot of doors slamming in the halls (loud echoes) but I guess that’s to be expected,,,not everyone’s there to sleep early and wake up late! We were away from our kids so our main goal was to RELAX and enjoy good food and drinks!

The Service at the restaurants ( Hi Jesus "waiter at the French restaurant…made us laugh!"), bar, Pool side waitress (Mary was great!) , and Lobby were all wonderful! Thanks everyone!

The Resort itself was beautifully kept and cleaned regularly. Great pool for singles and kids. The beach although was not as nice. I have to say they had people out there most of the day trying to keep up with all the seaweed but there wasn’t much they could do about it. So if you’re looking for a great beach,,,not the place you want to go. We were quite happy with the pool so it did not affect us so much.

After late dinners we would of liked to enjoy a night of entertainment but this was definitely lacking. They tried to provide such things as theatre or casino…but the crowd was too varied. With young kids from 6 and up to adults around the bar, it just felt odd and unappealing.

We would most definitely return to the area but not necessarily this resort….it was relaxing but after days of lounging in the sun, drinking and eating…we would of enjoyed a little more adult geared evening entertainment once or twice in our week.

All in all this is what I would rate the Blue Bay in separate categories out of 10.

Cleanliness: — 10
Food: — 10
Staff: — 9
Room: — 9
Pool: — 8 (would of been nice to have a deeper section of water)
Beach: — 3
Entertainment daytime: — 8 (we did not really participate,,,we just relaxed!)
Entertainment evening: — 5 (we found it lacked adult environment! Their were little kids in the bar section at 11:00pm and later!)

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Brent ~ Windsor, ON

March 2008

This was our second visit to Mexico with this being the first time to the Mayan Riviera. We booked thru Apple Vacations 5 Apple Square Deal meaning we never found out which resort we would stay at until we arrived at our departure airport.

The facilities, rooms and weather were absolutely beautiful with little to no construction interruptions. The resort is very large and spread out with three pools with one located near the back of the facility (surrounded by 3 – 3 storey Apartment Bldgs) which requires a 5 minute walk to the lobby and another 10 minute walk to the other two pools which are located on the beach (surrounded by 4 other additional Apartment Bldgs), this is where most of the daytime action takes place. The sidewalks were very large but with guests constantly needing to turn around and get out of the way of the “staff on golf carts” buzzing to and from buildings carting luggage and towels with the smell of raw fuel it didn’t make the walk very scenic or enjoyable.

We are usually "glass half full" type of travelers but my wife and I agreed that we probably wouldn’t visit this resort again in the future simply for three reasons: 1) We were displeased with the food which seemed bland and nearly everything fried. 2) The entertainment people were friendly and personable and seemed to try real hard but the night time shows were quite poorly put together and 3) There were a few bartenders which made you feel like it was a bother to serve you and came across as being rude.

“No Swim-up Bar” which at most resorts is a great place to meet other couples and/or mingle with others.

We did however talk to some travelers which said it was one of the best resorts they have been to….so if you already booked the vacation here it will probably be fine, but if you still deciding try the Dominican Republic – Rui Taino. We generally also compare all the resorts we vacation at back to one we were very impressed with in every way.

“Happy Traveling and Enjoy the time off of work and the gorgeous Sun”.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Bill & Liz ~ Kitchener, ON

March 2008

Arrived back from the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda on March 2, 2008. Nice resort, great food in the buffet and the a la carte . Great pool near the beach and beach buffet is close by for lunch and breakfast. Some bartenders need a lesson in servicing guests and they might get more tips. Never had a problem with wait staff in any of the eating spots. A dollar tip goes a long way to better service in most cases. Sandy beach is great, ocean is muddy. Warning, long pants are required in the buffet near reception as it is an enclosed area along with the French, Oriental and Italian. Shorts are OK for the Seafood and Steakhouse a la carte restaurants as they are open air. Unusual but ok with me. No swim up bar. Rooms near the main pool are best but a 5 min. walk is needed to get to the main lobby and theatre, not 15 minutes. Shuttles will pick you up if they have room. Pool chairs are at a premium and you need to mark them with something (towel or book) early (6:30) and not a lot of true shade at the pool. Palapas are available on the beach.

If you see a long line on the right of the reception, it is checkout. Do not go there. Get over to the left if you are checking in as signage for this functions is not clearly visible. Enjoy yourself, your on vacation

Had a great time anyway.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Lynn – Montreal

March 2008

Stay: Feb 23 to March 1 2008

Package: Purchased via Tripcentral from Sunwing, for $1615 tax included for a Gardenview Room.

Flight: Both flights were night flights – departing at 9:25 p.m. from Montreal and arriving in Cancun at 1:00 a.m. which meant that, with delays, finally arrived in our rooms at 4:00 a.m. If you`re unable to sleep for at least 4 hours – you`ll ruin your first day. The return flight was worse 2:00 a.m. departure, arrival in Montreal at 7:00 a.m. – utterly exhausting. There are better flights departing on Thursdays and Fridays and I will never fly at night again!

Despite purchasing extra legroom, the plane was a small 737, too hot, too cramped etc….I`ll never complain about an Airbus again. As always, however, the Sunwing crew were great!

Room: Beware if you`re purchasing a package from Sunwing – they have been assigned a building (Number 6) which is very far from the beach, at least for gardenview rooms, in the original Grand Gala section. Fortunately, we asked for an upgrade, and for a very reasonable tip, got an Ocean View Room, on the beach, right next to the main restaurant, bars and pool. Fantastic room, extremely clean – overall a beautiful hotel. We were also able to get an extended check out on the day we returned for a reasonable price as well.

Food: The food is quite good in the buffet; the à la carte restaurants are also very good, with the exception of the Seafood (need to work on service, etc….) The hotel has only been operating for 9 months or so, so they need to iron out the kinks, but I`m sure they will. We met the Manager – great guy who takes client feedback very seriously, so just let him know.

Beach: The sand is beautiful, there are plenty of chairs but the water is murky and swimming conditions were not good – high winds, choppy waters. The beach has been damaged by the storm with the destruction of a barrier reef….about 500 metres east, the water is much clearer and ok for swimming. The main pool more than makes up for the beach, however, in my opinion.

Overall, a fine 5 star resort – a little big and spread out – golf carts are needed to get to the lobby unless you want to hike for 15 minutes from the beach, but a great place and highly recommended!

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Dave ~ Ontario

March 2008

2 couples went to blue bay the end of January 2008 for one week the initial impression of the resort was great. We ate at the a la carte restaurants and the buffet, food was good. The buffet at the beach had a real bad problem with flies, if flies in your food bother you do not go there.Make sure to use the safe in your room our friends had money stolen from their dresser drawer under his clothes. The drinks at the pool bar were good but the drinks from anywhere else definetly tasted watered down. The rooms were large with a great view.

Our biggest concern was the ocean the four of us are ocean people we go to the ocean to swim in the ocean we had heard that the ocean at blue bay had problems so our travel agent phoned the resort he was told that they had a little bit of seaweed on shore but they clean it up.what an absolute lie that turned out to be the water was disgusting it was so dirty it looked like oil rolling into shore.

If you are going expecting a 5 star resort you will be very disappointed the facilities may be 5 star but the staff certainly is not.If you are going for the ocean go somewhere else.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Bob and Pat

March 2008

We arrived at the Esmeralda on feb 15th. The weather was fantastic. We checked in pretty quick and had no problems, one thing that i was surprized about though was they wanted your credit card number at check in,first ime in Mexico so i guesss it was normal, never had to give them one anywhere else i have stayed in Cuba or Dominican.

This resort was great and i would definately go back again, no need to worry everything was first class. Food was great at buffets, lots of variety and well presented. The a la cartes were good although we only went to the Italian and Seafood, the seafood had a fantastic surf and turf.

The rooms were very comfortable and large, lots of closet space and drawers, a huge walk in shower, fridge stocked up regularly. And if you were hungry in the late hours you can have room service all night, we used it the first night as we arrived late, the food was satisfying.

The pool was huge and lots of towels and lounge chairs available,people always bringing drinks to you, service was great.

The beach was the only negative i can give to this resort but i was told that most beaches around the area all have had problems with their beaches.

The tours we went on was to the coba ruins and we spent the day going through a mayan village and visiting a mayan family.Be sure to bring something for the kids there if you go such as pencils or writing pads, candy etc. they will appreciate it very much.

Also if you go to playa del carman a taxi ride is fairly reasonable at 14.00 us each way. a must as there are plenty of souveniers there.

I would highly recomend this resort to anyone, but if you are going for the beach Cuba in my mind is still number one, but if you want comfort and great food this is the place.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Arne ~ Toronto

March 2008

Arrival – Pretty smooth from the plane through to arrival at the hotel. The check-in process took a while, but there were a lot of arrivals all at once. The ladies got a rose upon arrival for Valentine’s Day.

Rooms – Excellent. Comfortable beds and quality bedding – without the usual bleach smell of standard North American hotels. And hey – no crappy "polar fleece" blankets either, just airy comforters! Balcony was a good size with two chairs and a table. Bathroom was excellent, with two sinks, a wall-mounted shower head, as well as a handheld. Always kept clean. Quality toiletries and towels were also supplied. Large mirrors were handy, as was the free in-room safe. A/C and ceiling fan were effective to keep a comfortable temperature.

Restaurants – Excellent. We didn’t try all but the ones we did (4) were first-rate. Lots of selection in the main buffet restaurant. Great service by the hard-working staff. (Please be sure to tip them.)

Bars – Main beach/pool bar was excellent. These guys were kept busy the whole day long. Sports bar was good, with interesting onyx stone lighting.

Beach and Pools – Excellent pools. Very clean, good temperature. Lots of sunning chairs, though getting a shady spot could be a challenge on some days.

Beach was sandy; washed-up debris was regularly removed by staff. Swimming wasn’t the best – too many rocks. Try the beach next door at the H-10 resort.

Grounds – Beautiful. Stone paths lead to all your destinations. Despite disrespectful guests who left their drink glasses along the paths, staff did a great job of keeping the grounds clean. Several flowering shrubs could be seen along the paths. Never got to the jogging trail, but will definitely look for it next time. The pool areas were always in great shape at the start of the day.

Activities – Lots available but we didn’t participate in any this time.

It would be great if they had bikes available.

If you have kids, be sure to check out the kids center. The staff there are super, and the kids love being there. It’s free too.

Tours – Didn’t do any, but visited Playa del Carmen, both at night and during the day. Well worth the taxi fare (28 USD return).

Conclusion – Excellent resort!!! We really enjoyed our stay: great food, great staff, super facilites. We’ll definitely consider this place again next year. First-rate!

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Denny

February 2008

We visited this resort first week of Februay 2008. Everything was excellent, from the food, service, people, etc. No complaints, a definite 5 star establishment. Would visit again.

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  BlueBay Grand Esmeralda Riviera Maya   Cori

February 2008

We had a great time at the BBGE!!

I was just at the BBGE from January 17th to January 24th. I was very concerned about what I would find at the resort after reading all of the terrible reviews from the Christmas/New Years holiday period. Fortunately, my fears turned out to be groundless as the resort has clearly overcome the majority of the problems from the holidays which apparently primarily arose because the resort tripled in size at around the same time (290 rooms to 980 rooms). In short, we had a great holiday and really enjoyed the resort. The only problems we had amounted to minor inconveniences like you will find at any other all inclusive resort. I have stayed at number of all inclusive resorts, all 4 and 5 star, and as a result don’t have unrealistic expectations. I don’t expect the same service/amenities I would get at the Four Seasons but I’m also not paying 5 times the money either. On the other hand, I am pretty picky and don’t hesitate to insist that problems be rectified where appropriate but there was no need to waste any of my vacation on this trip parked on the manager’s door with complaints this time. I also asked a lot of the guests we met at the resort how they liked it and virtually everyone was quite happy with the BBGE.

When we arrived at the resort we were welcomed with a glass of fresh juice in a champagne glass and each female guest received a red rose. We arrived at 11:30 a.m. and not surprisingly our room wasn’t ready yet. It was ready within two hours. I was quite happy to discover that at the BBGE you don’t get a wrist band.

Our room was a standard garden view overlooking the second pool in the new section in the Bonampak building. The room was beautiful although I wouldn’t describe it as overly large. The bathroom was just gorgeous with two sinks and a huge shower with a very large shower head at one end and a second hand held shower head at the back with a bench seat. We always had hot water and loads of towels. There was a basket of nice bath products when we arrived which was restocked during our stay as needed. It was a nice surprise to find that the safe in the room was free (that was a first for me). The mini-fridge contains pop, sparkling water, juice and two different kind of beer (Sol and Superior). It was restocked every day. We also got 2 large bottles of water each day. There were two very nice thick robes in the room, 4 cup coffee maker, and a flat screen tv (but who wants to watch tv in paradise??). My only complaint about the rooms was that the walls are apparently pretty thin because you can hear any activity in the hallway (again, a common problem at all inclusive resorts I’ve been to in the past). Each building has it’s own separate concierge which was great.

I expected that the rooms would all have wireless internet connection but that was not the case. Apparently the wireless for all of the rooms should be up and running soon. There is a computer room in the lobby which is free for guest use (another nice bonus as lots of resorts charge to use the computers) and you can get a wireless connection both in the lobby and the sports bar. We often took the laptop to the sports bar to check e-mails and had a drink at the same time before dinner.

With the expansion there are now 3 buffet restaurants for breakfast and lunch, one beside the lobby, one beside the main pool/beach and one at the new pool. The lobby restaurant is entirely enclosed, the beach restaurant is partially enclosed and the new pool buffet is entirely open. We tried the buffet at each and the food was good each time. Some times the food wasn’t as hot as I would have liked but that’s a common problem with buffets I guess. The lobby buffet is also open for dinner. There are now 6 a la carte restaurants at night to choose from (Italian, French, Mexican, steakhouse, Oriental and Mediterranean). We tried the steakhouse, Italian, French, and Mediterranean and enjoyed them all. There is no limit on the number of a la carte dinners you can have which is not the case at a lot of all inclusives so that was a bonus. We had no difficulty booking the restaurants. You can book the day before with the concierge in your building or the head concierge at the main lobby (either in person or by phone). We usually booked in person with our concierge as we walked out to go to breakfast each morning. I don’t like to eat late and we had no problem getting in to the two early dinner sittings. In most cases we did not have to wait for a table for meals. I think we waited for a couple of minutes once or twice. The service was always great at all of the restaurants when we were there. You were usually offered a glass of champagne when you arrived at any of the restaurants which is a nice touch.

As far as bars go, I counted 5. There is a swing bar at one end of the large pool beside the beach and another bar at the other end of the pool. The large pool also has a couple of servers who will serve you at the chair around the pool. There is also a bar at the second pool. The sports bar which is quite large is open 24 hours. There is also a bar between the French and Italian restaurants which I believe is only open at night. It has a beautiful outdoor area with couches and small pools (moats??) with stones in them. The only real complaint I heard from people at the resort was about having to wait sometimes at the bars for drinks. I had to line up quite a few times for drinks but the waiting time usually wasn’t that bad. I never went without a drink (and usually ordered two at a time). They could use a few more bartenders and servers around the pool/beach area .

The entertainment at night is now at the large theatre area which is attached to the sports bar. I only saw part of two shows but it appeared to be the typical all inclusive resort type performances.

The pools are both great. The bigger one right beside the beach is quite large with some interesting features. The pool water was no colder than at any other resort. The temperature was perfect for the hot weather and there were always lots of guests in the pool. The beach was just beautiful and you could walk forever to the south of the resort along the beach. The water in front of the resort is mostly not clear due to silt (which I understand has something to do with draining from the mangroves in the area). It’s definitely not the beautiful blue water you will see at Playa del Carmen for example but it’s not gross either. I have stayed at resorts on the Pacific Ocean side and the water isn’t clear there either. I walked out into the ocean many times and the bottom was mostly sandy and there was no seaweed so I gather you could swim if you want. The resort next door is the new H10 complex and the beach there isn’t as nice because it has a huge concrete retaining wall. The water clarity does get better the further south you walk and it is possible to swim a short walk down the beach in clearer waters if you want.

When we first arrived at the resort there weren’t nearly enough lounge chairs around the main pool. Within a couple of days a huge truck load of new chairs were delivered and lots of new chairs were put at the main pool and on the beach. With the influx of new loungers we had no difficulty finding a chair each day although the pool area is very busy.

The resort on the whole is quite beautiful and everything was spotlessly clean. Our room was in the new section closer to the lobby. We were able to walk to the beach in about 5 minutes and it was actually convenient to be close to the lobby, sports bar, gift shop and most of the restaurants. There are also shuttles running back and forth around the resort. We rarely used them but they seemed to be running reasonably frequently.

The staff we talked to were all wonderful and they went out of their way to be helpful at all times.

Contrary to earlier reports, we didn’t smell anything bad at the resort. The only time I smelled anything was when we were walking out the long driveway to the highway to catch a collectivo. There was some kind of smell in the wooded area we walked by but we never smelled it while at the resort.

The resort offers the usual excursions for the area on site. It is also only a short trip into Playa del Carmen by either taxi (for $14) or collectivo. We had a great time spending an afternoon and evening in Playa del Carmen where we did some shopping and had dinner at a beach restaurant.

In conclusion, I would recommend this resort. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed all of the amenities the resort had to offer.

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Grand Gala Esmeralda Beach Resort Ron ~ Shediac Bridge, N.B.

March 2007

Traveled to the GGE for a one week stay, beginning the 6th of March. We departed Halifax, early Tuesday morning, arriving around 10:30 local time.

Make sure that you carefully READ the instructions for filling out your visa card.

We travelled with Conquest and locally with Lomas Tours. Beer is 2.50 on the bus. The drive to the GGE from the airport is aprox 2 beers (30 min).

Arrived around 11:30 and did not expect a room to be ready. Surprise! We checked-in in about 5 min. tops. The Bellboy loaded our bags onto the golfcart bus and took us to our room—#2304 Coba building.

Deluxe room with 2 beds, chair, bureau, tv, ac, fan, room safe, ironing board, umbrella, full bath with hair dryer. Fantastic view from the balcony of the beach, pool area and Cozumel off to the south.

Quite a variety and very tasteful. Something to satisfy all comers. Sometimes the food could have been hotter but it is a buffet after all.The three A La Carte restaurants we found to be all very good. One can eat breakfast in the Italian A La Carte, no reservation required. While we were there, the buffet opened near the Lobby, which signifies that the beach buffet is now only open for lunch.

The gem of the resort. Very large and clean. It is only 4ft deep. Lounge chairs, on a ledge in the water. There are also some exercise bikes in the pool. Waiters continually prowl the pool area to bring you your drink(s).

Weak point at the moment., Murky water and bottom. We would go swimming at the H-10 next door but their water and beach weren’t much better. Cuban beaches have this area of the Riviera beat hands down. Lot’s of chairs, palapas and palms. Never a problem to find a seat. Waiters also prowl the beach to brings you your preferred libation.

Excellent and very accomodating. Everyone worked very hard to make our stay at the hotel a most enjoyable time. Never heard any stories of theft from the rooms of of hassles with staff.

The resort is fairly large hence the use of golfcart buses to ferry people who do not wish or cannot walk the required distances. They travel about the resort continously. We walked alot, yet still managed to pack on some unwanted pounds.

Check-out was very efficient and quick with no delays whatsoever.

The GGE is still expanding. Three more room buildings are being built, another pool with artificial beach is in the works, a new fitness centre and theatre are all scheduled for completion for next season. When this is all completed the GGE will truly be quite the spot.

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Grand Gala Esmeralda Beach Resort JG

March 2007

Just returned from Grand Gala Esmeralda in the Mayan Mexico. A little disappointed. Resort is not what we would consider a 5 star. Rooms were 5 star but that was all. Food 3 star, always the same. Service was ok at best. Biggest disappointment was the fact they do not have any central point for meeting people other than the buffet restaurant. No pool bar, lobby bar or any place to hang out and meet people. If you want a quiet resort with nothing to do this is the place for you.

Went to the disco one night and we were the only 2 couples there.

We have been to many 5 star properties over the last 10 years and this is the worst and we would not return.

This is the first review I have sent, but felt it had to be said to ensure other people don’t make the mistake we did taking a new resort because it looked good on the internet.

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Grand Gala Esmeralda Beach Resort Ted & Kelly ~ Regina, Canada

January 2007

I find that all these reviews require a bit of context from the travelers. Some people are expecting more than others, or have different opinions on what a good vacation is. My husband and I (ages 39 & 47) have traveled a fair amount between the two of us – Jamaica, Hawaii, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, DR and Varadero, Cuba. We have found that we don’t want super fancy hotels – we really just want to relax in a clean room, eat decent meals and do as many excursions as possible so that we have a better understanding of our host country. We have come to expect that the food will not taste like what we’re used to, and the differences in culture may mean that there are some inconveniences. Isn’t that why we travel – to rest and experience other countries?

Flight – We flew with Signature Vacations via SkyService from Regina, direct to Cancun and it was a good flight. It was an older plane, so no tv screen on the back of the seat in front of you, however there were screens on the ceiling where they showed two movies ($5 for a headset). The flight was full with Regina people so it was a bonus that we didn’t need to stop in Saskatoon at all. The only thing that’s free on these flights is pop/water/coffee, etc. and a boxed meal. In our case this was a breakfast “burrito” on the way there and a cheese quesadilla on the way back – with a couple of other small things. It wasn’t very good but fortunately we had taken some snacks along with us for the 4 hour flight.

Arrival –Getting through Immigration and Customs was fairly easy – it was getting our luggage that took forever. The bus ride to our hotel (which is near Playa del Carmen) took about an hour and the bus was air conditioned and comfortable. We were in this area 10 years ago and wow – has it ever changed! It used to be a nice village atmosphere but now even the highway is double lanes with lighting all the way down the highway and development was everywhere. Checkin was quick and easy and the staff was courteous and helpful. They even gave us a Junior Deluxe Suite with a Jacuzzi on the balcony, which we hadn’t expected.

Hotel – The buildings are brand new of course. The lobby wasn’t anything fancy and there is quite a distance between the lobby building and the buildings containing the hotel rooms. These buildings are the Coba, the Uxmal and the Labna. We started out in the Coba, which is closest to the bar, lounge and restaurant. We faced the beach – in number 4301. It was truly beautiful with a beautiful view. It had a king sized bed, 2 tvs, 2 bathrooms, a table and chairs and a pullout couch. The electronic safes that are in each room were awesome – you just enter you own code and no one can get in. No worrying about keys either. All was great until the evening. Since we were so close to the lounge/disco we couldn’t get any sleep. It starts at 11:00 and goes until 2:00 or so and is very loud. So as much as we loved the room we needed to move to something quieter.

We requested anything quieter and ended up in a regular room in the Uxmal building. It was fine – just smaller – and was farther from the disco, so we could sleep! And those beds are wonderful! We slept very soundly for the rest of the week.

Kids – We did not have children with us, but we noticed them everywhere… from tiny babies to older kids. There seemed to be enough for them to do. There was a “Kids Centre” with a playground and small pool which was fully enclosed. At the buffet there always seemed to be some kid friendly food.

Food – Of all the trips we’ve done, this probably had the best food. And we didn’t even get a chance to try the a la carte restaurants! I’m afraid we can never plan far enough in advance to make the reservation and know that we would be at the resort, so we never did. Everything we ate was either in the buffet restaurant of from room service – yes, room service! It was wonderful to be able to do that when you get back late from an all day excursion and you’re too tired to drag yourself down to the restaurant.

Beach – The beach was probably our biggest disappointment. And after reading other reviews of this resort I was prepared for it. We are 100% beach people and so we were sad to see all the seaweed on the beach – not only that, but the bottom was muddy so you didn’t even want to walk in far enough so that you could go for a swim. So we didn’t. We sat at the beach a few times and walked down the beach, but never swam in it, although lots of chairs are provided and if they ever get enough sand to cover the bottom it’ll be nice. There were workers out there everyday gathering up the seaweed, but I think they could do that everyday for many years and never solve the problem.

Pool – We’re not really pool people, but we were forced to sit there because of the beach conditions. We sat on the loungers in the 6 inch deep water and dangled our toes until we wanted to actually swim. It was great! The pool was huge and there were more than enough loungers for everyone.

Weather – Very nice. There were a couple of days where the weather network forecasted showers, but as is the case in the Caribbean, the clouds were mostly welcomed because it was so hot, and if it did shower it was only for a couple of minutes and then cleared up.

Nightlife – There was nightly entertainment in the theatre (near the lobby), which started at 10:00 p.m. and we never made it there so I can’t say anything about it.

Tours – Since we had been in this area 10 years ago, we really knew a lot about what would be available. We spent one day in the town of Playa del Carmen ($12 US or $120 pesos for a cab ride there). It used to be a nice town, but now its more of a tourist trap.

We also took a ferry from Playa over to Cozumel. We ended up on the Ekonoline Ferry ($4.50 US), instead of the faster one, so it took longer to get there but we could sit in the open air and it was cheap. San Miguel seems like a nice small town. We took a cab to Paradise Beach Club ($13 US). Entry into the club is free and they provided snorkeling equipment (bring id), restaurant, bar, “iceberg” climbing for the kids, etc. We went back into San Miguel and had supper and did some shopping. We will probably come back here to stay for a week sometime.

We did the Coba Jungle Tour ($85 US) which includes a visit to a Mayan Village, Cenote swimming and the Mayan Ruins of Coba. My husband thought the village was a waste of time, but I liked it. The cenote swimming was fun although you’re not there very long. By the time we got to Coba’s ruins it had clouded over and was threatening rain. We started off on the walking tour (about 3 miles but you can rent bikes or get rides), and it started to pour. We were 1/3 of the way there and there was no place to take shelter from the jungle downpour so we all decided to keep walking. By the time we got to the pyramid we were all soaked but some people still wanted to climb it. All in all it was a good tour, but having done Tulum we were a little disappointed. We thought that Chitchen Itza was too far but maybe we will do that next time.

We also decided to return to Xcaret ($89 US) because we liked it so much last time. I still think its worth every penny. Be prepared to get there early and spend all day there. The night show was spectacular and is worth staying for – we hadn’t last time around. If you’re going to go, my advice would be to walk around the whole place first and visit everything you want to see before donning your swimsuit and floating down the river or doing the underground snorkeling, swimming with dolphins or snorkeling in the inlet. We wanted to take the boat tour out to a reef to snorkel but it was too windy and the tour was cancelled. (This would have been an extra cost).

Note to all who take tours: It seems that most places outside of the hotel zone do not have toilet seats or toilet paper! Ladies, you might want to ensure you have a package of Kleenex with you at all times.

Overall – We could have stayed for another week easily. The hotel was fabulous. Are there things they still need to do? Yes. But they’re small. And don’t worry about the fact that this hotel is not 100% completed…I think there was one day that I noticed some jack hammering somewhere, but overall it didn’t bother me at all… We loved it!

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Grand Gala Esmeralda Beach Resort Jeanne ~ Canada

January 2007

We were at the GGE from Jan 4-18th. We are a family with a 4 & 9 year old that has done a lot of traveling as a family. I will give more of a family point view.

Flight– We flew with Skyservice and were very impressed with the legroom this year, much better than in previous years. My husband is 6ft and was very comfortable in the seats. Do your kids a favor and order the kids meals ahead of time. I know our kids were much happier with the chicken fingers & potatoes than they would have been with the quesadillas. If you are a family with young kids and want to make sure you sit together book your seats on the way home before you leave. Everyone arrives at the Cancun airport at the same time and the line can be very long. There’s always a chance you wouldn’t get seats together.

Rooms– The rooms are very nice. We asked for a cot but had to wait a few days to get one. There is no charge for them and they fit nice in the corner of the room. Our kids slept much better having their own beds. We had a room in the newest building 4 and we didn’t have a tub in it as advertised. They have a huge walk in shower with glass doors and a bench in it. It was great for us but some kids need a tub, so make sure to ask at check in if that’s what you want. They have a huge closet that easily fit all our stuff. The mini fridge was also great, refilled everyday. They had water, pop, sparkling water, beer, and juice boxes. You could request certain things if you wanted.

The room service was also an excellent thing. Our kids would get hungry while we were getting ready for the evening and they loved the clubhouses & fries. The service was usually there in 20 mins.

Restaurants– We really enjoyed the food in all the restaurants. We were there 2 weeks and were never tired of the food.

For breakfast they had an omelet station and fresh made pancakes & French toast. They also had nice crisp bacon and other choices, cereal in little boxes (fruit loops, frosted flakes, raisin bran,etc.). For the kids that wanted peanut butter they also had that! They also have a wide variety of fresh juices & pastries & yogurts.

I find it funny when people complain about having the same thing all the time. They always had a variety of your choice of beef, chicken, fish and pork at lunch & supper. If that wasn’t enough they always had the pasta station that was made your way while you waited. They also had a grill for hamburgers & hotdogs and steak most meals. They also always had fresh pizza. I do agree that the food could have been warmer most meals. They also do have it set up weird with the buffet food separated by the grill and pasta station. Just changing the order of the stations would really speed up the lines. They have a wonderful salad station that changes all the time. We found the selection and variety to be wonderful. The food was tasty but not spicy, even the Mexican food. The spicier sauces were to the side if you wanted. No they didn’t have signs on some of the food but most was easy enough to figure out. If not there were always cooks behind you could ask. We never had a problem with being sick.

If you have an ice cream lover in the family it is excellent, you just have to ask for it.

The A La Cartes– They were all excellent. You make the reservations with the concierge the day before or that day. If you have kids under 12 you can only have reservations from 6 till 7:15. The only one my kids didn’t like was the French restaurant. It was our favorite but the kids found it too fancy. They also found the chairs at the table very uncomfortable, which they are, they are high and your legs go numb. Do yourself a favor and ask to be seated at the counter. They have a different menu everyday and they don’t have any special kid’s meals. We went 3 times and both had different meals and thoroughly enjoyed every one. If you wanted to try 2 things you are more than welcome to try it.

The Italian and Mexican have set menus that you can check out at the concierge. My husband and 9 year old both thought the lasagna was the best they have ever tasted. You could have shrimp at the Mexican or Italian and they are excellent! We really enjoyed the variety that was available.

Kids Club– This was a major factor for us booking this resort was because of the hours offered by the kids club, 10:00am to 11:00 pm. We were very disappointed to find out when we got there that the kids club was only open from 10-2 than 3-5. We met the Signature rep. Donna right away to discuss this. She was very helpful by phoning Signature right away and informing them of the discrepancy. She than contacted the head of entertainment and asked why the club wasn’t opened as advertised. Of course they give you the regular BS about no that’s not advertised to no one has requested it, to it’s been open since Jan 1st. When we called them on all of it they said they would look into it. Donna was very helpful on phoning them everyday until on January 9th when they finally opened the hours as promised. This was one of the major problems we had with the resort. We had phoned Signature before we booked to confirm the times of the kids club and we had also checked out the resorts website that stated the same thing twice.

Our main reason for wanting the hours as advertised was not wanting to take the kids to the a la cartes. As I thought they did not enjoy taking so long to eat. Once the kid club opened for the evening we both enjoyed our evenings more. The club was open from 10-5 than 7-11. They would take the kids to the buffet for supper than back to the club to play games or watch TVs. They would than take the kids to the evening entertainment. We would give our kids the option of coming with us but they always picked the kids club.

They have a real nice kid’s pool with slide right at the kids club. The only bad thing about it is that it’s not fenced off by the pool. They take 2 year olds at the club but they only have 1 building for the 2 – 12 year olds. Sometimes if there were a lot of older kid’s things could get a little rowdy for the little ones. I have left my kids before at kids club when they were 2 but I’m not sure I would at this one. If your little one tends to wander away and likes the pool it could be a problem.

There were 4 girls that worked at the club when we were there, and 3 of them are Canadian. They are all very good with the kids. They have a couple of beds/cribs for the little ones for naps in an air conditioned room. The main room is open but with a roof. They also have a room with 6 big TV’s and 3 PS2. In the evening they would sometimes watch DVDs. They would do crafts, bingo, play games, soccer and play in the pool during the day.

The day we left they were opening the mini kitchen in the club. They were going to get food delivered to the club so they wouldn’t have to go to the buffet. Eventually the club will be awesome when they get all the things going as advertised. The head of entertainment said they would be adding a climbing wall, bouncy castle, race track, etc. Who knows how long that will take to happen?

All in all once the club was opened as promised the club was great, I just wish it would have been opened as advertised right from the start. Signature changed the info right away on the website.

Concierge– The concierge has most of the info that you want. You can go in person to book or you can phone them from 7:00am. They also know what the evening entertainment is and what the theme for the buffet is that night. You can also arrange with them if someone has a special occasion while there. For my birthday they arranged for a birthday cake. They are the ones that you are supposed to give your complaints to. This is one thing that the resort could really use is a public relations desk, we found the concierge useless on this regard.

Pools– The pools are great for the kids. It’s huge so it’s never crowded. They have a volleyball net, basketball net (in pool), boogie boards that you can borrow. The kid’s pool is very shallow and divided from main pool. It makes it very easy to watch little ones. There are a lot of lounge chairs, tables, chairs & shade around the pool. They had opened the beach bar the last day we were there. The only complaint about the pool was that for most of our holiday the wait by the kid’s part of the pool for a waiter to serve drinks was over an hour. It was very inconvenient for single parents watching the kids to get a drink for them or their kids. Once the bar opened right beside the kid’s pool I’m sure it will improve 100%. There is also a bathroom in the building by the kid’s pool that no one knows about. It saves a very long walk when your little one has to go.

Beach—It’s not any worse than the ones beside. There are a lot of lounge chairs and shade. They are still cleaning it all the time. We were told you should wear water shoes in the water. Our kids are not beach kids so it wasn’t a big deal. They had fun playing in the sand. There was only an odd smell for a few minutes one day, no big deal. We never noticed it at all around pool or restaurant.

Property— there isn’t much for flowers or big trees but that’s expected at a new resort. There are swamp areas with mangroves everywhere. There are only a few mosquitoes; they spray everyday around 5:00. They told us that the chemicals are all natural since they are beside an ecological area. My son & I have asthma and the smell never bothered us.

They added a bunch of tables &chairs by the beach bar. They have umbrellas and a lot of people where using this area to play cards. They also added a bunch of table & chairs on the outside of the restaurant.

Entertainment—they have to get better organized in the entertainment area. Nothing is really advertised. The cirque & magic show are both very good, don’t miss them.

They also added chairs & tables and a bunch of games in the theater area. They have 2 computers with free internet access. It’s great that it’s free as long as people don’t hog the computers.

Signature rep– There has been a lot of comments made about the rep, we thought she was one of the best we’ve ever had. She was the only reason that the kids club opened as advertised. She was a great help when booking trips. I suggest you go for the meeting to get the information the 1st morning it’s really worth it. She was great help for people when booking trips if they had to cancel. We heard of complaints from people that had booked with others. We saw her try to help people that had things taken from their room. We followed up for people that had things taken and saw her phone the hotel head of security and get the run around from them. She is trying her best. People are frustrated with the lack of good management at the resort and are taking it out on her. She does not represent the hotel there are only certain things she can do.

Thefts—There were at least 4 thefts that happened while we were there. Some were just from the room and a couple were from their locked safes. The head of security knew about the problem but wasn’t much help. The Signature rep Donna was letting Signature know about the major theft problem and she wasn’t going to let it drop.

Overall we really enjoyed our time at the GGE. I think it depends on how much people have paid on how much they will complain. If they paid a 5* price and have stayed at 5* before they are expecting a lot more. We paid 3* price so we weren’t expecting as much.

We were very happy for the price we paid. Our kids had a great time.

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Grand Gala Esmeralda Beach Resort Virginia ~ Canada

December 2006

I am a Canadian female, 38 years old and traveling by myself for the first time. My priorities for this vacation were rest, decent food and more rest. I was not interested in a big party atmosphere. This resort seemed well suited for that.

Greetings at the Mexican airport were very good – as long as you made it thru to the appropriate rep. If you’ve never traveled to Cancun before, a word of advice (which I received from a very nice couple on the plane) – just find your tour rep! Don’t speak to anyone or let anyone sell you anything or take your bags from you before finding your rep!! A couple that had just arrived booked a tour with someone selling tour packages in the airport, and gave their credit card information AND a cash deposit and their “tour guide” never showed up.

The drive to the resort was good; about a 1 hour drive, once the other hotels were dropped off along the way. Cervesas were $3.00 USD each if you wanted any on the bus ride. Our rep gave everyone an info package and good vacation tips along the way.

Upon arrival at about noon, we were advised that rooms were not ready until 3:00pm – this is standard. Remember to keep a bathing suit or a change of clothes in your carry on, so you can sit by the pool, the beach or the bar in more comfort. Have a little lunch, have a little drink and “presto”, you’re on vacation!!

Service: Overall was very good; staff was friendly, helpful and accommodating throughout the week. I ordered Room Service twice (not feeling so hot one day, and came in after 10:00pm another night).

Buffet: I thought that the variety of food was somewhat limited, but decent quality and flavour. The first day of breakfast, they had run out of water, therefore they ran out of coffee for a short period of time (about 20 minutes); while this wasn’t a huge issue for me, there were some other patrons that were VERY unhappy about not getting their caffeine fix first thing!! I was surprised to see canned pineapples and canned peaches as an offering on the second day of breakfast.

A la Carte Restaurants: There are 3 of them – French, Italian and Mexican. Unfortunately, not all of them are open every night. Some nights, two of three were opened and the last couple of nights, only the Italian was open. This was disappointing, if you didn’t think to ask at the beginning of the week to see which would be opened when, as I dined a la carte three nights, and would have liked to try all three.

L’Atelier: The French restaurant is very nice; high tables for larger parties and a long “bar” type of seating, similar to a sushi bar, where you can watch the chefs in the open kitchen prepare your food. Smaller parties are seated along this bar. The food was delicious, prepared and presented very nicely; I felt that overall, this restaurant was excellent. However, what is listed in their menu is not always what you receive! A couple sitting next to me each ordered one of the two “salads” that were offered – a Duck Mousse and Mussels Mousselini. When the server presented them, they questioned which was which, and ended up trading, being assured that the one offering was duck. As I had ordered the duck, I made note of this transaction. When mine was presented, it was not what the server had told the couple next to me. I questioned it, and the dish was immediately swapped, being assured that THIS was the duck. As I dove into it, I discovered a mussel – no problem for me, but a serious faux pas for someone with allergies to seafood!!!! I advised the server, who offered to trade back, but I had tasted it, and advised that I would stick with it; I just wanted to make him aware that it definitely was NOT duck!! He seemed not concerned at all, and was just happy that I would keep the mussel dish – and it was delicious; I was just surprised that he seemed so unconcerned about which was which!! As well, the dessert, which was Chocolate Opera with Caramel was actually White Chocolate (again, delicious), but the lady sitting on my other side wouldn’t touch it – “blanco es mui differente!!” – and she traded for the other dessert (which was brought to her immediately). Overall, if you are OK with surprises (which I am!), everything really was delicious!!

Italian (I don’t know the name of this one!): Wow!! This was great! The “salad bar” could hardly be called that – it was a feast of appetizers! Everything from the kitchen seemed well presented, and the service was very good. I dined with a couple, and we were all well pleased with our meals; I chose a beef entree, and was a little sad that we had to choose between “entrees” OR “pastas”; I would have liked some pasta with my entrée of beef!! I went once more (as it was the only a la carte open this final evening), and was relatively pleased with the pasta that I ordered; I requested a “rose” sauce, combining the alfredo with the tomato – tomato sauce is FRESH, and quite lovely. Short and sweet, as there is nothing more to be said!

Night Entertainment: Movies in the Theatre every evening at 8:00pm and different live shows followed the movies every night at 10:00pm. I went to two of the shows – Comedy Night, which was put on by the resort staff, and was quite entertaining (after they got past the initial “bathroom humour”); Acrobats on the other night were OUTSTANDING!!! One of the players has just been picked up by Cirque du Soleil, and the 40 minute show really was phenomenal to see! One comment to the resort would be that it would be great to have the events POSTED outside of the theatre daily (what movie & what show); when questioned, different staff and the concierge were all at a loss for what the plan was, and if it’s something that you wanted to see, and you scheduled a later dinner, you were out of luck.

Daytime Activities: Some of the Animation Team were outstanding – here I specifically need to mention Jose Luiz, as he was an incredible motivator and very friendly – you HAVE to admire the enthusiasm that he has for his job!!!! However, Jose aside, the first couple of days, I had no idea that there actually WAS an Animation “Team”. And again, none of the activities are posted, which is a shame; if there was anything that you wanted to participate in, you had to ask and not everyone knew the schedule. And there was only one day where someone was out looking for participation.

Pool: Lovely and large! Many positives about the pool, as it had different types of “areas”, and had a ledge almost the entire perimeter for lounge chairs, as well as a swim out to a fountain, which also had lounge chair ledges. The one negative was for the first couple of days, it was FREEZING!! Too cold for even the many Canadians that were there!!

Beach: This is an area that DEFINITELY needs some work. I realize that it’s a new resort, and generally the beach is the last area to be worked on, however there was a significant amount of debris the entire time. And on the last two days, the stench coming up from the piles by the water were simply unbearable!! It smelled like raw sewage at times – and was a real stomach-turner as you caught a whiff on the way to the dining room!

Day Trips:

Sea Passion Catamaran Day Tour: I highly recommend this trip! The bus to Cancun is about an hour ride, but what an adventure out to Isla Mujeres after that; it’s about an hour ride on a beautiful catamaran that will hold up to 70 people!! We had about 45 people on our day, and it was perfect. There is a stop to snorkel along the way for about an hour. Then you arrive at the main port on Isla Mujeres (a tax free island), to be ushered through the streets to a specific shop where you are given a coupon for 20% off regular prices. This is another 1-hour stop. Very quickly after the initial shopping stop, I split off from the main group with a few other people to investigate on our own (as did all of the other groups!) We found some good finds – but they do not barter quite as much here, as I understand they do in Playa del Carmen or Cancun. However, before bartering, they DO tend knock off the first 20% at most places, because you are with “a tour”. Anyway, then it’s back on the catamaran and a quick ride over to a private beach for a great buffet lunch, and a lounge around a beautiful pool or on the beach. This stop lasts some time (I’ve lost track by now!) for sheer relaxation purposes. An hour ride back from Isla Mujeres to Cancun, while the sun sets, and the day is done! Ah – the requisite Tequila Poppers occur during the ride back – be careful, as these can really sneak up on you!!

Xcaret: Lots to see! Unfortunately, it was an incredibly hot & humid day that this trip occurred on – almost TOO hot to wander around 99 acres of park! A great escape (that was included) was the Underground River snorkeling tour, which took about 40 minutes. I saved this for the afternoon, and it was very good! The Sea Turtles were amazing, and one of the lunch buffet restaurants that you could choose overlooked the turtles. Lunch was OUTSTANDING! Also a “must see” is the Coral Reef Aquarium… don’t scoot too quickly through there, as some sights require patience (the shallow / sandy reef is one of them!!) Another nice luxury is the sea pool that you can take a dip in to cool off, followed immediately by a nap in the hammock area!! Also, there are Jaguars, a Butterfly Pavilion, Manatees, Bats, Orchids, Mushroom Farm, and a whole host of other animals and nature. Additional activities are the Sea Walk and Dolphin Swim, which I did not partake in. The night show is a whole other ball of wax! It was very disappointing, as this show told the tale of the Mayan history. Well, if you don’t speak Spanish, don’t expect to get any clue, other than: we’re dancing, we’re singing, we’re wearing other beautiful costumes now!! For TWO HOURS!! It truly was a beautiful spectacle, and the auditorium was amazing!! But as the narration was solely Spanish, it really didn’t make a whole lot of SENSE. Too bad, as I am sure that this is an awesome story that would have made the two hours seem much more bearable / understandable / enjoyable!!!! You DID have the option of leaving at 5:00pm, or taking a later bus home after the show. If I had left early, I’m sure I would have wondered what I missed – isn’t hindsight always 20/20!?!?!

OH!! The weather was terrific!! All week, it was high 20’s and into the 30’s towards the end of the week. It rained on Thursday night, through Friday morning, but was clear by noon. And it cooled off nicely in the evenings.

Overall, I think that it was a lovely resort, but I do think that they’ve got a little way to go before they hit a true 5* status. Personally, I think that it would be a decent 4* rating.

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