Old Reviews – Iberostar Paraiso Beach

  Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen   Chuck and Sharon ~ Saskatchewan, Canada

February 2009

Arrival: My wife and I stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya for 2 weeks the beginning of February. As such we used all of the Iberostar properties during our stay. For our review of the other properties see their listings.

Even though the properties have similar ratings the quality of the amenities, food (shrimp vs. lobster), drinks, etc. and rooms increase as you move up from the Del Mar, to the Beach, to the Lindo, to Maya, and then Grand. The Grand is adults only and others allow kids. We found an abundance of kids likely because of their Star Friends program (one of the best) and the wave pool / lazy river. Each resort has its own lobby and lobby bars so where you stay determines how many you can use. The common snack is Mexican caviar (popcorn) and sometimes peanuts. A shuttle runs between the resorts (also a short walk) and an Iberostar shopping Center and Spa. They also will take you around by golf cart if you ask. There’s a 24 hr medical clinic as well. Cost is $125 US at night and $105 US during the day. If you have insurance they look after all the paper work for you and there’s a pharmacy in the mall to fill prescriptions. We used their service and it was very good.

All properties share the same beach the only difference is that you can only get food and drink from the ones you have privileges at. Every beach snack bar had the same food. The sea was very rough the whole time we were there. The snorkeling is fair (poor when the sea is rough) and there was only one spot where you could walk into the ocean without stepping on rocks. There’s a dive shop on site but the dock was destroyed by a storm so you have to wade out to the boat. Not fun in rough surf. The beach in front of the Grand like the resort is exclusive but very rocky under the water.

The 4 resorts are really 2 and can be grouped as the Del Mar – Beach, and the Lindo Maya. Each share buffets, pools, beach, and theatre. Because the sun sets to the south, the most popular side of the pool was the Del Mar and the Lindo sides. The Grand stands alone and is very exclusive.

Taxi’s will cost you 250 peso for up to four to take you to Playa del Carmen. Rates are posted. The exchange rate is much better now so don’t use the 10 peso = 1 US. In the resort they used the proper exchange rate but outside use pesos rather than US.

The Beach and Del Mar are older properties and the grounds like a botanical garden. Very well manicured with peacocks and outdoor buffet surrounded by a pond with fish and wild herons. There’s a wedding gazebo and ponds with flamingos and swans. The buffet is open air. The ala carts are all in doors and the food not as good as the Lindo, Maya, and Grand. At one restaurant many of the meat dishes served to us were raw. The theatre is smaller than the Lindo / Maya but the entertainment is the same. The deck chairs are the same but we found a lot broken compared to the Lindo & Maya.

Other Comments: We would have enjoyed staying at any of the Iberostar properties but if you want a little higher end spend the extra money for the Lindo or Maya, you won’t be disappointed. If you want a special treat upgrade to the Grand for a special ending to your holiday.

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  Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen   Barbara ~ Rhode Island, USA

October 2008

Just returned from a week’s stay at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach Resort. Was supposed to stay from October 18th thru October 25th, but ended up leaving a couple of days early due to the horrendous weather and an accident caused by the numerous leaks in the main lobby.

First, let me tell you that there were three of us and we are seasoned travelers, having travelled extensively thru the Caribbean and having stayed at several other Iberostar resorts.

Grounds
Grounds were lovely. Very lush and tropical and meticulously maintained. Workers were always about trimming and maintaining the plants. Pea hens and pea cocks could be seen all around and were quite friendly. The flamingoes and the different fish and birds throughout the common areas were beautiful as well. We even came upon what some people called "Mexican Raccoons" — rather odd, but delightful looking animals that resembled a long tailed monkey having an anteater’s snout and raccoon rings around their faces!

Beach
The beach was nice and the wooden walkabout that allowed you to walk the beach without actually walking on the sand was a very nice touch. Red flags were up every day because of the strong surf and undertow. Water activity was curtailed and we were discouraged from taking a catamaran trip or diving because of the condition of the water. There were steep drop-offs once you entered the water, but we could not understand the write-ups from others about it being "rocky".

Food
Again, being experienced travelers, we found the food rather mediocre and were surprised at how bland most of it was. Our main complaint was that it was never piping hot since it was placed under lights and not in steam pans. The selection was not as good as other Iberostar’s that we have been to.

Service
Service as a whole was pretty good, both at the bars and the different buffet and specialty restaurants.

Weather
The weather was absolutely awful. Out of the seven days and six nights, we had exactly one hour of sunshine on the beach and two hours of sunshine at the pool. While we knew that the months of September and October are their rainiest months, we had no idea that it would be days on end of torrential downpours and threatening skies. We actually expected partial parts of a day to be rainy, with a general clearing. That did not happen. We and a number of other guests chose to leave early.

Lobby Area
Since they were repairing the lobby at the hotel we were staying, we checked in next door at the Del Mar. The lobby, while having beautiful granite floors, was nothing to speak of. There were no vibrant beautiful centerpieces that you come to expect as a wonderful greeting upon arrival. Everything was very subdued — not much color at all. Due to the weather, there were buckets and towels everywhere. We could actually sit in one of the lobby lounge chairs and watch the water sometime pouring from the ceiling onto the floor and filling the light fixtures. We were told that this has been going on for years during the rainy season and no one knew when they would be fixing the roof. Several people fell, even one from our party and we spent the better part of a day at the hospital in Cancun where he received treatment on his back. A little boy fell and landed on his head. Someone else fell and injured their hand. We were surprised that the hotel did not send an employee with us to the hospital. Even though we were told everyone spoke English at the hospital, we were traveling in an unfamiliar country and were quite nervous about it.

Shuttle Service
This is a very large resort and would not be good for the elderly or anyone with physical limitations for walking. With the weather conditions, they should have provided better shuttle service. We would wait long periods of time in the pouring rain waiting for a ride to the restaurants or the beach. We were in building 35, so we were right in the middle of the resort, with about a 10 minute walk to either end of the property. This would not be bad in ideal weather, but with the rain you just wanted to hop on a shuttle as soon as possible. Also, after a member of our party fell on the lobby floor, he was not able to walk any distance, so the shuttle became very important to us. I would say there would be about a 25 minute wait or so for a shuttle. Other large resorts where we stayed had a shuttle going by every five minutes or so.

General Comments Never, ever go to Cancun during the months of September and October. Other people we met from other resorts all agreed that this would be the absolute worst time to stay in Cancun. We would also never return to this Iberostar because we were so disappointed in so many things. This is definitely not a four or five star resort. I would give it an honest three star rating. If this were the first time we were staying at an Iberostar, it would definitely be our last.

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  Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen   Rizzi

June 2008

To give you a better understanding of the perspective of this review, here’s a little bit of background. I am a 22 year old female from Toronto, Canada and traveling with 21 other individuals (with children between the ages of 4 – 16 years old and adults ranging from 19 – 50 years old and my lovely 78 year old grandma). We spent the week of May 3 – 10 there. This is my 3rd time in the Mayan Riviera. The last 2 times I stayed at the Grand Palladium Kantenah so we decided to try the Iberostar Paraiso for something different. My family booked this trip on our own without a travel agent or a package deal.

FLIGHTS
There were 7 of us in total flying out of Toronto. While checking for tickets we found that we were saving a significant amount of money if we flew out of Buffalo, New York. We flew with United Airlines via Buffalo-Washington Dulles-Cancun departing at 6 a.m. and arriving to Cancun at around 11 a.m. Because we are coming from Toronto, we found a “Sleep-Park-Fly” deal with a hotel right by the airport, called “Sleep Inn”. This gave us a one-night stay at the hotel and parking for a week.

TRANSIT
We hired a private van through a company called “Kinmont” to shuttle us from the airport to the resort and vise-versa. It was actually more convenient than the coach buses I’ve taken before as part of a package deal. The vans were clean and the divers were professional, friendly and on time.

CHECK IN/CHECK OUT
I wasn’t impressed nor disappointed. We did not have any major problems considering the size of our group but there is still room for improvement. We received our request of having our rooms in the same building (specified when we booked our stay). We were in Building 37.

RESORT/GROUNDS
This is a HUGE resort!!! My family and I carried 2-way radios so we could keep track of each other. It sounds ridiculous but in a resort this size with my large family, we would have been lost without it! The lush and diverse flora and fauna make the long walks enjoyable. I didn’t mind the walks to the pool, beach or restaurants. I needed to burn off the consequences of my gluttonous ways! As for my little grandma, there were always shuttle carts running through the resort.

ROOMS
The rooms were like the typical rooms of the resorts in the Mayan Riviera. It was very clean and tidy. Our fridge wasn’t working and they sent someone up right away to fix it for us. In my aunt’s room however, EVERYTHING was broken. The clock, fridge, 2 lamps, hair dryer, safe and overhead fan were broken. They called at least twice a day for someone to fix it. By the third day my aunt got tired and gave up. Stroke of bad luck I guess. There was only one night when the rooms on the 3rd floor had NO water pressure. As in the strength of water out of the shower matched that of an infant doing #1. The water pressure returned to normal in half an hour. The shower was PERFECT…if you were 4’9”. I’m 5’4” and I had a hard time standing underneath that flow of water to wash my hair. It was pretty comical. Also, bring your own hairdryer!

CLEANLINESS
Everything was spotless. Which made me wonder how they got it to be like that when their trashcans were non-existent. When I had something to throw out, I felt bad littering so I’d just hold on to it until I got back to my room.

POOL
MASSIVE pool!! It never seemed crowded at all! The activity pool (closer to the beach) is louder and slightly more chaotic than other parts of the pool (obviously). The water temperature was perfect. And there are many pool chairs and a few kabanas, which I miraculously claimed in the morning when I’d get up for my “me-time on the beach walk”. Just make sure you know where your towel cards/towel are at all times because they will charge you I believe $10 US if they don’t get the cards back at check-out. I only have one complaint about the pool. There were some days were the pools got a bit dirty. First thing in the morning I’d see someone cleaning the pool. But after they were done I would still see straws and zip-lock bags floating around, colonies of bees, and random pieces of plants. Which makes me wonder was the pool boy blind or did his net have a hole?! Once in the afternoon I saw a yellowish foam in the pool (resembling that of what I see floating in Lake Ontario). It was so sketchy! I got really creeped out and swam away from it. Well it has been weeks since I was there and I didn’t get sick or grown an extra limb so I assume it was nothing toxic or radioactive.

THE BEACH
I love being alone on the beach in the morning, seeing the sun just rise, hearing the waves, taking in the peacefulness, and frolicking in the sand without anyone around to stare at your foolishness! Haha! It gets a bit crowded in the afternoon. The sand is fine and soft, the shoreline is a bit steep and there are areas littered with seaweed, and there are a lot of rocks in the water so be careful!

THE BUFFETS
There isn’t a lot of selection as Palladium, but I’m not a picky eater and always found something satisfying. The meat is DELICIOUS! I am a huge carnivore and appreciated the meat! Especially the beef! The desserts are also fantastic! I just wished they had churros, it would have completed my breakfast. The buffets are open-air (a.k.a. no air conditioning). But it wasn’t that hot or humid in the beginning of May so we had no problem.

A LA CARTE RESTAURANTS

We tried…

Mediterranean – tasty fish selections, BEST desserts, a bit dark and hard to take a decent picture

Brazilian – salty meat, all skewer of meat (not the greatest choice for vegetarians)

Tropical – seafood soup was amazing, tender rib eye, located by the pool (snack bar by day. I wish I knew this because all 22 of us were LOST and going to different restaurants located in the lobby.)

Japanese – all seats are show table, beautiful setting, mediocre food

BARS
Wow! Delicious drinks!!! For those anti-alcohol types, try the virgin Bahama Mama! Or just ask for a drink followed by the phrase “sin alcohol”. For those who are adventurous (like me!) try my new favorites, the “Sacrificio Maya” shooter and “Coco Loco” (I ask for more loco and less coco) or a Crazy Frog. the higher end alcohol is located in the lobby bar. Shout out to my beach bartender Roger! FIND HIM! He knows what he’s doing!

SHOWS
DO NOT MISS “Boogie Nights” or “Movie Show”! the “Hollywood Show” was pretty good too. The best shows I’ve seen in a resort! Obviously not at the Broadway caliber but I was thoroughly entertained (especially with Boogie Nights). They have live bands and singers, which I find impressive. The band was FANTASTIC!! The singers could carry a tune and are no doubt talented, but I could not understand what they were singing. Very “ken lee” if you youtubers catch my drift…

STARFRIENDS
These are the group of people responsible for entertaining guests. They are a lovely group of people. They are friendly and fun, as they should be, although I spotted a couple of them getting a little too friendly. Haha! The ones I got to know are wonderful people! But I have to say, I still stand loyal to the Palladium Fun Team. Sorry guys. Shout out to Erick, Francisco, Marlene, Nico, and Frank!

THE PLAZA
This is the ‘shopping area’ of the resort. Here you can find the shops, restaurants (crepes & ice cream, burgers, etc) and the disco. The crepes were delicious! I really recommend it! The disco was the most RANDOM place EVER!

OVERALL
The people here were nice, I have nothing to complain about but they do have room for improvement in terms of friendliness and professionalism. I would definitely recommend this resort to EVERYONE. There is always something for different people to do. There was never a moment when anyone in my 22-member family were bored. The kids club looked well done from what I observed. I’ve heard it’s one of the best in the Mayan Riviera. Overall I had a wonderful time at this resort and would maybe come back. There was only one thing I was upset with. I was very disappointed that we could not use the facilities on the other side of the resort. The resort is split into 4 areas (Beach, Del Mar, Maya and Lindo) It was strange because there is no division between the 2 sides of the resort. The deal we got was a “play in 4” deal which we thought meant we could cross over from Beach to Del Mar, Maya, or Lindo. But what the deal meant was we could go from Beach to Del Mar and the Iberostar in Playa del Carmen and the Iberostar in Cozumel, which seemed like too much work.

Anyway if you have any questions about what I have written or about something I didn’t write, feel free to e-mail me at tyeriz@yahoo.com . The people who write reviews like these have helped me and my family decide on the perfect vacation spot and help us prepare for it! So thank you all out there who have taken the time to write reviews!!!

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  Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen   marjc127

April 2008

My husband and I just got back from celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. The staff was very accommodating and the hotel was immaculate. The food and drinks were always plentiful but my husbands only complaint was no bendy straws so he had to actually bring the drink to his mouth. Do you think he was spoiled all week???? We will definitely visit more Iberostars!!!!

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  Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen   USA

April 2008

My wife my son and I stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach hotel during spring break 2008. The hotel architecture and accomodations were adequate though not outstanding. The food was good and the gourmet dining was fine but limited due to a rationing system based upon the number of nites that you book your stay.

My serious complaint concerns hotel security and the way in which damages are assessed. The discos stay open until 3:00 am and of course the teen agers enjoy this. We were with a large group of people from our community and a group of boys were accused of breaking a wooden bench on the grounds. We agreed to pay the damages and were assessed over $400 for a wooden bench with one broken leg. We agreed to pay damages and so there was no issue, other than the fact that the same bench could probably purchased for about $100.

What we found objectionable was the lack of listening and due process afforded tourists in a foreign country. Our high school boys were held by security for two hours by hotel security without being able to contact their parents. When contacted we were told that we had to pay damages for the bench, which we did admit they had done or the boys would be sent to a Mexican jail. In addition, if we became too upset we would be evicted from the hotel, a full two nights before our plane was scheduled to leave.

The hotel security guards are responsible for any vandalism that occurs at the hotel, and if they do not find someone to pin the blame on, the guards will be fired. Beware of the hotel looking to pin damages on unsuspecting guests. The intermediate staff Ihlse, a younger european women informed us that bad attitudes would not be tolerated at a five star hotel. I am sure that we received two star treatment from the security people and still find their approach unbelievable. We were able to work out an agreement with the hotel manager, but this left a sour taste in our mouth and a commitment to not utilize this hotel chain or Fun Jet Vacations for any future business. I would advise anyone else to do the same unless you are willing to accept poor treatment.

The economics of the tour was that our entire group probably spent around $60,000 for the week stay. It appears that the price of good will ($100 bench) was too much for this hotel group. Fun Jet Vacations were equally unresponsive to our concerns.

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  Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen   Lisa

April 2008

Background
My family and I currently reside in Mexico City. A college friend had booked a vacation at this resort during spring break. So I decided to bring my 2 boys 3 & 5 and join them. We had spent New Year’s at the Great Paranuss in Cancun proper and found this resort to be much nicer.

Rooms
The rooms are fine, not huge but clean. Ours had 2 beds and a sofa. The shower is a bit difficult to operate (I had to call our friends to figure out how to turn it on). It is also a removable shower head (not fixed) and it is not very high. I am 5’4 on a good day and I had to duck. The water pressure is also not terrific but the water was always hot. The boys took a bath and didn’t care. Loved the minibar a very nice touch.

Beach
The beach was fantastic. Much more swimable and less rocky than the beach in Cancun. It is also huge. The shade is far from the shore so you would have to be in the sun to watch children by the water. There were a few vendors but not nearly as many as we have found on other beaches (Puerta Vallerta and Acapulco).

Pool
The pools are beautiful but the water was very cold, I would estimate no more than 70 F. It is a tight walk around the edges of the pool in many places esp with chairs.

Food
The food is fine. My only complaint is the fruit was not great and it was the same 3 fruits (pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe) all the time. There were some whole fruits (apples, pears, bananas) but the quality and variety was disappointing considering the produce here in Mexico in general is fabulous. I was surprised to find no mangos or other tropical fruits. We could not get dinner reservations at an al carte restaurant, we tried to book the morning after we arrived. My friends had an opporunity on their last night. So I can’t comment on the a la carte restaurants. I didn’t really care about going, my experience is that they are not much different than the buffet.

Service
Service was good. My son got sick and housekeeping came within 10 minutes with new sheets. The rooms were cleaned daily.

There is a lot of walking but it is all flat. I didn’t find it burdensome. I would definitely return. I think the location is good for visiting things outside of the resort- Xcaret, Tulum, etc.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Fran

November 2007

We just returned last night from a WONDERFUL trip! I had never been to Mexico before but have been to the Dominican Republic a few times. Was anxious to see a new country! Our trip was short, from November 14 – 18, 2007.

I have been to quite a few all inclusive (Aruba and DR) and find that the Iberostar chain works very hard to hit the mark with service, attention, activities and FUN!

The purpose of our trip primarily was to scout out the Beach and Del Mar as we will be having our wedding there next year. Let me tell you, I couldn’t be more happy! The grounds are incredible and immaculate. The pools are incredible. Northing like I have ever seen. You will find the tropical landscaping flowers and plants everywhere. It almost doesn’t matter what room you have because the view from everywhere is beautiful. We stayed at building 34. This appeared to be in the middle of the resort so; we felt it was a good location.

If you are worried about going to a foreign country- don’t be! Going through immigration and customs was a breeze in Cancun. We booked out trip through Fun Jet and they had several vans waiting to take us to the resort- I think we waited a whole 8 minutes before we were on our way! The most interesting part of an otherwise uneventful bus ride is the Police Search area (tour busses didn’t have to deal with that) for locals.

Upon check-in, we were greeted with a sweet cocktail and quickly went to our room. We had a room on the 2nd floor which was fine- I wouldn’t a room on the 3rd floor- the walking is enough exercise! LOL! Everyone at the resort was very friendly and accommodating. Most employees speak some English so language was not a problem.

Here’s our twist on the major categories:

BEACH:
The sand was soft and clean of debris. The water is blue and clear, but the surf was pounding the shore very hard all week. We definitely didn’t swim (they were a couple of "red flag" days). There we re ple nty of chairs for sunning. However, as the last reviewer indicated the resort was at about half capacity.

FOOD:
Food everywhere was all above average. the buffet was well stocked, for every meal. Like the last vacationer, we LOVED the breakfasts! You can get tired of the buffets so try to vary your entrée selections- just to give yourself something to look forward to.

The Mexican restaurant and Brazilian were good. Actually, we are going to have our wedding reception at the Brazilian is was so good!

The biggest point I’d like to make is that you are going to Mexico for vacation- not Vegas, not Disney. Food is not what we have in the USA. Is it is bad? NO! Is it different? YES!

Yes, you will find cactus on the menu, or fresh papaya or quesadilla’s and mashed potatoes for breakfast at the buffet. If you want only US food, stay in the US or wait and eat at the Cancun airport. There are so many American restaurants at the airport (Bubba Gump, Marga rita-v illa and Starbucks) you will sadly feel like you are home sooner then you would like!

SHOWS:
The shows are cheesy but entertaining. Frankly, we enjoyed just "vegging" out at the shows with some cocktails after a long day in the sun. If you want Broadway, I would suggest you go to New York.

ROOM:
Our room was adequate size for 2 people, clean on arrival, and was cleaned daily. The marble or travertine used at this resort is amazing. It is so elegant! We also were greeted by a different "Towel Animal" left on the bed and the sheers tied into a design. We let a note for housekeeping for extra water, beer and Coke light. They were overly accommodating! They even stocked extra outside of the mini-bar!

POOLS:
The pool areas are all immaculately clean, beautifully landscaped, and wind through the entire resort area. The pools were all cold- no very cold and they are salt water pools. The resort doesn’t heat the pool (obviously) so if you aren ‘t goi ng in the "fall or winter" you should be OK (or so we were told). Once we jumped in and froze for the first few minutes you do get used to it and we spent most of the day bobbing in the water.

WALKING: I will repeat the sentiments of the last reviewer: YES- you WALK and WALK here. Many reviewers had the same complaint, and their remarks are justified. The resort stretches straight back from the Ocean.

It is HUGE, so there is a LOOONG walk from end-to-end. I agree with the last reviewer, it is not a terrible walk to either end, but the walking really does get old, as you will find yourself covering this distance several times a day. It took about 10 minutes of slow walking to get from the middle of the Beach resort (bungalow 34) to the Del Mar Brazilian Restaurant.

Remember, you are not racing- so stop and enjoy! There are a couple of benches along the way if you are tired. Also, no need to walk in those heels! Pull those shoes off and walk t he paths- they are made of stone and comfortable on the feet.

The Tram only runs from like 7 am – 1 and then again 6 pm to 11. On the one cloudy day, we decided to wait just to see how long it took- 25 MINUTES! Don’t count on the tram as your regular mode of transportation.

This is NOT a resort for those that would find lots of walking a challenge.

WEDDING:
The wedding venues are wonderful (chapel (in the shopping plaza), gazebo and beach) are picture perfect. The Chapel smelled a bit musty when we went there. Note there is no air conditioning in the chapel. The Wedding Coordinators are wonderful! They are so accommodating. I cannot wait for our wedding. We planned a lot and the pre-visit was a success!

SHOPPING PLAZA:
The spa is in the shopping plaza. The spa is AMAZING- No INCREDIBLE. I have been to several great spas in the US (Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne, Princess in Scottsdale) and this one was FAR BETTER! They have 5 spa pools in the woman’s section 3 showers (Swedish, Turkish and chromeotherapy). A steam room that is down some stairs and is like no other. The sauna was a nice size. The common pool is wonderful- it is salt water and heated. It has 6 showers in the pool that apply different pressures on your head, neck, shoulders and back. AWESOME! In the courtyard are foot massage "rivers" too! The Spa is a "MUST DO" activity for men and women!

We ate at the Taco restaurant in the mall. Food was great- cooked right there for you. The only problem is they have 1 chef and he was swamped. We waited and waited. It gets tiring standing in line. The burger place was good but tiny too. The Crepe "store" was cute but again- they had one woman making crepes. I just wanted something to drink and had to wait for what seemed like 15 minutes for her cook and serve the one woman before me.

My concern with these little eateries is if there are tons of people at the mall, you could be in for one heck of a wait ! The Shopping area is an easy walk from the "Beach" but I would take the tram if you stayed at the "Del Mar" or cut through the "Beach" to get there faster.

Overall, it was a tremendous trip (too short)! However, we will happily be back in 6 months for our wedding!

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Brian S. ~ Brampton On Canada

October 2007

More than satisfied with this older resort everything but the ridiculous weather(rain) made for a excellent vacation, rooms large and always kept really clean by the room staff, good sized bathroom with all items working as they should (toilet,shower, hairdryer)hot water plentiful and 2 clean facecloths and towels everyday.Food well prepared perhaps not quite as large a selection as some other resorts but always good and fresh, deserts were delicious.The beach was great but getting into the water was not the easiest when the surf was up,fish were numerous in the area and just loved to be fed and would take food right from your fingers.Staff to the most part were excellent the only time we seemed to have a problem they looked a little short handed one dinner time,so I just helped myself to the vino.The best part of the vacation for myself, my wife and 9 year grandson was the incredible pool system complete with waterfalls and individual pool areas and the evening shows which were as good as we have seen in the 20 years of vacationing at all inclusive resorts.All in all it was well worth the money we paid, just the wrong time of year to go mid October (rainy season, Aug-Nov)Would definitely try Iberostar Resorts again.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Alissa

April 2007

My husband and I went to the Iberostar Beach with another couple (age 30-35) on March 25, 2007. We loved it! The food and drinks were great. The Japanese is definitely the best a la carte (we also tried Mexican and Brazilian which were pretty good). The rooms were spacious and clean. We can only compare to one other 4.5 star all-inclusive in Punta Cana and we would have to say that this was a step-up. The pool is fabulous and there are always chairs in and out of the shade available. The beach was great, and although there were lots of waves, we went swimming everyday and only one day was there a "red flag". The grounds are lush and as beautiful as all the reviews we read before we left described. Some people say there is "a lot" of walking, but I think it depends on your sense of "a lot". We stayed in building 35, almost in the middle and it would take 5 minutes tops to walk anywhere. I would recommend this resort to anyone!

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Dino ~ MA

January 2007

Our Family of 12 recently visited Iberostar Paraiso Beach. We visited from Dec 30, 2006-Jan 6, 2007. The New Years celebration was really cool. To sum it up it was AWESOME!! We normally visit Punta Can in the Dominican Republic although this year we were up for a change. The cost to visit Mexico was a couple hundred dollars per person more than Punta Cana. Upon arrival the airport was painless. The ride from the airport to the resort was very nice, real clean air conditioned bus with a bath. The ride from the airport to the resort was only ½ hour. There was so much less poverty to see along the way as compared to Punta Cana. The resort checkin was fast. The resort is HUGE. Many talk about the long walks to and from everywhere. You need it. It’s great exercise after all that food!! The food is the same as all other resort buffets. There is always a good selection. Our favorite specialty restaurant was the Japanese Restaurant. It was just like the Japenese Restaurants back in the states. They cook right in front of you. The rooms were really nice and comfortable. The landscaping was beautiful. The beaches were real nice. The pools are really GREAT. All the Iberostars are attached. To one another. There is also a entertainment complex. We checked out the Lazy River and Wave Pool at the attached Iberostar resort. No one said anything that we stopped by to use the Wave Pool or Lazy River. One of the best things about this place is that it is ok to leave the resort. In Punta Cana you very rarely left the resort and there was not much of excursions in Punta Cana. There was lot’s to do in the Mayan Riveria. Playa Del Carman is a must see especially at night. We found this place too late. The hotel offers free shuttles to and from the Playa Del Carmen. It’s a real fun place. Xcaret was a must visit attraction. It’s huge and has everything for all ages. There was this natural lazy river about 3 miles long that was underground. It was great for all ages. We had several in our group that were 65-75 years old and never swam a day in their lives and they loved it. There also were dolphins there. If purchasing Xcaret then buy the lunch with it. It’s extra but worth it. When you want to eat at Xcaret go down to the ocean and eat at the restaurant along the ocean. The views are incredible and the food outstanding. Friends of ours stayed at the Rui Palace and visited us and said they enjoyed our place better. Email me with any question Dino@RealEstateMan.com.

P.S. Do not listen to anyone who said they had a terrible time as those people do not know how to have a good time!!!!!!

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen USA

November 2006

I just got back from the Iberostar Paraiso Beach all inclusive resort in the Mayan Riviera on Saturday, November 11th. I would not recommend this resort.

There is no way that this property should be rated a 4 star. At best it’s a 3. The property is so large it takes a ten minute walk to get to the beach. The power went out in our room one night and we had to be moved at 1 am. On another night there was a fire and fire trucks. They have no plan for rain (it rained 4 of the 7 days) – they have one trolley for 800 rooms (multiply that by guests and the trolley seats a maximum of 15 people).

They boast a lot of restaurants – I thik 8? However – you only get to book three reservations for a week long stay. In addition – the reservations are never available at the times you’d like. We wanted to dine at the steakhouse but there were no available reservations (of course). The buffets had the same food every single night and were DISGUSTING. My husband and I just started taking the shuttle into playa del carmen to eat. This vacation was the first in my life where I actually LOST WEIGHT. Everything is included, right? But, they have no alcohol you want to drink. They have no light beer – they have no wines that are palatable and I coldn’t even get a decent margarata. If you notice – NO ONE IS DRINKING MARGARITAS AT THIS RESORT – in Mexico. The beds are ROCK HARD. I am not kidding. You will get no sleep. Today is my first day back and I am so sore I don’t think I will be able to go back to work tomorrow.
There were so many little things that happened – it would be trivial to list them all from not getting all the luggage on the transfer from the airport to the buses leaving early for excursions to having to walk everywhere for everything from a towel to an umbrella it was AWFUL. Then there were THE CHILDREN. Yes – there are more children at this resort than there are at Disney. This is not a lie – there are screaming little brats EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK. None fo their parents watch them – they just ignore there screaming and splashing and irritating behavior. I actually got a toy thrown at me by one of them. Of course their parents weren’t watching them.

I think the vendors in playa del carmen put it most succinctly when they whistled at us from their shops "why don’t you come into my shop so I can rip you off?". I have traveled a lot (Greece, Spain, Italy, Jamaica, Antigua and lot’s of places in Mexico) and I have never heard a vendor talk to tourists the way they did in Playa Del Carmen. I guess it was just par for the course.

A couple of bright spots if you’ve already booked. Dine at the Del Augua restaurant in playa del carmen – they have excellent food. Also book the "night out" with Apple Vacations – it was very fun and had great latin flavor.

If you haven’t booked yet – FORGET THIS PROPERTY.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Elaine ~ Ontario

August 2006

A bit of background information
My husband and I traveled to the Caribbean several times in our married, no kids years. After our wedding at Sandals Negril, we took a hiatus from traveling. When our children were 4 ½ and 6 ½ years old, the four of us ventured to the Dominican Republic. Since then, all our Caribbean trips have been family vacations, most of which were two weeks in duration. Prior to this trip to the Mayan Riviera, the four of us have been to the Dominican Republic six times and to Aruba once.

Flight
We booked a Funjet Vacations package out of Detroit. This was much closer and less costly than Toronto, which is our usual gateway. It took 30 minutes to travel from our driveway to the Berry Terminal. We parked in the yellow lot, which is right next to the terminal, at a rate of $7 per day.

Champion Airlines’ check-in counter opened at 3:25 a.m. Although advanced seat selection is not offered, we were the third family in line. We were very pleased with our seat assignments – Row 10, seats A, B, C and D.

Flight 1120, aboard a Boeing 727-200, was scheduled to leave Detroit at 6:00 a.m. We left at 6:10 a.m. and arrived in Cancun a mere 3 hours and 1 minute later. We were aware that Champion’s complimentary food service consisted of a beverage and mini snack size bag of pretzels so we brought munchies from home. There’s no on board movie.

When we arrived at Cancun Airport, it was 9:11 a.m. Cancun time. We collected our baggage quickly and breezed through customs and immigration. We had to wait a bit for our shuttle van to leave, as it was boxed in the parking lot by another van. We dropped off two passengers at El Dorado and arrived at the Iberostar at approximately 10:15 a.m.

Accommodations
I e-mailed the resort 10 days prior to our arrival and requested a third floor room in building 35, overlooking the pool waterfall. We were very pleased to be assigned to room 3646, which is a third floor room in building 36, with a partial view of the waterfall. The front desk indicated our room would be ready in about an hour. We went for a bite to eat at the poolside restaurant and returned to the lobby where we made our a la carte reservations (how convenient)! We received our room card and were whisked to our room, with our luggage in tow, in a golf cart. When we’ve had early arrivals at other resorts, our room has never been ready until at least 3:00 p.m. It was great to be able to be in our room so early to unpack and head to the pool.

Our room was very clean and spacious. There is a six-digit programmable keyless safe in the closet area. The room was furnished with two comfortable double beds and a day bed. The balcony had a small table, two chairs, and a fold out clothes rack that was very handy for wet bathing suits. We brought clothes pins with us.

The air conditioner was programmed to go no lower than 70 degrees and this was very reasonable. We left it at the minimum setting all week but I do not believe it actually cooled the room to 70 degrees because I would have found it to be too cold. Nonetheless, the temperature was just right.

The bathroom was a generous size. There was always hot water and consistent water pressure in the shower. Turning on the bathroom light activated the exhaust fan. This is the first time we’ve stayed at a resort where the exhaust fan was actually effective in preventing the bathroom mirror from fogging up.

This is also the first time we’ve ever stayed in the Caribbean and had a quiet ceiling fan. It didn’t squeak, rattle or wobble!

We used the facecloths we brought from home because most days the maid did not leave any.

The tub was equipped with two dispensers – one filled with shampoo and one filled with liquid soap. They also provided one small hotel size bottle of shampoo daily.

The mini fridge was stocked with a very large bottle of water, a few small bottles of water, a variety of pop, and three bottles of beer.

We found building 36 to be very quiet. We never once heard noise in the hallway or in other rooms. Perhaps this may have been attributed to our corner room location.

The resort offered room service from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. We ordered late one night and our food arrived, piping hot, within 30 minutes.

Internet service was available for purchase in your room via a keyboard and the TV screen. You could buy internet time in increments as small as one hour and as lengthy as a full stay pay-one-price package. We did not go on-line during our stay though.

Funjet Vacations
Funjet had a very visible presence at the Iberostar as compared to the Canadian tour operators we’ve booked with. There were two or three representatives manning the counter for many hours a day. They seemed very willing to accommodate and ensure you had a comfortable stay. We didn’t go on any excursions other than scuba diving through Dressel Divers, so we didn’t use Funjet’s services. When we checked in the Funjet reps gave us an overview of the resort layout and the major highlights so we did not attend the orientation session held at noon that day.

Restaurants
Service at all of the buffets and three a la cartes was consistently prompt and courteous. We enjoyed these same standards when we stayed at the Iberostar Punta Cana for two weeks in March 2005. The Paraiso Beach did a great job of keeping the hot foods hot (or at least reasonably hot) and the cold foods were always cold. We had no complaints about the selections but we noticed there was more variety and the food was of a better quality at the Iberostar Punta Cana.

The buffet restaurants are open air and non air conditioned. We prefer this rather than formal air conditioned dining rooms such as the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana. Even this trip was during a very hot time of the summer, the restaurants were comfortable as long as you sat at the tables near the outer edge of the restaurant.

For specialty restaurant reservations, we chose El Rodizio (Brazilian), Hashiru (Japanese) and La Hacienda (Mexican). We enjoyed all three dinners. It was very convenient to be able to make our reservations within 15 minutes of checking in at the resort. The two ladies at the reservation desk, which was conveniently located in the lobby, were easily able to accommodate our request for 7:00 p.m. seatings. The reservation desk is open between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. (for reservations the same night and following nights) and between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (only for following nights).

Pool
The pool runs perpendicular to the beach and it’s enormous. The end farthest from the beach has a very nice waterfall. The pool is so big that there’s three swim-up bars. There were activities at the end closest to the beach. The farther you went from the beach, the quieter the setting.

The pool never seemed crowded because it was so meandering and spacious. The depth varies from maybe 2’ at some spots closer to the waterfall to a maximum of almost 5’. The temperature was very pleasant.

In addition to the three swim-up bars, the pool area also has an ice cream place called El Puente. Their cones were delicious. They also served soft drinks and beer.

There were plenty of washrooms available throughout the length of the pool and they were always very well maintained.

Be careful in the bridge area that is located mid way across the pool. We saw two slip and fall injuries within a matter of minutes.

We felt the pool and deck were in need of a bit more attention in terms of cleanliness. Admittedly it’s an endless task with a pool that size. However, from one day to the next, we’d see soggy napkins (from ice cream cones) on the deck. The loungers could also use a power wash.

Employees made routine trips up and down the length of the pool collecting empty glasses from the bar. The resort does not use disposable cups – they have plastic cups that probably hold 12 oz.

We are fair skinned and shade is essential for us. For a pool this size, we found there to be minimal palapas, especially since the kids preferred to be in the deeper end and not in the waterfall area.

Grounds
The grounds are spectacular. We’ve only been at one other resort (Melia in Punta Cana) that is comparable in terms of lush landscaping. There were endless flowers and flowering shrubs and greenery of all sorts. The Iberostar deserves an A++ for the natural beauty of this resort. I took dozens of photos of flowers, trees and plants.

The resort has a variety of wildlife. Peacocks, swans, flamingos, and parrots complement the beauty of the grounds and architecture. We also saw coatimundis for the first time. There are several beautiful fountains and a few ponds as well.

Beach
The beach was our only disappointment with the Iberostar Paraiso Beach. Although we knew it would not be as stunning as Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, we didn’t anticipate that it would be so rocky and rough. Due to the slope of the beach and the location of the palapas, we would not have been able to sit in the shade and keep an eye on the kids playing in the ocean. Due to the water’s roughness, the kids opted for the pool. Our beach time was limited to a 90 minute walk one day and a couple of quick toe dips in the ocean.

We found some very beautiful little shells and brought them home as a treasured keepsake of our trip.

Compared to Bavaro Beach, which we’ve found to be quite busy the past year or so, we really enjoyed the peacefulness and solitude of our walk at the Paraiso. I took some great shots of the wave action on the rocks.

Entertainment
We didn’t stay up late enough to see any of the evening shows.

Scuba
My husband and our 12 year old son are advanced PADI scuba divers. The two of them dove on the Tortugas reef (60 feet). They saw very large tarpon and several sea turtles. Our son did three additional dives – Punta Maroma (38 feet) and two cenotes dives – Chac Mool (40 feet) and Kukulkan (40 feet). We booked all dives with Dressel Divers. If you pay Dressel in U.S. cash, their rates are discounted a bit.

We purchased a 10 minute DVD of the cenotes dives for $65. We’ve previously purchased a DVD of our son’s dives in Punta Cana. These DVD’s are a wonderful keepsake for him and it gives all of us an opportunity to have a bird’s eye view of what he saw on his diving adventures.

The diving sites in the Mayan area are far superior to what Punta Cana has to offer.

Check-Out
Check-out took about 30 seconds. The shuttle picked us up at 7:10 a.m. and our flight left at 9:50 a.m. El Mercado, the buffet restaurant at the Del Mar, offers a limited continental breakfast from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. (the full breakfast buffet begins at 7:00 a.m.). We had a couple of muffins and a banana before we boarded the shuttle.

Return Flight
Champion Airlines flight 1121 left Cancun at 9:50 a.m. as scheduled. We were assigned seats 26 A, B, C and D. We arrived in Detroit a mere 3 hours and 8 minutes later.

Weather
We had perfect weather all week long. There was overnight rain most nights and a bit of early morning or late afternoon rain but certainly nothing worth mentioning. It was overcast (but dry) our last full day there and it was actually a bit of a relief from the heat.

Summary
The Iberostar sure knows how to treat their guests. Their superior service standards are second to none. This is our second stay at an Iberostar resort and we thoroughly enjoyed the excellence they offer. The staff excels at being accommodating, friendly, welcoming, and efficient. They are well staffed so you’re never waiting in line more than a minute or two.

We will definitely return to the Mayan area again for scuba diving and we wouldn’t hesitate to book a return trip to the Paraiso Beach.

Our two week trip in March 2007 may very well be a repeat stay at one of the Iberostars in Punta Cana.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me:
meandfamily1961@yahoo.com

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Rob and Michele ~ Toronto

February 2006

Date of Vacation: February 26, 2005 – March 5, 2005

We are a family of four with two boys aged 14 and 9. This has not been our first all inclusive vacation south. Our vacations in the past include Jamaica, Aruba, St. Maarten, Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. We have stayed at resorts with a star rating of no lower than 4 1/2 stars. We have been away often enough to know what we want out of our vacation.

Please find listed below our thoughts on the Iberostar Paraiso Beach Resort.

Check In:
Rather slow going but bearable. They required several signatures and your passport numbers which was rather odd. The staff was friendly and took into consideration any requests that you may have had.

Rooms:
We stayed in a Junior Suite with two double beds. It was a ground floor room which we never had before. Lots of privacy on your patio since vegetation was growing all around it. There is also privacy from your neighbours. Large room with a nice bathroom. Absolutely no musty smell. The air conditioning remained on continuously if you chose. We were building 31 (specifically Room 3104) which was very close to the beach, pool and snack bar restaurant. Perfect location for us!

Cleaning staff kept the room immaculate. They began cleaning early around 7:30 am. If you are out of your room at that time it would be cleaned early otherwise it may not be cleaned until after 3 pm. Mini bar was stocked everyday with pop, water and beer. Towels were abundant. Anything extra you needed was attainable.

We tipped $2 daily for the maid and bar stocking.

Restaurants:
We did not eat in any specialty restaurants.

The main buffet restaurant was located near the front lobby. Approximately 10 minute leisurely walk from our room.

Breakfast had all the main staples. Omelet stations were there. Pancakes, waffles, french toast, muffins, danishes, bagels and toast were available. Syrup, peanutbutter, butter, margarine and chocolate spread was there for toppings. No jam. Soft boiled, scrambled and sunnyside up eggs could be chosen. Bacon, sausages, homefries, homemade donuts, croissants, fresh fruit and juices, cheese, yogurt, cereal and cold cuts were displayed. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and espresso were amoung the beverages available.

Lunch and Dinner had a vast variety. We are simple eaters so it took several days to find what appealed to each of us. Pizza and pasta was available but was premade. There was no pasta bar to customize to your taste. Frenchfries were at each meal along with hotdogs and hamburgers. Some variety of fish was always there. Salad bar, cheese and coldcuts could be found at the main buffet and the pool side restaurants. Each dinner meal had a chef cutting either freshly roasted pork, turkey or beef. Cooked vegetables were also at each dinner. Desserts were plentiful. We stuck to the delicious icecream available. We can’t comment on the cakes and pastries since that does not appeal to our family.

There’s a small bar in the dining room. Wine, beer and cocktails could be ordered at dinner. Great touch. We enjoyed a shot of Kaluha every dinner!

Overall the food was o.k. once you found something to your liking. We aren’t adventurous eaters so you can’t necessarily go by our comments.

Staff:
Dining room staff were fantastic. Plates were cleared immediately and drinks continually refilled. Dishes were clean and restaurant well maintained. Breakfast and lunch tables could be chosen by yourself. At dinner there was a maitre d’ to seat you. If you prefer a certain table or area they don’t mind seating you at your request.

Bar staff was friendly and fast. They made excellent cocktails. Dirty monkeys were our favourite. Beer was not Corona unfortunately.. It was on tap and was XX Cervesa which was still great with lime! Drink quality was great!

Beach:
Beach was clean with many lounge chairs. The length of the beach was long enough to walk. There were palapas bordering the beach to provide shade. This made the depth of the beach rather minimal. We didn’t want to sit in the shade and the sunny sandy beach available had visitors continually walking by. It didn’t give much privacy for lounging or for children to play in the sand.

Water was refreshing. Even on red flag days the water was swimmable. A lot of fun body surfing and playing catch with a pool ball.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Leonard

January 2006

Just returned from a week at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach on the Riviera Maya. Its a great place to go if you want to avoid having to ever experience one iota of Mexico, but I found it a bit dull. Generally, there was no Mexico food to be had at all. That probably was not all bad, as most of the food there was quite mediocre. The kids subsisted on french fries, pizza, orange soda and ice cream! I suppose it all depends on you taste, but it seemed to me to be too isolated and insulated.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Manon & Francois ~ Canada

August 2005

Previous trips in the Carribean:

Dominican Republic – Punta Cana – Bavaro Beach Resort & Casino(Barcelo) – 1992 Cuba – Varadero – Melia Varadero – 1994 Dominican Republic – Sosua – LTI Sol de Plata(now Breezes Puerto Plata) – 1996 Mexico – Cancun – Oasis Cancun – 1998 Sint Maarten – Philipsburg – Great Bay Hotel – 1999 Cuba – Cayo Largo – Pelicano – 2000 Cuba – Cayo Coco – Tryp – 2000 Dominican Republic – Punta Cana – Natura Park -2001 Cuba – Holguin – Brisas Guardalavaca – 2001 Mexico – Riviera Maya – Bahia Principe Tulum – 2002 Mexico – Cancun – Gran Melia – 2003 Turks & Caicos – Providenciales – Allegro – 2004 Mexico – Akumal – Akumal Beach Resort – 2004 Mexico – Puerto Vallarta – Solare Vallarta – 2005

Mexico – Riviera Maya – Iberostar Paraiso Beach – 2005

We are a family of 4 , me and my wife in our 40’s and 2 teen boys of 12 and 15 We usually enjoy snorkelling as much as possible and nice beaches.

Flew from Montreal(Dorval – Trudeau) and everything went smoothly. The resort is about a 30 minutes drive from the Cancun Airport, so we arrived at the resort around 1:00 pm. The room was not ready as the check-in is 3:00pm. But we were promised a room within 30 minutes and they delivered promptly. The reception/looby area looks great with shining marble floors, bright orange and yellow arches surrounding an open water area with fountains and within this area are located lots of couches to rest your tired travelling bodies and a large lobby bar with many chairs and tables.

Grounds:
The Iberostar Paraiso Complex is huge! It consists of 4 hotels(soon to be 5…), the Del Mar, Beach, Lindo and Maya, which are designed to stretch from the lobby to the beach and this distance is approx. 800 meters for the Del Mar and the Beach, a little less for the Lindo and Maya. The Del Mar and Beach are twin resorts sharing the same pool and facilities/restaurants, as the Lindo and Maya share their pool and facilities/restaurants.(There is a good map created by Gordon, available on the net). When you exit the lobby area and want to reach your room or get to the beach, you either take the " inside " or "outside" path. The inside consist of nicely designed walkways or sidewalks within a jungle like vegetation that is well groomed, (even after the recent Emily hurricane) and makes for nice walks. The vegetation is such that you don’t see very far ahead of you and cannot see clearly the numerous buildings until you reach the pool area. The reverse travel from the beach/pool area to the lobby would be the same and it took us almost 2 days to really know our way around. The outside path is a lot easier , going relatively straight from the looby to the beach area and runs between the resorts. But these are much busier walkways as is it used by the trolly buses and lots of service carts and bicycles from the staff of the resorts. The buidlings, layout, restaurants and layout are almost identical for the Del Mar and Beach resorts. We preferred the Beach buidings for its look, colors and feel but this is personal. We went through the lobby and the first two buildings of the Lindo(which was close to the Beach) and it looked very nice, somewhat newer but you don’t see as much vegetation and there is a lot more "concrete" in your sight…It didn’t feel as cosy or quiet. We did use the trolly that can bring you from one end to the other end of the resort, but ours was runned by a gas engine and the fumes were somewhat disgusting. But there are some trollys running on electric motors similar to a golf cart.

Room: The week before our arrival, I had emailed the resort and gently asked two requests: a room closer to the beach area( buildings 31 to 36) and a room with two double beds and an extra bed. Our room was located in building 35 on the second floor and matched exactly our requests. From our balcony we had a partially obstructed view( by the trees) of the waterfall within the pool. Room was very nice: spacious, clean(shining marble floor) with minimal sign of wear. The bathroom had the usual bathtub/shower combination. The maintenance of the room was perfect, with the usual towel animal/whatever on the bed. The mini fridge was convenient and filled regularly by the maid. We would leave $2 US per day as a tip and whenever we asked for extra towels of beverages(we were 4 in the room) it was delivered promptly. Beds were comfortable but let me add that we like firm beds!

Pool: The pool is surely the nicest we have seen in our many trips. It spreads a long way and has many features along the way: 2 pool bars, waterfalls, jacuzzis(2) quiet areas and so on…. If you really want to enjoy the pool you should bring a floating device(not a lifesaving one as the deepest area is about 4 1/2 feet). You can wander around the different areas while sipping a tropical cocktail…. The "reserve" your chair or palapas by putting your beach towels or personal belongings early in the morning is very alive. At the pool area there were nice palapas with mattresses right by the pool, and it could easily accomodate a group of 4. To get one of these, you would have to get your things on them before 5:00 am. We would usually get to the pool around 6:30 – 6:45 am and we would find our usual spot . We would be close by the pool bar and the beach restaurant on the Del Mar side. We would be there reading for about 1 hour before heading for coffee, fruit and croissant before getting back to our chairs. By 7:30 am the good spots were all gone. You still had chairs available but without much shade. By noon, there were just about no chairs available! As there would always be someone of our party of 4 at the chairs, we would notice trends… People would reserve their chairs or palapas very early(before 6 am) but would only show up around 1:00pm. The resort had plenty of signs that said reserving a palapas was not allowed, but everybody was doing it. Coming noon time, people arriving would have a hard time finding chairs and would just take off the towels or personal belongings off the chairs and take them for their use. When I asked the Star Friends about this phenomenon, they answered me that it is right for people to remove towels if nobody is there, but that they cannot do it themselves. We found this policy about chairs and palapas quite ambiguous…

Beach: The beach area is somewhat remotely located from the pool and hotel area. There are wooden walkways going through jungle like vegetation for about 100 meters before reaching the actual beach. The beach area at the Del Mar and Beach sections is not allowed for swimming. (maybe caused by hurricane Emily, as the pier is broken in half) The area surrounded by cables is more in front of the Lindo/Maya side. The sand is white, fine and clean. When you get in the water, there were some rocks in the bottom for the first 10 meters and would soft after. The surf/waves is medium to strong when we were there. But then again, we didn’t do full days at the beach and only went 3 times for about 1 hour each time. Snorkeling at the beach was not great and the waves made it a little difficult. Boogie boards would have been nice but they don’t have any.

Restaurants/Bars: We had a very regular pattern! We would have an early coffee with pastries and fresh fruit at the pool restaurants around 7 am. These pool restaurants would serve continental breakfast from 7 am to 9 am then a more elaborated breakfast until about noon. Then around 10 am we would go at the main buffet close to the lobby area, either at the Del Mar or Beach side. There would be complete buffet style breakfast with lots of choice and we would have omelette or eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh juices etc… In the afternoon, around 2 pm, we would bo back to the pool restaurants for chicken, fries, fajitas etc… Around 4-5pm we would have a nice treat with an ice cream cone at the pool bar . In the evening we would go for dinner either at the main buffet at Del Mar or Beach with lots of choice for different meat, fish, pasta, etc…. We attended 3 of the à la carte restaurants: The Japanese(with teppanyaki) and the Brazilian(with the kebas) were excellent. The Mexican was also very good. We chose these 3 restaurants for the air conditionning… as the buffet areas were in open air style with numerous ceiling fans(but no air conditionning) and would would at times feel very hot, almost dripping sweat in your plate! As for the bars, we used mostly the bars from pool areas and the quality of drinks was good, not excellent but good. Everywhere around the resort, service at either the restaurants or bars was excellent even without tipping(although we tipped occasionally). A bonus of this resort was that you had access to room service at least once a day for the length of your stay. Since our youngest is a very very very picky eater, he survived with ordering chicken nuggets and fries(which he rated as excellent) for the supper meal.

Shows/entertainement: We did not participate in any pool or beach activities, but the " Star Friends" , mandated to do the animation seemed very good. We also didn’t attend any nightly shows (we wake up pretty early so…)There is a huge stage and bar area for both the Del Mar and Beach resorts. We didn’t hear anything from our room but maybe if you are closer to the lobby you may have noise until late at night…

Excursions: We didn’t book any packaged outings as we have been in the area before and already did Xel-Ha(twice), Tulum, Chichen Itza, Hidden Worlds, Yalku lagoon, and other cenotes. But there is a nice shuttle bus to Playa del Carmen(PDC) from the lobby of the Del Mar. This shuttle runs from 9 am to 9pm from the hotel to PDC and the reverse every half hour or so(check the schedule from the bell boys for the exact times). The shuttle is just about always full, so be there in line 15 or 20 minutes before the hour to make sure you get on… We did use the shuttle twice.

Cozumel: Using the resort shuttle, they drop you off near the pier area in PDC and we got on the Ultramar Ferry for about $11US per person(one way). The ferry takes about 40 minutes across and brings you to San Miguel, the main town(maybe the only..) on the island of Cozumel. We rented a car from Hertz and went around the island for snorkeling spots. We reached the Palancar Beach Club near the southern end of the island. This club looks rather shabby, with a few chair and umbrellas under thatched roof and on the beach but the 4 of us had lunch and it was great! We then paid $25US per person for the boat and guide that brought us to snorkel the Palancar Gardens reef, which is located about 10 minutes by boat from the club. Many fish, nothing spectacular or out of the usual, but the "towers" of coral reefs made for a spectacular view(the previous snorkelers saw many turtles). The snorkeling along the reef is pretty long, but you swim along with the current and the boat sort of follows you to pick you up at the end, so it makes for an easy snorkel swim. Usually we like to got around the island but we were told the road is closed on the western side. So we got back on our trail to the Playa Corona Beach Club(oddly enough there is no Corona beer here, only XX or Sol…) There is not much coral reef here but a nice drop off of the ocean bottom just along the cable with the boueys. The surf was pretty strong, so the swim was a lot tougher here. Then we went to snorkel the "plane wreck". This is not a real wreck but more a man made wreck for filming purposes. But you go through the lobby of the El Cid del Mar hotel, and you have easy access to the water and it’s an easy swim to the wreck which makes for a nice view with lots of fish.(We were told to watch out for the boats by a lone scuba diver, but it turned out pretty quiet. We went for a stroll around the town before getting the car back and having lunch at Senor Frog’s before heading back across with the ferry and the shuttle back to our hotel.

PDC: Again we used the resort shuttle to get to PDC and from the drop off area, we got a cab for $5US to the Iberostar Tucan/Quetzal Resorts. Since we had access to the services of these from 9am to 6pm. These 2 twins resort are very similar in their layout, that is from the lobby to the beach, with a jungle area in the middle( with more ups and downs), but with a smaller pool (although nice) and a much closer access to the beach. If you know your ways around the Del Mar and Beach hotel, the Tucan/Quetzal are just the same except not as much spread out. The view from the beach is wonderful. The surf was minimal, the sand is made of fine white powder and when you get in the water, there is no rocks in the bottom. The hues of blue that comes from the water is hypnotizing when under a shining sun. Services for restaurants and bars are similar(same towels, same drinks, same food, everything is located exactly as at the Del Mar/Beach). We left the hotel around 4pm and got back to PDC and went shopping on 5th Avenue. Nice things to buy but somewhat expensive.

Conclusion: A very nice resort, with excellent service all around, very eye pleasing grounds, with very good à la carte restaurants that made for a good week holiday…but we will not go back.

First we like to change resorts and places. Second, for us, this place is too big. You walk a lot, and then you walk some more…With the heat of August added to this walking factor, it sort of got to us. Third, the beach was not that great, was too remote for us and didn’t provide for much snorkeling. Four, the buffet restaurants are not air conditionned. We definitely prefer smaller hotels or resorts with easier access to everything(even if you get less choice for restaurants à la carte or at the buffet). We were at the Bahia Principe Tulum(BPT) 2 years earlier, and it was a comparable resort in services available and quality and we preferred it to the Iberostar. The BPT is stretched along the beach as the Iberostar stretches away from the beach….and the buffet restaurants were better with air conditionning and such a relaxing atmosphere. After going for a day to the Iberostar Tucan/Quetzal, I would definitely have preferred a stay at these resorts instead…

N.B. We did order maps of Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel from www.cancunmap.com. They turned out to be very helpful as they contain tons of useful info.

Unusual twist to our stay: On our way back, we got inside the plane for departure(around noon) at the Cancun airport, but after over an hour of wait in the heat(the air conditionning in the plane was not working) we got off the plane and wait another 3 hours before we were told that the plane was defective and that we would not leave today. All passengers( approx 165) were brought back to 2 hotels in Cancun. We were located at the Oasis Beach as the others were at the Oasis Viva. These hotels are rated as 3,5 to 4 stars but coming from a week at Iberostar, we would give it only 2,5 stars( maybe 3 after a few drinks…). We opted for an evening supper in downtown

Cancun which is really close. We had a good time at Senor Frog’s since the place was very alive and party like atmosphere even for a family like us. We woke up for the 5:30 am check out to leave for the airport but again had the surprise of not leaving and that we should go for breakfast and we should have more details after. After the 7:00am breakfast, we were told that we would leave around noon, so again we went in town for shopping. We eventually left the hotel at 1:30 pm to actually depart from the airport strip at 3:30pm and got in Montreal around 8:30 pm which is about 32 hours later that the initial return time. The good side of this is that it gave us 2 nice outings in

Cancun, which is great if you know you way around the city. Fortunately, we always try to booked holidays with return times on Fridays so it leaves us a good margins for any problems with the return flights. If your return is for a late Sunday and you are working the following day, your in for a good headache…The bad side is that even after many trips down south, you may be stranded in a sort of "no man’s land". Being on the plane, the tour operator was not available any more, as the Air transat Company subcontracts it’s service from a Mexican Agency( ASR) for ground services. We ended up OK, but communications are not what we are used to in Canada and some people got pretty upset of not having anyone from Air Transat or their tour operator to guide them…

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Guy ~ Montreal, Canada

May 2005

My wife and I visited the Iberostar Beach for a one week trip, in April 2005. Just to give you a bit of background on what type of travellers we are, we’re both in our early 30s and have 3 young kids (which stayed home for this trip). We travel down South once a year, and this was our 7th resort. We’ve been to Mexico once before and also visited Varadero (Cuba), Puerto Plata and Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and have tried Club Med once (Playa Blanca).

This resort is huge! The grounds are amazing and my wife and I were very impressed. The pool is so large, I simply never seen one that comes even close to its size. By the way, there are actually 4 resorts in the complex. There is the Iberostar Beach, Iberostar Del Mar, Iberostar Lindo and finally the Iberostar Maya. The Beach and the Del Mar are 4 star hotels, while the Lindo and the Maya (which is brand new) are 5 star. You get a different color bracelet depending at which one you are staying, and the hotels are paired up. In other words, your bracelet will allow you to get drinks or food at your own hotel and it’s ‘”sister” resort. The Iberostar Beach is paired with the Del Mar and the other 2 together. Now one thing that is very important to note, is that while you cannot get drinks or food at the Maya or the Lindo if you are staying at the Beach (or Del Mar for that matter), you can use the facilities (pools and such). We discovered that there is a wave pool and something they call a lazy river (great to relax) on the Maya side.

There are 6 specialty restaurants that are accessible when staying at the Beach; Mediterranean, Tropical, Brazilian, Steak House, Japanese and Mexican. We tried every single one, and the only one that was disappointing was the Tropical. The buffet was pretty good (did it one evening, and also went after the Tropical) and I was happily surprised with the variety and the quality. I doubt anyone could starve at this resort =)

Plenty of bars here. 3 different pool bars, on top of the lobby bars. We found the drink selection to be more than adequate, although for very elaborate or speciality drinks you’ll have to visit the lobby bar. Make sure you ask the bartenders for international rum in your drinks. The local white rum is… Well let’s just say I have a theory that too much of it could make you go blind =)

We did one excursion, the sunset cruise with the lobster diner. Wasn’t bad, but at 70$ US per person, it was a rip off in my opinion. We were a bit cramped on the boat, had to remain seated almost the entire time and couldn’t move for the lack of space and the diner on the beach was nothing spectacular. At least, the music and animation made the ambiance very romantic at dinner. Heck, they even got me to slow dance with my wife, and that in itself deserves mention… if you’d ever seen me dance, you’d know what I mean, hehehe

As always, we brought about 100$ worth of 1$ bills (US) and spread them around all week. We didn’t get the feeling that we had to tip, but it always seems to make service a bit better the second time around. Besides, one advantage was that the bartender at our favourite pool bar knew us by name after the first day and we didn’t even have to order when we went to get a drink. It was ready and waiting for us.

So all in all we had a great time, and would definitely go back. We actually plan to try and visit another Iberostar resort at a different destination for our next trip. So I would definitely recommend this one.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Sharon in Hamilton, Ontario

March 2005

I have just returned from one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. The Paraiso Beach Resort by Iberostar in the Mayan Riviera seeps luxury and charm from the marble walkways to the well-appointed, clean rooms to the sumptuous dining, to the lush gardens. Comfort is the word at the Paraiso Beach. The wait staff and housekeeping staff go the extra mile to meet your needs and to please you. Reception staff are helpful and courteous. The pool area is clean with lots of loungers complete with mattresses. The beach is kept clean and has a very convenient board walk along the length of the complex. Not a walker? No worries – this hotel offers a trolley ride along its flagstone walkway for those who can’t manage distances or choose not to do so. All in all, I can’t recommend this complex highly enough. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and look forward to our next visit.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Mary & John

February 2005

My husband and I just got back from a week at the Iberostar Pareiso Beach on the Maya Riviera, Mexico. February 4-11.

We had a very nice, relaxing vacation. This was our first trip to Mexico, we usually go to the Dominican Republic. Comparing the two resort areas, we prefer the Dominican Republic and will probably not return to Mexico.

The resort was lovely, a little confusing at first. There are actually 4 hotels, and it’s hard to tell where you are at first. The Del Mar and the Beach share the pool and snack bars and restaurants etc. I think the other two share a pool etc as well, but I got tired trying to figure it out.

We stayed at the Beach #34 and it was a lovely location for the pool. We found that the walk to the beach and snack bar as well as the main restaruants was a bit much, but after a few days we discovered that if you just flag down a golf cart they will take you anywhere on the complex. There is a little train as well that rides around on no set schedule, you just sort of wait for it.

We made our reservations at the speciality restaurants the first day as advised by our tour guide and were very pleased with our selections: Meditteranean, Italian, Steak House. The Steak House was by far the best. We enjoyed the buffet also and had most of our breakfasts and lunches at the beach snack bars, which aren’t really snack bars, more like mini buffets. There is an ice cream bar as well that was always refreshing in the late afternoon.

Our room was very clean and our maid did a wanderful job of housekeeping. We had towel art everyday and it was fun to return to the room and find a new animal with fresh flowers.

There is a waterfall with a jacuzzi under it…not warm!!! It was quite lovely, but it was shut off for 4 of the 7 days?? There was aslo work being done continually. There were two full days where two workman chipped away at the pool cement wall, which became quite tiring when you are trying tor relax.

The beach was windy all of the time. When the sun was fully out and the temperature was 80+ you didn’t mind it so much, but when it was cloudy it was too cool and there were days when it felt like a gale force wind. The Carribean is rough here, there are plenty of waves, this is fun for a short while, but you can’t really swim or enjoy it very long.

We had several overcast days in the beginning of the week but eventually the sun came out nice and strong and stayed out for 3 days in a row.

We took a trip into Playa Del Carmen, the resort offers a free shuttle service. They drop you off and you are on your own, they don’t even tell you which direction to start to walk. We just followed the crowd and found the town. The shopping area is nicely enclosed with no cars allowed and some of the shops have good buys. I’m not really a shopper, so we just bought a few things and headed out of town. We really weren’t impressed. There are alot of time share salesmen and they can be pretty agressive, so you just have to keep walking.

A week was long enough, and we returned relaxed and ready to face some more winter, but next year we will return to the Dominican Republic.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Jasmine & Renaud ~ Canada

January 2005

Personal background

My husband and I are in our late 40’s, no children. We have been to quite a few places down South over the past 25 years, namely: Jamaica (Couples Ocho Rios, Swept Away Negril, Trelawny), Allegro Punta Cana-DR, Fiesta Palace Punta Cana-DR, Sol Rio de Lunas-Cuba, Club Med – Eleuthera Bahamas, Jolly Beach-Antigua, Halcyon Beach Club-St.Lucia, Bakoua-Martinique, Meridien-Guadeloupe. Our trip to Riviera Maya last week was our first time in Mexico. Overall, the best place we have ever been to, and by far, is Swept Away in Negril Jamaica (now Couples Swept Away). Unfortunately, it is now out of our price range.

Grounds & buildings

By far, the most magnificient grounds we have ever seen. Lots of tropical vegetation, a "jungle" feeling. Exotic birds everywhere, lush vegetation and a big part of it was kept natural. The reception/bar/restaurants area is simply spectacular and very classy. Water features and fountains everywhere. Cleanliness is immaculate everywhere, always someone cleaning, washing, picking up leaves, etc. We visited the other 3 parts of Iberostar, and the Paraiso Beach part is in our opinion the classiest and most beautiful one. It shares its grounds and pool with the Del Mar. The Lindo/Maya part has more of a "concrete" theme park feeling, much less vegetation, probably more interesting for people with children (running river type pool, wave pool, etc.).

Rooms

The room units have a beautiful mexican colonial architecture and are surrounded by lots of vegetation. We stayed in unit 34. I would say units 33 to 36 are the best located, half way between the beach and the main building area, away from the noise of the shows at night. We did ask for a king size bed and did get a huge shower as mentioned by other readers. The rooms are large, very clean.

Pool

Spectacular as mentioned by other readers. Could be a bit noisy in the main part in the afternoon with animation, dance lessons, volleyball games, etc., but that’s personal taste.

Beach

Nice, clean, lots of palapas and palm trees for shade. A bit crowded for my own taste but it is to be expected when 4 hotels share a certain beach front area. The ocean was rather wavy for the whole time, mostly "red flag". But even with waves, the water is clear and you could still see your feet. I don’t know how much this has to do with the time of the year.

Food

I would qualify the buffet as "average" but very good atmosphere, many areas separated by water features, buffet area enclosed separate from the dining area. Good thing they have those à la carte restaurants. We tried the Japanese, Brazilian and Italian (Lindo). All 3 were good. Nice to be able to reserve them all at once and forget about it. Good Spanish wine, always in bottles.

Service/staff

Excellent everywhere, always smiling. We tipped at every meal and every day for the chamber maid but did not get the feeling that you had to.

Little "extras"

A few things we never saw anywhere else and particularly enjoyed: fresh orange juice at breakfast, daily newspaper at the door every morning (Miami Herald Cancun edition) and free mini bar in the room.

Shows and other activities

We did not attend the shows, but the first part seems to be oriented for children as we could hear from the dining area. As I had a bad cold from the second day, we unfortunately did not go out for visits or activities. It sounds like the Xel Ha park is worth it and the hotel has a couple of nice snorkeling outings every day for $ 29 US per person.

Conclusion

Very luxurious and classy feeling all over. Beautiful grounds and buildings. We would not go back simply because we like to see different places. We would probably pick a smaller resort for couples only. Like I said before, if you can afford it, Swept Away in Jamaica is out of this world, for couples only, very quiet (no animation), beautiful calm beach, lots of sports (2 scuba outings a day, 10 tennis courts, half-olympic size pool, golf course). Our stay there goes back about 10 years but a colleague of mine and her husband went there last year and the year before and were equally impressed with it. I suppose the big attraction for the Riviera Maya is that most hotels are very recent and they have refined the venues to fit people’s needs.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Larry

December 2004

My family & I just returned from our annual pre Christmas vacation. This year it was The Iberostar Paraiso Beach, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

I read page after page of reviews before leaving for this trip. I heard of ‘Red Flag Days’, watered down drinks, poor entertainment, lousy food, on and on. YOU PEOPLE ARE NUTS!!!!! The best days on the beach were the ‘Red Flag Days’, the surf was wild and a lot of fun for all ages. I saw older people as well as the young battle the waves, body surfing, and just having a heck of a time in the water.

The food although some items were repetitive at times, was very diverse and allowed our family to experience whatever international delight was on the buffet, and there were many. The repetitive items were things like hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta, french fries, omelets, bacon, etc. Mostly American foods, available I am sure for the person who either would not try new things or was unable to for some reason.

The Food 5 stars, be sure to try the themed restaurants, we loved them.

The drinks, depending on the bar you went to were mostly excellent. Some of the bars seemed to have watered down drinks, but once the bartender knew how you liked your drinks, there was no problem. Some resorts we have been to in the past never could fix drinks to your liking. You have to ask for the liquors you like or they use the the generic stuff, just like bars back home. The best bar staff I have encountered.

The Bars & drinks 4-1/2 stars. The lobby bar and swim up pool bars are the best. The accomodations. I am not used to 5 star rooms so all I can go by is what I have heard. The rooms must be at least 4 star without question.

We did encounter a few maintenance items which were corrected at once. Our bed was clean, comfortable, and turned back for us daily. Whatever we wanted we got. The in room mini bar was included in the room price, I expected a hefty fee for our use of the items we consumed since we were not at the bar, but no chages were assessed. This was a first for us, we have had an extra bill at the end of some trips for using the mini bar items. The difference between a Junior Suite is so small, About 3 feet longer room and closer to the beach and pool.

Not worth the extra fees to book in advance. Flash a $20 bill at the desk clerk as you check in, we got the upgrade. Being close to the pool and beach had it’s drawbacks as we were further from the restaurants, lobby, and nightly entertainment. If you don’t get an upgrade, don’t worry, you spend so little time in your room anyway.

The entertainment, 4-1/2 stars. At my age the disco was not a big draw, but we did stay in it for quite a while one night. We were traveling with my 11 year old daughter, my 20 year old daughter and her boyfriend. The nightly show was at the least good but some shows were excellent. Miss the vegas night unless you have 8 to 14 year olds, they get to play casino games with chips, adults can too but it isn’t worth competing with kids for a spot. They had a ball. Every night the kids had a mini disco at the show prior to the main show. Audience games were great, that is what made it fun. The Star Friends entertainment staff gets a 5+ star rating. Watch them work and you will see why. The start their day at breakfast mingling with the guests, meeting with us and exchanging stories about home etc. You next see them at the pool, the beach, and any of the entertainment areas. They might be in costume. in uniform or just there to get people involved in the activities. They were great, the best activities staff I have seen. The same people may hand you your towel at the pool and then be the star of the show that night. They worked very hard, I never saw a frown on their faces, or heard a cross word.

The hotel itself, 5+ stars!! I felt like a visitor at a palace. Service was extradordinary. If I wanted it I got it. Every employee seemed happy, glad you were there, and anxious for you to return again. Tips were appreciated, but not mandatory for service. I am not a big tipper, but found myself tipping because of the great service I received not as a condition of service in the future. Would I go back, DEFINITELY. Would I recommend this or any Iberostar based upon my experience, Definitely!

My only complaint on the vacation was the hotel next door (NOT AN IBEROSTAR PROPERTY) was doing a Time share promotion where you recieved $200 for going through a 90 minute presentation. This from the taxi ride to the hotel to return trip was over 4 hours. I was treated so badly when the realized I was not interested in the property which was DUMPY looking in many places. The fountains shot out slime green water. NASTY!! Don’t walk away from the time share people, run. I was yelled at by the lady who was supposedly the manager of the time share staff because I was asking why I was still being held up when I was not interested. Not scolded mind you but yelled at in anger loud enough for the entire room of people to hear. Rather than say the name of the company putting on the time share I think you will know when you get to town one day, The leaches are everywhere, trying to get you to go through it, offering you discounted tours, t shirts, money, etc to go through it. RUN!!!!! Let me say that IBEROSTAR had nothing to do wth it and I was not approached on the hotel property by the time share people. Best deals are in Playa. Best tours for once are available at your hotel.

I have travelled FunJet before, & have had so-so luck.
The FunJet desk at the hotel was great, Griselda I think was her name, excellent, took care of us as FunJet Guests and as tour promoter. She made sure we were where we should be for the tours, from the first day knew us by name and always greeted us by name. Unlike so many vacation packages where you see your vacation coordinator only once, she was there always ready to help.

FunJet, Iberostar, and Ryan Air, my best bet for future vacations. Without a doubt one of the best I have taken, even though the weather was a little cool. Not their fault. Thanks Iberostar, FunJet, and every member of every staff who helped to make this vacation great.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Michael — France

June 2004

My wife and I are early 30’s with no children. We chose Playa de Carmen because we wanted something more quiet and relaxing than the hotel row in Cancun. This was our second trip to an all-inclusive resort. We knew what to expect yet the Iberostar Paraiso pleasantly surprised us. We went the first week of June and the hotel appeared to be empty. In summary we had a great time. My only complaints were the lack of water sports and the poor drink quality.

GROUNDS
The hotel is absolutely beautiful. The marble floors reflected light like they were wet. Trees mostly shade the path from the reception to the beach, and the walk is very beautiful. There are swans, parrots, flamingos, turkeys, and more. We paid for the Paraiso and got the Paraiso. Really the Del Mar and Paraiso are the same hotel, just the Paraiso rooms are a little newer/nicer. We took our own bags to our room to avoid waiting for the bellboys. We arrived at 6pm, just enough time to check-in and go for a swim.

ROOM
We were given a room by the reception and I asked for and received a room closer to the beach. It was halfway between the beach and reception. This was a good compromise, I was very happy with our location. The room was wonderful. Not much more to say! Mini-bar with beer, safe, big shower.. What more could we ask for?

POOL
The pool was very disappointing. It’s huge, but too shallow. A lot of it is only 2 feet deep, and the majority is about 4 feet. It wasn’t very good for swimming. The water was very warm.

BEACH
The beach was even more beautiful than expected. Our first morning we arrived at the beach at 11am and I was shocked to find plenty of unreserved palapas! At our first AI resort I had to wake up at 6:30am every day to reserve a palapa. Here there were probably 50+. We had a red flag for the first 4.5 days of our trip. The waves were a lot of fun but unfortunately we were not allowed to do water sports. The last three days were mostly orange. There were too many waves to windsurf (unless you’re really good at it which I’m not). In order to do the watersports you have to sign papers and listen to a really hard sell about SCUBA diving. This was not pleasant but I faked interest to increase my chances of doing the catamaran (see below). We did kayak twice, the second time I got capsized by a big wave and I found out when we got back that I had a small fracture in my rib. Every day the flag was orange I went down to do the catamaran and every day I got different excuses why I couldn’t do it. Too late (this was at 4pm), too much current, someone broke one of them so they stopped all of them, and then my favorite: too early. It was 9:15 and they had told me to come at 9am! They said “come back in half an hour, we have work to do”. I told them there were catamarans ready (they were) and that they had told me 9am. They finally let me but it wasn’t easy. Overall the water sports were a big disappointment for me. On our previous trip I did the catamaran and windsurfing every day, and it was the best part of my trip. If water sports are important for you I recommend looking for another hotel.

FOOD
The food was excellent. We ate at the buffet 5 times and the specialty restaurants 3 times. I actually preferred the buffet. With the buffet you can see what you get and you have more choices. Some items were available every day but most were changed daily. I especially liked the Mexican dishes. Four our restaurants, the Mediterranean and tropical restaurants were slightly disappointing, and the Japanese was good but unfortunately we reserved for 9pm and is was too late for Tepenyaki (tableside cooking). Unfortunately they didn’t tell us that so we ordered it and were disappointed when they brought it to us on a plate instead of cooking it in front of us! The Japanese restaurant is highly recommended but reserve by 8pm!

The lunch by the beach was good. Choices were limited and it was not as refined as the formal lunch buffet, but we could go in our swimsuits and it was much closer.

The breakfast buffet was good but mostly the same every day. The highlight was the fresh squeezed juices. They had the best orange juice I’ve ever had! I put the fresh coconut on my pancakes and waffles with some caramel sauce. Delicious!

DRINKS
The drinks were the other major disappointment. Anything made in the blender came out extremely weak and watery. I caught on to this about halfway through and only ordered drinks on the rocks. The lobby bars are the best. They display lots of top shelf liquors but when you ask for it they give you local brands. The shots were OK but not very strong. They did have champagne that was nice (ask for a “Kir Royale”). The drinks at the pool and beach didn’t seem to be as good, except for the pina colada which came out of a machine. I asked for “con mucho coco” and it was much better.

STAFF
The staff were very nice and helpful, and always hardworking. We only tipped a few times. We tipped one guy a Euro and he didn’t know what it was. I guess Europeans don’t tip much. The maid did a great job despite the fact that we didn’t tip daily, and I liked that so we left her a small tip at the end.

ENTERTAINMENT
The entertainment varied greatly. Many nights it was simply audience participation, which we didn’t find very interesting. A couple nights they had a real bad playing live music. The last night they had a really super band with an English male and Mexican female singers.

PLAYA DE CARMEN
We took the free shuttle to Playa de Carmen twice. The first was just to walk and look. I noticed the prices continued rising the further we walked down the street. The stores by the bus stop are the cheapest. It’s true the bus lets you off about a 7-minute walk from the main street, which is a long walk from the center of the town. My main target was tequila. I used to pay about $18 for a bottle of Sauza Hornitos (one of the best tequilas, it’s100% agave) before it became unavailable where I live (in France). At the hotel it was $35. In Playa de Carmen it started around $35 and was over $40 in many places. This shows the range of prices and the need to bargain. Cheap things (T-shirts, vases, blankets, etc.) really couldn’t be bargained for (we tried and tried), I think they’re priced fair to lure you in for the overpriced stuff like tequila. We didn’t buy anything. On the way back in the shuttle bus we noticed a supermarket “Chedraui”. So on our second trip my wife had a great idea: We could do some shopping there. It turned out to be only about 20 minute walk from the bus stop. The easiest way is to walk down 10th Ave. to a big cross street, turn left and go 7 streets and then left again 3 streets. You can’t miss it, and you can ask anyone “Donde esta Chedraui?” There I bought the last 3 bottles of my Sauza Hornitos at only $12 a bottle! What a bargain. Unfortunately there was nothing else of interest so I had to carry my 3 bottles around while we bought T-Shirts and a blanket!

COMMENTS ON OTHER REVIEWS
It’s amazing how some of the reviews complain about things that we never observed. I think many people expect a 5 star Bellagio, Hilton, etc. This is Mexico! There is bottled water in the minibar, everywhere else they have machines which dispense bottled water (we saw them fill it up). The cold food was kept cold and the hot very hot in the buffet. The only time we had a problem with mosquitoes/bugs was when he ate late and sat right next to the water. There was always one or two Mexican dishes at the buffet. If you go in August it’s sure you’ll see more Europeans. We were there in June and there were mostly Americans. People were friendly and often said “Hi” to us while walking.

SUMMARY
GOOD:
Food is delicious, hotel is breathtaking, rooms are big and beautiful, plenty of palapas at the beach and pool, free shuttle to Playa, no diarrhea, ice cream bar was great

BAD:
Pool is very shallow, no watersports, no snorkeling, drinks are very weak, entertainment hit or miss, shopping is a real rip-off, especially in the hotel and even in Playa.

Overall we had a very relaxing trip. My wife and I asked ourselves if we preferred this hotel or the previous AI hotel in the DR. The verdict? Both! Each hotel has its own advantages and disadvantages. If I came back to Cancun I’d look into another hotel with better water sports and a calmer beach, but I would also consider staying again at the Paraiso. Email me if you have any questions: michael@advweb.com and visit my webpage for pictures: http://www.advweb.com/

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Joan — Newmarket, Ontario

April 2004

We have just returned from a great week at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach. We have stayed at several different resorts within the Iberostar group because when you are going on holiday with 3 generations of family they are best; there is always something for everyone. And once again we were not disappointed. This year our group ranged in age from 12 to 77.

The grounds are magnificent. Although there is a lot of walking because the resort is so big, it’s really enjoyable and relaxing. The gardens along the way are lush and beautiful and the pathways are winding and shaded, the birds and fish and lizards were always nice to see. The walk to dinner was just as nice as the soft lighting on the paths makes you feel like you’re in a jungle, very romantic. No bugs either. The gardeners are out everyday raking and trimming and washing the pathways. If you don’t like to or can’t walk the length of the resort there is a shuttle bus or you can just wave at any of the workers in golf carts and they will pick you up, so no problem.

The rooms are great; we were in building #35 right by the waterfall at the end of the pool. It’s right in the middle of the resort between the lobby and beach. I had asked that we all be in the same building and that my parents have a ground floor room as my Dad has a bad hip and there are no elevators and as usual they took care of everything. We had a room with a King bed and double shower but our kid’s room and everyone else’s had 2 double beds and a bath with shower, so if you have a preference just ask. All our rooms were on the east side of the building overlooking the pathways and the gardens which we enjoyed, as the view was wonderful and the balconies are shaded in the late afternoon when everyone was relaxing and getting ready for dinner. The west side is in the full sun and overlooks the new Lindo and the tram pathway, not bad just not as nice we thought. We had towel animals and chocolates everyday which was a treat. They kids had to check everyday to see which animal everyone got: swan, elephant, dog etc.

The food was good. Always enjoyed the buffets, especially breakfast, the omelettes are excellent. For late sleepers they can get breakfast at the buffet near the beach after 10, it has fruit, cereals, yogurt and pastries etc but no eggs or bacon etc. The a la carte dinners are very good but book them as soon as you get there, especially if you are with a group, or you may not get the ones you want. They serve nachos by the pool from 4:30 – 6 in the afternoon at the ice cream bar which is nice if you eat dinner late. No will ever go hungry at this resort.

The Star friends especially Enrico and Christien really make your stay enjoyable. All the activities and shows are great. Aerobics in the pool with Enrico is not to be missed if you don’t drown from laughing so hard. The pool games were great fun. Ceramic painting on the beach was a big hit.

The pool is fabulous. We would spend the morning and late afternoon there and the rest of the time at the beach. Although we had a red flag everyday which meant that we couldn’t do any of the water sports the surf was great fun. The lifeguards let would swim on one part of the beach were there was no coral and it was a blast, body surfing was great.

As for activities outside the resort; we took the bus from the hotel to Playa Del Carmen one afternoon, good deals for shoppers. The bus drops you off and picks you up about a 5 minute walk from the shopping area and runs every 2 hours. Some of our group went back again.

We rented a mini van and went to Coba and Tulum to see the ruins; this is definitely worth the trip. We were going to go to Chichen En Itza but many people that we talked to said it was very crowded and open (no trees) and that Coba was better. Coba is smaller and less busy but still it has the highest pyramid on the Yucatan. The pyramid is about 1.5 km from the main entrance but definitely worth the walk. You can also rent bikes or someone will take you in a bicycle cart if you don’t want to walk. Tulum is beautiful; everyone just walks around in awe, and again if you don’t want to walk there is a shuttle. There is a tour that goes to both these places from the resort for about $60 US each, but we rented the van so we could go at our own pace. The kids wanted to rent a Jeep but maybe next time. It’s cheaper to rent a car from home but we didn’t know what day we wanted to go so we just booked in the lobby of the resort. That way you just book it the night before and it’s sitting in the parking lot for you in the morning, no hassles.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Connie and Doug — Alberta Canada

April 2004

I know, I know… this has come almost 5 months late, but we just haven’t had time since the moment we came back we’ve been looking forward and reading reviews on Debbie’s site for our next trip this November…. ( but that doesn’t seem so bad since our other review from our last trip last Nov is in the Peurto Plata section din’t get put on until months later as well!… check it out,, you’ll see us there too!)

Alright now to the resort… I swear you’ll love it. This trip was our second with the Iberostar chain this time staying at the Paraiso Beach side. Amazing is all that comes to mind.

Now, my husband and I have just begun our travelling adventures and so we enjoy every second. Stayed Nov 21-29/03 and if not for all the other destinations around the world to travel would return again to this hotel in a heart beat.

We had to use SkyService this year and yeah there were problems,,, but that’s airport service I guess…. we are planning to book with AirTransat this year though. The Mayan.. BEAUTIFUL. I found the sand different than Peurto Plata in the D.R. nicer but lighter, so it blew all over the place…The hotel and people in the chain are absolutely amazing. The grounds and the resort go on and on…. not to mention the enormous pool. That was our favorite feature. We didn’t spend much time during the day in it,, but just after dusk when the lifeguards …Yeah you read right, the Iberostar hires life guards for the beach and boots ya out of the water when it gets dark out. then we hung out at the pool. You are still allowed to go in to the ocean, just personally after drinking Hawaiin blue’s and silver fish clouds all day then ya.. we didn’t really want to fight the night current.

Where was I … ahh the pool.. amazing. check it out, in the flyers the pictures do it no justice. All around the pool are restaurants ( i beileve there were 2 pool side grills) 2 daily restaurants on either side of the pool that turn into a la carte’s in the evening and the swim up ice cream and drink bars’. EXCELLENT. Don’t worry about kids dropping ice cream in the pool or anything.. there were staff who looked liked they were just hanging out there.. yeah they weren’t… if the pool got any bit dirty, they were there the whole day ready to clean it up.

The rooms were great….. we got as we requested King Size bed on a 3rd floor room…. No Bugs except for the little cute tiny gecko’s that you see on the sides of the outside walls occasionally. No mosquito’s cause they sprayed nightly. Brought lots of bug spray (due to lack of knowing the bug situation in D.R. you live in learn ) and it just took up room in our suitcase. The smell in the room?? yeah on my first trip to the D.R. I thought it was mold, but its the carribean humid air. I realzied this this when we arrived in the Mayan.. it’s the same smell of the lush vegitation and the carribean air, only in your room it’s contained. it’s not an unpleasent odor if you realize what it is… i still have that smell on some of my holiday beach wear ( the wraps ) and it’s nice to have that smell it brings back memories. if you want to get it out though use vinegar and water alone (no soap) then wash it regularily. but by no means is it mold.. or foul smelling.. anyways,, just wanted to kick that rumor out of the water…..

The food was great. If you eat something different everynight then there really is no time to get sick of the same thing cause we didn’t find there was the same thing every night. The a la carte’s were the best. We stayed at the Mexican, The Steak House and the Paradise Restaurant. All amazing. Upset stomach’s??? nope.. we brought pepto and immodium.. if you’re worried take an immodium when you first get there and a pepto swish before meals.. you’ll be fine..

The entertainment. Well Doug and I are really socialable people. We were up dancing everynight and so the Star friends really get to know ya. In fact there audience participation events were a hoot and got pulled up on stage our last night and won a dance contest and then tied for best IBerostar couple. So that was kinda cool.. But really the Star Friends are great especially Christien and Holly!!! If you don’t make the chance to meet them then how would they know who you are??? We enjoyed the shows emensly. It was a great time. Of course these are not vegas shows -although the vegas show was great, but they offer a great laugh in the evening. If you only see one show though don’t miss out on the black light show. By far the greatest!!

We only did on 2 excursions cause we like to sit and relax and that was a snorkling tour and the one of course to the mayan ruins. definately a great time.. but if you go to the mayan go to the temple’s soon cause there were signs going up and they are actually going to close the ruins for the public ( at least for the big temple as for climbing in and out ) early in 2005. IT’s just getting to damaged. Snorkling was awsome,.,, it was cloudy at the begginning of the day and we were a little sad because you couldn’t see much but by the middle of the day it turned beautiful so we were able to see so many fish and a sunken ship and coral reefs that go on and on and on.

Well.. to sum it up,, Try the resort.. if your’e a fun and nice person you’ll have a great time. We met so many nice people and staff…. if your loud and abnoxious and expecting to be waited on hand and foot then well… where have you ever stayed with your own personal staff member??? We have 2 feet and a heart beat and we had a blast. The service was great , the hotel was great , Mexico was great !!! And we will continue to use the Iberostar chain until there are no more to use. Next stop,,, Iberostar Dominicana in the Punta Cana this Nov,…… and we’ll let ya know how it goes.

p.s. if you need any info you can email us at C2D13Z99idar@shaw.ca and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.. as for the so called "hooky" Dale Pa La song and the "Hey baby" song and dance at the end…. it’s great fun if ya get up and dance.. we have the artists as well as the "SandSwipe/Sexy Song for the D.R"… we got it from the staff at the resort.

Take Care, Travel Safe and enjoy your stay at the Iberostar. It’s well worth the money

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Jeff and Julie — USA

April 2004

My husband and I just returned from our first trip to Mexico the first week in April 2004. It was our 20th wedding anniversary and the first vacation without our children. We did a lot of research and read lots of reviews before booking at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach. We were absolutely thrilled with our choice from the moment we arrived. The Paraiso Beach and Del Mar share the grounds and you could have access to all amenities at either one. The Lindo was also available to you, but you couldn’t drink there unless you actually were booked there.

The resort grounds are absolutely beautiful. While the walk from the lobby to the beach is long, it was so relaxing and enjoyable to watch peacocks, parrots, flamingos, swans, etc…along the way, a very peaceful atmosphere.

The swimming pool is amazing. The water temperature was just right, the 3 swim up bars were great and the bartenders were a lot of fun. Although the resort was full, we never had a problem finding a lounger by the pool or on the beach. We also got a massage right out by the pool, which was just as good as the one I got at their spa.

The beach and sand were gorgeous and there was always a nice breeze. You could play horseshoes, volleyball, non-motorized watersports, or just relax on a lounger, or in a hammock. The parasailing was a blast!

The food was very good. There was a wide variety of options at the buffets and the fruit was always fresh and delicious. You have the option upon arrival to book reservations at 3 of the specialty restaurants. And each morning and later in the afternoons you can check to see if there are any openings for that night, in case you want to try any of the other restaurants. The Japanese restaurant was a hoot. The Steakhouse was good as was the Mexican one. We even had the opportunity to eat at the Italian one that is located in the Lindo and that was good. The service in all of them, as well as the buffets, was excellent. The wait staff was always pleasant and timely.

The evening shows were not as good as they are on your typical cruise, but they were fun. We thought the theatre at the Lindo was best and we spent most nights there, but the shows rotated between the resorts. Even though you weren’t allowed to drink at the Lindo (unless you stayed there), they did always serve us at night in the theatre. In the early evening the Star Friends staff usually catered to the kids and brought them up on stage to play games, or sing and dance. The kids were so cute and looked like they were having such a good time. There was also a discotech at the Del Mar, but it was filled with mostly teenagers. We were there during spring break, and there was a graduating class there – all 18 year olds, and they were enjoying the fact that they were legal to drink there. It didn’t bother us, but if you don’t want a lot of teenagers, don’t go during spring break time.

In the lobby you have access to several tour companies and you can book snorkeling tours, speedboating, ATVing, horseback riding, visit the mayan ruins, visit Echoparks, etc…they include all the transportation and pick you up right in the lobby. The tour guides are great and seem to enjoy their jobs.

We certainly feel that we were spoiled and would be hard pressed to find a better vacation resort. We will be definitely be returning to Mexico again and will probably stay at this same resort. They certainly know how to make you feel like royals. We highly recommend this resort for a relaxing, enjoyable vacation.

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Scott

March 2004

Our Group: My family group recently returned from 7 days (Feb. 26th to March 4th) at the Iberostar Paraiso Resort. We had 4 rooms in the “Beach” section of the resort (buildings 34 & 33) for four adult couples. Our ages range from 44 to 83 years old. We have been to other all-inclusives in Mexico (RIU Tequila, Melia Turquesa and Grand Palladium) and in Punta Cana DR (Sunscape). We also have been lucky enough to experience numerous cruises. This background information may be helpful when considering our remarks. Based on my research, I had recommended this resort to my family. I had my fingers crossed that our expectations would be satisfied.

Buildings and Grounds: This was our first time at an Iberostar Resort and we were quite impressed. The resort grounds are gorgeous and the buildings are well maintained. We noticed many similarities in the design of this resort and the Palladium. We saw first hand how they continually upgrade and maintain the resort.

When we first arrived at the beach side lobby to check-in, the sight of construction activities temporarily upset me. They are currently doing some major renovation work on the roof in the Beach side lobby. Scaffolding and large plastic tarps were draped in different areas of the lobby during the week. Outside contractor workers were busy hammering away, which caused some minor dust. Much to their credit Iberostar workers were continually sweeping the floors and trying to keep the lobby as usable as possible. The lobby remained open, however you could not sit around and enjoy the atmosphere due to the banging and dust. We later returned to the lobby each night for cocktails and found most signs of construction were neatly tucked away for the evening. Some scaffolding and tarps remained but overall not a big deal. At first I was angry that we were not advised of this on-going renovation work. But what difference would it have made? We certainly would not have cancelled our trip. If you were really bothered you could easily walk over to the Del Mar lobby.

We also noticed a team of painters working throughout the resort each day. Some buildings were getting a fresh coat of color on the exterior, while others were having balcony railings painted. We also saw fresh stain being applied to the wooden railing over the pool bridge. Another crew of workers was busy maintaining the lush grounds each day. Raking leaves, trimming grass, power-washing sidewalks…etc. Obviously much time and effort goes into keeping the place ship-shape and it pays off.

Rooms: I had e-mailed the resort prior to our arrival with our room requests. They delivered!! We all had king rooms with the walk-in shower. My elderly parents were on the ground floor and the rest of the gang had third floor rooms. No complaints about the housekeeping staff. All four rooms were kept spotless each day. Towel animals welcomed us most afternoons.

Food: No complaints here! We found the buffets to be well varied and extremely good. Not quite cruise quality gourmet, but tasty none the less. We ate in three of the specialty restaurants; Japanese, Mediterranean (seafood) and steak house. We made our reservations for our group of 8 immediately upon arrival and happily we found openings.

The steak house was the best… great rib eye and tenderloin. The Mediterranean was a close second, attractive décor and great service. We had fun at the Japanese; however the show-cooking chef must have been new. He tried hard but just couldn’t pull it off. Some of the shrimp and octopus was well done. The beef and chicken was tender and delicious.

Some minor disappointments… 1.) the soft-serve ice cream machine broke on our second day and never was returned to service. 2.) they need to rethink the artificial juice mixes they serve at the beach snack bar and replace them with real juice. (Fresh squeezed juices are served at breakfast in the main buffet area only)

Drinks: The lobby bars are the best, period! All the bartenders will give you stronger drinks if you ask. You also need to specify brand liquors otherwise you will get the cheap house brand. I enjoyed the Dos Equis beer on tap with a squeeze of fresh lime added.

Entertainment: S.O.S. They need help here!! We suffered through the first 3 nights and never returned after that. Perhaps we should have given them more of a chance, but this was some of the worst evening entertainment we have ever seen at any all-inclusive. The Star Friends work hard all daylong and they try their best but the shows are rather poor. Iberostar really needs to work on improving the main shows. Cheesy lip-sinc doesn’t cut it! Some of the audience participation pre-shows were better than the main shows! The lack of quality entertainment did not spoil our overall experience. After dinner we would stroll the soft-lit walkways and spend some time in the lobbies. On a more positive note; the live band that performed during the pre-show some evenings and one afternoon at the pool was good. As was the singer/flutist and sax player in the lobbies. We wished the band had played more in the afternoons. The cast of “costumed characters” that roam the beach and pool area each day are a hoot! We loved the nurse with the BIG needle and the old lady with her dog fee-fee.

Beach: All 3 sections (Del Mar, Beach & Lindo) of the resort were at full capacity so the beach was moderately crowded. In order to get 8 loungers together we had to stake out our spot no later than 9am. By 11am you would be hard pressed to find any available loungers. The first 2 days the water was calm with yellow flags displayed. Then the wind came and the water got very rough. Red flags were posted for the rest of the week and the use of all watercraft (sea kayaks, hobie sailboats and wind surfers) was suspended. The life guards did their best to keep guests from going too far into the rough surf, but you always get those few who refuse to obey the warnings and over estimate their swimming capabilities. On our last day the lifeguards had to rescue 2 couples who ignored the restrictions and went out too far. All parties were totally exhausted when they finally were brought back to the beach. Bravo to Iberostar lifeguards for saving these people!

Pool: As has been stated many times before…WOW!! You could spend several hours wandering this huge, beautiful lake-like pool. Again due to the high occupancy poolside loungers were snatched up early in the morning. The water was still somewhat cold but we made it in most days.

Misc.: We never experienced any problems with mosquitos. The resort was spraying every evening about 5:30pm. Nasty chemical smell for about 5 minutes. As previously reported the resort is large and spread out. With the extra food and beverage intake we welcomed the walking! This also gives you a chance to seek out the guinea hens, peacocks and other birds and to enjoy the lushly landscaped pathways. The staff and service was outstanding. We were always greeted with a warm hello and friendly smile. We did tip because we truly believed most of the employees deserved it.

Summary: Our expectations were more than satisfied. We would definitely return to the Iberostar Paraiso Beach again

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Iberostar Paraiso Beach – Playa Del Carmen Laura — Canada

January 2004

This is such a great website that I had to pay you back for your help/reviews in booking our trip to the Iberostar Paraiso Beach (Playa Del Carmen) by writing a review.

This is a beautiful resort, very lush, very clean and tremendous staff. It is VERY large and you will do a LOT of walking, so leave your uncomfortable shoes at home. Overall we had a terrific holiday. We were three 40-something couples from Canada (2 from Ontario, 2 from Alberta).

Food.
The food as many have written previously was good but not outstanding. The buffet’s got a little boring but the food was adequate. The a-la-carte restaurants we found to be very good overall. We visited the Mexican, Japananese (food is cooked in front of you), Steak and Mediteranean (I think). All we’re good, especially the Japanese. The steak was not what I would call a good steak by Canadian standards but, hey, its Mexico. Try the chipotle sauce if you like hot sauce. Room service was quick and excellent.

Drinks.
They didn’t have the upper quality liquors, but you could get better than the standard bar shot but only if you asked. Beer was draft and not that great. The only bottle beer was available from the room bar fridge. The Mudslides were amazing and addictive… definitely try them. Also the Mexican coffees available in the a la carte restaurants are very good. The best Margueritas I’ve ever had were in Playa del Carmen at a restaurant on 5th Avenue called Natural (or something similar) and great food there too. The wine was average and only the house wine was available. We asked for a tipped extra to get more beer in our bar fridge. It arrived promptly, however disappeared the next day. When we asked our very obliging maid she replied her manager made her take it away. That left us quite angry… such a petty thing for them, but it was important to us. Bring insulated mugs for both coffee (good coffee) and beer.

Rooms.
The rooms were lovely and immaculate with a bar fridge, free use of a safe, balcony, double headed large shower (I think you can get tubs too), king bed, sofa and chair, hair dryer (it was terrible… bring your own). They were well maintained and chocolates and "towel creatures" were left each day. Rooms were quite noisey at night and early morning. The traffic on the path behind us carried luggage in a rattley cart in the wee hours, also the staff started work very very early. The halls and rooms were very echo-ey so any sound really travelled. I put a towel against the bottom of the hall door at night and that helped. Air conditioning worked very well and each room had a ceiling fan.

Pool.
The best feature of the resort. It was huge… winding throughout almost the entire resort with 3 pool bars and fountains, waterfalls etc. Lounge chairs were never hard to come by. The water was cool, but we had probably a cooler than average week weather wise (even a day of rain!).

There was a children’s play area and wading pool but it was never used. There were a lot of children around the pool. If you want to avoid them… stay away from the areas of the pool where you can wade in (beach like). The pool is never crowded, given the size of the resort.

Beach.
Although, not great beach people, it was nice and well maintained although not large. There was plenty of shade. The water was very rough the entire week we were there… yellow or red flags each day. You can walk quite a ways on the beach.

Bike rides.
Available twice a day. An interesting ride outside the resort but bring a towel or something to put on the seat. They are VERY hard. Tennis Courts Beautiful, like new courts.

Entertainment.
We quite enjoyed the entertainment most nights. A lot of effort was put into them. We enjoyed the disco a couple of nights as well… good old disco music for those that grew up in that period… like us. Also mariachi bands played frequently in the restaurants and around the resort. There were lots of characters dressed up and parading around for some comic relief.

Gardens etc.
The gardens, paths and wildlife were beautiful and so well maintained. The tropical plants were outstanding… even fig tree topiaries shaped like birds. Also flamingos, peacocks, wild turkeys (?), turtles, parrots and cats. The cats "graced" us with their presence at the restaurant between the pool and beach… but only on the outside patio. They did "politely" beg and I found them amusing (especially the kittens), however probably not everyone would. I would imagine they help keep any mouse population to a minimum.

Staff
Outstanding

Weather
We actually had a rainy day (they have an entire rainy day program available… lots to do) and a couple of cloudy days which we took advantage of to go to Playa del Carmen. Weather was probably cooler than average but still above 80. Nights were cool, so bring sweaters or sweatshirts.

Overall, a great resort. A little large perhaps (but that’s our taste), and a little on the weak side as far as the buffets went (for a 5 star) but overall highly recommended.

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