Old Reviews – Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar

Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Doug and Crystal ~ Bloomington, MN

March 2009

My wife and I just returned from a delightful week at the Iberostar Pariso complex where we stayed at the Del Mar section. First off let me explain that we are seasoned Caribbean travelers and have chosen both the smaller Bed and Breakfast route and the all-inclusive routes in past. As a point of reference for those comparing we have stayed in All-Inclusive at Iberostar Tucan / Quetzal in Playa Del Carmen, Iberostar on Cozumel (both times within a year of their opening) We have been to Bahia Principe Tulum, Grand Lido Super Club in Jamaica (one of our least favorites for the $) Karmina Palace in Manzanillo ( a favorite with multiple returns) and Presidente in Ixtapa many years ago.

I would have to say that by far the grounds and natural areas preserved within this large complex are the best so far. The pools are huge (yes they are cool because they are sun heated) but a pool was never meant to be bath water temp. It’s refreshing when the sun is hot. We originally were booked for run of the house take your chance, we requested not to be placed in Beach just due to the reviews on your site and we ranked our choices from top to bottom and I think we ranked them well. #1 choice would be Grand (fat chance of getting that on a deal) next was Maya (very nice) then Lido, the Del Mar and finally Beach. When we arrived almost all 4 were booked solid. They didn’t have a single bed as we requested when we showed and they had us booked at Beach, so we got bumped to Del Mar. No big difference really. But we got a very quiet room facing toward the North and away from the rest of the complex so it was very peaceful. The rooms are identical to those we stayed in back about 10 years ago when we stayed at Iberostar Tucan. Fine with us, they are well maintained and more than ample space and a great shower for the little time you spend in a room. Yes Lido and for sure Maya would have been a slight step up, but we noticed the main pool to be smaller over there because they have the space above dedicated to the Wave pool, and lazy river. And those pools were dominated by kids, so we were happy to be close to the large wandering pools of the Del Mar / Beach complex. And another advantage I found at this complex was they limited the cheesy pool entertainment to just two times a day, just before lunch and just about 3:30p. Much better than some complexes where they feel the need to keep us entertained rather than relax and enjoy a book or the surroundings.

We never had a problem wandering over to the Lido / Maya pool even though when we checked in they told us our privileges were within the Beach & Del Mar complex only. We used the lazy river and attended some shows (although they were exactly the same over there) just a nicer building/ theater and a bit better drinks.

The beach is very nice for this coast and we were happy we choose here because initially we had thought of returning to Iberostar Tucan, but we heard the last hurricane washed out a sizable chunk of their beach and they may be a bit closer to Playa Del Carmen than I would want to be with the growth that has occurred since we were there 10 years ago.

Which brings up travel. We were going to rent a car this time as we have done a couple times in our past along this stretch from Playa – Tulum. We took a van tour to Coba and immediately ruled out a car rental. Road work at both Playa Del Carmen and the new Akumal turnoff was ridiculous. The roads are still ill equipped to deal with the growth in this area, and at times we witnessed three lanes of traffic grind down to a single lane in less than 100Ft. Big vehicles win, and I fight enough traffic at home to not want to play that game on vacation.

So we choose a small group tour to a number of Cenotes (a must on this return trip for us) and a trip out to Coba (our second) to one last time get to climb the last large pyramid that is open for climbing. The crowds at Coba have also grown fast so I expect this activity won’t last much longer.

As for food, yes it’s an all-inclusive. The food is made to cover a broad range of palates. Its rarely 4 stars at these places, but the advantage I find at all the Iberostars is they really try to offer a nice range. One of the real advantages of a complex of this size is we never really eat twice in the same location. We hit the Japanese (no big deal, the show by the cook was less than average and food overdone while he tried to do his best showmanship) the Mexican, it was a nice change, and the Tropical. We avoided the Steak and Brazilian because it was getting poor reviews by all. We had two real nice buffet options at Del Mar (shady in Morning) and the Beach (bigger) we also cruised over to Lido for a try for dinner. Its all pretty much the same at all 4 of the main complexes Del Mar, Beach, Lido, Maya but just a change in venue is nice when you stay at these all-inclusive.

By the way, we are not usually big on the shows at these operations, but this was different. They brought in outside talent for both the Mexican dancing show and they had a magician that was excellent. They rotate the shows between the complex’s so if you miss one you wanted to see like the first 1/2 of the dancing show like we did, we just wandered over to the Lido that evening.

If you like a long beach walk, head south from the complex (down past the Grand) and keep walking. I think we did about 6 miles one way. You pass the new 2.9 mil minimum condos going up.

Past the Maronna, which if like some of the folks that have been disappointed by the Paraiso complex about food can pick next time. It’s deffinatly a top notch beach, complex and operation. which I’m sure will set you back 3 times what we paid. You get to the next bend where the reef runs so close to the nice sand beach you can wade right in 10 ft and be snorkeling on some of the finest reef this coast from Cancun to Tulum has. But it’s a hike, but a great trek to wear off the pounds.

Lobby drinks as usual are better than the pool. Top shelf brands in lobby. The staff goes way out of their way to be friendly and helpful (way better than I can say for the Super Club in Jamaica we stayed at last year and left within 3 days).

Oh, and on the hard bed topic, easy solution, we asked for a mattress pad which they happily provided a thick foam pad over the mattress that really helped.

Other wise, overall as I rate these facilities, I give Iberostars good marks. And in Pariso complex my highest marks ever for pools, grounds, birds and wildlife and doing a great job of making a mega size resort seem small and secluded. Which when compared to a facility like say Bahia Principe they did far better. Is it too big for me, yes probably. I do like the smaller hotels, but at a value like they were offering I found it a wonderful all-inclusive option with my favorite ever still remaining the Karmina Palace in Monzanallo.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar 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.

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 holida

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar aerostar65

August 2007

I recently returned from Mexico and where I stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar. There were 18 of in total ranging from 70 to 6. We had 6 teenagers too. We all just loved the resort. All 5 of our rooms were in the same cottage which they arranged when we got there. The place is just incredibel…..most beautiful pool I have ever seen…it just seems to go forever…gorgeous ocean with warm waters (bring a raft and they will blow it up for you by the towel shed), good food ..even the buffet had a good variety and delicious food., awesome service where the people cannot do enough for you. We spent most of the time at the resort although we did do a tour with Mayan Tours with Jesus which I would recommend to anyone. It was the highlight of our trip. We booked it right in the hotel from Antonio at Olympus Tour and boy did he take care of us. He set us up with a great guide and we couldn’t have had a better time. For $67.00 per person we went to three different places….snorkeling in the open channel, diving from a cliff, and swimming in underground caves. Lunch, which was great, was even included. Not only did we enjoy the activities but our tour guide who you have to request gave us an education about the country, people and cultures. He was so funny and at one point stopped by the side of the road and bought lollipops for all 18 of us in the van. Just a great guy!! Anyway I hope this helps…..if anyone has any questions..e-mail me at aerostar65@aol.com

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Jan

March 2007

I stayed at the del mar [iberostar] in mexico and loved it,the room was quiet with a great view of nature,a/c cold,mini bar stocked,food at all times was superb,pools gorgeous,resort incredible,safe,went with my 12 yr old son,he loved the waterfall……….going to playa was ok,but vendors at hotel in lobby were just as cheap ,didnt love the beach,[used to cape cod lol] but….alos visited the joining iberostar resorts to use wave pool etc…. cant wait to go back…the bath was filled with rose petals,the curtains arranged in a art design diff daily,the maid did towel art with our towels,fountains and lobbys were so pretty and marble and ceilings gorgeous,shows were good, i loved it

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Ryan and Kathy ~ Green Bay, Wisconsin

February 2007

I just wanted to say this place was awesome. I went with my wife and 4 other couples. The food was excellent at all the buffets and restaurants. Sure there were a few things people did not like but there were hundreds of things to choose from everyday. The Japanese restaurant is highly recommended. The accommodations were awesome and the people we nice as well. It was truly a relaxing vacation. Lots to do or not do at the resort. Lots of poolside spots and an enormous beach with good snorkeling and swimming areas. I would highly recommend this resort. We went Feb 17-24th. The first 2 days were cloudy and about 72 degrees but then it warmed up and was 85 and sunny for the rest of our vacation. The swim up bars were great and the lobby Bar was fun. We brought an I-Pod and speaker to the Lobby bar each night and the Bartenders Geraldo and Demetrio took care of us and encouraged us to turn up the music and have a party! If you are there tell him we will be back soon and we will play some U2 for them again! As for tipping I would say a few nice tips early in your stay to you maid and other staff can get you some awesome service!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Shirley and John ~ Canada

February 2007

Hola! My name is Shirley and my husband John and 10 of our best friends went to the Del Mar for a one week ‘60th Birthday’ holiday. We flew directly from Edmonton, Alberta on January 21/07. Our flight and arrival at the hotel were excellent. We received our room keys immediately. Since we were arriving from different parts of Canada, some of our friends were already there and we had been given rooms in the same bldg. or the one next to it. We stayed in Bldg 15 which I learned from this website was approx. half way from either the beach or the lobby. Since I have arthritis, a half-way point appealed to me, and it was perfect.

We had access to the pool right in front of our bldg. and it just happened to have a pool-bar – excellent! The grounds were so beautiful and well kept that most of the time we enjoyed the leisurely walk to the restaurants but there were always vehicles coming by that were more than willing to pick you up and take you where you wanted to go.

We found the quality of the drinks was AOK no matter where we were and the friendliness of the staff was outstanding. Our room was kept very clean and well stocked.

Although there was a lot of security, you were never very aware of it…it was handled in a low key way.

Tips were accepted by the staff but it never appeared that it was expected.

We enjoyed the food and the service wherever we ate. I had never been to an all inclusive so I wondered if the staff at the a la carte restaurants would be attentive for say the first 15 minutes or so and then you would be looking for the server to get another glass of wine but au contraire! our servers were most attentive and friendly. I don’t think the food was the upper quality of say a cruise, but we were well satisfied.

We enjoyed some of the nighttime shows but not all. It was a bit amateurish.

We went into Playa del Carmen but really found it to be a big commercial rip-off. We were glad to get back to the resort.

We had one serious medical emergency with one of our party (a pre-existing condition) and it was handled by the medical staff and the front desk staff in a very efficient and friendly manner.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and would highly recommend the Del Mar for a delightful holiday.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Elaine and Arnie ~ Canada

December 2006

We just returned from a family vacation at this resort. We were travelling with six adults and a five month old baby. Our adult daughter has many serious food allergies and she was very apprehensive about eating at an all inclusive resort. When we arrived at the resort we spoke to the public relations department and they wrote a letter in Spanish with translations of all of her food allergies. Whenever we went into a restaurant, either the buffet restaurants or the al a carte ones, our daugher presented her letter and the chef would prepare her foods that she could eat. Often, these protein foods were not on that particular menu but nevertheless, they would grill the fish or meat that she could eat and steam vegetables without sauces. Our daughter was delighted and so were we. I would highly recommend the Iberostar resorts. I know that some people complain about food at all inclusive resorts but you really can’t expect gourmet meals when they are preparing so many meals every day. From our point of view, any resort that is willing and happy to go out of their way to help people with food allergies, (my husband and I have food allergies) is a great place to be.

By the way, the grounds of this resort are gorgeous, the rooms very spacious and the staff extremely helpful and pleasant. I would rate this resort very highly.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Deena ~ USA

November 2006

We stayed at the Iberostar Del-Mar from September 30 thru October 7. I was very pleased with the vacation! We booked through Apple Vacations and flew out of Pittsburgh on USA3000. No problems at all – actually a great flight & got to the hotel in record time. Last year we stayed at the Palladium, so a lot of my review will be in comparison to that. We had our room keys within 30 minutes of arriving & they were able to grant my request of king size beds and to be in the same building as another couple that traveled with us. The desk staff was very friendly and helpful in explaining the resort. The place is huge – but beautiful. The train really helps with those long walks to the lobby.

Our room was perfect. We were in building 13, which was good location. The room was very clean & the maid kept it that way. She was great & we had wonderful towel art everyday. Plenty of towels & our fridge was stocked everyday. There is a drying rack out on the balcony that was great for drying suits. But, due to the humidity – they don’t always dry overnight, so, you will need at least two swimsuits if you don’t like to put on a wet suit the next day.

The pool is incredible. We spent some afternoons there after dodging some storms & it was great. The pool depth varies but is never too deep like I thought the pool at the Palladium was. There are many areas to go to depending on what activities you want. There are areas for games & quiet places. Although, I did notice several (noisy) kids in the area designated as the quiet area & that they were hanging out at the pool bar there. It would be nice if parents did honor the request of a quiet area for those adults that do not want to listen to screeching children all afternoon. But it did not ruin my day, just annoying and I moved on to another area. The pool is very well done & kept very clean.

The beach is wonderful. Plenty of space and lounges. It is a bit rough on the feet when you try to go in the water though. The water was very rough the whole week we were there – I didn’t actually go in to swim, but my husband did & said you just have to be careful & wear your water shoes. He enjoyed it.
I thought the staff did a great job of trying to keep the beach clean. It’s amazing how dirty and messy some people can be – but I thought they did a great job of trying to keep up with it. The buffet was better than we expected. There was less food than the Palladium, but the selection and quality was better. We enjoyed every meal there and the staff was very attentive. I really liked that all the main courses were prepared right there in front of you. They continuously cooked the food to replenish the trays. We all thought the food in general was excellent as were the drinks. The drinks do vary from bar to bar – but not a big deal. We drank a lot of Electric Lemonades during the day (which were very similar to Melon Balls?) made with Vodka & Melon Liquor, ice and I think lemon or lime juice. Very refreshing. They also carry decent booze at the lobby bar, so Tangeray it was in the evening. All the bartenders were very friendly and quick to serve us and always getting a smile from the quests.

The Steakhouse was excellent and the Brazilian restaurant was very good. We had a change of plans on our night to the Japanese restaurant, so we missed that one. I would have like to have gone back to the steakhouse, but there was a wedding there the night we tried, so we couldn’t go again. The service at the a la carts was outstanding.

We had some trouble getting coffee in the mornings for breakfast and getting refills was almost impossible for the first two or three days – then suddenly – no problem. Maybe someone noticed the guests getting coffee in Styrofoam cups at the juice bars to bring back themselves or getting the coffee pots at the server stations & refilling their own – whatever happened it was good. The rest of the week – we had our coffee right after being seated & refills were flowing freely.

The one difference that really stands out between Iberostar & the Palladium, is the lack of A/C at the buffets. This really bothers my husband. I do not have an issue with it, but we are not there is the real heat of summer either. The Palladium buffets and a la carts have A/C. I enjoyed the open air dining – but the fact that stray cats come in & birds are flying around took some enjoyment away for my husband.

A few other comments: We saw and heard lots of wildlife throughout the resort. Can not comment on the nightly shows, as we didn’t see any of them. The nightclub/disco was very good. One night there was an issue I guess with the equipment or something – because it was after midnight & no music yet, so we left. I thought there was decent selection of music. The gazebo area at the commercial center had a band playing every night & we spent several nights there. Again the servers were outstanding both at the plaza and at the nightclub. Fresh drinks were brought to us before we finished the ones we had. The marble throughout the resort is just beautiful and elegant – but slippery (especially when wet!). We saw a lot of people in slings. The number of people that are on staff is incredible – and they do very good job.

We were also impressed with the daily scrubbing of the chaise lounges by a group of 3 or 4 guys. They were always spotless and we just kept think about what a never ending job that is.

I would definitely love go back to this resort. I hope to be able to vacation here again next year. Depending on price – may try the Lindo, but was very pleased with the Del-Mar. I would also recommend this resort to my family & friends. I would have a hard time choosing a favorite resort between the Iberostar & the Palladium.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Boston

August 2006

I just got back from a 4 Day weekend at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Resort.

I was originally booked at the Paraiso Beach, but they gave me a free upgrade to a junior suite at the Del Mar. I booked the trip through worldlinks travel out of Chicago (I’m from Boston). The representative from Worldlinks was completely useless. The package she gave me was through apple vacations. Apple was fine and I would suggest using them if going to this resort.

I had emailed the hotel about getting a quiet room at the beginning of the week. I was emailed back and told they would do what they could. The desk girl didn’t know anything about it. I was upgraded to a junior-suite on the beach. My friends were also upgraded. We believe this was because the Paraiso Beach was booked solid and they had better empty rooms at the Del Mar. Nice bonus. If you are traveling with a group in separate rooms it is mission critical that you have rooms near each other. The place is huge.

The hotel is massive. It is absolutely beautiful, but it’s so big that it takes a while to get from place to place. They have golf carts that you can hitch a ride on, but when its 100 degrees with 98% humidity in August, sitting outside in slacks (needed in certain restaurants) waiting for a ride is BRUTAL. There were exotic animals everywhere including 2 stray cats that loved to hang by the cafeteria. I found the size of the place to be a major hassle. For example: During the morning of check out we brought our stuff to the lobby early and tried to get breakfast. We had to backtrack 15 minutes to find an open breakfast buffet. Heat stroke was on the horizon, so we bought snacks instead at the gift shop.

I highly suggest building 30- 3rd floor (junior suite). It is on the top and you won’t hear patio furniture dragging around from the people above you. Also face the beach. I don’t think there is a price difference.

Food and Drink
The entire group I was with found the food to be terrible. It was quite varied, but generic in taste. Much of it was mushy in texture. The combinations were a little off. Clam pizza sounds interesting, but doesn’t sit well. The pizza was on tortillas, not dough. I love to eat exotic food, but this just didn’t work. I’m the guy who goes to a restaurant and orders the daring dish, yet I found myself eating grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My group just didn’t like any of it. The Japanese place wasn’t good at all and lacked good sauces and spices. The Mexican place had good guacamole and appetizers, but the meals were a huge let down (I lived in So-Cal for 4 years so I know Mexican food). The tacos were beef and corn tortillas. The breakfast was the worst, especially at the beach cafeteria. I’m not a huge drinker, but the drink selection was bad. In fact on a scale of 1-10 the drinks were a 0. I can prove this: If you look at a photo of the bar from any web pictures, look closely at the bottles. That Malibu rum bottle is not Malibu. It is a bottle manufactured exactly the same with the same text, font, color, shape and cap. But what is missing? The word “Malibu” and of course, the rum. It was watered down chemicals that will make you sick. And guess what…that goes for the other drinks. Look at the J&B whisky bottle and make your own decision. There were two kinds of beer to chose from. Watery and Dark Watery. The bar at the lobby is clearly the best and has mid-level brands. People say you can ask for better brands and what not. Believe me, we explored all options….

I wasn’t too happy about the vacation. The place was packed with cheesy games and shows (off, off, off, off broadway Like Kentucky off-broadway) that I didn’t really want to do. I wanted to hang by the beach and chill with good food and drinks. I didn’t get that. The fake drinks and toilets (American ideal not American standard – I had to say that because I was laughing while going to the bathroom/ same font and all…) and the scene was a little much. I would not suggest couples go to this resort. I would suggest families with kids to check it out. The kids will be kept busy all day.

Weird Things · We had a private party by the pool for a friends wedding and the food was not bad at all. The sushi was good, unlike the sushi in the Japanese restaurant. It was all made by the hotel. This was weird. · There are two employees that dress up like flinstones and smash clubs off the ground next to sleeping guests as a joke. People were getting quite upset with this. So much for tranquility. I’m surprised they don’t pull the plug on the cheeseball stunt. · There were no spring break types here, but 10 off season spring breakers from Boston did get in and within 1 hour of fake Malibu rum drinking in the sun I saw one of them collapse by the pool. I’m sure he had heat stroke and alcohol poisoning. They employees sat there with him for 30 minutes before taking him to the medic. Those 30 minutes could have saved his life. This kid was in bad shape. Also they mopped his puke off his lawn chair and put if right back in place. That was weird because the place was immaculate otherwise. My girlfriend with OCD found it to be extremely clean, minus the mopped up lawn chair. She finds nothing to be clean. · No bugs. It was like there was a force-field keeping bugs out. I’ve spent time in the tropics. I thought bugs were always free admission · The staff was great. They don’t make any money. These people break their butts to help people for 5 bucks a day. I talked to one of the managers about how much they make because I love to probe people to teach me about their culture etc…He was the manager which translates into: 11 hours a day /six days a week/ for 20 bucks a week = They make nothing. I left my housekeeper and everyone I dealt with solid tips. · Don’t let the people in the blue shirts at the airport take your bags. They try to tell you they are with the resort. They are clever and crafty, but they are hustlers. The same goes for the cab drivers who are not with the resort. They will take you off the road and slit your throat for 10 bucks. Believe me they do everyday. · Technically if you are an American who visits here you could go to Florida. Most are. Most are quite unhealthy looking for some reason. Anyway…this resort is gated and you don’t really leave for anything, so I guess you could go to Florida and not tell the difference. · Last week I sat in my cubicle at work reading reviews saying how weird it was because there was such a difference in opinion….I say: The Malibu rum bottle sums it all up…..

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Adolph

June 2006

We returned from Iberostar Del mar yesterday 6/7/6, And we will go back again. The service was great no one asked for tips though we did tip and the food was good. I have been to Club Med and I think this is better. The beach and grounds were in excellent shape. I noticed no hurricane damage. I recommend the Japanese restaurant, the food was great. The steak place was OK.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Gail, Barbara and Mary Anne ~ Pennsylvania, US

April 2006

We just got back from the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar yesterday. We had a great time. I tend to be a random person, but I’ll try to organize my thoughts for this trip report.

We booked with Apple Vacations and flew their charter of USA 3000. The flight was delayed a bit at Phila. Airport, but no big deal. We arrived at Cancun about 9:30 AM. Apple bus was waiting and off we went. IB Paraiso was the first stop!! I had e-mailed requesting a third floor room in building 14 or 15. We were in building 15, room 1552. It was great. We were at the corner of the building, so no one walked by our room late at night and it was pretty quiet. We had a beautiful view of the "quiet pool" and easy access to the path to the pool. I would ask for this room again.

Housekeeping was fantastic. Our housekeeper was Leila. We would go to breakfast and come back to our room and it would be cleaned! It was like she had us on a tracking device. She left us towel animals everyday. We would leave her a note requesting "mas agua" or whatever we wanted and it was always there.

Service at this resort was FANTASTIC! If we ever needed anything, we just made a phone call and it would be there within 20 minutes or so. Service at the restaurants and bars was great as well. Then there are the wonderful "Star Friends" who do all they can to make your stay an enjoyable one.

As for food, it was OK. We really enjoyed the Japanese restaurant a LOT. The rest of the food was fine, but nothing outstanding. We ate at the Mediterranean restaurant twice and enjoyed it. Now, we dine out a lot so we may be a bit jaded as far as good food goes. Make your reservations for the ala carte restaurants AS SOON AS YOU GET THERE. Some people were having trouble getting the restaurants they wanted.

Entertainment was OK. Some of the shows were just a bit too frantic. The Star Friends are all very talented…it seemed the people who put together the shows just tried to jam too much in at times. Some of the shows were great. We liked the “Movie show” the best. The pre-show was sometimes corny, but always made us laugh and isn’t that what it’s all about! My sister and I got up and did the Iberostar dance even though we had no idea what we were doing, but once again, the Star Friends came to our rescue. We were definitely the oldest people up there, but hey, we were there to have fun!

We were there for Christmas. On Christmas day they had all sorts of games on the beach. Santa arrived via jet ski and they cooked paella on the beach. It was a fun day, but they all were !!

The grounds looked great. You only saw evidence of the hurricane if you looked up at the tops of the trees. All restaurants and the theater were open. Take time to study the map of the resort and you’ll save yourself a lot of extra walking. We walked over to the Maya/Lindo also.

We used Cancun Valet to return to Cancun airport. I’m a fanatic about getting a seat assignment on the plane. Cancun Valet showed up early and they were friendly and very professional.

All and all, this was a great vacation. We were there for seven nights and I could have stayed longer. VERY relaxing, wonderful service, beautiful grounds and beach. I would definitely return!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Frank

February 2006

Hi, we spent one week (January 19th to January 26th, 2006) at the Paraiso Iberostar del Mar. It’s a great resort, the weather could have been a bit better, but we were still able to get a good tan. Even thought you can see some hurricane damages on the vegetation, the grounds are still beautiful; it must have been amazing before the vegetation got all shaken up. There are animals everywhere, parrots, peacocks, wild turkeys, turtles, flamingos, swans and even some kind of deer’s.

AIRPORT-RESORT: We booked with Signature Vacations, and the transfer from the airport to the resort was included. It was direct and only took 25 minutes in a van. The trip back was in a bus with people from the other 3 Iberostar resorts and it took 35 minutes.

CHECK-IN: I had previously e-mailed the resort requesting a 3rd floor room in building 17th or 18th. We checked-in at the resort around noon, and our request came through: we had a 3rd floor room in building 18th. Unfortunately, the room wasn’t ready yet. The guy told me, after speaking to the maid, that the room would be ready in 45 minutes. No big deal, we walked around a bit and had lunch at the Snack bar. When we came back to the lobby an hour later, the room was still not ready, so they gave me a choice : wait another hour for our room, or take a room in building 19th that was ready(3rd floor, king side bed, same as the other). Enough time wasted, we took the room that was ready.

ROOM: Very clean room, with a great king-size bed and a big marble shower (no bathtub). The view from our room was nothing to write home about, as our room was looking out at the outside of the resort (it looked like a construction site). Even room numbers have a view of the resort, which is probably better then the one we had. Keep in mind that building 18th and 19th are very close to the theatre, so if you have an even room number, you might hear the music in your room until 11 pm. The in-room safe is a good size and has an electronic lock. Our maid was great and our mini bar was replenished every day. No problem whatsoever with our room.

BEACH: The beach is very nice, the sand is beautiful and you can walk a good distance on the beach. They have a lot of lounges and it was always very easy to find an empty spot on the beach. Where it gets a bit disappointing is in the ocean itself, I don’t know if it was that way before the hurricane or not, but there are a lot of patches of rocks in the water so be very careful. It might not be a big problem if it’s a green flag day, but we had red flags everyday and you couldn’t see clearly in the water because of the big waves. On the first day at the beach, I cut one of my feet on a rock when a big wave caught me off guard and drag me over a patch of rocks. I wore water shoes afterward and I recommend everyone to do the same. One more advice, I saw 2 people loosing there sunglasses in the water when a wave came crashing down over their heads, so you better leave them on the beach. I couldn’t do much snorkeling either, since the water was blurry with all the sand floating around. But still, we had a lot of fun jumping around in those waves and the water was warm. The beach bar is still a temporary one, but it does the job. There is also a BBQ grill on the beach were they cook hamburgers, hot-dogs and a few other things in the afternoon.

POOL: This is the most beautiful pool I’ve ever seen and it’s HUGE. There are 3 pool bars and a few Jacuzzis (cold). The only problem is that the water is pretty cold, probably because of its size. Maybe after a few sunny days it would become hotter but we had cloudy periods every day, so the water was cold. It’s somewhat funny to have such a huge pool with nobody in it, except for some people sitting at the pool bars and playing in the sport pool. We still took a few dip in it and it was actually pretty nice, since it felt like we had the pool to ourselves. There are also 3 ping-pong tables beside the main pool bar and an ice cream bar.

FOOD: A lot of complains seems to be about the food at the resort, and I don’t really understand why. We thought the food was very good and we didn’t get sick either. We ate pretty much of anything and we always found something good to eat for breakfast or for lunch at the different buffets and the service was always very good. You have a lot of choices for the “a la carte dinner” and you should book for those as soon as you can. On the Beach/del Mar side: Mediterranean, Brazilian, Mexican, Japanese, Steakhouse(Outdoor) and Tropical(Outdoor). Also, on the Lindo/Maya side: Italian and Chinese, only for reservations at 6:30 or 9:00. Long trousers for gentlemen are mandatory in the indoor restaurants and classical Bermuda’s are allowed outdoor. We ate at the Mediterranean(twice), Mexican, Japanese, Tropical and Italian. We loved the food at all of them! The only one that we wouldn’t go back to is the Italian on the Lindo side. The food was pretty good, but the service was below of what we received at the other restaurants. We felt like they couldn’t wait for us to get out of there. We ordered room service one night, you don’t have many much choices on the menu, but the pizza was good and it took around 30 minutes to get our order. As for the water on the resort, our Signature rep told us that the water is filtered through out the resort, even in the rooms. We didn’t go as far as drinking the water from the tap, as we had plenty of bottle water in the room, but we brushed our teeth with it and had no issues.

BARSNIGHTLIFE: You won’t have any problem getting a drink at the resort; there are bars pretty much everywhere. The selection of higher-end alcohol at the theatre and the 2 lobby bars is very good but you have to ask for it. If you just ask for a rum and coke they will serve you the cheapest stuff they have. The lobby bars are open until 1 am and then you can go to the new Disco, The Galaxy, until 3 am. The beer they have on the resort is Dos Equis. There is also a sports bar, the Star Rock cafe, that is open at night but if there’s some sporting event going on in the afternoon they will open it. The NFL games were on the Sunday afternoon when we were there.

NEW “MALL COMPLEX”: They have built a new “mall complex” near the Conference building, it’s pretty big and it’s sort of like the Dona Isabel complex at the Bahia Principe, for anyone who has ever been there. They were just starting to open some shops; there are 3 small restaurants that’s part of the AI: hamburger, tacos (very good) and a crepes/ice cream. There were only 2 shops open, a tequila store and jewelry store, but there are spaces for about 30 more. The weird thing is that nobody seems to know that some shops are open, so it’s pretty deserted. The only place that they tell you about is the new disco, The Galaxy, it’s very nice with a big dance floor.

EXCURSIONS: One afternoon we took the free shuttle that goes downtown Playa Del Carmen, from the lobby of the hotel, and it’s quite convenient. The shuttle can become pretty crowded from time to time, so you might end up doing the trip standing up but it takes only around 25-30 minutes. The first shuttle leave the resort at 9 am and the last one leave’s from Playa at 9h30 pm. Of course, don’t forget to bargain if you’re shopping in Playa, or you will just be throwing your money away. There are a few of the beach bars that have still not recovered from the hurricane; Senor Frog’s is one of them. We did stop at a nice little bar on 5th avenue, the: “Chico Italiano”. We ate very good nachos and had 4 beers for around 12$.

We also went on the Chichen Itza tour from our travel company, it was a long day. We left the resort at 7h35 in the morning and came back at 8 at night. It was a sunny day until we actually got on the site itself, and then we got hit by some kind of tropical storm, it was pouring rain. Of course, it’s nobody’s fault, but we thought the tour guide could have handle the situation a lot better than leaving us soaking wet in the middle of the field. Anyway, the ruins and the Mayan history are quite amazing, but all the stops that we made along the way were pretty much a waste of time. Also, be aware that they have closed the access to the big pyramid (Kulkucan), so you cannot climb to the top of it anymore. It’s supposed to be a temporary situation, but who knows… If I compare the day trip to Chichen Itza to the one we did last year to Coba, with Alltournative, the Alltournative tour was 10 times better.

Other comments:
The del Mar/Beach tennis courts were still in reparation, but you can play on the Mayan/Lindo courts in the mean time. You just have to make your reservation at the Mayan lobby desk.

It’s a pretty big resort, so you’ll have to walk quite a bit, but we didn’t find it to be a burden at all. You can easily cross over from one resort to the other and we thought that we did a lot more walking around last year, staying at the Bahia Principe Tulum.

There are 4 Internet workstations that you have to pay to use, it’s 10pesos for 5 minutes with a minimum of 30 pesos(15 minutes). We used them a few times and didn’t have any problems with them.

We didn’t have too many problems with mosquitoes, only one night when we were playing tennis, that we got bitten a few times.

The staff is very friendly and very helpful; we would recommend this place to anyone.

Hope this helps and if you have any questions, just e-mail me in English or in French (put Iberostar as the subject please): frankygodin@hotmail.com

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar "Schmerl" ~ U.S.

January 2006

I just got back from the Del Mar yesterday. We had a great time. I tend to be a random person, but I’ll try to organize my thoughts for this trip report. We booked with Apple Vacations and flew their charter of USA 3000. The flight was delayed a bit at Phila. Airport, but no big deal. We arrived at Cancun about 9:30 AM. Apple bus was waiting and off we went. IB Paraiso was the first stop!! I had e-mailed requesting a third floor room in building 14 or 15. We were in building 15, room 1552. It was great. We were at the corner of the building, so no one walked by our room late at night and it was pretty quiet. We had a beautiful view of the "quiet pool" and easy access to the path to the pool. I would ask for this room again.

Housekeeping was fantastic. Our housekeeper was Leila. We would go to breakfast and come back to our room and it would be cleaned! It was like she had us on a tracking device. She left us towel animals everyday. We would leave her a note requesting "mas agua" or whatever we wanted and it was always there.

Service at this resort was FANTASTIC! If we ever needed anything, we just made a phone call and it would be there within 20 minutes or so. Service at the restaurants and bars was great as well. Then there are the wonderful "Star Friends" who do all they can to make your stay an enjoyable one. As for food, it was OK. We really enjoyed the Japanese restaurant a LOT. The rest of the food was fine, but nothing outstanding. We ate at the Mediterranean restaurant twice and enjoyed it. Now, we dine out a lot so we may be a bit jaded as far as good food goes. Make your reservations for the ala carte restaurants AS SOON AS YOU GET THERE. Some people were having trouble getting the restaurants they wanted.

Entertainment was OK. Some of the shows were just a bit too frantic. The Star Friends are all very talented…it seemed the people who put together the shows just tried to jam too much in at times. Some of the shows were great. We liked the “Movie show” the best. The pre-show was sometimes corny, but always made us laugh and isn’t that what it’s all about! My sister and I got up and did the Iberostar dance even though we had no idea what we were doing, but once again, the Star Friends came to our rescue. We were definitely the oldest people up there, but hey, we were there to have fun! We were there for Christmas. On Christmas day they had all sorts of games on the beach. Santa arrived via jet ski and they cooked paella on the beach. It was a fun day, but they all were !!

The grounds looked great. You only saw evidence of the hurricane if you looked up at the tops of the trees. All restaurants and the theater were open. Take time to study the map of the resort and you’ll save yourself a lot of extra walking. We walked over to the Maya/Lindo also. We used Cancun Valet to return to Cancun airport. I’m a fanatic about getting a seat assignment on the plane. Cancun Valet showed up early and they were friendly and very professional.

All and all, this was a great vacation. We were there for seven nights and I could have stayed longer. VERY relaxing, wonderful service, beautiful grounds and beach. I would definitely return!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar kwingham

June 2005

My husband and I (early 40’s and early 30’s respectively) along with my parents (early 60’s)visited the IB Del Mar May 15-22. My husband and I have been fortunate to have gone to the Sun Palace (cancun), The Adventura Palace (MR), the Copacobana (MR) and in the DR the Catalonia Bavaro and Riu Bamboo. I have to say this is THE best place we have ever been to!! I did a lot of research for this trip, much thanks to this website I believe I have chosen the best ever! (Value)

First looked at the Lindo, but saved a few hundred dollars by booking the DelMar. 1) We figured it’s the same beach anyway, and 2) we figured less kids – no wave pool –lazy river) . If some people do not know the IB Del Mar/Beach is one hotel that share the same restaurants and the IB Lindo/Maya is right next door with a little different amenities and restaurants and a little more expensive. It is newer also. The customers over at the Lindo/Maya can book restaurants over at the DelMar/Beach side and as far as I know the Del/Mar-Beach can only book the Italian restaurant over at the Lindo. . But to our family it was not worth the extra $$$. That said….WOW ! We all had a wonderful time. I will start with the rooms..

Very Nice! Closet had couple of shelves (one which had the safe on it – this is a electronically programmed safe – that you program yourself using 8 digits.) Plus there are a couple of hangers within the closet to hang your clothes on.) A ceiling fan, small sofa, a table with 2 chairs. The bathroom had plenty of amenities, including shower gel and shampoo – mounted on the inside of the shower. A shower cap (which I never used) , a comb and the blowdryer was OK- . It did the job. There also is alarm clock and coffee maker in the room. The mini-bar – well all we had to do is leave a note requesting what we wanted. They were very accommodating. (TIP) Thanks to someone else on this website… pull the fridge out “a little” from underneath the desk to allow for some air flow, from behind, plus my husband found the switch on the inside of the “fridge”to turn it a little colder on the inside of the fridge. There is also an Ice bucket in the room, which you can fill up when you need to on the 2nd floor of each building. The maids did a very nice job of cleaning!

Food: – Dinner_ Okay I am not going to complain AT ALL. We (all 4 of us) ate the Mediterranean (mainly seafood) – Wow what a wonderful dinner! We felt we were treated like royalty. One night, the Tropical ( which during the day is El Faro), My husband enjoyed the steak,. The Mexican and the Brazilian. As many of reviews have said book your specialty restaurants early – That is true. But we did not and it was OK eating at the buffet for dinner. There is plenty of variety if you do not have reservations for a specialty restaurant. As far as food goes..that is all I will say. Many people complain – I will not. And I believe that goes for the rest of our party,. Breakfast… you can always find something that you like and lunch too.

Now the BEACH: What a wonderful piece of Paradise. NO- Did not get up and play the “towel game” (That’s not our style) But still found a nice place underneath a “palapla” for 4 around the mid afternoon. We (my husband and I) have visited the MR before and loved the beach and this time around wanted to share it with my parents. And WOW! What a beautiful beach! There a plenty of beach chairs to go around, plus the beach bar – what a great PLUS!!! Also during the day there is grill where they BBQ us some food and they have the music going.

POOL: AMAZING! Thanks to others that have posted reviews- yes bring along your on raft! What a relaxing time to drift along this HUGE pool with a “cervaza” or “Miami Vice” in hand. (I bought a raft before we went and the “Dive Shop” did blow it up for us.) Thanks to “Luis” at “La Perla” – Thanks for giving us a great time and –Roberto at “Las Olas” .

Oh and yes , did take the free shuttle to Playa Del Carmen- to do some shopping and took the Ferry over to Cozumel. When they let you off at Playa Del Carmem, just start walking north and you will find the shops. (I believe the shops in Playa del Carmen were better than Cozumel)

Nope did not do any water sports, or any other “trips” offered by the hotel so I can not comment. Thanks to Debbies website.!

Oh yes! Please people remember you are visiting Mexico. Not New York if you want a 5 star hotel! But I Would truly recommend the IB Del Mar. I have been fortunate to have been to a couple of 5 star hotels in the USA (Bellagio and Mirage – in Las Vegas) This is place where it is total PARADISE! Just remember you are in their county where they are trying to make it the best vacation –“holiday” for you!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Amy and Rob from Sherwood Park, Canada

December 2004

My husband and I just got back from two weeks in Mexico. We went with Signature vacations which allows you to do a 2-in-1 vacation with one week on the Mayan Riviera and one week in Cozumel. We chose the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar in the Mayan Riviera and the Iberostar Cozumel. We expected the two resorts to be different – and they were! The only problem was that the food was exactly the same. Two weeks of almost identical buffets got boring. I expected theme buffets with entirely different selections. Even the menus for the a la carte restaurants were the same.

We’ve previously been to Sandals Antigua, Sandals Grande St. Lucia and on a Princess Cruise of the Western Caribbean. We’re both in our early 30s and this was our first trip to Mexico (although the cruise did stop in Cozumel for 1 day).

Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar
Although this is advertised as a 386 room resort, it shares the same services (buffets, a la cartes, pool, beach, night shows, etc.) with the Paraiso Beach. So it is really a 800 room resort. It’s by far the biggest we’ve ever stayed at and if you like a more persoanl experience, this is not the place for you.

That said, the resort was beautiful. From the grounds to the room to the pool we found everything met our expectations. The waiters were polite but not overly friendly unless you tipped (which we did for only exceptional service). Our room was 1646 which is nicely in the middle between the beach and the restaurants (with the size of this resort, it is a pain to go back to your room for anything). We were originally put into a room with 2 double beds, but they moved us the next day to a king room in the same building.

For restaurants they have Mexican, Mediteranean, Tropical, Brazilean, Steakhouse, and Japanese. We reviewed the menus (available at the front desk) and settled on the first 3. We ate at the Mediteranean last; it is all seafood and was our favorite. We like variety, but this restaurant was so much better than the other 2, that I’d suggest eating there 3 times.

While on the Mayan Riveria, we only took the free shuttle to Playa del Carmen once to buy Tequila (cheaper than resort). We also arranged through our signature rep for tours to Chichen Itza ($77 US each) and Xel-Ha ($83 US each). Chichen Itza was amazing and well worth the 2.5 hour bus ride each way. Of course you don’t get enough time to explore the ruins (~3hours), but just to learn about the history and to climb the pyramid is well worth the full day. Unless you have small kids or a non-swimmer, my advice is to skip Xel-Ha. The fresh and salt water mixing makes for very poor visibility (don’t believe the brochure pictures). There is absolutely no coral. The good thing is that it is protected from the ocean surf and in most places you can stand up when in the water. If you want a good snorkelling experience, take the ferry ($18 US each roundtrip) accross to Cozumel.

Iberostar Cozumel
The resort itself is much smaller (300 rooms). I was originally disappointed in our room 8503. It was much smaller and not in as good of shape as the Iberostar del Mar. Our room had a musty smell (which we got used to after a few days). We were lucky not to have any sewar smell (stay away from the rooms close to the theatre).

The buffets (although smaller) were the same in food quality as the Iberostar del Mar. For a la carte they have Mexican and Steakhouse which were about equal in quality. I think I’d lean towards favouring the Mexican since nothing is ever as good as Alberta beef! If you are doing the 2-in-1 vacation, note that the menus are identical (so you might want to try the other restaurants while on the Mayan Riviera).

I eventually warmed to the resort. It is a lot more laid back and less busy than del Mar – in fact, if we had stayed here first I probably would have loved it right away. The beach is not at all sandy, but they do provide shoes if you ask (take your own aqua socks). There are ladders off the peer to bypass most of the rocks, but it is still hard to find a sandy area to stand in the water. The good news there is actually fish to look at. We even saw a baracuda while snorkelling about 20 ft from shore!

We’re both divers and were not disappointed with Cozumel. You can go directly with the dive company offered by the resort (Dressel), but their boats look like they take out about 20 people at a time. We choose to go with Diving with Alison (www.scubawithalison.com). We e-mailed her in advance and she paired us up with others at about the same ability. She picked us up right at the resort. The boat was smaller, but the most we had was 7 divers. The price was cheaper ($70 US each for a 2 tank which included a reg and BCD) and she throws in a wetsuit if you pay with cash or travellers cheques. I’d highly recommend her to anyone. The Iberostar is located right in front of the reef, it didn’t take more than 5 minutes to get to any of our dive spots. We did 3 days of 2 tank dives (Santa Rosa wall and shallow, Palancar Horseshoe, Dehlia, and Cedral Pass). Note that Cozumel is all drift diving and there is no ropes to descend. Our stongest current was at Santa Rosa shallow (but this also had the best sea life including huge turtles, moray eels, eagle rays, and parrot fish). Alison keeps a close eye on you and if you let her know you’re not comfortable with the current, she can pick other spots.

Overall I think that Iberostar met the majority of our expectations and that we got what we paid for (there are higher stars out there!). I wish they would mix the variety up more on the buffets. The food was not great, but it was good and neither of us got sick. We talked to another couple from Vancouver that managed to do a 2-in-1 with El Dorado and Occidental (this is not advertised in the brochure). For anyone booking now, I would suggest you try to get the Iberostar del Mar and the Cozumel Occidental. The Occidental is right beside the Iberostar (still close to the dive sites) and it sounded much nicer than our Cozumel resort when we compared experiences on our way back to the airport.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Canada

September 2004

My wife and I traveled to the Iberostar Paraiso Beach Resort in August 2004. This was our first experience traveling to the Caribbean. The resort was wonderful and we had a marvelous time.

Resort Grounds
The grounds were stunning. The grounds crew keeps the place spotless. I loved the way the resort was laid out. It is a bunch of inter-connected walkways through lush tropical plants and jungle. Although the resort is huge, it feels very intimate because of the grounds. It is particularly beautiful at night as the entire resort is illuminated by large cement pagoda style lights along all the walkways.

This is one of the things I liked the best about this resort. The pool is huge! Never once did we have a problem finding a chair. I have read other reviews in which the author complained about the dept of the pool (it has a maximum depth of 4ft.). To my way of thinking, this was the best feature of the pool. Why would you want a deep pool? You can’t hang on to your drink! The pool has three swim-up bars so finding a drink was easy. The pool also has two very large Jacuzzi’s built right into it. You could fit 20 people in them. These Jacuzzi’s open right on to the pool so the water circulates with the pool water and is always nice and clean. The pool also has a two or three storey high waterfall at one end which houses a hot tub.

Lobby and Restaurants
I fell in love with the architecture of the main building. It is Spanish Villa Style. Lots of marble, stucco, arches, and hand carved furniture that weaves around fountains, lush foliage, and ponds full of tropical fish and flamingos. If you’re not impressed with the main building and grounds of this resort then all your taste is in your mouth!

The rooms are very good (not fabulous) but more than adequate. We had a standard room with a king size bed. The floors are marble and the furniture is of good quality. I really dislike rooms in which the furniture is hacked up. This was not the case here in spite of the fact that the resort is a few years old. Everything in the room looked new and the room was spotlessly clean. The room had a safe for valuables that was very secure. The air conditioning worked flawlessly. It was controlled by 1/2 degrees so you could set it for virtually any temperature that you felt comfortable with. The bathroom contained a large walk-in shower with two shower heads. It was always hot and the pressure what great. Other reviewers complained about the lack of bathtubs. I didn’t miss it at all. Also, there may be more upscale rooms on the resort that contain them but I never asked.

Obviously, the most objective areas of a review like this is going to be the food. Indeed, of all the reviews I read on this site, food is the most inconsistent and contentious item. We really enjoyed the food at this resort. However, we love to try new things and will eat virtually anything from octopus to French fries. We also prefer our food well spiced. If you normally eat plain, bland food and your idea of variety is meat and potatoes then I think you will have a problem with the food regardless of what resort you go to.

The buffet was awesome. There were lots of delicious entrée dishes to try. The Mexican food was particularly good (go figure!). I loved all the strange and wonderful salads they had (at least a dozen at each meal). They also had all kinds of delicious pickled items in jars and on cold plates (Lord only knows what I ate but I loved it). The deserts were incredible and plentiful! I will admit that I found a couple of items where I believe the quality of the meat could have been better. For example, one salad used imitation crab meat instead of the real thing. It was still delicious however. As another example, I had one or two beef dished that used a rather cheap cut of beef. However, the meat was exceptionally tender leading me to believe that it was well marinated.

In terms of specialty restaurants, we ate at the steak house, the tropical restaurant, and the Japanese Chop House. The steak house was my least favorite. We were served VERY tender steaks but the choice of steak cuts was quite limited (no bacon wrapped filets or porterhouses). Also, the spicing could have been better. Over all though, it was still a very fine meal. The tropical restaurant was our favorite. Its menu contains mostly seafood. We had red snapper and shrimp. The wonderful flavor of that meal still resonates in my brain. The Japanese chop house was good but again I would have preferred more spice on the meat. I had octopus and beef. Unfortunately, the chef served my octopus from the grill last and it over-cooked a little. I still very much enjoyed this meal.

I have to comment on some of the other reviews I read about getting sick. Never once did my wife or I get sick. I become annoyed when I read reviews were a person claims to get sick "from the lobster" or from "that restaurant". You simply can’t identify what made you sick that easily. Symptoms of real food poisoning can become evident anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days after consumption. I talked to a couple of guests who claimed to get diarrhea from the food or the water. I found this very amusing. These where people who were drinking large quantities of alcohol mixed with fruit juices laying in 100 degree heat eating spicy and in some cases greasy food. I find it very unlikely that the cause of their discomfort was the food poisoning. More likely is the fact that their digestive system is not used to the type of food and drink or the quantities they were ingesting.

The People
The people are the best part of traveling in Mexico. The resort employees were so helpful, polite, and hard working. I gave lots of tips however I saw very few others giving tips and still receiving great service. If you really pay attention to the people who are serving you, you will sense a great sincerity in their desire to make your stay great. I have traveled to other locations but never have I seen people so hard working. If you don’t get exceptional service at this resort then I have to suspect that you are too impatient or perhaps somewhat difficult to please. You have to remember the people are employees NOT servants. Treat them with a little respect and you will have a wonderful holiday.

We saw four shows. Two were very good (singing and dancing). Two were so-so (goofy audience participation and people lip-syncing to music)

We drink mostly beer (we are Canuks). I found the beer excellent. Mexicans make great beer! If you tell the bartenders to go easy on the ice, you won’t get drinks that are watery. The heat tends to make the bartenders use a lot of ice so the drinks don’t get warm. The frozen margaritas and banana daiquiris were very good. Ask for 2 pieces of banana in the daiquiris to make them exceptional.

One Complaint
My only complaint is that the bar fridges in the rooms are refilled every two days. We were always out of beer and once ran out of bottled water. I would have preferred daily service. I never requested it, so I don’t know if I could have received daily service.

Hope this review is useful to you.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Jennifer

September 2004

We just returned from Iberostar Del Mar and I loved it!! I have bad feet and since the resort is so huge, I had problems the first few days. But I guess my feet adjusted and I didn’t mind the walking.

Check in was easy. We got to the hotel around noon. We were told that the hotel was 98% full and we were being upgraded to a Jr Suite and our room was ready before the 3:00 check in. After we had been in our room for a few hours we heard someone at the door. It was another couple who said that the room we were in was there room. I guess the front desk messed up and gave the same room out twice. After a few conversations with the front desk, confirming our last name and the travel agency we used, we never heard another thing about it!

The pool was nice and big and warm. The pool is in need of repair. It almost seem like the stone or what ever material they used for the steps and coping didn’t hold up. Some of the steps have sharp edges. But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful, you could just tell that it wasn’t brand new.

The food wasn’t so hot. The buffets seemed to serve the same thing every day. My 10 year old son ordered room service at least 2 times a day, every day. He loved the heart shaped chicken nuggets.

Every person who works at this resort is wonderful. I can’t think of anything negative to say about them. The service we received is what makes this such a great resort!!

I went scuba diving for the first time ever and I’m hooked. The staff at the dive shop were awesome. My son signed up for diving too. He was having some problems and the dive shop staff spent at least an extra hour with him one on one going over everything. Unfortunately my son could dive because he couldn’t equalize his ears in the ocean.

I loved the resort and I loved all the people. I can’t wait to go back!!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Karin — Missouri

August 2004

We just got back from a stay at the Iberostar Del Mar, it was fantastic. I won’t go on about the beauty of the place, the food, the staff, all were great and it’s been said before. Every previous reviewer was right! I would suggest take your own hair dryer if you’re used to a powerful dryer, but it was too humid to worry about my hair much. Take small bills, it’s hard to bargain downtown if you offer them $5 for an item and then expect the vendor to make change for a twenty. Take lots of dollar bills for tips, you can lock the money in your room safe. Definitely go snorkeling, it was great fun. If you’re really into history, take the trip to Chichen Itza, if not-save your money. I did enjoy it, but it was a long bus ride and very hot that day. The trip to the sinkhole was an experience too. I wouldn’t hesitate to go again, it was wonderful. We enjoyed the beautiful resort, the food, the shopping, the swimming, the snorkeling. Don’t hesitate to vacation here.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Frank — USA

July 2004

We just got back from Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar July 20-27, 2004 the resort was very nice. Only 2 complaints no one told me on a 7 night stay you can only have 3 dinner reservations. The buffets were not what I except.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar USA

May 2004


We just spent an unbelievable week (May 8-15) at the Iberostar Del Mar and it is everything nice that has been said by other reviewers. I honestly am hard pressed to come up with something negative to say about this resort…..maybe the towels could be a little softer. That’s about as negative as I can get.

Our original reservations were to be on the Beach side, but since they were booked to capacity they put us on the Del Mar side. The rooms are basically the same, the only difference is the outside of the bldgs are a different style and the lobbies are different. The Del Mar lobby is beautiful, mosaic tile in two domed ceilings, one depicting daytime using orange and red mosaics and the other uses blues for a nighttime theme that looks like stars and moons. The lobby bar served the topshelf brand liquors, was always full of people having fun, and had nightly music entertainment. We met alot of nice and friendly people at that bar.

The hotels were at 85 to 90% capacity that week. We never had any trouble finding chairs at the beach or the pool and we always looked for one that came with it’s own palapas. Definitely bring a thermal mug for your drinks(water, soda or whatever) because the ice melts very quickly. You can enjoy a massage on the beach and it’s worth every penny. We made reservations for the ala carte restaurants on the day we arrived, enjoyed our meal at the Steakhouse (no air conditioning) but I have to add that the food at all of the buffet’s are awesome. It’s funny, with the amount of people that were staying at the Del Mar/Beach, the restaurants never had that over crowded feeling that you can get at some resorts.

As everyone else has mentioned, the grounds are breathtaking and the pool is like no other. I took plenty of pictures but seeing is believing.

This resort is beautiful, the staff is hardworking and friendly. It was a joy to spend a week here and I can’t wait to go back. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this property to anyone. Iberostar is the nicest all inclusive I have ever been to and I’m already planning my next vacation with them. They know how to do those little extra’s to make their guests feel special. Every time I talk about this vacation it puts a smile on my face and I thank Iberostar for that.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Judy and Dan — Canada

February 2004

My husband and I spent a glorious week at this hotel and resort, Nov. 29- Dec.7th 2003. I have one word to describe this place…FANTASTIC!! It is truly at 5 star resort, and we had no complaints whatsoever. We enjoyed the opulence here for one lovely week, away from the Christmas stress! We have no doubt, we will return next year.

All of the grounds are beautifully kept…. absolutely pristine. Off of the open air lobby, there are several flamingos living in a shallow pool with a fountain. They are out most of the day and evening and make a great photo op. The pool goes on forever…winds throughout the centre of the property, and includes a waterfalls and a wading area that allows one to walk about knee deep for about 1/2 a kilometer. It was a long hike from the lobby to our villa. We didn’t mind, but there are trams that go by every 10 minutes or so and make the rounds to bring people from the villas up to the restaurants, and then take them back again after the evening entertainment.

The entertainment was top notch…very family oriented, with lots to do for the kids. Each evening included a kids show, followed by a show for the adults. We enjoyed the dance competition…

Food: Excellent and quite varied. There were two buffet restaurants and 4 or 5 a la cart restaurants. In addition, a pool snack bar and mini buffet were available for breakfast and lunch.The staff was fantastic, always attentive and we could not have asked for better.

Rooms were spotless, (we had a king sized bed) and there was a fridge that was well stocked each day with pop, beer and water. A room safe was included. Several stations available on the TV. A small patio looked out onto the garden walkway. We had a bathroom with shower only, but it was very large and well kept.

The beach was lovely, although the surf was fairly rough while we were there. It is not a good area for diving or snorkelling in my opinion…a little too rough. There were tours available for those activities. The beach was also on a bit of a slope…and I found it a bit difficult to walk for long periods. However the sand was nice and white and the beach was clean. A bit rocky in some spots. Several activites were set up..archery, volleyball, and there were also hammocks available for lounging. Lots and lots of beach lounges and no shortage of palapas.

There is a bus that runs each hour into Playa del Carmen, about a 15 min. ride. Lots of great shopping on "5th Avenue". I would advise anyone going there to be careful of the sales pitch for "Time Shares"..many of the natives will agressively seek you out in town to try and convince you to attend demos.

Overrall, we had a fantastic time and we would highly recommend this resort to anyone who would like a taste of luxury for a week.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Bill and Diana — U.S.A.

July 2003

My wife, 2 daughters and I spent 7 days in July at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Resort through Olympus tours. Our previous trip to Mexico was to Cozumel in 1998. The resort was chosen from recommendations on your website and my travel agent. The weather all week long was hot and sticky as usual. Bring extra clothes because you’ll take extra showers. The airport has improved since 1998 with better customs and immigration areas. Checking in was a snap due to Sid from the tour company. He told us to stay away from the 2 legged sharks also known as time share salesmen .Baggage was brought to our room on the beach side but when we got there construction was still going on with the Lindo resort. The bellboy immediately called the desk and they gave us another room ASAP. The complex is quite large so be prepared to walk if you miss the trolley. Absolutely beautiful resort .Well manicured lawns and shrubs turn this place into a tropical paradise. The room was tiled with attractive decorations. A/C worked ok but mini bar fridge took forever to get stuff cold .Didn’t matter too much because snack stand was within 75 ft.

The quality of the restaurants was good, with variety, all of which was excellent quality. The service was attentive and all of the staff greeted you with a hola….Breakfast was excellent with omelet bar, fruit and sweets Lunch was o.k. but usually you were too stuffed from breakfast. The pool snack stand served hot dogs, nachos, hamburgers and chicken. 1 word of cau6tion – check the doneness of the burgers. I had to get a foodservice manager to inform them of this. she went right over and corrected the problem..Mex and Steakhouse restaurants were good. A definite change of pace from the boredom of the buffet.

Booze was good but the highest top shelf liquor they had was Jim beam bourbon or Bacardi black .Dos equus was the only beer served as is most resorts in the area. everyone had a good time at at the swim up and regular bars. TIP- the guys behind the bar work very hard for little pay .Even though your package is all – inclusive give the guys a buck or 2 now and then .they will remember you and take care of you r needs. I observed more than one ignorant person who thought that the bartenders were their own personal servant. Don’t be rude to these pleasant hard working humans.

Beach is spacious with turquoise waters nipping at the shoreline. some areas have rocks but most Mexican beaches do. Snorkeling is possible past the swimming area but watch out for jet skis. The pool is massive with a waterfall at its base. Always enough space to swim, walk or just relax. If you haven’t been to Mexico, there is a lot to see, and not enough time to see it. We went to Isla Mujeres on the Golden cruise. Don’t bother, .the time constraints make doing 3 or more items impossible. Guys on the boat are great but after that it goes downhill.

SUMMARY Good value .Many Europeans women walking around topless. My 2 daughters had to get over the culture shock of this.( some should have kept their clothes on) Overall a good trip to relax and unwind.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar UK

July 2003

My partner and I spent two weeks in June 2003 at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Resort through Airtours. This was our first visit to Mexico and really came about because of the excellent value coupled with the problems of security and SARS elsewhere. I am 56 and my partner is 45.

Typical temperature during the two weeks eas between 90 and 93, with high humidity (around 75%). 11 days of sunshine, three days cloudy or rain.

Direct flight from London Gatwick. I would recommend upgrading to PremairGold. It is well worth it for the 10 hour flight (if you can afford it).

CHECK-IN Airtours (Mytravel) are worse than useless. The ‘team’ at Gatwick comprised of three people who were not just useless, but unbelievably rude. If you have a query about your book-in arrangements, don’t bother going to their helpdesk. It will only get you stressed out and ruin the start of your holiday.

In contrast, the rep at the hotel (Iain) is incredibly helpful and puts himself out to ensure all issues are resolved.

I can only endorse the positive things written by other people. On the Del Mar side there are flamingos and parrots to greet you. The walk through the ‘jungle’ to your room brings different animals and birds into view each day. Our biggest treat was a tiny hummingbird that was feeding from the pink flowers one morning.

Excellent, with very effective air conditioning (essential in the humid atmosphere), with a fridge refilled with non-alcoholoc drinks every other day. No beasties in the rooms, not even a lizard. We were on the second floor.

The quality of the normal restaurants was very high, with a real variety, all of which was excellent quality. The service was well above anything found in the UK, and all of the staff greeted you with a smile. Not only ‘Nescafe’ but a real expresso machine. Freshly squeezed orange juice was available every morning. The ice cream was very very good (for some reason I found this surprising) with at least three variants available at lunch and dinner. Wine was served with dinner (if required) which again was very good. Between meals (in the pool area) you could get hot-dogs (presumably aimed at Americans) and ice-cream cones. Of the specialist restaurants, the JAPANESE restaurant was the best. Food was good and authentic. The BRAZILIAN restaurant is great for meat lovers although you are rather rushed (everyone has to eat their meats delivered on skewers at the same time).

Served with great fun from the people in the pool bars. It is nice to be able to go for a swim and stop for a drink, or just pick one up and walk back (through the pool) to your recliner (the pool is never more than 4.5 feet deep).

Beach is lovely, and the sea is clear for swimming (unlike the Red Sea with its jellyfish). However, the rocks make the area for swimming slightly limited, and snorkelling is not really possible.

Diving is provided on site by Dressel Diving. However, we opted to go over to Cozumel (Free hotel bus to Playa, high speed ferry 18 USD) and book directly with one of the PADI centres there. You can hire everything including an underwater camera. You can generally get out as the reef (second only to the great barrier reef) is in the lee of the island. My partner dives (I don’t) and she enjoyed the dives (both drift dives of around 30 metres). Highlights for her were giant turtle and large octopus, plus usual array of corals and fish. I did snorkelling whilst they were diving, but would not recommend it. If you want to snorkel, book a trip to the specialist ecopark.

Excellent. Massive. Always enough space to swim, walk or just relax.

If you haven’t been to Mexico, there is a lot to see, and not enough time to see it. We went to Xcaret, which is well worth it. However, take the chance to swim with the Dolphins here. You will have time, and still be able to see everything else. The evening show is brilliant (and included in the price). Drinks are a rip-off (about £1.35 for a can of Coke), so take some from your room. Other trips included the horseback ride (I have never ridden a horse before) which was good value. The trip to Chichen Itza is long (about 3.5 hours in the coach), but is worth it. Indeed, you don’t have enough time at the site.

Best value to date. Difficult to fault (we were asked to find fault and could only come up with the fact that they don’t do afternoon tea and cakes – typically British – but they were thinking of doing this next year). Being British, it is possible that some of the US contingent could get annoying at times. Certain factions seem to insist of shouting to each other rather than talking. Also, significant amounts of alcohol are downed during the day meaning that some people get slightly drunk and act like complete numpties (which is unacceptable with children around). Having said that, these are isolated instances. We met many pleasant and friendly people here, primarily US citizens, but also Germans. Not many British, but I am sure this will change.

WARNING There is the usual number of timeshare sellers around, so be aware. Biggest con is at Cancun airport when you land, when a helpful ‘tourist assistant’ provides you with a map and advises you where to visit. They offer reduced price trips from the Moon Palace or Mayan Palace, all you have to do is visit these hotels … just 50 USD which is refundable when you go there … DON’T BE CONNED.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Lou and Pearl — Toronto

July 2003

My wife Pearl and I spent a wonderful week in May 2003 at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Resort through Signature Vacations. The Mayan Riviera has become one of our favourite destinations and this trip marks our seventh return visit to this area.

Four planes from Toronto arrived at about the same time in Cancun. We were fortunate to be among the first to clear customs.

Check-in was a breeze. Being second in line we were lucky to receive a room before the customary 3pm check-in time. Our luggage was delivered in about 10 minutes.

During our stay most of the guests were families with young children with predominantly North Americans and some Europeans.

This is a large resort divided into the Paraiso and Del Mar sections. Both are attractively decorated with the Paraiso having a more classic look with dark wood trimmings and the Del Mar with a more contemporary look.

As you walk past the lobby the sight of beautiful pink flamingos will greet you on the Del Mar side and graceful white swans on the Paraiso side. The layout of the lobby and restaurant complex is pleasant and appears to conform to the principles of Feng Shui. From here down to the pool and beach you will likely run across the field hens and peacocks that are lucky enough to call this place their home. The grounds are well maintained and have a miniature ecopark feel. By the tennis courts there are beautiful young pineapples at different stages of development to admire. Biting bugs were notable by their absence. Not one bite at all during our stay. The reason for this was later revealed as I sighted a man in a chemical suit doing some spraying.

It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the main building complex, which houses the lobby and main restaurants, to the beach area. A shuttle running from the lobby to the beach is available. For most people it is probably advantageous to have a room closer to the main lobby complex as this will mean a shorter walk for breakfast and dinner and just as importantly, obviates the need for the shuttle during check-in and checkout.

The room has a separate living area with an enclosed porch. Each morning our porch was visited by one of the resident peacocks. He would perch on the railing and was quite content to being photographed. There is a fridge that is refilled every second day. Maid service was impeccable regardless of tipping. We were left with a different towel and flower arrangement everyday.

The lobby complex houses four menu restaurants and the two main buffet restaurants. The beach restaurants become the Tropical and Steakhouse restaurants for dinner. Each weekly stay includes three visits to the menu restaurants by reservation. In addition every day at 4 pm you can check at the reservation desk for cancellation slots. There is usually a 15 to 20 minute queue to book.

We had breakfast each day at the main buffet restaurant. The selection and variety was good. There is an assortment of fruits, cereals and ham. The omelet stations were never too busy. The freshly fried donuts were surprisingly tasty. Champagne was not available. The blended fruit drinks were a disappointment. We felt they were too creamy and not very palatable.

We had lunch most days by the beach restaurants. The two beach restaurants served identical food that did not vary much from day to day. The food was good and we did not tire of it. There was fresh salad, soup and ham along with pasta, paella, fish, pork, steak, as well as croissant ham and cheese sandwiches and pizza. Ice cream was very good. Wine and pop were self-serve.

Miniburgers and hotdogs were available by the beach and pool. They were not remarkable but served their purpose if you were in need of a quick bite or just curious as I was.

We had lunch by the main buffet once but did not feel it was worth the effort of the extra walk from the beach.

The JAPANESE restaurant was the most popular. Book early if you wish to attend. Seating is by group for teppanyaki unless you request for a private table at the time of booking. Food was good and authentic. Sushi portions were small. The chef however put on a great show.

The MEDITERRANEAN restaurant offered arguably the best service. The snapper was excellent. The Paella was similar to what was served at the beach restaurants.

The BRAZILIAN restaurant featured all you can eat grilled lobster tail, salad bar and a parade of well-prepared meats. Highly recommended for meat lovers but probably not the best choice for vegetarians.

The MEXICAN restaurant was good but we liked the Mexican theme night at the main buffet better.

The TROPICAL restaurant was all right. We felt dinner at the main buffet was better than the Tropical. You won’t be missing much if you skip this restaurant.

Toward the end of our stay we started to dine at the Paraiso side buffet restaurant. We found the décor and service was a bit better here.

At dinnertime Chris the clown visited us as he made his rounds creating balloon animals for the guests.

Overall we felt the food was fine with not too much to complain about. The best seafoods were the shrimps and mussels. The ripe papaya served in the mornings was as good as it gets and the desserts often made us go back for seconds. As others have noted some of the fruit drinks tasted like powder mixes.

We found the beer, red and white wines, champagne decent. The dinner restaurants all serve a good pina colada. The beach bar however served powder orange juice and lemonade, which some may not like but when you’re thirsty, it really doesn’t matter much. Bottled water is not available at the bars so it’s not a bad idea to bring some from the in-room fridge.

There was a kids’ club. Baby-sitting was available at extra cost by two caring young women.

The fine sand beach was beautiful with some weed and lots of recliners. Finding a chair was seldom a problem. Unfortunately high surf and low to moderate winds appear to be the prevailing conditions here. This is good for playing with the waves but a bit challenging for water sports and swimming. During our week here we had one red flag day and the rest were yellow flag days. There is a pier with some rocky area and fish but it is too shallow for snorkeling.

The resort hires an entertainer who wears different disguises each day to amuse the guests by the beach and the pool. One day he would pose as an old lady with a prominent dowager’s hump using a cane, walking a makeshift poodle. She would greet the guests, roll up her long skirt and produce a candy from a most unexpected part of her costume. Seeing people’s reaction to her was a bit like Candid Camera and we got a few laughs watching her give her stash of candies away. On other days he would be disguised as a lost tourist, a caveman, and an escaped convict.

There are 4 single sail catamarans, kayaks and windsurfs available with 3.5 to 6.9 sails and boards of different sizes. A harness and high wind equipment for windsurfing is available at no extra charge but you probably won’t find many opportunities to use them. According to the water sports staff the surf and wind conditions were seldom ideal. During our one week stay the water sports centre was closed for 5 and a half days. This broke our previous worse record of 5 days out of 7 closure we had experienced at the Sandals Beaches Varadero resort in Cuba.

Parasailing is available. I later learned to recognize that if the parasailing boat is away it meant the local port was closed and hence all water sports including scuba was closed for the day.

When the weather permits water sports equipment is limited to one hour per day.

Diving is provided on site by Dressel Diving. An introductory pool course is free of charge. Certified divers receive one free dive per week. Equipment rental is $10US. Additional dives are $59US per dive including all gear with a 10% discount for cash payments. Other dive packages as well as cenote and Cozumel dives are available. The young, friendly staff is very helpful. Susan the professional digital still photographer travels with the beginners’ group to provide personal photos that you can purchase on a CD. I did two afternoon dives to nearby reefs. There were lots of colourful fish but we did not encounter much else. Visibility was limited to 13 metres.

There are two very large pools divided into smaller sections. Finding a recliner was easy most days as long as you are not too picky. There is a 20 metre rectangular section for water polo and volleyball that serves well for lap swimming during the quieter hours. There is also a narrow meandering shallow section that leads to the waterfalls.

There are two well-lit courts with windscreens. The surface is quite unusual. It appears to be a weaved hemp fabric that has been coated with a smooth painted surface. When you step on it, it feels like sponge. When the ball bounces from it, the spins especially the topspins are magnified. This is likely because the spongy surface better transfers kinetic energy very much like a racquet strung at low tension.

The designated pro is Adriane. He provides lessons without charge. However he is an early intermediate player (2.5 level). A better player is Leonardo, one of the resort’s ‘Star Friends’. Leonardo, a very friendly Argentine, is actually one of the professional dancers for the night shows. He is a good intermediate (3.5 level) player in great shape with speedy legs. He is left-handed with a somewhat erratic serve with a heavy leftie spin- a good person to hit with to practice receiving leftie spins especially on this court surface. Courts are reserved at the Spa where you can also register to play with other guests. We were fortunate enough to meet competent players from Europe and the USA for mixed doubles.

The resort does provide new balls. Unfortunately like most other resorts the racquets provided all need to be restrung. It is still best to bring your own.

This is a well-equipped gym with jacuzzi and a personal trainer.

This is a good 5 star resort for a relaxing family vacation. The resort is large which means a fair amount of walking or waiting for the shuttle. The food is fine minor quibbles aside.

If you are a pool person, you’ll love the large pools with the swim up bars and ice cream parlour.

The beach is great for lounging, listening and playing with the waves.

For those looking for daily sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba, and calm sea water for swimming this is probably not be the resort for you.

In the Mayan Riviera if you seek more luxury, pampering, and better food, the Riu Palace and Royal Hideaway are worth a look. For sailors the Playacar resorts (Gala Playacar, Iberostar Tucan/Quetzal, Riu Yucatan, Riu Tequila, Riu Playacar, Riu Palace) are better. For a beautiful beach with excellent swimming and snorkeling the ever so popular Barcelo Mayan Beach resort is one of the best here that rivals the nearby Xel-Ha and Xcaret parks.

Our hats off to Debbie and staff and all the reviewers who have helped us and if you do come to this resort we hope you will enjoy it as much as we have.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Donna — Cincinnati OH

June 2003

We just returned from our stay at the Paraiso Del Mar Resort (June 11 -17). We were a family of four traveling with two teens ages 16 and 19. I wanted to share my views as I really based my decision on reading reviews from others at this website!

HOTEL: The hotel was absolutely beautiful! It was very well maintained and very clean. The lobby was spectacular especially when you first walk in. We received a wonderful welcome drink and I found the front desk staff to be very helpful. We were assigned two double rooms and we wanted a king and double. They were very accommodating to us.

POOL: The pool was unbelievable! Three swim up bars, Jacuzzis, waterfall. It never felt crowded! It was a nice temperature and very refreshing after being at the beach.

ROOMS: Very nice and clean. We had a king which had a nice chair, table and couch. The colors were very tropical. The shower was nice with double shower heads. They supplied shampoo and body wash. The maid service we good. We tipped $2/day. They were good about keeping the mini bar stocked with whatever we requested.

FOOD: Probably the biggest disappointment for us. We are not big buffet people so it got old very quick. Breakfast was by far the best meal. Homemade donuts, omelets, pancakes, waffles and fruit were just a few items available. Lunch was either buffet or hamburgers/hotdogs by the pool. (That was our favorite). Dinner was buffet or two restaurant choices, which we chose the Mediterranean and Japanese. Both were good and a nice change from the buffet, however three out of four in our party became sick after dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant. That really put a damper on the rest the trip as it took a couple of days to recover. They also served ice cream at the pool and nachos after 4:00pm. Drinks were good! The bartenders were very friendly! I also tried the room service and found it too be very fast. Food selection was very limited though and again not that good.

SERVICE: The service was very good. Most workers at the resort were friendly and helpful. A little Spanish goes a long way. We did have to carry our luggage to the main lobby on the last day as the bell hop never showed up. It took about 20 minutes on the first day to get our luggage delivered to our room.

BEACH: The beach was beautiful. Lots of cabanas for shade and of course a great beach bar! There was a problem with seaweed in the ocean the week we were there. I am not sure if it was common or just a bad week. It did get in the way of swimming sometimes.

ENTERTAINMENT: There are a lot planned activities during the day. In the evening there is really nothing to do. We tried the show but after two nights decided it was really not entertaining. Just audience participation skits. There is disco at 10:30. We ended up sitting in the lobby until bed. We loved the resort but probably would not stay there again. There is a lot of walking from area to area. We like to walk but sometimes you did get tired of walking so much. Again, we thought the resort was beautiful, service was great, but because of the food, and lack of entertainment (very poor) we probably would not chose this particular resort again.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Dorothy & Azam — Scotland, UK

June 2003

I would like to say what a great site this is! My partner and I had booked at the Riu Tequilla and after stumbling across this site changed our accommodation to the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar. After reading reviews we discovered that the Riu had set meal times that had to be decided upon arrival. This was something that didn’t appeal to us and would like to say thanks to people’s reviews otherwise we wouldn’t have been aware of this as this is something our brochures decided to omit.

This was our second time to Mexico, and our second trip to an Iberostar Hotel. We stayed at the Moon Palace just outside Cancun 3 years ago. Last year we went to the Iberostar Dominicana in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and were so impressed, that we had no hesitations about booking with the same hotel chain again.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would like to share a few of our observations.

The grounds were immaculate, the reception grand, and the pool, well what can we say, amazing! It went on for miles and was so warm you could spend all day in there! I could go on for ages but many people share the same views.

We couldn’t fault anything, but in comparison to our trip to the DR last year, the service and the food was lacking. It was still very good but there was a lack of attentiveness by the waiters in the buffet restaurants, especially at breakfast on the Del Mar side. I feel this was because we weren’t tipping after every meal as some people do. We go to an all inclusive to not worry about carrying money around and will tip at the end of our stay. We felt however, that because this was the case we were left sitting at meal times and breakfasts waiting to be served drinks; whereas the ones that were tipping were seen to even before they had sat down. The waiters could do with a few tips from the DR!

The food was very good although there was a lack of labelling at the buffet restaurant and a lack of fresh fruit. I am not a vegetarian but when something shows no meat in it and does have could be very upsetting for someone.

Although we stayed at the Del Mar we spent most of our evenings at the Paraiso Beach side. It felt more authentic, and the staff were more attentive and very friendly.

All in all we had a fabulous lazy holiday, just what we needed. We would certainly recommend the hotel to anyone that was thinking about Mexico, although if you want that exceptional service the DR is the one. I’m sure we will be at another Iberostar in the near future!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Sandra

June 2003

I won’t provide comments on items already covered by previous posts.

We stayed on the Del Mar side of the resort for 2 weeks. It was landscaped with more tropical flora than that on the Del Beach side, which appeared to be designed in a European motif.

Activities enjoyed were 1/2 day of snorkeling (Morning Glory tour) which cost $50 each, windsurfing, scuba diving, 6 shopping trips to Playa del Carmen (5th Ave, aka Quinta Avenida), a trip to the sister resort Iberostar Quetzal in Playacar, the aviary in Playacar, swimming and many carefree hours at the beach or poolside, and a trip to swim with the dolphins at Puerto Aventuras.

Here are some tips: 1. I highly recommend you start pre-tanning one month before your trip; 2. SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN with at least 35-50 SPF if your skin has not been preconditioned to the sun; 3. Drink LOTS of water and lightly salt your food; 4. Wear cotton or linen attire; something that breathes as the temperature was 93 degrees with high humidity. Stay away clothing with spandex/rayon/nylon – they do not breathe; 5. Bring extra under clothes or you’ll end up hand washing or being charged approx $2 for each item if your opt for having the resort do your laundry for you. You’ll want to shower and change more frequently – I averaged 3 showers/per day and I weigh 115 pounds! 6. TAKE PLENTY OF DOLLAR BILLS FOR TIP MONEY!! The resort workers make an average of $6 PER DAY. And they work extremely hard for even that. Just think how much a $1 tip would help them and their families; 7. Learn some survival Spanish; 8. Shopping in Playa (5th Ave): The vendors are hungry and desperate to make a sell, so they are very aggressive in their pursuit of you and, ultimately, your money! If you are not interested in what they are selling, the best way to avoid their "web" is to NOT make eye contact, do not even acknowledge them, just keep walking; 9. If you are looking to purchase silver, go to 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, there a shop named "Silverado". It’s located half way down 5th Avenue on the right hand side of the street. The boutique is large and clean. The owner gives excellent bargains. All of the silver is stamped .925 or .950. Exquisite selection and quality. Another reputable silver shop is named Jaguar. 10. If you go into Playa using the Iberostar shuttle bus, ensure you know the way back to the bus stop from town or buffer your budget with $$ for a taxi back to the resort. A taxi ride from 5th Ave Playa del Carmen to Iberostar Paraiso del Mar is $17. 11. There is construction going on at the Del Beach side of the resort that may last anywhere from Nov 2003 until Jan 2004; and on the Del Mar side there is a run down farm with crowing roosters and barking dogs. To avoid excess noise from either location, ask for a room that faces to pool. 12. Extra bags – pack one or two empty carry-on bags (per person) in your suitcases. You will need the extra luggage for transporting home all the "treasures" you will be buying! 13. On Tues & Thurs nights there are vendors that come into the hotel to sell their wares/trinkets. The booths will be located outside of the theater, near the buffet restaurant. This is a convenience in case you can’t get out into town to shop, however, their prices are higher. They have some nice stuff, some junk. As they say, "one man’s junk is another man’s treasure"! 14. If it rains, they immediately spray/fog for mosquitoes. Not sure if they use an industrial strength Raid or DDT, either way it’s noxious. It’s best to stay indoors during this process for obvious reasons. It takes about 15 minutes for the fogging process and 15 minutes for the air to clear. It may seem to be an inconvenience for you, but it is necessary in order to keep down the bug population; 15. Some ATM machines offer only pesos. This was upsetting, because when you leave Mexico and have left over pesos you will want to "sell back" the pesos for your respective country’s currency. The bank or Change House rips you off when you sell back pesos. You get a lesser exchange rate from when you initially purchased them. I didn’t look for an ATM that offers both US dollars and Pesos as I only needed $50us. I would think that a bank would have a machine that offers both? 16. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE DOLPHIN SWIM AT DOLPHIN DISCOVERY at Puerto Aventuras!! (The following commentary is strictly my opinion and based on my own observations.) The pens for the dolphins are way too small to accommodate two adult dolphins. Some of the pens even have 4 dolphins in them. The dolphin pens are inside of a marina harbor. The dolphins are living in water quality is slimy and filthy, at best. It appears to be unhealthy and unacceptable conditions for the dolphins. It looks like the fresh ocean water does not reach the pens through the harbor current. I wouldn’t be surprised if the gasoline and oil from the boats travelling through the channel is also contaminating these magnificent sea creatures. The dolphin handlers/trainers cared immensely for the dolphins, however, the Swim Program itself was VERY STRUCTURED, mechanical and lacked passion. The dolphins did not display any personality of their own. After the swim ended there was a MANDATORY viewing of the video that was filmed during our specific group-swim. The video cost $50usd and a set of 4 pictures was between $60-80usd. To some folks these items are a nice keepsake of the experience, but Dolphin Discovery could have presented the video/pics more gracefully and kindly instead of fostering a cheap, cheezy marketing ploy. I am not bashing the company. I did come into the event with an excited anticipation and a reasonably expectation, but unfortunately the swim program fell way below the mark. I feel it was a waste of $120 per person; so does my husband. My quest for a dolphin swim continues?.any suggestions out there?

17. If you plan on swimming with the dolphins at any location, it is best to make reservations on-line as the programs quickly fill up.

All-in-all an exceptional and very satisfying vacation. I am well pleased with the resort, activities, and food. So much so that I will be going back in November to the same resort for 3 weeks!

Should you have questions about items not covered by this or previous posts, please feel free to email me at: dyndurs@nrucfc.org.

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Barbara & Steve Pylinski — England UK

June 2003

Just arrived back home from a stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar. What a fabulous hotel!

Reception: The reception area is open with a view of the lakes with flamingos and parrots. Check in is simple and you are greeted with a very refreshing cocktail. There a few shops selling silver jewellery and another with swimwear and a souvenir shop. This is also where you will find the lobby bar. This bar is the very popular in the evenings. We found the best place to sit was just by the lake so that you got one of the ceiling fans as the weather was very hot and humid and there are no fans sitting under the dome.

Accommodation: We were situated in block 13 just by the side of the activity area of the swimming pool. It’s a bit of a trek from here to the Main Area but it’s a pleasant walk through the gardens and if you are not feeling to energetic there is a little train shuttle that runs about every 15 mins around the resort. The rooms are large we had a King bed. There is a sofa and a chair for you to relax in and a balcony. The balcony has a very handy cloths dryer for drying out those wet swim clothes. There is both a ceiling fan and air conditioning. We mainly turned the air con off and just had the fan. The bathroom although did not contain a bath there was a two headed shower which was nice and also a dispenser with both shower gel and shampoo so no need to take you own. There was also a hairdryer located in the bathroom but unfortunately the hose does get hot so if you have long hair or hair that takes a while to dry you might be advised to hold the hose with a hand towel. There is also a TV and a fridge which contains a selection of beer and soft drinks. The fridge is restocked every other day. The accommodation blocks can get a bit noisy as they do echo.

Restaurants: There are 6 speciality restaurants, Brazilian, Steakhouse, Mediterranean, Tropical, Japanese and Mexican along with the Buffet. We visited both the Steakhouse and the Brazilian as both the Mediterranean and Tropical specialise in fish. The Steakhouse is located near to the beach so if you like to have drinks before your meal you will need to travel to the main lobby bar and then back down as they do not allow you to sit and drink prior to your reservation. The menu here was typical steakhouse fair. My partner decided that he would like the Cowboy option this was a very large meal. Steve had had both a breakfast and a lunch and could not complete the meal as he was to full. The Brazilian is a bit different. They have several cuts of meat which they bring to you on a skewer and cut of for you in turn. This was OK but the favourite was the Steakhouse. The buffet severed a variety of dishes in themed areas. There was a sort of American dinner area which offered hot dogs and burgers, chips etc. Another which was Italian serving Pizza and Pasta and another was a carvery area for either fish or joints of meats. There was also a Mexican area which done Mexican type of foods. The menus here varied daily. There was also a daily soup and salad and a selection of different deserts. Service in the restaurants seems to vary slightly the first week waiters seemed to be every where but by the second there seemed to be less staff and the service did suffer.

Swimming Pool: Absolutely enormous! None of the pool is over 5ft deep and is spread between the two resorts. There is an area located for activities and another where the main action takes place in the afternoons. There are plenty of loungers although if you want one in the shade you might have to stray away from the pool side. There are two swim up bars in the main area one which is open till around 6:30 the other closes at 5. There is also another swim up bar located in the quiet Adults only area of the pool. There are also Jacuzzis located in and around the pool. Two are located with the Rome styled areas and another located under the waterfall. The water in the pool is kept at a nice temperature by the sun. The towel huts and showers are dotted around the pool. Henna tattoos and pottery painting can also be done here. Two learn to scuba lessons take place one here in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Beach: Nice beach area. Clean with plenty of shades and loungers. There is a hammock area as well to chill out in. The sea can be a bit rough and there is a flag system in operation. While we where there the waves where a bit rough and caution.

Entertainment: No the greatest aspect of this resort. The daily activities are great and the staffs really are enthusiastic. But by the time evening come there really isn’t that much to get enthusiastic about. Most of the entertainment is audience participation. There were a few shows our favourite was the Movie Show. Music from various movies which was extremely funny.

Excursions from the resort: The hotel runs a shuttle bus to the nearest resort which is Playa Del Carmen and it’s about a 20min journey. We found that going during the daytime you where subject to a lot of touting from the shop owners and hence did not venture out in the evening.

Chichen Itza: Attended the tour to Chichen Itza. It took about three hours to get there. The hotel pick ups seems to start at this hotel and finish here as well so you get to see the majority of the other hotels in playa del Carmen and adds about an hour to the overall trip. The guide was very informative and took us all around the remains of the city and we had approx 90 mins to ourselves. On the day that we attended the heat was unbearable and we opted for a gently jaunt down to the sacrificial well instead of climbing the pyramid.

Coba & Jungle Safari: Best trip! The ruins are more complete here so you can visualise the city better also the pyramid is larger than at Chichen Itza but again the heat was too much. If you don’t fancy the trek around the city you can get a taxi tricycle. The Jungle Safari comprised of a short trek through a part of jungle with a local and finding the monkey that are hiding up in the trees. We were lucky and saw both the Spider and Howler types. We also took in a trip to a local village where the children are given bags to collect rubbish and then given school items in return.

Jungle Tour Speed Boats: James Bond eat your heart out! Fun half day trip. You drive out in your own speed boat to the outskirts of the reef then the guide takes you on an aquatic tour showing the various fish and other creatures that live on the reef. There’s no problem if you can’t get back in the boat as the guide will just grab your life jacket and drag you in no matter how big you are.

Tulum & Xel-Ha: Tulum ruins set on the very edge of a cliff. Very picturesque, definitely the easiest of the ruins to see. Within easy reach of the resort. Xel-Ha another eco water park. There is various tours that you can do at Xel-Ha but seeing as there is only a limited amount of time here you may be better off doing this as a separate option if you like water sports. At Xel-Ha you can snorkel or come down the main river in a rubber ring. You have rent the snorkel equipment and lockers but it’s not over expensive $10 for the whole time. There is a chance to do Sea Trek which is in a sheltered area so would not be to dependant on weather. The sea trek option at Xcaret is in the open and therefore subject to weather conditions. A good afternoon to just laze around in the lagoon spotting a few fish. If you go down towards the Floating Bridge the chances are you will see some really big ugly ones.

Xcaret: Another eco water park but with a twist. Here you can swim through a Cenote (sinkhole). There are two rivers that you can swim down but unfortunately on the day we went there was only one open. There is also the option to do sea trek but again if the weather is rough the option will be closed along with any activities that are based out in the ocean such as the reef tour. Saying this there is plenty to keep you occupied if the sea is out of bounds as there are Butterflies, lagoons, Manatees etc. There is also a show held in the evening which starts around 7pm ends at 9pm. The show is separated into to halves; the first depicts the Mayan civilisation with a ball game and fire ball game then depicts the Spanish invasion. The second goes various stages of Mexican history with music and dance.

Conclusion: A very nice resort. If you like to be away from the madding crowd but like to step into to it from time to time this is the place for you. Great hotel setting but not very handy for the coach pick up as times will be early and returns late. If a holiday to you is beach/swimming pool and sun this could not be beaten!

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Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Johnna — New Jersey

June 2003

First, let me state that I am a travel agent from New Jersey, and have traveled extensively, staying at all inclusives and non-all inclusives. My husband and I just got back on May 29 from the Iberostar Parisio del Mar, and I have nothing but excellent things to say about the resort! I do have one or two small complaints, but it’s more of a personal nature. I love coffee first thing in the morning, and there’s no coffee in the rooms, and no room service until 11:00 am. Which means, getting up, getting dressed, and walking, sometimes a serious distance, for a cup. Which brings me to the fact that the resort is extremely large, and a lot of walking in the hot sun, or even at night, from your room to the restaurants can get very tiresome. I’m used to staying in small, intimate resorts, so this took some getting used to. Everyone walks around the first and second day completely lost, looking for the beach, the towel cabana, and the restaurants. Other than my own pet peeves, everything was great. It’s just as good for families as it is for adults. I wish I brought along my 4 year old, because he would have loved it! The resort is immaculately clean, extremely well maintained, the service great, the food and entertainment was top-notch! We’ll be back to the this and other Iberostar resorts! Also, we met some people from Brooklyn, and they have stayed at every Iberostar in the Caribbean, except the new Hacienda Dominicus, which is a smaller property, and they never go anywhere else! I think that’s a resounding endorsement. The Paraiso del Mar, if you’re into pools, is unbelievable. Come see for yourself. Happy traveling! Johnna at J.C. Travel, Inc.

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