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  Grand Sunset Princess   Mike ~ Ontario, Canada

December 4 2009

Arrival: Nov. 17-24
Flew in with Sunwing.  Awesome flight in and going home.  Love flying with Sunwing.  We arrived at the resort at 11:00 am.  Quick check in.  No problem getting to our room.  Quick bite at the buffet and down to the beach.  Only complaint I will give is the water smelled like sewer.  They said that there was a tropical storm that had come through the area a few weeks before and something had happened.  That is all I could find out. 

Rooms:
Clean, spacious, and very modern.

Restaurants and Bars:
All very good. We only did 2 ala cartes.  Grill and Italin, enjoyed both very much.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
All was as expected.  Perfect.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
No tours this time but we will be returning to this resort next year.

Other Comments:
Best trip I’ve had so far.  I’ve been to Cuba and to Punta Cana and this was head and shoulders above these locations.

Email Mike: stoppermr@hotmail.com

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Elizabeth ~ Oakville, ON Canada

September 2009

Arrival: July 2009 First allow me to say what an incredibly beautiful resort. The grounds are impeccable; however, everything else left a LOT to be desired.

Upon arrival at 11h00 on July 25th we were confronted with, "You cannot have access to your room until 15h00 hours which is check-in time!!!!!!!! There was nowhere to eat for 1.5 hours only the sports bar which served junk food. We have traveled extensively in the Mayan and NEVER have we been expected to wait 4 HOURS to check-in after a long journey. That is HALF a day. It is completely unreasonable. Your competitors, Blue Bay Esmeralda, Marina El-Cid just to mention two; do NOT expect morning guests to be inconvenienced in such a manner.

Rooms: After visiting the concierge at 13h30 we were extended a room key, 3252. We were told to either walk to the room or wait for a shuttle we could NOT go with our bags, unlike the Blue Bay which is a LOT more accommodating. We waited for the shuttle and arrived at our room. The room key does NOT work!!! We had to ask (luckily) a housekeeper to open the door for us. If she hadn’t been there we would have had to walk all the way back to the lobby. The lights didn’t work so we had to seek the assistance of the housekeeper again. It was only then we were shown how to activate the lights???? The A/C was 27.6!!!! I called to the front desk to ask why it was so hot. I was advised the resort had experienced a power failure earlier on and that it would take some time to cool the room. Saturday evening @ 19h00 the room is still 26.7. WE called the front desk and an electrician was dispatched. His effort did NOT cool the room. During the night the AC turned off, the radio turned off and the TV turned ON 5 times at 05h43??????? The front desk didn’t answer the telephone!!!??? We discovered later that the resort had had several power surges and A/C failures during the night, each time resulting in the electrical appliances turning on and off at whim. Everyone on the resort was complaining. Sunday morning the room temperature is 26.7. 1.        There is nowhere in the shower to place soap, razor, cloth, shampoo but on the floor??????????????? 2.        There is NO soap dish on the bathroom counter so the soap has to sit on the counter??????????????? 3.        There is no waste paper bin in the bathroom???????? 4.        There is no Kleenex. We found out later it is dispensed in plastic packages  on a daily basis: (NOT environmentally friendly) We left the room for the gym, restaurant and beach. Sunday afternoon the room is still 25.4. We called again and again an electrician was sent he did nothing. Monday the room has cooled to 24.3. We called the electrician 4 times, he came 3 times. He set the thermostat to 15c and said it would be fine. It wasn’t!!! Tuesday @ 16h00 the room is back upt to 26.2. The entire complex was in darkness (except for the shops) all afternoon. The front desk said it would be restored in 1 hour. At 17h30 the thermostat was 25.2. We asked the concierge to move us to a new room. WE were told they couldn’t do that we would have to come to the front desk. WE went to Las Olas for dinner and it was so cold in the restaurant my husband had to return to our room for my cardigan. I wonder how that works. The guest rooms have no A/C yet the restaurant does? We proceeded to the concierge and met with Elizabeth, the supervisor. What an utterly charming and cooperative young lady. We were immediately assigned room 3127. We went to the new room and it was nice and cold. Wednesday we left the "Clean the room" sign on the door and departed @ 07h00 for the gym, restaurant and beach. When we returned at 15h30 the room had not been cleaned. Concierge said they would send someone immediately. They did NOT do so. During the time 16h15 to 18h20 we (tried) to get ready for an evening out. We had noticed on the walk back from the beach that the foot showers were inoperable. There was no running water, no electricity and no A/C in the room? I called the front desk (again) I was told, "There is a problem with the Government’s road at the main road and all electricity has been disabled by the Government but that they are working on it. All the neighbouring resorts are also affected." This was a direct quote from your concierge. A few minutes later, as we were advised, the water came on. It was alright at first and I began to take a shower. Moments later it was SCOLDING hot. I was half showered and had shampoo in my hair. The electricity and A/C went off again. My husband advised the front desk we only had scolding hot water and suggested they make a general announcement for those families with children. They did not do so. We waited and waited but the hot water did not lend itself to chang! e temperature. I had to rinse the shampoo from my hair in boiling hot water! Not so pleasant. During this time the electricity went off 6 more times. Most guests came to dinner that evening with soaking wet hair and un-showered!! We finally left the resort at 18h30 and the electricity was still not on, except for the shops of course! At 18h30 as we left for a dinner at the Grand Velas and my husband stopped at the front desk and requested the room be cleaned by the time we returned to the resort. We were assured it would be. It wasn’t! At 00h20 we returned to our room and the room had NOT been cleaned still!!! I called the Platinum concierge, Dennis who offered to send someone at that time… I said no thank you. While we were at the Grand Velas we asked IF they had had power failures all afternoon. NO had they had electrical problems all afternoon? NO had they had an issue with the hot/cold water all afternoon? NO. In fact, a former employee of the Sunset Princess informed us that ever since you have been open you have had constant A/C problems that nobody can isolate the source! This information was also confirmed to us by one of your current concierge employees. The quote was, "There are constant electrical surges at this resort since it has been opened." Thursday 08h00 I called concierge and spoke with Omar who wanted to me write a report!!! The second one I had written in two days. We decided to take the trip up to the concierge in the lobby as nothing appears to be rectified over the phone. Omar advised us that the housekeeping manager had indicated that housekeeping knocked on the door on Wednesday morning and was told to come back?????? Given the fact that we left the room @ 07h00 for the gym and didn’t return until 15h30 (that) was NOT likely. WE also had a burned out light bulb above the sink in the bathroom which we asked to be replace 3 times, it wasn’t. When it finally was replaced thanks (again) to Elizabeth, the old light bulb was left on our Jacuzzi ledge??? We had requested a bag pick-up at 05h00 the morning of August 1st. At 04h50 we called to the front desk to say we were ready and asked if we could ride with the bags. We were advised only ONE of us could ride the other had to walk or wait for the shuttle, whatever time that would arrive! It was still dark and I had to walk the length of the resort to the lobby as my husband waited with the bags at our room. Fortunately the power failure (Yes again) began shortly after 05h00 on Aug 1st. It was still in effect at 06h00 when we departed….

Restaurants and Bars: Instead of spending so much time on the immaculate grounds, may I suggest you attend to guest services in the buffet restaurants? EVERY morning we had to ask for coffee. EVERY day at breakfast, lunch and dinner we had to clear our own plates from the table after returning with a second helping. The ONLY people that were receiving ANY type of wait service were the Spanish speaking guests and we observed this over and over. There was only twice the entire week that we felt a need to TIP

Other observations: Instead of spending so much time on the immaculate grounds, may I suggest you attend to guest services in the buffet restaurants? EVERY morning we had to ask for coffee. EVERY day at breakfast, lunch and dinner we had to clear our own plates from the table after returning with a second helping. The ONLY people that were receiving ANY type of wait service were the Spanish speaking guests and we observed this over and over. There was only twice the entire week that we felt a need to TIP the waiter, Ricardo and Angel for excellent service. At other resorts we TIPPED every day at EVERY meal. We couldn’t help but notice how you make ALL staff in whatever capacity, wear a hair net. Yet, the outdoor maintenance staff that cleans the resort is NOT supplied with workers gloves or water???? The beach cleaners are picking up garbage with their bear hands but wearing a hair net?? The grounds keepers are also gardening with machetes and washing the concrete pavements with their bear hands, NO gloves or water BUT wearing a hair net??? The mason was chipping away with a chisel boring holes in the concrete for a new had rail with NO gloves, NO hard hat, NO safety goggles, NO water BUT wearing a hair net??? 1.        I believe that you have a LONG way to go when it comes to servicing your guests. 2.        You also need to improve the conditions that your employees work under. A hair net and no safety precautions, please! 3.        Get some more staff in the buffet restaurants, at least some that know how and when to remove a plate from the table. 4.        Get your electrical problems sorted out before you lose your clientele and your 5* rating. 5.        Improve you shuttle service and send it along the main walkway instead of outside the parameter where it is dark and may be unsafe. People want to jump on and off at their leisure NOT have to wait for (your) bus schedule. Check out the Blue Bay! They know how to do it…

6.        Drastically improve your check-in time of 15h00 OR do NOT accept guests until the afternoon flights.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Marc & Leesa ~ Ottawa

August 2009

Sunwing Vacations, 14 days
June 26 – July 10, 2009

This was our first stay at a five star resort and we had a great time. The service was excellent, the food and drinks were great and the resort offered more than enough to satisfy most travelers. Although, we enjoyed off-resort activities such as Xel-Ha and Xcaret, we could of spent all of our holiday time at the resort. This is a sprawling complex and everything is a ten minute walk away; if you hate walking, you may want to try a smaller resort. However, if you enjoy walking, the pathways lining the resort are awesome and make for great walking.

Actually, the entire resort is awesome and is well laid out: lobbies, bars, buffets and a la cartes at one end, the beach at the other end and lots of pools, swim-up bars and more a la cartes in the middle. Near the main buffet area, there is a plaza which becomes the evening gathering place complete with Mariachi band. We spent most evenings here listening to the live Mexican music, while sipping on the wonderful Mayan/Flaming coffees that were prepared in the plaza. A complete bar service was also available for those wishing something other than coffee drinks. Overall, bar and food service at this resort, were excellent – maybe not as good as a so-called strong five star – but for what we paid, we were more than satisfied.

As for the room: large, comfortable, clean – the resort opened in 2006 – so it’s in great shape. The princess is two resorts in one – the sunset and the riviera – they each have their own lobby, lobby bar, buffet but sunset guest can use riviera facilities and vice versa. We stayed on the sunset side and saw no difference between it and the riviera side next door. At the time of our stay the riviera side was closed. Also, there was no evidence that the H1N1 outbreak was any more of a problem there than anywhere else in the world, so it was not a major concern – although, we did bring hand sanitizer with us and used it extensively.

The staff at the princess were great and a one dollar tip went a long way to ensuring continued good service most of the time. We brought USD currency which was fine, but using local currency available at the ATM’s would of been much better, because everything is priced in pesos. There is an ATM in each of the lobby areas as well as calling card dispensers and pay phones for making local and long distance calls. A cab ride into Playa Del Carmen from the hotel went for around ten dollars USD one way – we often opted for this choice – although there was a free daily shuttle from the hotel lobby – reservations were required and could be made in the lobby. We went into Playa Del Carmen often and even visited Cozumel on one occasion – tickets to Cozumel could be bought in Playa Del Carmen at the ferry boat pier – ten dollars USD each, one way.

The Mayan Riviera is a shoppers paradise and there are many shops along the main strip in Playa Del Carmen. And the vendors are in your face to persuade you to shop in their stores – we did not like that kind of heavy selling, so we did very little shopping. Cozumel was similar. Away from the touristy areas there was less of that. I would suggest reading a guide book or two before travelling to the Mayan Riviera, as there is so much to do and see. And many people tripping over each other to sell you these activities. We enjoyed visiting Xcaret and Xel-ha parks – Xcaret is huge, be prepared for lots of walking and getting lost as well – ask for directions – maps and street signs were confusing. Xel-ha on a hot day was great, as the lagoon offered relief from the heat and humidity, as well as the open bars and restaurants that were included with the admission price.

Xcaret on a hot day was not so great – think steamy jungle. Speaking of which, I have never travelled south in July – the heat and humidity were off the scale, 48 Celsius, kind of heat. Be prepared…drinks lots of aqua…and bring industrial strength sunscreen. If you travel during summer, remember that it is the rainy season, a.k.a. the hurricane season. Out of 14 days we were rained on twice – both times in the morning. Within minutes of the sun’s appearance, the heat is back and any evidence of rain evaporates.

As for the beach, it was okay – bring surf socks as the bottom is mostly rocky, and we saw sea urchins. The beach tends to be more quiet during the day in contrast to the main swim-up bar which tends to get noisy and crowded. If you are seeking quiet or noisy, this place has both. Although, I heard some younger people complaining that the beach was too quiet – for non-stop activities and partying you may want to consider Cancun. This is mostly a middle-class, middle-age kind of place – there were many young children as well. Would we go back to the princess? In a heart beat, if the price was right. Would we go back during the summer? Yes!

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Kelly ~ Burlington, ON, Canada

August 2009

Arrival: Laguna Villa Section
Flying from Toronto to Cancun on Sunwing Airlines we arrived on time and made it from the airport to the resort in 35 minutes via a private shuttle. A bus was provided with Sunwing but we find them crowded and slow and it is just easier to pay the private driver to get us there quicker. We arranged for the shuttle driver on the Internet based on recommendations from tripadvisor.com. It cost us $55.00 US but we have since learned that the cost of a cab is only $33.00 US so I would keep that in mind for next time. Arriving at the resort we walked to the front desk where there was a special section set aside for the Laguna Villa and Platinum Suite guests. We were the only ones in line and were checked in with our bracelets within 10 minutes.

Initially we were told that the rooms wouldn’t be available until 3:00pm but after speaking to the Main Concierge desk for a moment they double checked and found that our room was indeed ready for our arrival. We were given two electronic keys, a map to the resort and were offered the assistance of a bellboy to take our luggage to the room.

The walk from the main lobby to the Laguna Villa section is 1 minute and there is an elevator for those not wishing or not able to use the main staircase at the lobby.

We proceeded to the room, looked at our watch and found it to be exactly 2 hours from the time of our landing at Cancun. Not terrible compared to some other experiences in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Rooms:
Our room number was Laguna Villa 9005, a lower floor room directly next to the bridge access to the Laguna pool and in our opinion the best Villa in that section. Not only is it less than a minute from the pool but it also has a lovely view of the pool all lit up in the evening.

There is a large balcony with two wicker chairs and a small table on the balcony and if I had one problem with it, it would be no drying rack for hanging bathing suits after a day at the pool or beach. We ended up hanging everything over the chairs which made them inaccessible for sitting on in the evening before dinner.

Inside the room you will find a 32 inch television, mini fridge stocked with three cans of soda, three cans of beer and three large bottles of water. As well, on top of the dresser containing the mini fridge and television is an assortment of liquor bottles for your use free of charge. They included a whiskey, rum, vodka, gin and tequila bottle with a little sign saying "compliments of the Grand Sunset Princess Resort". Next to this liquor bottle assortment is the telephone, a pen and a pad of paper along with several envelopes from the resort.

The beds in the Laguna section are King size and although they were firm mattresses I wouldn’t call them uncomfortable. There were four pillows, a bottom sheet, a top sheet and a light comforter along with a long accent pillow that we found handy for reading in bed in the evening.

As well, on the side of the bed was the ceiling fan controls for the two ceiling fans located in the room, along with an internet access plug and another plug for handy recharging of the camera in the evening.

To the side of the bed is the large walk in closet with 6 hangers on each side, an electronic room safe which is easily programmed and shelving for storage of other clothing items as well as your shoes and accessories. The closet closes with a sliding door.

Behind the king size bed area is the soaker tub, a marble vanity on either side with him and her sinks, one hairblower and make up mirror and a large variety of bathroom accessories including a hair brush, dental kit, shoe polish kit, sewing kit, sponge, makeup remover pads, shampoo, body wash, and mouth wash.

In the middle of the two vanities is the star of the room…the walk out to the "Mayan Shower"…an outdoor shower that is uncovered in the lower floor rooms and covered in the upper floor rooms. In the lower floor that we had we would walk out to an assortment of beautiful live plants flourishing in the shower area. There is a powerful removable shower head and a "Mayan Shower" head that you select from. When taking a shower you stand in a tile enclosed area just a tad higher than ankle deep that keeps the water from running out onto the path from the shower to your room. It was actually fun to take a shower everyday listening to the birds flying overhead and looking at the palm leaves hanging inside the enclosure. I have video and photo of this area so feel free to contact me if you wish to see it.

Room 9005 was ideal for us though all the Laguna Villas surround the pool and all have some sort of view of that area. The only difference is the time it would take to get to them since there is only one exit to the Sunset side and one exit to the Riviera side. These villas are all the same because the Riviera and the Sunset are twins of one another, identical in every way so what applies with my review would be the same with anyone staying at the Riviera side of the Laguna Villa area.

Restaurants and Bars:
This is the area where being a Laguna Villa guest truly comes in handy because you are assigned a "Pool Concierge" who will assist you with all your restaurant reservations upon your arrival or day by day…just depends on how you wish to do so. It is my recommendation that you not wait longer than 10am -11am to get them booked each day or you may find your first choice unavailable yet we were at the Laguna Villa area for two weeks and only had one day where our first request couldn’t be done at the time we wished. The pool concierges for the Laguna Villa are Teresa and Carla who alternate their shifts and they were both EXCEPTIONAL, incredibly helpful, well spoken, they understood and spoke English perfectly and were simply the best. They greeted their guests with a friendly smile every day and were an additional highlight of our Laguna Villa experience.

Now back to the restaurants and bars…..not a complaint to be had! Every meal exceeded our expectations at the a la carte or buffet. The buffet was large with a huge variety of items and I must completely disagree with those complaining about the food because everything that was supposed to be hot was, everything that was supposed to be cold was and the servers at both a la carte and buffet were attentive and polite. The server who left the greatest impression on us during our stay was Pilar in the Miso Restaurant. She recognized us the second time we visited, she was helpful in recommending items from the menu and she was simply a pleasure to speak with. The food was brought to us quickly and with the precision of any professional server we’ve met in big cities like Toronto, Denver or Miami. Thank you Pilar!!!

The a la carte restaurants included a japanese/sushi restaurant, a French restaurant, Grill, Italian, Mexican, Fondue, Seafood and one directly on the beach called The Thai, a restaurant not included as an all inclusive option but with a beautiful view of the ocean. During our stay, as a Laguna Villa guest, we were given the opportunity to eat there free of charge by invitation yet we arrived home late from a day out and missed the reservation. We were told by a great couple we met at the pool from the Bronx that it was fabulous! Hello to them if they are reading this….email us!

So as you can see there is a huge variety of food aside from the buffet and once again, not a single complaint about the variety, preparation, presentation or taste of the food. We could see that the prep staff behind the counter worked very hard and they certainly don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Regarding the bars on the property…because we were Laguna Villa guests we spent the majority of our days partaking in the bar at the Laguna pool and must say that the bartenders in this area were the friendliest, most proficient and fastest of any we have ever had. We have been travelling to all inclusives for over 12 years now together and this experience ranks amongst the very best. Jeremy May was our day bartender, there early in the morning till late afternoon each day…he remembered our favourite drinks, made small talk with the best of them and went above and beyond to make our vacation a good one. As well, Jesus and Rogelio working the late afternoon/early evening shift were GREAT! There was one other bartender working that area between July 18-August 1st but for the life of me, I can’t find his name that I wrote down. You will not be disappointed in the top shelf liquor available to you or the fresh blender drinks made in front of you. Some of the best drinks I had were those recommended to me by Jeremy when I just couldn’t think of any to try. The Dirty Monkey with fresh banana and the standby Mojito were favourites during the stay.

In addition to the Laguna Villa bar, there are a number of other bars scattered throughout the resort. At the bars located in the pool areas there was a soft ice cream dispenser with cones that was a yummy treat in the middle of the day!

The restaurants and bars did not disappoint!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
I have to repeat myself in my praise of the pool concierge staff at the Laguna Villa area because Teresa and Carla, who alternate their shifts, were absolute professionals. The words helpful, informative, well spoken, attentive and friendly don’t go far enough to explain their daily contribution to the feel of the Laguna Villa section. One of the jobs of the pool concierge in this area is a delicate one, to approach Princess guests who enter the Laguna pool area but aren’t guests of this area and explain that unfortunately the guests here pay an additional amount for the exclusive use of the adults only area. On more than a few occasions guests from other areas of the resort would enter with their children, go to the bar, and allow the children to jump into the pool despite the signage stating what the area is. Carla or Teresa would quietly approach the guests, explain that the area is for Laguna Villa guests only and within seconds we would see them leave. Like I said, a delicate task but knowing that the adults only was enforced, having paid the additional for this area, it was great to know they were on top of it. One day I saw a woman yelling at Carla, berating her in a horrible tone because she was asked to leave. Carla remained professional and calm throughout the encounter while the woman made herself look ridiculous.

The Laguna pool is incredible, an oasis of relaxation that was always clean, well kept and refreshing. I have taken several photos along with video of the area so just email me if you wish to see them. Though I didn’t use the other pools in the resort, they were numerous and appeared both refreshing and clean.

The beach was a 10 minute walk from the front of the resort and here is the thing…if you have issues with mobility or believe that a member of your party may have problems walking, this may not be the resort for you. I have read hundreds of reviews on this property and over and over again people explain that the resort is large yet when they arrive home and write their own review they act completely surprised about it. Once again, it is being said…the resort is LARGE…I timed the walk from the lobby to the beach….10:26 seconds and even video taped it if you wish to see it. The walk is not daunting, the grounds are beautiful and for an average couple or family I highly doubt any issues with it. The alternative to the walk from front to back is the trolley service…located at the back of each side of the resort with the main trolley stops directly under the front check in desk area but also accessible anywhere along its route. It runs every 5-7 minutes between the front and back of the resort and I never waited longer than 7 minutes for it to arrive. The ride itself will take 3 minutes at the very most and will drop you off at the Platinum building to the right or left of the beach entrance.

I have a ton of photos of the grounds, happy to share.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We aren’t ones for participating in the wide range of animation team activities around the party pool or going on the paid excursions outside the resort but we did see the animation team members entertaining guests all day long with everything from volleyball, pool volleyball, horseshoes, darts, shooting, bow and arrow and the like. On several occasions I met the kids club staff in passing as they walked the path from one activity to the other with their "ducklings" following close behind. They appeared attentive, kind and genuinely interested in keeping the child guests entertained. As well, the resort offers a free one hour a day of beach activities such as kayak, windsurfing and catamaran. At an additional cost they had jet skis, parasailing and deep sea fishing. I actually got brave one day and did take part in the para sailing, lasting 12 minutes in the air, and now something to say I did! Quite an accomplishment for someone who is a bit afraid of heights!

One of 14 days days at the resort we did take the cab into Playa Del Carman (15 minutes and $10-$12.00 depending on how well you haggle for the cab ride)to catch the ferry to Cozumel. The ferry costs $44.00 round trip per couple, takes 35-40 minutes on a fairly rocky ride…take gravol ahead of time if you get sea sick….and will dock directly in the downtown core of the island at a recently refurbished terminal. From there we proceeded into the shopping district, rented a three wheel scooter and did a full 3 hour tour of the coastal highway. The scooter cost us $45.00 and the gas to refill at the end of the leisurely afternoon cost $3.20 US at a local filling station. The scenery was spectacular and the beaches littering the coast were incredibly refreshing for cooling down along the way. You will find little bars up and down the coast and the one that left the most impression was one called Coconuts, high on a cliff with gorgeous views in abundance. I highly recommend that if you do the scooter tour on your own, plan for a stop at Coco Nut Beach and the bar called Coconuts! Great food, cold drinks and just a fun stop on our travels! You won’t regret a day out of the city driving the coastal area of Cozumel…it was recommended to us by Mike and Linda, a couple we met from Ontario, thanks to them for that! If you read this, email us.

In addition to the pool and beach we also had an opportunity to use the spa. If you get a spa treatment either at the beach or in the spa, such as massage therapy, you are given the use of the indoor pool, sauna, showers and hot tub. I got a indoor spa massage and it was on par with those I get here in Canada. The cost was $85.00 US but I understand those on the beach are only $40.00. If you don’t get a spa treatment but wish to use the pool area for a day the cost is $10.00 per person and provides a break if you’ve had a bit too much sun one day.

Other Comments:
Prior to booking any vacation I do my homework on all the travel sites, looking for tips, reviews, insights to the resort I’m considering spending my hard earned vacation dollars at. I find reviewers/past guests bound and determined to find fault with a resort and I find reviewers who understand that when they are in a foreign country where some things don’t taste, look or work exactly the same but they simply take it with a grain of salt and enjoy their trip. I highly recommend you be the latter because stuff happens anywhere you go and although you may not like it, accept it, smile and remember that you’re not behind the desk at your workplace or worrying about bills, you are on vacation. I met so many fantastic folks in the Laguna section from Ohio, Oregon, California, Southwestern Ontario (hey Kris and Vanessa!), Western Canada, Tennessee, Kentucky, etc. yet one couple stands out during our second week who just never, ever seemed happy about anything. The more they drank, the louder one of them got about everything ranging from a snorkeling trip gone bad, to the maid service in their room, the number of towel art left on their bed, the amount of beer in their fridge, or the taste of the meat in their sandwich. They were miserable and took great pride in complaining. I hope they read this and recognize themselves, Sat. to Sat. guests arriving around July 24th from the Calgary area…maybe you should consider not travelling outside the country again…seemed like you had no fun whatsoever! What a shame!

We are seasoned travellers who have stayed at 2 star resorts in Cuba, 4 star resorts in the Dominican Republic, 6 star resorts in the Grand Cayman Islands and many in between so know where we are coming from when we say this is a 5 star resort. If you are a couple celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for a little getaway from the kids, the Laguna Villa section is a must! It is worth every penny extra that we paid. We talked to so many people around the pool during our two week stay who said exactly the same thing and only one who complained about the value for the service….you guessed it…the complainers!

This was, by far, our best all inclusive experience to date and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Laguna is the only way to go!

If you have any questions or wish to see the videos from our vacation or photos, just email me at kcponce at hotmail.com.

In closing, I want to say a special thank you to Gina at the main conceirge desk. She went out of her way to assist me in getting some items delivered to the Red Cross in Mexico, a few supplies brought from home. In addition she assisted us with some initial restaurant reservations prior to our arrival, answered my emails in the weeks leading up to the vacation in a timely fashion and always greeted us with a smile and a handshake and never departed without asking if there was anything else she could do for us!

A memorable vacation and a location we wouldn’t hesitate to return to.

Photos >>

Videos:

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Gabriella ~ NYC

April 2009

Arrival: April 7 – 14
check in was pretty quick. But when we got to the hotel we were told that our room was a 20 min walk from the beach and that for "just" $200 more dollars we could upgrade to the jr. delux suit. But we later found out we were supposed to get the rooms for free because the junior suit we had booked was over booked to begin with. so the guy at the front desk pocketed the money!!

Rooms
the rooms were nice and clean…..at first, but even after leaving a tip every day for the maid our floors didnt get washed not even once the whole week. there was sand all over the room. We had 3 rooms in all and 2 out of the 3 rooms had an awful sewage smell!!! IT LASTED THE WHOLE WEEK. And some days the rooms wouldnt even get cleaned even when we had the sign out for cleaning.

Restaurants and Bars
the worst food i have ever had in a resort i dont care what any one else writes on this site they proably just havent been any where better. But hands down this resort was awful. they saved the food from breakfast to lunch and we had to ask 3 times every meal just to get water put on the table. And i dont care if people say that i am just looking for things to complain about but i shouldnt even have to ask for water!!! that should be on the table with the forks and spoons to begin with. we had trouble getting a table for 7 many nights. all and all very stressful not what i paid for.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
the hotel had no activites durning the day the most boring hotel i have ever stayed in. the pool bar was always packed and only one bartender that was very very nasty for no reason at all.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
it was my 4th time in Mexico so i had taken all the tours already. But i did go to the coco bongo in playa del carmen cant say it was very good and the hotel charged way to much more than any other hotel!!! if u wanna got to great clubs go to cancun where the coco bongo club is one of the best clubs i have ever been to and im from NYC so i have been to some great clubs!

Other Comments
the service was the worst. Also they dont serve coffee!!!!! if u want coffee you have to go outside where the bar is and get a plastic cup full of cold coffee and half the time the coffee dispenser is empty and they take FOREVER to refill it. The shows were really bad so bad that half the people got up and left durning the show. (and we went to 3 shows just to check it out and all of them were awful!!)

If you want a really good vacatiion with great food and service go to Riu hotels i have been to Riu once in Cacun, once in Jamica and once in the Dominican republic.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Paul ~ Ottawa Canada

February 2009

Arrival: January 17 – 31
Very prompt arrival at front desk. We received a room upgrade at no charge and got the room location we wanted. The bell boy brought our luggage within a few minutes. The best arrival we received from any resort (and we’ve been to quite a few…)

Rooms:
The room was very clean and everything worked well (another first in our experiences with other resorts where "something" eventually didn’t work and we had to move rooms). Very modern room. The room maids were very good, although a friendly tip every three days gave us some extras such as turndown service and animal designs made from our towels. Tipping is recommended to make your stay a more memorable one. The only negative thing was that there weren’t many English channels on TV (in case of a rainy day or if you follow news and weather).

Restaurants and Bars:
We dined mostly at the buffets. We had difficulties at making restaurant reservations which filled quickly (tip: make reservations very early in the morning). We dined at the oriental restaurant which was excellent. The buffets were very good. There was always Mexican food, plus North American fare. There were three themes per week (Mexican, Italian and Oriental). Lots of choice of salads, main courses and dessert. There are 1-4 buffets open daily so there’s always choice. The only gripe I had is that service at the buffets was very slow or non-existant. We had to ask for water and coffee service continuously. We mentioned this to management and saw great improvement the following days. Again, tips will greatly improve your service level (give tips early and watch what happens…). The restaurant service was excellent with no problems.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Awesome grounds maintained daily. Very clean and memorable. The pools were very clean (but cold). Watch yourself as the cement around pools becomes very slippery when wet (very dangerous). The beach was clean and well maintained. We are beach people and found it very good. Absolutely bring water shoes to enjoy the ocean as there are rocks in the water. With water shoes, we could enjoy the ocean (without them, it’s almost impossible to enjoy the ocean). Lots of chairs and quiet spots. If you like to walk on the beach, this is the perfect place as you can walk for miles in either direction safely.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We didn’t participate at hotel pool activities although many people were having tons of fun with them. The night shows were average. They have a very nice interior theatre. As for tours/excursions, we went to Playa Del Carmen (recommended), Tulum Express (very recommended with includes a visit to one of the best beach anywhere) and took at taxi to Cancun for some shopping. I recommend taking taxis if you want to get around as they are very good and fast (you won’t waste time to get around). Just pre-negotiate your price before you embark or ask a bellboy to help with negotiations or prices.

Other Comments: This was our best holiday in the past five years. The hotel is well recommended. It is a five star, but not a "strong" five-star (such as Iberostars or Rius). For the price, it’s hard to beat and would highly recommended this hotel.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Nadine ~ Canada

January 2009

Arrival: Jan 9 – 16 2009
This was our first time at a all inclusive resort so the arrival seemed pretty standard. A bell boy brought our luggage to our rooms but took a very long time.

Rooms:
The rooms were nice looking but that’s about it. They never changed our sheets once. Our toilet clogged everyday and we had to phone front desk to have someone come and fix it, which took them over 40 minutes to get there. Our bathroom floor flooded with water everytime someone had a shower.

Restaurants and Bars:
It was probably the worst food I have ever had! No mexican food! We were in Mexico?! Buffet everyday with the same food…Like hot dogs, onion rings, gross pizza. And to top it off whatever wasn’t eaten at lunch was put out for the dinner buffet!! The service was terrible! If you want coffee with your breakfast good luck and expect to go and find it yourself. We tried to stay away from the buffet and go to a la carts for our dinners. You have to book a day in advance which is expected I guess. But the food there wasn’t any better! You get the same soup from each one they just call it something different, same goes for the salad! My son actually found a worm in his salad!! It was still alive and the Manager would’nt do anything about it! We told him how bad the service has been and he told us "If you wanted good service you should’t have come to an all inclusive"!! So if you want to eat I would suggest spending your hard earned money else where.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The beach was really rocky so we didn’t go in the water. Also it was very small so no room to do anything but sit, if you even get a chair. The pools were nice with swim up bars. But we caught the bartender taking used straws out of glasses and reusing them with other customers! When I asked him for a straw with a wrapper he got upset with me and then wouldn’t serve me or any of our group.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There were NO activites….I mean nothing!!! There were tours but that has nothing to do with the resort, you can do those anywhere. It rained for 5 days straight and the resort planned absoulutley nothing for anyone!! Fend for yourself…There is a spa there that has an indoor pool and hot tub but they charge $20 USD each to get in!!

Other Comments: We came in a group of 13 and are all unhappy with the whole experience. I talked to a lot of people there and many of them were unhappy with the resort…You will find reviews that say good things but I am thinking they work for the resort…..Either way, everyone works hard and when they spend their hard earned money they expect to have a good time….I strongly suggest you DO NOT come to this resort…….

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Rebecca ~ Canada

January 2009

Arrival:
We went with a group of 12 people looking for a good time! An we defiantly got it! We go to the resort at about 5 PM and everything was ready for us! No waiting!

Rooms:
The rooms were beautiful, they felt like hotel bedrooms.. very classy! We had a great view off out balcony, and it was very quiet! They were cleaned very well everyday, and they were very generous with the towels which is always nice!

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffet was excellent! Much better than any other resort buffet I had ever had! Of course by the end of the week we were a little sick of it, it was still great food. The bars were also very good, you had to wait occasionally, but never longer than 5 mins. Plus, there were bars everywhere, so you never had to walk far to find a good drink:)

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The whole resort was incredible, it was very well groomed and maintained. It just looked very classy! There was a lot pools to choose from and they were all awesome, we never had a problem finding chairs in the sun! The resort is rather large though, so bring sandals that you can walk in.

The beach was awesome~ SO beautiful! It is a little rocky, so bring water shoes! But the water was nice, and the waves were just right, not scary!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The resort was very helpful in the planning of our tours, getting us a good deal, and making sure that we all got what we were looking for. We went on the joint Tulum and Shell Xia tour. It was a great day!

The resort also had good activities in the afternoon, very entertaining! and the Night entertainment was good also.

Other Comments: I would recommend this resort to anyone. It was a great vacation for any age, it was relaxing when we needed it to and it was a party the rest of the time! The night life was awesome, the food was great, and it was overall it was just a beautiful resort!

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Michael ~ Canada

December 2008

Your Arrival:
We (a group of 45 for a wedding) arrived at the resort at noon, where we were told that our rooms were not going to be ready for a couple hours. This was neither unexpected, or an issue. They take care of your bags for you, and you are free to enjoy the resort. (HINT, pack your beach/swimwear in your carry-on, along with sandals, and sunscreen.) We sat in the lobby and enjoyed some drinks. The staff was very friendly, and the service was fast. We then headed to the buffet for some lunch. As the afternoon progressed, the rooms started to be ready. We got ours at 3:30 or so. Our bags were waiting in the room. Check-in staff was friendly, and there were no lines.

Rooms:
The room was beautiful. King-size bed, and a full couch. Marble floors throughout, fridge, (stocked with lots of water, a couple beers, and a couple cokes, diet and regular) AC, flat-screen TV with satellite stations, (maybe 5 in english.) Bathroom had two sinks, and a shower, and toilet stall. Balcony had a table and chairs. (CAUTION, floors are slippery when wet.)

Others had some issues with their room cards. Two or three people’s cards went dead, and they had to go back to the lobby to have them reprogrammed.

Restaurants and Bars:
4 large buffets, and 6 restaurants.

The buffets were good, with a wide variety. Fresh fruits, lots of salad options, and a wide selection of warm foods. Toward the end of the trip, the buffet became a little repetitive, so be sure to visit the restaurants for dinner.

The restaurants require reservations. You have to book between 9am and 1pm. You can book for the current day, and the next day. It fills up fast, so I suggest reserving a day in advance, at 9am.

The service is not what we here in Canada, and US, are used to. The service is more laid back, (slow). I assume this is based on temperature, and lifestyle. Also, because you are not paying, there is little motivation for them to have you in and out in a hurry.

When you arrive, expect a bit of a delay before being seated. There is ample seating in the waiting area, along with a bar. We were groups of 8, however, and we watched smaller groups go in as soon as they arrived.

Although the service was slow, the staff was pleasant, and the food was quite good. We didn’t get around to visiting all of them, (missed the International, and the Swiss) but the ones that we did visit, were great.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Not the best beach. The biggest complaint, is the rocky water. About 3 feet in, you’ll find a bed of rocks, that stretches about 30 feet wide. Once you cross the rocks, it’s nice and sandy, and shallow enough to enjoy. You might want to bring some water shoes to get past the rocks.

The water was a little dis-colored, and on some days, had a bit of a funky smell. Because the resort runs perpendicular to the ocean, the beach is not huge. Also, the seating is limited during peak hours.

The pools were great. We spent the majority of your days by the pool. (HINT, before you go to breakfast, walk to the pool, or beach, and place some towels, or magazines on the chairs you want, to reserve them.) We stationed ourselves near the activity pool. A bar, a swim-up bar, and close to the music, and activities. Pool was refreshingly cool, (the nights cooled down significantly) and the games catered to our age-group. (25-35) Throughout the day, they played water-polo, tequila volley-ball, (highly recommended) water aerobics, and a variety of others.

Grounds were stellar. Everything was pristine. Large resort, so prepare yourselves for some walking. (Lobby to beach was about 10 minutes.)

Just be careful, the floors all over the place are very slippery. This would be my biggest complaint. Although our group escaped major injury, we did have numerous people hit the deck. (Also saw people in slings.)

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
As mentioned, there are lots of activities in the pool throughout the afternoon. At night, there is a disco. It’s not always busy, but because we had a large group, we had a good time when we went. There is also a show every night, which starts at about 8 or 9. And although we didn’t visit it, we saw another show which went on upstairs, in what appeared to be an auditorium.

12 of us also rented 3 cars, for a day trip. We ended up spending about $20 each for the car. (Do NOT pay the full, listed amount. Barter!) We went to Tulum, to see the ruins. It was about 45 minutes away. Dirt cheap to get in, ($5) and there was lots to see. Lizards running around everywhere, quite comical/interesting. The beach at Tulum is beautiful. No rocks, white sand, crystal water. Be sure to pack beach gear if going to Tulum.

On the way back we stopped in Playa Del Carmen. This is a small town with tons of shops, and restaurants. If you do not want to rent a car, there is a free shuttle from the resort, to Playa Del Carmen. Sign up a day in advance.

I recommend renting a car as opposed to paying for a packaged deal. Cheaper, and you’re on your own schedule.

Other Comments:
This will be the first review that I’ve written about a resort. The reason I’m writing, is to defend the resort from the many negative comments. We went to this resort because our friends were getting married. We had no choice. That didn’t stop us from reading reviews though. Had we not been forced to go to this resort, based on the reviews alone, we likely would not have selected this resort. However, after visiting, I have to say that this resort was great, and I would not hesitate to return.

The staff was extremely friendly. Always offering a smile, and an ‘Ola!’. The service is slower than what we in Canada and the US have grown to expect, but you’re on vacation, relax, smile, and you’ll have a great time.

Some Tips; Book the restaurants a day in advance. Be careful of the floors, they are very slippery. Reserve your chairs before breakfast.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Sheila ~ Ohio, USA

October 2008

Arrival and Flight: American Airlines Aug, 29-Sept. 6. Apple tour was great!

Rooms: Junior suite, but up-graded to jr. deluxe suite Clean, no bugs, fresh towels and sheets changed daily. First floor.

Restaurants: Buffets are good. You could always find something good to eat. Evening meals with reservations were outstanding. Different from Swiss fondu to cornish game hens. Our favorite one was the International.

Bars: We loved the main lounge. Excellent drinks, they had no good Scotch but the Mayan Sacrifice wonderful! Swim up bars were crowded and took a while to get a drink. The waitresses were much quicker.

Beach and Pools: The beach was clean and the water was cooler than the pools. The weather there was HOT 99-105 degrees so the pool water was like bath water.

Grounds: The grounds were beautiful full fragrant flowers everything well kept

Activities and Entertainment: Princess had exercise classes in the pool and in the ocean, volleyball, horse shoes, trivia contest. Air conditioned theater with shows every night. Some shows were better than others.

Conclusion: We will go back next year without a doubt. We loved every minute spent there.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Teresa

September 2008

My husband and myself flew down to the Mayan Riveria on August 29th. We were there for a week at the Grand Sunset Princess. That was our first visit to the resort but second time to the Mayan Riveria. The Grand Sunset Princess Resort was beautiful property. The grounds were impeccable and kept so clean. What disappointed us the most was the furnishings in the hotel lobby, buffett and sports bar area. The furnishings were very delabiatated and some fraying on the armchairs. They were very dirty and discoloured which we felt brought down the rating on the resort. We felt the furnishing had come from another resort and put into this beautiful brand new resort which would be unfair as it was very dirty looking.

The food was good especially at the A La carte. The breakfast and lunch buffett was good but the dinner one we found the food was quite cool. The french fries I had one day were so cold I thought they had been left since the lunch buffett. Everytime we asked for coffee at the buffett it was cold. We never had hot coffee unless we went to the bar in the front lobby and had a cappucchino which was delicious.

The shuttle to Playa Del Carmen had to be booked the day before. In the brochure it never stated this was to be done. It only run on certain times and the return was only at 1.30pm or 6pm. The day we got the bus into Playa Del Carmen the windshield was all cracked and the padding was taken out of the seat we sat on. However we did enjoy the holiday and the relaxation was great. One more thing the staff at the resort was not as friendly as we had experienced at our other resort when we visited the Mayan Riveria the first time. I know this is a new resort opened in December 2007 and for the furnishings to be in the state they were in was ugly. I feel the resort need to know these things as it would help to improve the return of the holiday makers.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Catherine

August 2008

So, I never understood the point of writing paragraphs and paragraphs of reviews. I just simply look at the overall rating, but after making my trip to Grand Sunset Princess, Rivera Maya. I will read every possible review. I never want someone to suffer the way my family and I did. A vacation is a vacation. A vacation should be something you don’t want to leave.

You would expect after a 7 am flight and being awake since 3 am that you would have your room and everything set once you arrived at the resort (after all that should be one of their first priorities.. don’t you think? First impression is everything.) Well no this was not the case. We arrived at Grand Sunset Princess at 1 pm. We were all exhausted due to the hour delay with Continental. ———-Ohh and be careful (if you do go) because once you arrive at the Cancun airport they may try to rip you off by saying that you need papers( that don’t exist) to get a ride to Grand Sunset Princess that should be included with everything else you payed for. We knew this and they still tried to rip us off.. 5 minutes later we see our bus with a man holding our names and explained to us that they are just trying to get extra money——–

FRONT DESK
We ( A huge group of 18 people) head out to the front desk to get our room & check in. They tell us the rooms are not clean yet and they should be ready in another hour.. We said that’s fine and we all sat down and relaxed on the lobby chairs. We would have ate something, but we had no idea where anything was. They never even gave us a tour or even apologized for the inconvenience. So, after about an hour we went back up to Check In.. after all, they did say an hour? We had requested the 2nd floor and rooms next to each other.. they said, " no a request is not a guarantee" and this request was told to them since we booked it which was in February.. it was July 29th.. who were they kidding… it should have been a guarantee. … So, we asked if there was anyway to get the second floor and they told us that would be impossible. We said fine and asked for the rooms that were ready.. they said they weren’t even ready yet and it would be another hour. You would think 1 out of 9 rooms would have been ready?? We asked to speak to the manager .. so they point to a man and say, " If you want to talk to him then you walk over and talk to him." I couldn’t believe what i just heard.. they were so rude for no reason. We told him to go get the manager himself because once a customer requests the manager, the first thing they should do is get the manager. He told us that the person he pointed to was actually the supervisor and that the manager was never in and told us if we did not like it we could just leave, but we would lose the money. The service at the front desk made us furious. So, we decided that this wasn’t going to ruin our vacation and to just tell us when our room was going to be ready. They said two hours max. it would be ready. We said fine. Some of the group decided to take a nap on the lobby chairs and some decided to give ourselves our own tour of the resort. The Resort was absolutely gorgeous. Huge. Lots of walking, but it would help us burn off the drinking and the food.

After tons of walking we found everything we needed for now. We walked back to the others and 1 hour and a half/ 2 hours passed since the told us 2 hours max. Anyways point is.. we arrived at 1 pm.. Some of our rooms were ready around 5 pm.. All of them at 6 pm. 6: 30 pm till all our rooms were "activated" This to me… was absolutely RIDICULOUS. Front Desk was an experience I never want to go through again. They are so rude and so mean for no reason.

ROOMS
Don’t be alarmed if you wake up to a spider right next to you and don’t be alarmed if your air conditioning isn’t working. It’s normal.. 6 out of 9 rooms (some were upstairs) had bug problems and some other problems.. such as refrigerator not working, TV not working, AC not working, and God forbidden you take a shower some of the bathrooms seem to be flooding. The interior design of all the rooms were really nice though. 5 people requested double size beds. Only 1 out of 5 had a double size bed. We didn’t even bother going to the front desk because we knew they were going to be rude and we weren’t going to get what we wanted. We coped with what we had.

CLEANING SERVICE-
Due to the shortage of staff.. your room may not be clean till 8 pm.. and sometimes they forget to put toilet paper and other necessities.

ACTIVITIES DURING THE DAY- There is nothing. Jet Skiing, Sailing.. and such, but that’s not included.. you would have to pay. Otherwise there are no games or activities during the day.

AND this is funny. 1 computer is available for the entire resort :).. so forget that.. Internet.. is so so slow. And most rooms don’t even have internet in them.

POOLS
Pools were nice.. it would have been nicer if the temperature was cooler though. Shortage of staff again. There is usually 1 bartender to a bar serving 30 people or more especially in the "party pool". If you wanted a drink you had to wait. Keep in mind.. it’s really hot.

BEACH
If you want beach chairs & umbrellas you must wake up at 6 am and reserve it.. To reserve it you must put something of your own on the chairs and by the umbrella…but you will have cases of people throwing your things on the ground and taking your umbrella.. this i thought was ridiculous. You should not have to reserve anything.. there should be enough beach chairs at least for the majority of people staying at the resort.. I guess that’s a disadvantage of staying at such a big resort. The Ocean was nice.. really rocky in the beginning, but after going through the pain and continue walking/ swimming it gets better. 20..

NIGHTLIFE
There is no night life at the resort. The club is horrible. bad music. Drunks out of control. And my cousins who were 16 had absolutely nothing to do. There was nothing for Teens. To enjoy the nightlife you had to leave the resort… and that was beyond dangerous.

FOOD
After awhile you get sick of the buffet. To make a reservation you have to wait in a line for an hour and a half.. for some odd reason you can’t call to make a reservation. Every restaurant was horrible except for the Italian in my opinion (which was OK) Buffet was ok. Be careful of the meats because the majority of the people that had even meat sauce got sick. Breakfast at the buffet was funny to me. To get eggs you had to wait in a line for an hour or so. By the time you received your eggs you lost your appetite. Oh and don’t leave your food on the table unattended because they will assume you are done and take it.

TO AMERICANS For some odd reason they have an issue with us. My family understands spanish.. and let me tell you the things they said about Americans were horrible. And if you order the Rivera Maya drink be aware that they will crack up because it is "the sleazy/ crap American drink" Although, when other cultures order the drink it’s fine… Good drink though.

SERVICE WAS THE WORST THING EVER. And to me that is the most important thing. The one thing that makes your vacation is how people treat you. The treated us the the worst attitude they could possibly treat us with.

9 out of 18 people had food poisoning when they got home.

This resort is not even worth a cent a night.
I would not even go back even if they payed me.

Whatever you do.. avoid going here.. it isn’t even worth trying..

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Dayle ~ Armstrong BC

July 2008

Arrival and Flight: AirTransat March 2008

Rooms: Laguna Villas Exclusive
These rooms are the most luxurious in the resort and are very beautiful with outdoor showers and 2 man jacuzzi tubs, and king size beds with balconies- but that’s where it ends – we had coffe maker one day but no coffee – the next day we had coffee but no coffee maker, supposed to have champagne and fruit basket upon arrival but had to ask for and got it 2 days later. Every response was ‘be right back’, and they never were. No ‘do not disturb’ signs to hang on doors so every morning at 7:30 they knock at your door asking if you want anything, and no one ever returns with what you ask for.

Restaurants: TERRIBLE food. The same EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have been to 6 other 5 star resorts in the mayan and this was by far the worst food and the worst service we have ever had. Don’t eat in the buffets at the checkin desk side – eat at the beach end for breakfasts – we counted 22 tables for each waitress/waiter in the main buffets at any given time. The a la carte restaurants were slightly better but not by much – the wait staff did not speak or understand any english.

Bars: We stayed in the laguna villa suites so we had our own section of the resort which had it’s own pool and bar and bar tender and waitress. They were the best part of the whole vacation. Drinks were exceptional as was the service. Our only complaint in that respect was that we paid $6000.00 for the week for our top end vacation and the consierge for that pool and area allowed any one in that didn’t have the black bracelet (exclusive to that area) to enjoy what we had paid more than double for We booked that exclusive part of the resort because of spring break – we wanted a more private holiday than small children everywhere. All the people in that area that had paid more all felt the same and upon mentioning it to the manager there – nothing was done. The lobby bars were very understaffed – 2 bar tenders /waiters for the entire lobby bar area – waited over 30 minutes for a drink and that’s standing at the bar in line.

Beach and Pools: We stayed in our private pool with the queen sized palapas for the most part of the vacation with the exception of the day a loud american drunk couple had sex and vomited in the pool. They closed it down for the day to clean it up – very disgusting – and again staff didn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Beach was very nice – crowded near the resort area but very private as you walk a little distance in either direction. We walk alot and this beach was really nice for that.

Grounds: Exceptionally beautiful and well maintained

Activities and Entertainment: The spa services were quite nice – we had several services included in our package with the Villas and they were very nice – a separate service from the rest of the resort –

Departure and Check Out: Air transat had no record of us being at that resort and after a night mare checkin – it was no surprise that our check out was just as frustrating. They have 2 huge lobbies and the AIR TRANSAT people were so confused that we just about missed our bus to go to the airport. The lack of understanding and communication at this resort is unbelievable. We come to the Mayan every year – sometimes twice a year and we’ve never come across such poor service and comunication ever.

Conclusion: This resort has the potential to be one of the nicest on the Mayan Riviera as the property is spectacular – and the beach is beautiful and big – we walked for hours . The service and quality of food is far from the 5 star as advertised, 3.5 at best, and the understaffing is critical. We wanted so badly to love this place, but it was the worst vacation to the Mayan Riviera in 8 years. This is the first time we’ve ever complained about a vacation – but I wish I had read about this place before we had booked as we would have gone somewhere else.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Michael

June 2008

We were there in May. The service was terrible, long line-ups at the bar and the food at the buffet was repetitive. We had no clean beach towels for 4 days. Our AC was broken and although they kept coming to repair it they never did. Changing rooms was a major endeavour. There is a shortage of staff especially for a place this big and what little staff there was often ignored your requests, I suspect due to a lack of English. The pools are salt water with swim up bar as a result a yellow foam accumulates in the corner of the pool, yes from the all day never leave the pool drinkers. Although the beach itself was nice, there wasn’t enough beach chairs by 8 am. The water is full of rocks and difficult to walk in.

We have been going to this area for 10 years and this was our worst experience. This is not a 5 star resort!

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Dave ~ Windsor, Canada

June 2008

We just returned last night after a 1 week stay at the GRAND SUNSET PRINCESS from May 31st to June 7th. We are not complaining about the resort, but want to make sure everyone knows what to expect when they get there. We got all of our info on the resort from reviews before we booked, and think that because we knew about the little problems before we got there that it made a better trip. We have been to the carribean 5 other times before this, with the Grand Palladium in the mayan our last trip in June 2007.

The check in was great, this is the first time i’ve ever seen a check in done on the bus on the way to the resort. Fill out a card and they gave you the room keys right there. Once at the resort all you had to do is go to your room. perfect.

The resort is huge with very modern decor. Some people complain it isn’t "mexican" enough and i can understand why, but we actually liked it like that. No bright colours, no salsa music, actually the whole resort had this kind of japanese zen music everywhere other than the main pool.

Rooms are a good size with the same nice decor as the rest of the resort, very modern. We were in the closest building to the lobby on the top floor, so it could get pretty loud at night. Maybe ask for a building a bit farther down if you’re a light sleeper.

Buffets are boring with cold food. No one got sick and there was always something everyone thought was "ok" but we’ve definetly had better all inclusive food before.

A la cartes were good, we had the grille, italian, and french. booking the a la caretes is the worst part about this resort. You need to stand in line forever, be sure you book ALL of them at once so you don’t have to get in line again. IF YOU DON’T TIP THEM THEY WILL TELL YOU THEY ARE FULL EVERY NIGHT. I didn’t really believe this after reading a few reviews on here before we left, but i can tell you its 100% accurate. Every time you ask for a certain day they look at the screen for 5 minutes and say "not available", but when you go past that night they are only 25-50% full. If you are ok with them choosing your date and time for your a la cartes, then don’t worry about the tip.

Beach is nice with white sand and nice water, but there are a lot of rocks out there. Bring water shoes. Also it doesn’t get much deeper than 3-4 feet. We found the pools were much nicer for actual swimming. 3 huge salt water pools. Two quiet pools, and one party pool.

Shows are in a huge air conditioned closed in theater room. Hopefully you’re a smoker because you’re going to get all the second hand smoke even if you’re not. nice. We don’t smoke and my wife is pregnant so we only saw 10 minutes of one show and figured we had enough.

Service at the bars is horribly slow, but thats the carribean. Drinks are better at the pools than the beach, unless you get Car

los who was the worst bartender i’ve ever had in my life.

They do NOT have towel cards. I know this sounds great but you had people grabbing 5-10 towels at a time, and they would put towels on 5 chairs at the beach, and 5 chairs at the pool, so not only are all of the chairs taken now, but when we went to exchange our two wet ones they were all out. After this I am now a huge fan of the towel card. This resort might have been half full, i can’t imagine what its like during the high season.

Overall we had a good time but the resort still has a lot of growing to do to get to a 5 star. Food and service definetly need work. A beach resturant would be nice especially at night. If i had a choice between this resort and the Palladium 20 minutes down the road, i would go back to the Palladium, but for the price we paid the sunset princess was definetly worth the money. Read the reviews on here before you book, they are actually very accurate to what you’re going to find when you get there.

One last thing, upgrade to the swim up room if possible, thats the only thing we wished we would have done different!

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Donna ~ Ottawa. Canada

April 2008

Rooms – over 1000, all suites. Rooms were beautiful, lots of towels, soaps and amenities. Bring moisturizing lotion, this is the only toiletry not provided. The other amenities were good quality, not top quality, but good. We upgraded to Premium Suites, and I would recommend this to anyone going. We overlooked the "garden", which is the jungle. Very peaceful, lots of interesting birds to watch at sunset and early morning. Saw and heard monkeys, too! Loved the privacy of the jungle view, no noise where we were at all. Some guests may want an ocean view, but it would be noisier, overlooking the pools and walkways. My husband & I took advantage of the jacuzzi on the very large balcony nearly every night. Our room was cleaned in good time, we were on the top floor, and I think this is where maid service starts?

Our mini bar was locked the first night, so we called down for water from room service and the key to unlock. The staff arrived within 5 minutes for the key, the mini bar was fully stocked, we had our water! I left a note some mornings for more water, and the quantity I asked fo was always left for us. Beds were comfy, lots of pillows, lots of closet space. I had no concerns about the in room safe. Mirrors were in the right places, and the lighting to put make up on etc in the bathroom was perfect.

Restaurants – We ate every breakfast at the Sunset restaurant near our rooms. Staff very friendly, very attentive, and really cheerful. Tables were cleared and prepped quickly. Breakfast variety was impressive, considering the variety of guests. We really enjoyed the fresh fruit and the smoked salmon every morning. The local foods we tried some of, and were tasty. Lunch was good variety, no complaints with the buffet. Serving so many people, including fussy kids can’t be easy, and I think the lunch variety was good. Again, the staff were attentive, friendly, and prepped tables quickly. We never had any difficulties getting water, wine, beer or anything we wanted at the buffet from the staff. Dinners: we ate a few nights at the buffet, but pleased we could make reservations at the a la cartes. Tip: make the reservations as soon as you can, some of them fill up, and a few people were disappointed they did not get to try all of their choices. My husband has severe dietary restrictions, so some of the a la cartes were of no interest to us. We did eat at the Seafood (good), Mama Mia [Italian] (my favourite), Grill (good), and the International. My dinner was good, however my husband had the ostrich, and did not enjoy it. Not the fault of the restaurant, just not something he enjoyed. The service at all of the a la cartes was outstanding, and we really enjoyed dressing for dinner, the candlelight, not feeling rushed. As I said, my husband has serious dietary restrictions, and if he can find all kinds of good food to eat for 7 days, then anyone can! He had no difficulties at all with the food, and as long as I can have my fresh fruit for breakfast, I’m good to go!

The snacks provided at the Sunset and Riveria Premium lounges were excellent, and much appreciated between a late breakfast/ early lunch and late dinner reservations.

Bars : abundant, good loctions, well spaced out. The lounge near the front ground floor restaurants was really nice, sun or shade, excellent service. The bartenders as a whole were friendly, quick, and lots of fun. There was one grumpy bartender, so we just never went back to that bar for drinks. Bars are everywhere, the bartenders have fun with the guests mixing drinks and really making an effort to please. We did not tip all the time, but we did tip the staff at the Sunset Premium suite at the end of our visit, the guys there were fantastic, lots of fun, remembered what you wanted, and really accomodating.

Beach and Pools ; we liked the beach, not the best beach we have been on, but the sand was warm and soft for walking. We went in the ocean a few times, but that is not a main purpose of our vacation. We took water socks, and glad we did. We walked quite some way in the northern direction, really enjoyed that walk. Lots of chairs, lots of shade if that is what you want. One nice point is not once were we accosted by locals trying to sell us something. Lots of security at the 2 beach entrances, seemed attentive. The pools were lovely, lots of chairs. One wish, though, is that the resort would designate one of the 2 Premium pools as family, and one as adults only. The Premium pool at our building was very noisy and lots of kids. As we went to relax, we did find the noise level annoying, and the parents of the noisy ones not seeming to care that their children were annoying other guests. Once we found a quieter pool, they could make all the noise they wanted to and disturb other guests! Some people seem to make a sport out of "how early can they get up and reserve pool chairs and then not use them until late afternoon". But we managed to find nice chairs in either sun or shade, depending on our preferences for the day. It is pretty ridiculous what some guests will do, and very selfish. Poolside service at the Premium area was good, not too fast, but they were efficient, and always got the orders right!

Grounds ; excellent, immaculate. Well lit at night. You can tell it is a new resort, but the grounds staff did an excellent job. Never saw any garbage, or anything out of order.

Activities and Entertainment – we did not attend any of the entertainment or activities. We did have a massage, and it was heaven! The spa looked lovely, but I do think charging extra to use it means no one uses it! We work out regularily at home, but did not at the well appointed gym. We walked through it, laughed at the idea of treadmills when there was plenty of walking to be had outside in the glorious sunshine!

Tours – we took our own tour to the Mayan ruin of Tulum and the Zip line. Unfortunately the company that provided the tour did not meet our expectations, however we made the most of seeing the ruins, and the zip line was a blast. The resort did not have anything to do with this tour company.

Departure and Check Out – had to wait a little for a shuttle luggage cart, it seems like the whole hotel was checking out that morning! No concerns at all with check in (less than 15 minutes wait, due to a few people on our bus all checking into the Premium suites and asking never ending questions to the very patient attendant), and check out was immediate.

Conclusion – My biggest complaint about the whole week was listening to other guests whinge and complain about absolutely nothing, and such unimportant things. It got rather irritating hearing some people whinge about stupid little things. One woman actually took a hissy fit because she had to wait over 20 minutes for shuttle ride. We were waiting too, and once we all climbed aboard she actually got off about 2 buildings up, less than 500 feet. I was stunned that she could not have walked the 2 minutes, instead of complaining that she had to wait!!! I don’t know about her, but we have waited far longer at home for taxis, service, food, etc. Our take on our vacation at this resort is it was the nicest one we have ever been to in the Caribbean (this was our 8th trip south). It is brand new, the staff are doing their best, and the resort still has to iron out a few kinks ( such as hire/ schedule more bellboys for key times: early morning for checkout, and throughout the dinner hour). We felt we were in paradise, and truly enjoyed the entire week. yes there were little challenges, yes they were all dealt with by friendly people. Maybe the speed of results is not to North American standards, but we felt we were there to relax, take our watches off, and go with the flow. I would recommend this tactic to anyone travelling in the Caribbean, and definitely to anyone travelling to a new resort!

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Laura

March 2008

I spent a week at the Sunset Princess: 3/09 – 3/16. Had a great time. What a beautiful hotel, but definitely not worth 5 stars. I’ve been to nicer 3 star places. It was awful run down for being so new. It was 5 star material – marble bathrooms, fancy details all around the resort, but not in great shape and lots of little things that were roadside motel typical (no water pressure, broken doors, non-working toilets, very very noisy airconditioning, etc.). Check in took less than 2 minutes – there was no line at 4 pm. Check out at 6:30 am was even shorter and easier. One evening there was a group of over 100 and they were in the lobby checking in for 3-4 hours.

SHORT VERSION: I’d go back and would recommend it to anyone who’s not extremely picky about their accomodations. There’s lots to do, eat, drink, and time to relax. Good food – not 5 star but tasty, good service, wonderful warm weather. People were nice and helpful. The beach was rocky in the water, but clean. There were lines at the bars and the pools were crowded, but no more than any other place.

LONG VERSION…..

ROOMS: I found the room on my own. It was a junior so no extra perks (no robes, slippers, or access to seafood or oriental a-la-carte restaurants w/o $30 upgrade). The room was clean, fridge was stocked with beer, soda, & water (although other people reported that their fridge was empty). One of the two sinks had no water pressure so I used the one that did. There was a safe and it worked – and I did not get anything taken from it. I had all my valuables in there too. The alarm clock worked, the air conditioner worked but it was noisy, and there were no mosquitos. They did provide bug repellent wipes, but I did not need them. The shower drained towards the toilet, but towels kept the floor dry. The toilet handle would stick but a little jarring at times fixed it temporarily. When the room was cleaned the fridge was always restocked. The balcony was nice and clean.

FOOD: Nothing to really write home about for flavor but I have never seen so many choices for all three main meals. Reservations for the a-la-carte restaurants (3 per week stay) are from 9 am to 1 pm daily – but you can make all your reservations at once. Expect 10 minutes per person in line in front of you. I only took about 3 minutes to get my reservations done. The trick? Don’t have specific dates or times for each restaurant. I asked which of my choices were available at the hour time frame I gave them. It worked out and in 3 minutes – I was on my way with my reservations. You can make reservations from any restaurant – choose the shortest line. If you’re so inclined, you can request a 4th restaurant, but they say only 3 per week. Sorry guys – pants only (they’ll let you wear sweat/track pants/ratty jeans, but not fancy dress shorts). I preferred the buffet more. For breakfast – 4 buffet locations, lunch – 3 buffet locations, dinner – 2 buffet locations. All had the same buffet menu. I drank the water and ate lettuce – no stomach problems. There is 24-hour room service, but you must call for a menu and it could take a couple days to get it.

BARS: The pool bar (3 of them) service was very slow. I usually waited 5 or more minutes for a drink. They haven’t really caught on to the tip thing. A tip didn’t mean faster service or better drinks. They would double up on the alcohol if you asked – if they understood you. The main pool bar closed at 5:30 pm and none of the bars serve anything but beer after 11 pm. They had every drink you could imagine, but only Corona beer (no light beer). Try the electric lemonade if you’re not a tequila drinker. The beer at the pool wasn’t cold but it was at the beach. If you order from the waitress – expect at least 20-30 minutes before you get your drinks. There wasn’t much of a line at the beach bar in the afternoon. The service at the Sports Bar/Lounge was good, but the food was not, unless you’re starving. Hot dogs were cold, toasted ham sandwiches had a tiny slice of ham and cheese, sometimes with lettuce & tomato, sometimes not. The cheese for the nachos was equal to Taco Bell, maybe. I watched one person pick a hot dog off the floor and hand it to the server behind the bar. The server took the hot dog and placed in on the hot dog warmer – on the bar. It’s open 24 hours. There are 3 pool tables, but some of the pool balls are missing and the q-sticks all have broken tips. There are 2 fooseball tables – those were in good shape.

INTERNET: Next to the sports bar/lounge is a room with 3 computers for internet access. There is a sign posting a 30 minute limit, but no enforcement. However, most people didn’t spend that much time and usually there were only 1 or 2 people waiting in line. I never waited longer than 10 minutes to get on a computer. You’ve got to know your spanish to follow the links.

POOLS: Not sure where to start. Tons of pool area. Beautiful. A little on the salty side but not like the ocean. Never had a problem finding a chair – even after 2 pm, but I had to search. If you want lots of action and noise, head to the main pool. The other pools are quiet and usually more chairs available if you don’t get there until afternoon. Most of the pools were cleared by 6 pm (the sun went behind the building and it got a little chilly in the shade). Never had problems getting pool towels exchanged.

BEACH: Beautiful. Tons of chairs, but not too many in the shade that weren’t already taken. The beach in the water was very rocky, some big rocks, some deep holes. Be careful. There were kayaks, boogie boards, and catamarans for use. Catamatan lessons were $40 if you wanted them. However, if the water wasn’t safe for the kayaks or sailboats, they would not let you use them. There was a 60 minute time limit on the kayaks and 30 minutes on the sailboats. The group that operated the water sports equipment was not associated directly with the hotel. They are the same people who will book trips for scuba, snorkeling, or jet ski rental (Sea Pro Divers). They were very very nice and helpful. There was still a lot of construction underway on the beach.

ENTERTAINMENT: Par for the course. Lots of variety. The animation group (pool/beach activity during the day) was fantastic. The evening activities were less desirable. I wasn’t really sure which nights had entertainment until about 1/2 way through the week when I saw the schedule on the wall outside the main buffet restaurant.

SPA & GYM: No report – didn’t use either.

SHUTTLE TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN: No report – took a cab, $13US and always available.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Ann

February 2008

We returned from the Grand Sunset Princess on February 9, 2008. We had a fabulous one week stay.

I will try and summarize the experience:

Check In: We had no problems with checking in, 10 minutes we were loaded up and on our way to a beautiful room. The bell hop explained the operations and was very courteous. That was a wonderful start to our vacation.

Room: The room was amazing; we had room 2142, a jr. deluxe suite. It had a king size bed and sofa, nice balcony overlooking the activity pool, that was perfect for a run back to the room during the day while hanging out at the pool. It had a big bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, 2 sinks, shower and toilet were separated by a glass door.

Lobby Bar: It was very nice, open with the tropical breeze coming through. Say hi to Saul and Nazaro, they worked hard and were very pleasant to visit with. Had some mind games that took some working on to solve, but we got them.

Restaurants: We only ate at one ala carte, Italian. We just never knew when we wanted to eat so we decided that after a nice dinner, it was just to hard to judge what our mood would be that day, opted not to do another. We heard great things about them though, especially the fondue.

The restaurants are very nice, not an open concept. You do not have to worry about the birds swooping in, and the AC was a welcome relief to the hot day. The food could sometimes be on the cool side, they need to turn up the heat lamps. But all in all the selection was great and the taste was better then most AI’s that we have been to.

Pools: What can I say, they were great. Many pools, kids, activity, quiet, swim-up rooms to many to name. We spent a lot of time at the activity pool, the entertainment staff was terrific, a lot of fun and not pushy if you weren’t in the mood that day.

Pool Bars: The staff there worked so hard all day, waitresses running around and the bartenders were going non-stop from 10 am to 6pm. We were thankful to have them waiting on us.

Beach: The beach was very nice and sandy; if you enjoy swimming you will need water shoes as there is a lot of coral. Most people that I saw just wanted the ocean breeze and the feel of being there. I know that this year most of the beaches in the PDC area are gone from erosion. This has a lot of sand, lots of palm trees, 293 to be exact. That was a question that was asked and my husband won a hat at the activity pool. Cabana’s galore and lots of lounge chairs. There is a beach bar, very busy though. I think that they need to add another as this resort continues to grow.

Sports Bar: It was very nice; it has a couple of pool tables and foosball table. Hamburgers, hotdogs, etc served 24 hours a day. There is an internet room right off it with free access, 30 min limit. Enough time to check in at home.

Shows: We never were able to make them, but heard that they were good. The staff always works hard to put on a good show.

Disco: Way to loud for me, but someone may enjoy that.

To sum it up, we had an amazing stay with all the staff that worked so hard to make our vacation a memorable one. I would certainly recommend this place to anyone that would like to enjoy an upper scale resort. It will be a huge success once all the new resort kinks are worked out. Hope that this helps anyone with the decision to take a nice trip. Just a heads up to all those who go to these AI’s there is no such thing as a (US 5 star rating) in a third world country. Keep that in mind and treat the staff with respect and you will have an awesome stay.

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Brian

February 2008

I just got back yesterday and had a great time. For the money it’s worth checking out I guess. I have been to many 5 star hotels and take my word for it. THIS IS NOT 5 STARS! It looks like a 5 star but is 3 star in service, food, and entertainment.

Positives:
1) Rooms were big and beautiful. Get Platinum room if possible. It’s closest to the beach but just the check in alone is worth the extra money, as they have seperate check in. Every day we would go to the main lobby and see people sitting there for hours waiting for rooms. Now saying that, I got my room very quickly and had no problems with the room, maid service, and except for one night, room service.

2) Pools are awesome! Clean and huge. Swim up bars Music is you want or you can go to another pool with no music. They play fun games, its great.

3) Women are beautiful! Mostly couples from Canada and US but the sight seeing is great

4) Buffets are good (not great) Restaurants were good.

5) Service was good for the most part. WHat I mean is they REALLY try to be friendly and help, the problem is there’s not enough english speaking employees so it can be frustrating at times.

Negatives
1) The beach sucks! We ended up going to Playa Del Carmen and had a great time on those beaches.

2) The Bugs can be a problem if you let them. For most of day their not around but at night they can come out some bring some OFF and don’t leave your screen door open at night. We did by mistake on the last night and my wife woke up with a huge welt on her eye and many bug bites.

3) The place is HUGE. Everywhere you go you walk 1/2 mile. Its good to stay in shape but can be annoying after a dinner and drinks and you face a 3/4 mile walk to your room.

4) No in-room internet access or cell phone signals.

Other than that have a great time. Dont sweat the small stuff!

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Martha ~ Toronto

January 2008

The resort is beautiful and the staff bend over backwards. Platinum was well worth the money, no line up for reservations, the location of our room, service, suttle golf carts, wireless internet, private pool & beach. Two extra restraunts to chose from. No charge for the Lobster not sure if this is the norm? I was the with my Husband and 88yr old mother she was totaly impressed we did bring her wheel chair so she would have to walk so much the place is so large. Great food. My only down fall is tht if you love the ocean this is not the place for I do and getting in and out was so difficult because of all the ROCK that even with water slipper it wasn’t fun and the water isn’t clear.

Rooms – Great two jet tubs one in the room the other on the belcony

Restaurants – The steak house has no steak, the Lamb was good. The Fondue was my favorite

Bars – too many to count the best drinks were at the bar just up from the beach where they have breakfast and lunch buffet

Beach and Pools – The snd was nice like brown suger the water sucked but I’m a water baby and it bugged me that that I only ventured in twice because of the rocks.

Grounds – very nice

Tours – Cozumel we took a taxi to Playa de Carman $12 and then took the ferry over for $22. return. We rented and old VW convertable for $40. from 3pm – 6:30 went around the island and stopped at Paradice Beach now your talking about a beach easy walk in and the blue clear water.amazing. Then had dinner at Pepas ? unbelievable it was sooo good (fine dining)

Conclusion – I realy liked everything about the resort with the eception of the ocean

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  Grand Sunset Princess   Dan

January 2008

We stayed at the GSP Jan 13-20. Overall everything was pretty good. Check in was quick and we were in our room quickly. Luckily it was a finished room and everything worked. It’s luck of the draw right now as many rooms are incomplete and several people had complained of having to change rooms. The hotel is beautiful, grounds & everything are kept very clean. The food is very good I would not worry, the selection is enormous (from the heart stopper specials to healthy options). The buffet is fantastic so you may not need to visit the a la carts. I think I could go on but would rather just give you tips that will help make your visit more pleasurable perhaps.

Food: book your reservation for all your nights at a la carts when you arrive. People start lining up at 8:00. The Italian was fantastic. The Mexican very good. The fondu was pretty good as well. Always good and timely service. Once the main buffet closes (2200 I think) there is only food available at the sports bar (just below main lobby). Food is pretty bad though. They only have chicken nuggests (really gross), french fries (not so good but tolerable when hungry), hotdogs (ewh) and hamburgers (fine according to the husband) and taco chips. That’s it. So I would suggest bringing snacks from home particularly if you have young children. It’s difficult to take food out of the buffet as they don’t want glass dishes outside).

Morning coffee: you can get coffee at the sports bar (it’s good but tell them you want it strong or you’ll get half cup coffee and half cup cream).

Bugs: we were on first floor, no problem, they have been spraying. There is something that bits on the beach however at night. I sat on the beach one night and woke up almost 1 1/2 days later with the most killer itchy splotches all over my lower legs. You don’t feel them bite. I’d suggest bringing but spray for night walks.

Illness: It is safe to drink the water used in drinks and ice cubes it is filtered. They suggest however not to drink the tap water and don’t use it to brush your teeth – this system is not filtered. They suggest using bottled water.

Bar in room: the bar is stocked with pop, Modela beer, and bottles of water. HUGE TIP HERE….many people complain their fridge was not filled. If you leave the maid a small tip and a note saying what you want (10 aqua, 4 modela, 4 coke light etc) your fridge will be stocked but not otherwise. I don’t think it is their job as a women came by one evening to stock the fridge. We just were never there most nights when she came.

Illness/medications: there is a store beneath the Riviera lobby that sells many drugs, bug spray, sunscreen. However, I suggest bringing your own. It’s not cheap. My son became ill and I needed cold medicine. Vicks was the only option. a small bottle was $13 US. If you have children bring Tylenol, Advil, cold medicine, gravol, kleenex (none in room), band-aids, antibiotic ointment. THere is a doctor who stays there and is available 24 hours a day. Just go to the lobby and they call her. BIG TIP: it’s $75 US a visit and CASH ONLY. We saw her for my young son and she prescribed 4 days of oral antibiotics (without swabbing his tonsils). It should be 10 days. So be careful with what she prescribes.

Internet: there are four computers in a computer room on the Sunset side. Problem is there is no one monitoring it and many people take their sweet bloody time on it. Even with people waiting! There does not appear to be a courtesy time limit. The best time is 0700-0900. Don’t even try in the evening. There are also two computers on the Riviera side near the lobby across from the store.

Animation crew: there are few activities. The main pool starts the music at 1000. The have water polo, water aerobics (well, sort of), a five minute "chocolat" dance, a crazy game (beware….they won’t tell you the rules until after you offer. Sometimes it involves drinking. Otherwise the pool is just music. There is a ping pong table they put out near the bar. Archery occurs once a day at 1130. The shows at 2130 are really good. It’s sort of the same thing, a dance crew dances and lip-sings. But it’s quite entertaining and I would recommend going (30-45 min). There was only one evening show out on the main floor lobby area. The fire show was amazing. Friday at 8;30 pm. You have to go to that!

Playa del Carmen: there is a set fee of $12 for a taxi to town. Xel-Ha: We found it difficult for a few reasons with our 7 year old. Not sure I’d recommend it for really young children. They can’t do much.

Tipping: we tipped everyone a buck or two. But I did not see others doing so. It did not seem to make a difference at the bar at the main pool. But at the sports bar and main lobby bar they seemed appreciative. I heard the maids only make $2.50 a day. The animation crew cannot leave the hotel as they only get three hours off a day. THey work from 0900-1700 and again from 2000 to whenever!

Kids club: starts at 1000 behind the riviera side. It’s a small area with a kiddie pool, small playground and table for drawing. They take the kids to the main pool and play with them just before lunch. They take them to the buffet for lunch, archery in the afternoon and other stuff I don’t know about. My 8 year old loved it! In the evening it opens again at 1900 in a room beneath the Sunset lobby. One room has five playstations, another room has large sponge blocks, tables to draw. Overall not much but it kept my children happy. You can drop them off and then go for a romantic dinner! THe staff at the kids club are fantastic and you have nothing to worry about.

Stores: there is a jewelry store, and two others with clothes etc. Prices are pretty good.
Ice cream parlor – does not exist yet sorry to say!

Spa – didn’t try it but I was told they are having difficulties especially with booking – you think you have a booking but end up with nothing.

Marble tile floors: there is marble everywhere. Be careful after it rains, it is very slippery! Rubber crocs are dangerous. Bathroom floors….the showers do nothave a lip to keep the water in and it can run all over your floor. Tuck a towel in by your door to prevent this.

Toiletries: you will get tiny bottles of liquid soap, maybe a bar of soap, three bug wipes, shoe polish….anyway I’d suggest bring two bars of soap – one for your sink and one for your shower. Bring a very good conditioner. The air is so humid, if you have any body in your hair get ready for crazy hair. Don’t even bother bringing a flat iron. Total waste. Bring anti-frizz cream and hats, pony-tail holders etc.

Oh, staff are very good, no issues. Be nice to them and they will be nice to you.

Lights…there is only one light in the jr suite room, one just above your entry door and then the bathroom. This makes the room quite dim. You will not be able to read at night. bring some sort of battery night light if you wish to read.

Well, that’s it. Don’t worry about anything it will work out and you’ll have fun. There could be a glitch with your room but expect it and just know you can ask for another one. If it reains and you are on the first floor make sure everything is off the floor. We flooded our room (water from the hallway). But before my husband could get another room key staff had come and cleaned it up while my children slept on.

Beach: sand is nice, many chairs, many palapos now (built a bunch last week). Water is often murky with plant debris and there are rocks in the water. bring water socks or plan to walk down the beach either direction 5-10 min and you’ll come to areas that have no rocks and are better for swimming. You can get boogie boars, kyaks, life jackets on the beach. (there is a bar on the beach too. Don’t think you’ll have a nice walk with beautiful scenery overhere. It’s ugly – delapitated buildings, garbage….It’s quite a walk before you come to another hotel. But just look toward the water and all is good.

Towels: you get a card when you arrive to exchange for a towel. Don’t lose it or you’ll pay. YOu can get towls out of two buildings near the pool. Does not open until 1000 though.

OK, that’s really it now. Have fun. Just don’t sweat the small stuff and you’ll love it!

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  Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Cindi ~ Salmon Arm. BC ,Canada

December 3 2009

Arrival: Nov. 7-14/ 2009
We arrived Nov 7/09. 40 of us for my dasughter’s wedding. A large bus picked us up from the airport. Nice drive to hotel. Baggage pickup all went really smooth!

Rooms:
We all got upgraded to the Junior Deluxe! That was a nice surprize. The bride & groom were upgraded to Swim up pool room! Totally not expected! The rooms were excellent and very spacious. Fridge stocked every day!

Restaurants and Bars: Food was really good in all restaurants Sometimes long line @ bar for drinks. They need more people taking reservations for the reataurants @ night. Quite often they said they were full but when we went there they seemed empty??

Thai restaurant on beach only open few days?? Not on Friday? Don;t know why it would not be open every day??

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beach was LOVELY! Sandy! No rocks that I could see,which I read in one of the reviews! Nice little bar down on beach! Pools to die for. There must have been a hundred of them. Circled all around the resort! Clean as can be. The grounds are fabulous and kept up beautifully!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Cozumel was fantastic(rented scooters & jeeps over there.) That was so much fun! 15 min to 5th Ave in Playa Del Carmen. That is shopping to die for! A million little shops. Good prices. Nice that it stays open until 11 or so.

Some did the 12 Zipline tour and loved it. Some did Xhel-Ha and said that was really good also.

Other Comments:
This was the most beautiful place to have a wedding ever! The coordinators were absolutley perfect. The meal in the Mexican restaurant was very good. The flowers were just as we had ordered them! We choose a photographer outside of the hotel and the pic’s were the best I have ever seen. His service was top Notch and his price was very reasonable! I would reccommend this to anyone!

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Brain ~ Canada

October 2009

Arrival: Sept. 25-Oct. 10

Rooms:
JR DLX suite 2nd floor garden view (6228), clean and very comfortable

Restaurants and Bars:
A LA Carte (5)Mexican,Italian,International,Fondu,

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Great pool and beach,waiter service at beach was awsome,grounds immaculate

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
good shows in evening,but animation staff too eager to go to COCO Bongo in Playa del Carmen, should push their own disco instead. Great golf at Playcar in Playa Del Carmen.GREAT special coffees till 22:00 in great hall. 

Other Comments: should work on lobby bar lighting, needs to be dimmed for better atmosphere.

Sports bar also needs to be reviewed for comfort,lighting,seating.

Email Brain: bauger54@hotmail.com

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Tony ~ Vancouver, Canada

October 2009

Arrival: September 19 – 26, 2009 Arrival: We are an early thirties couple from Canada who travel a lot but this was our first all inclusive experience. We were a little hesitant about this resort before going due to the current problems in Mexico and some of the things mentioned in the reviews (Unfriendly staff, theft, huge resort, bad food etc). WE MADE A GREAT DECISION TO STAY HERE. Despite reading the review warning of the travel counters on the left as you exit the airport we were silly enough to get stuck there. Walk straight past them and head outside to find you ride. We were lucky, our shuttle was with Best Day and we were the first stop so we arrived in 45mins, there was only one stop on the return shuttle too.

We arrived at the hotel at about 12:30pm and were told that the room would not be ready until 3pm. We had no problem with that, we were early. they told us all about the resort and told us we could head off to grab some lunch. After lunch we went to our platinum lounge and they got us in early.

Rooms: We booked a Platinum suite and I would always book the same again. The room was fantastic. It was exactly as it was supposed to be. Our luggage came quickly and a $1US tip each day for house keeping seemed to ensure that the room was fully stocked and very clean each day. In fact, one day I ran out of US single notes so I left 50 pesos on the pillow and when we returned to our room not only was the room spotless but house keeping had taken the time to make an elephant out of towels and left it in the center of the bed. I can not fault the room, the air conditioning broke once but they had it fixed within 1/2 an hour (blown fuse).

There are a lot of concerns about security and theft. We had NO problems. Use your in room safe. We did and nothing went missing. My wife left her purse in the buffet the first day when we arrived. An hour later when we went to get our room she noticed and I made a mad dash back to the front of the resort. One of the staff had found it and she got everything back untouched.

Restaurants and Bars: As an overall, the food was great. After 8 days there the breakfast and lunch buffets had started to lose interest but when we first arrived we sat with Alex (one of the concierges at the platinum lounge) and he told us the resort was at very low occupancy so only 3 A La Carte restaurants would open each night. We went through each night right then and we had no trouble being able to booked a dinner at a different restaurant each night. We were able to try them all except the grill. For us the Seafood (Las Olas) was the best (thank you Fernando)with the Italian, Mexican, Japanese and French also being very pleasing. La Fondue was quit disappointing with long wait times and tasteless food and the "Special Dinner" was a comical mess. The special dinner was at the Thai beach but there was NO options for starters or desert and only two choices for mains so it was kinda like it or lump it. We went home hungry from that place but the mozzies did not. Great views though. The bars were good but quiet. The party bar barely had people as was the case at other bars. The entire Sunset side of the resort was shut during our stay as well as the Luguna Villas. All but one of the bar staff were great (that one short poured drinks and in some cases did not put any alcohol in them unless he liked you). We found a barman at one pool who was great so we kept going back there (Thanks Edilberto).

The beach bar was fine, they did not seem to do any drink service at all on the beach but maybe that was because it was so quiet

Beach/Pools/Grounds: At lot of reviews so that this place was huge and would take forever to get around. It really is not that big. If you want huge, try Becelo. For those of you that though this place was huge, they are building more! A third sector! The beach, pool and grounds were all in great shape. The lawns are so well cared for. I am an early riser so I went for a walk early some days and you see them out there cleaning everything from top to bottom even inside the pools.

There were a lot of reviews that commented on the beach being so rocky so we bought water shoes. I wore mine once and my wife never put hers on at all. It really was not that bad. It just depends on where you enter the water.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We did not do many activities around the resort but we did go to Tulum and Xel-Ha. It was a great trip, Tulum was WAY too hot to handle so I am glad that we did it first and then Xel-Ha with it’s included restaurants and bars and activities made the afternoon great. We spent a long time snorkelling with millions of fish and throughly enjoyed it.

We also did a trip to Playa. We made one mistake, we arrived early, we were some of the very first tourists out on 5th. That made us the target for EVERYONE. We spent the first hour fending off people and walking away. When more people came out it got easier.

Other Comments: For us, this was a fantastic trip, just what we were looking for. We were suprised by what people will complain about and how rude some people can be. You are on vacation people, relax!

This place is not Americian 5 star standards but it more than met our expectations. We will go back again. However, this time we will bring a gallon of off to fight the mozzies… you have no idea!

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Michael ~ Vermont, USA

May 2009

Arrival: April 19-24 The Complete Grand Riviera Princess Guide. Full disclosure, we are an early thirties couple from the United States. This is only our second all-inclusive resort stay. We were very pleased with all aspects of this resort. Cancun Airport, be advised, when leaving the airport, to your left will be some commercial tourist operators, that are simply trying to sell you timeshares. It looks official, especially since they are set-up in the airport. Keep walking outside and ask someone for your shuttle service. We used American Express Travel for our airport transportation. I can’t say I was super impressed. The drive from the airport should have been 45 minutes, and after talking with others, that is how long it took them to arrive at the resort. However, we had to make 4 other drop-offs at 4 other resorts, so our travel time was an hour and a half. The return trip was 45 minutes. So, my advice, ask them how many drop-offs they have to make in between the airport and resort and request to get in a shuttle with 1 other drop-off.

Check in. Once at the Grand Riviera Princess (about 4:00) the check-in was quick, as there was no line. The receptionist explained everything about the resort and we received written information. His English was good, so it was east to understand. As with any new resort, there is a bit of a learning curve, but he helped with the initial orientation. At this point, a little bit of a tip goes a long way. We stayed in room 9024, which was one of the Villas. There are 4 tiers of guests. Junior Suites, Junior Deluxe suites, Platinum and Villa. It seems to me, if you can get a Platinum room with an ocean view, those are nice rooms. The villas are nice as well.

Rooms:
Our room had an outdoor shower, an in-room Jacuzzi tub for two, sitting area, flat screen TV, walk-in closet and balcony overlooking a lagoon. The in-room safe worked fine with no problems. We tipped the maid 3 dollars a day and always received prompt, clean service. The minibar was stocked with beer, soda, water and juice. Upon arrival we were greeted by 5 bottle of liquor: vodka, rum, whiskey and two bottle of tequila. As well as a dried fruit platter. The only drawback to these rooms were that the mosquito’s could get in through the gap in the door by the outdoor shower. We were very tolerant of this, as we both have done a ton of camping, but I think most would not. You will need to put on bug spray if you do not want to get bitten at night when you sleep. Otherwise the room was free of any other type of critters.

Location/Resort layout:
The resort can be split in two ways. First you have the Sunset and the Riviera sides. Both sides are pretty identical and share all amenities. However, the Riviera side of the resort (the rooms that face inward) get late afternoon sun and the Sunset side rooms that face inward get early morning sun. The second way the resort can be split is the lobby end and the beach end. Most restaurants, all nighttime entertainment and the better evening bars are located near the lobby. The best pools and of course the beach action is located at the opposite end of the resort near the beach. There are pools and rooms in between all this as well. I’ve read all the reviews that say it takes 15-20 minutes to walk the length of the resort and I’d have to say that is an exaggeration. A normal person walking can do it in about 10 minutes. However, this may be a problem for older people or families with young children. It also presents a nuisance for those that want to quickly go back to their room and get something, as depending on where you are located, this could be difficult. We felt that having a room closer to the lobbies, was more convenient. We could grab breakfast, go to our room and head to the beach for the day. After dinner and entertainment, you could quickly go back to your room. The villas are closer to the lobby end and the platinum suites are next to the beach. The Junior and Deluxe suites run along the length of the resort.

Beach:
The beach is long, great for walking. The water is turquoise, blue and dark blue. The waves can get pretty big. Yes, the water is a bit rocky, but that depended upon where you went in. Some places it was not, others is was. Bring water shoes and you’ll be fine. The beach faces east, great for sunrises! They have kayaks, jet ski, sailing (Hobie Cats) and other water sports. All of the non-powered activities are free, but for example, you can only reserve the sailing for an hour a day. Book it for the week, as it is popular. I recommend the first timeslot at 10:00. Winds were strong, but not too strong at this point, often increasing as the day went along. However, if you get the 10:00 timeslot you can usually get an extra 15 minutes of on-water time (starting at 9:45) without having to wait for someone to come in from sailing. There is also quite a bit of on-beach activities like aerobics, soccer, volleyball, etc… There are vendors and waitresses bringing you drinks as well. There were always plenty of chairs and hidden spots to set-up for the day.

Food/Restaurants:
The buffets were clean and the food was pretty good. Plenty to choose from. We always tipped our server $1, and the coffee kept coming. We did not get sick from any of the food, this is a good thing. We ate at the Mexican restaurant, the Western Grill, the Japanese Hibachi and the Italian Restaurant. You will need to make reservations. And must make them at least one day in advance, but we made ours for the whole week. The best was the Japanese Hibachi, (you must request this, as there are three menus), followed by the Italian which was also very good and then the Mexican and Grill. Skip the grill. We heard the seafood restaurant was excellent. We always tipped $10 if the service was good, and it always was.

Recommendations:
Tip often. We tipped our housekeeping $3/day, bartenders $1, waiters at the restaurant $10 and buffet servers $1. You will notice a difference. I also tipped the beachfront staff, the boat was always rigged a ready to go for me. We liked the lobby bar the best, and the pools closest to the beach. For those that want more action, the “party” pool was always hopping. You need shoes and long pants for men for the restaurants, but most people dressed casually for the buffets. The nightly entertainment was okay, nothing spectacular. Don’t expect Broadway. There were daily excursions and nightly excursions as well. You cannot get bored here, there is plenty to do. Would we recommend this resort, yes, would we go back, probably not, as we like to try new places. However, this will be our new standard for other resorts to meet and exceed.

I can see why others may have complaints about this resort, especially as you compare different aspects of it to other resorts they have been to, but…We found the staff in all areas to be friendly, attentive and helpful. This is a nice, clean and quiet restful resort. Worth every penny.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Tom and Dayle ~ Armstrong, BC

April 2009

Arrival: April 1 – 8
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES!!! We wrote a review of this resort after our disastrous visit last March,2008. Princess hotels gave us a one week stay at their expense and what a difference. Check in was a breeze – took less than 5 minutes. We stayed in the Laguna Villas again and the suites are exceptional – as they were last year.

Rooms
The Laguna suites are very luxurious and we especially like the outdoor showers. We travel with carry-on luggage only – everything is provided in the rooms including blow dryers, toiletries, iron, ironing board.

Restaurants and Bars
The biggest improvement with this resort was the food. Last year they had the food on trays with light bulbs keeping them warm – this year they have proper heating and steam trays so the food is warmer – still not as good as some of the other resorts but a huge improvement!They must have new chefs. We dined at the a la carte restaurants every other night – and found the Japanese ‘MISO’ to be the best if you sat at the hibachi grill. The breakfasts were good at any of the buffets. The Laguna villas have their own pools and bar with wait staff and they also serve a continental breakfast and light lunch which is quite adequate most days. THe bartender there was excellent! the Lobby bars were still lacking in service with only 1 or 2 bartenders so service ios extremely slow – better off to go and get your own drink. we didn’t use any of the othere pool bars.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The grounds are exceptional – neat, tidy, and very colourful – this is the nicest looking property we’ve been to and by far the easiest to navigate. There is one large corridor down the middle of the resort and goes directly down to the beach, which is a little rocky right in front of the resort but if you walk 5 minutes in either direction (we preferred walking north)the beaches are big and smooth and you can walk for an hour or so without obstruction. The water is clear and warm.

Other Comments We highly recommend the Laguna Villas if you plan to stay at this resort as you have the privacy of adults only by the private pool, booking a la carte restaurants is much easier and you’re assured reservations, and you are entitled to exclusive lobbies with free internet and premium drinks and large queen sized palapas by the pool. We met the nicest people around the pool.This resort just opened too soon and have overcome the gowing pains associated with that. We would go again.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Tammy ~ Guelph

April 2009

Arrival: March 29 – April 6
Evening arrival..quick and easy. They checked us in at the Platinum counter even though we were staying in a basic suite.

Rooms
Room was basic. Unimpressed by the open bottles of water and some garbage under the couch (it was still there when we left, housekeeping not great )

Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants and bars were all good. Not great. The service was pretty good at all the bars, none of the staff ws overly friendly. Past resorts the bartenders have always joked around and had some fun.Strictly business here. The got your drink because that was their job. We felt more like an inconvience than a guest.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Beatiful . The water was a little rocky, but nothing unbearable. The pools and grounds were well kept. No wildlife to be found. Disappointing to my daughter who enjoyed the iguanas, flamingos and peacocks at the Iberostar last year.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The kids club seemed to be trying to put together activities? Only trip off the resort ws to Playa del Carmen. Freshuttle was good for the ride in, but had to take a cab back, since the shuttle only picks up at 1:30 or 6pm.

Other Comments It was a great trip. Hot , Sunny and sitting on a beach, it’s hard to wrong. I would not return to this particular resort. Definately not a 5 star. You get what you pay for. If you’re looking for 5 star service go to the Iberostar. We had a couple of minor theft problems ( candies out of the fridge and a bathing suit ) and heard tales of bigger problems at the airport. Use your safe !!! The staff seems unhappy and not concerned about losing their jobs.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   

April 2009

Just arrived back from the Riviera Princess today. A very nice resort and well laid out. Very big, but not overwhelmingly so!

Flight: Air Transat Really recommend Club class. Not that much more money and you get almost double the weight for luggage, priority check in (eliminate the lines), 3 course meal, free head phones, free drinks, more room.

Arrival
No problems. Arrived 11pm and under 1 hour to hotel from Cancun airport. Fast check-in and our room very much as requested in e-mail sent to resort. Very good staff. We stayed in 6221 and this was basically ideal placement (close to beach, buffet, etc).

Room Stayed in deluxe jr suite. Rooms were very nice. Air conditioning worked well, very clean . Bottle of tequila (qt), and a pint of rum, brandy and also… more tequila! Mini bar stocked with pop (diet coke, coke, sprite and orange) as well as 2 beer and water (3 lg btls). The shower did leak, but we were aware of this from previous reviews and a small towel on the floor eliminated any problems. One of my few complaints is that there is no shelf in the shower for shampoo/soap. Huge shower though! The toilet, when flushing I found you needed to hold the flush leaver down and it worked fine (it’s a modern water conserving type and worked fine if you did this – not a big issue). Lots of soap, shampoo, shower hat, sewing kit, etc provided by hotel. Also robes and slippers in room (don’t expect to look sexy in them, but they are functional if you use them). Beds were comfortable and turn down service in PM.

I have read complaints about the rooms not being made up until late in the day. But if you leave the room at a reasonable time (before 10am) and put your “please make up room” tag on the door, ours was done by 3pm “everyday”. We had towel animals left for us each day by the maid and by the end of the week we had quite an assortment! Rabbits, swans, dogs, etc… nice touch! We tipped maid $3 us every day and left them little treats for Easter as well as pencils, etc.. We always leave a note stating “a gift for you”. Saves any hassle on their part.

Resort
Very well laid out. As you probably know, the Sunset and Riviera are mirror images of each other. Pools stretch almost the whole length of the resort. If you can’t get a lounge chair, your not looking! Tons of them. Lots of tiki huts to sit under if you like the shade. Three pool bars through the resort (pool bar and walk up bars combined). Two buffets at mid resort and two in main lobby areas (for breakfast and lunch).

Beach White sand and lots of chairs. For prime locations suggest being there by 8 am and placing a towel on your chair and go to breakfast. Never had an issue with finding a good chair regardless. The water is rocky in places and water shoes are a must. In front of beach bar it isn’t as bad, but still recommend it. The water is very shallow quite a ways out and the waves were great. Always a good breeze blowing. Only one beach bar, but the bartenders are very fast. Service on the beach was great too if you wanted it. We tipped $1 each time and never lacked for beverages. Insulated mugs were great as usual and so many people wished they had brought them. We gave one to one of the drink waitress’s when we left, and she was very excited (had to fill out a piece of paper that it was a gift and our room number, etc). Horse shoes, volleyball, etc. Lots of activities around. People around us had kids that used their “kids club” service and they were always entertained and the staff were awesome.

Massages were only like $45 for an hour. Cheapest I have ever seen at a resort and they were always busy (very professionally set up). A couple permanent beach vendors but not aggressive! No cheapy cheapy people running around. You could walk for miles if you want to on this beach…

Restaurants All the buffets have a good variety of food. I certainly could not go hungry here. A little more selection at the main lobby buffets than at the mid resort ones, but not much. Champagne and OJ each morning as you go in (if desired), or bloody mary sometimes… (bars don’t open until 10am). Very good service by the staff. Coffee refills, drinks, etc… always tipped $1 at the end of the meal . They looked after us well. As for the ala cartes… we tried Le Fluer, Grill, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese. Japanese was the best, but make sure you ask for the one where the chef makes it in front of you. Quite the show and the food was the best out of all the ones we tried. People who went to just the regular table service there were standing to watch what they were doing… entertaining to say the least! Food at the others was good, but nothing like we had at the Melia Caribe (Punta Cana) last year . We went to the seafood restaurant, but left because they didn’t have any choices for those that do not like seafood (and I was the only one of the 4 of us that liked it). Lobster was around $40 if you wanted that. The Mexican was my second favourite (first time we ever did shooters with a waiter!). Wasn’t a problem getting bookings for the restaurants as long as you are flexible with the time. If you are rigid in the time frame…. good luck! All in all, I have had better food at resorts, but it was a solid 8 out of 10.

Downstairs outside the main lobby bar, they make special coffee (in evenings) if you so desire. Chocolate, choice of Brandy, rum, etc… coffee and topped with fresh whip cream and a cherry. Good, but there is a big demand for these so expect a long line up later in the evening (2 booths on the go just making these drinks).

Trips Did Tulum (it was good and served the purpose – we wanted to see ruins and only wanted a half day trip). My friend and I went on the 4 wheelers as well and that was fun. Dirty, but fun! Funny walking through resort coated with dirt and the looks from people…

Visited Playa del Carmen 2x’s. Not really thrilled with it, but it was fun. Lots of people and shopping. Found a lot of shops had the same things, different prices… negotiate and be prepared to walk away! Lots of police presence, so no worries about security! Cost 135 pesos for a taxi there each way (set the price before getting in).

Security!
I read alot about this before we left and I wasn’t worried. I got there, and I still didn’t worry. There are police just about everywhere and we had no issues period! We just did normal touristy things and didn’t get carried away. Our room safe was fine, and never had any issues of things missing. Even the couple of times we lost something/left something somewhere. We went back and the staff saved if for us. Very honest and I appreciated it. So don’t sweat over it….

Summary of a long review Great place, easy to get around. Beautiful resort, well laid out and friendly staff. Show them respect and courtesy and you will get the same back 10 fold!

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Cindy ~ Oshawa

April 2009

Arrival
when we arrive the weather was excellent we got through customs quickly or bus was waiting for us to take us to the hotel very nice mini bus check in was not to bad we got there early so our rooms were not ready but other than that we had the run of the place they also have showers right off the main lobby so take a carry on with shorts and your suits then your good to go

Rooms
our room was excellent we had a junior deluxe suite balcony jacuzzi tub very clean fruit basket and complimentary liquor waiting for us our luggage came very quickly and there also was a fully stocked fridge with soda, beer, and mineral water. shortly after they delivered bath robes ,slippers and beach towels

Restaurants and Bars
I was very impressed with the al a carte restaurants the food was excellent i dont know where you people ate but we had excellent food and service we were treated great

Beach/Pools/Grounds
the grounds were awesome they were emulate the pool bars always had some kind of activities going on during the day the beach was great a little rocky but not to bad there were also alot of beach games for the kids

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
the nightly entertainment was very good we also went on a couple of tours we went to tulum ruins it was excellent or guide was awesome he was very informative we also went on the half day snorkeling trip it was awesome over all we had an excellent trip

Other Comments we were very impressed with our whole trip we are planning to go back next winter for 2 weeks

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Karen ~ Schomberg, Ontario, Canada

March 2009

Arrival: March 10 – 17
We checked in quickly and our room was ready right away….we were surprised that it was ready because we got to the resort before 3pm.

Rooms
Our room was very nice and very clean. We stayed in the Villa Laguna suites. Our package included 24 hour a day room service which was very nice for the days we went out on trips we would order food to the room before the buffet opened for breakfast.

Restaurants and Bars
We ate at some of the a la cartes restaurants food was very good. Food at the buffet restaurants was very good as well. Lots of variety. We found the service to be great also.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach is beautiful and the grounds are very well kept.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There are plenty of activities on the resort everyone seemed to be having a great time we didn’t participate. We did go on a day trip excursion to Chichen Itza to see the Mayan Ruins. It was a fantastic day I would recommend this trip. It cost about $100 US per person. You can find out the detais of this trip and any other you may wish to go to at the resort. We also did a 1/2 day at Playa Del Carmen to shop for souvieniers. There is a shuttle bus that will take you for free but remember to book it a day in advance.

Other Comments We had a fantastic vacation. The resort is large has something for everybody. If you wish to relax and have a quite time or if you wish to party and have a more active vacation you can do both. We wanted a more quiter relaxing vacation so we stayed in the Villa Laguna Adults Only part of the resort but we had access to everything. Do not listen to the negative reviews. If you have picked this resort for your vacation you will not be diappointed! Bring Mexican Pesos for tipping at the bars and restaurants, room service (if applicable) etc…

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Sue ~ Worcester, MA

March 2009

Arrival: Oct 2008
Arrived at 3 pm. No wait. Upgraded to a Deluxe Jr Suite. Luggage delivered promptly (30 minutes) to our room. We opted to have a drink at the lobby bar (fantastic margarita made with Hornitos Sauza- yum)

Rooms Huge! Would have preferred a king bed, yet traveling with kids, so they gave us two full size. Good size sitting area, with a couch and chairs. There is a sliding glass (frosted) between the bathroom and the bedroom. Strange at first, yet I suppose you could leave it open to air out the bathroom. Bathroom in the Deluxe sweets has a jacuzzi tub. While I thought I would like this feature, only used it once. Takes a while to fill.

Yes, the shower water spills out into the floor. Suggest using a rolled towel in front of the door. Works very well. We didn’t get facecloths ever. We did get small round loafa pads. In the end they worked out, yet will bring my own facecloths next time. I believe it is common practice for Europeans to bring their own facecloths on travel. It is afterall a personal item. Like toothbrushes. Housekeeping did a terrific job. Our room was kept clean and never had problems with theft.

Restaurants and Bars
All’s I can say is they are great. Been to may AI all over Mexico and the Carribean and this one did not fall short of my expectations. We went during the low season and only 2 buffets were open. They were both good. Coffee was an issue for me. After the first day, we just got up and got our own coffee at breakfast. No coffee at lunch and dinner is served, so we had our evening cappucinno at the lobby bar. I love Margaritas! If you like the top shelf liquor, just ask and they will use it. I happen to like Hornitos Sauza, so I was happy. The bartender recommended an alternate brand one time (can’t remember the brand, yet it tasted like Petron) and I immediately switched. Excellent Margaritas. My husband is a beer drinker and was happy with the brand available. My favorite restaurant was the miso (ala cart). Also loved the italian. I did not like the seafood. The fondue was ok – cheese is not fully melted and was warm (not hot). The Italian was very good. Mexican was good. We had no issues getting booked. We only ate at the buffet (dinner) twice during our 10 day stay..

Beach/Pools/Grounds
We enjoyed the beach. Yes there are rocks. Highly recommend beach shoes. We brought ours and had no problems getting in.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We had twins (20 months) and a 3 year old. that was our activity for the week.

Other Comments We loved it so much we are going back in April. I have no complaints. Bring watershoes for the beach, watch your step when it’s wet, and relax. The staff is great.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Gary ~ Oshawa, Ont, Canada

March 2009

Arrival: Feb 28 – Mar 7
We arrived Saturday Feb 28 /09 – March 7/09 for one week….married in our 48-52 young age group

Rooms
We went with air transat regency club which includes a deluxe suite , complete with small sitting area couch and 2 person table and chair, king size bed, plasma tv, jaccuzi/whirlpool tub, glass shower enclosure ( yes the water tends to head towards the door of the shower as well so you have to put a towel down outside the door or it will go into your bathroom area). free in room safe included in our package

Restaurants and Bars We had no issue with the ala carte resturant. We went to mexican, grill and italian. Only issure we had with one was mexican and the main dish of fajita’s and they brought the wraps about 5 minutes after the meat.

The bad news is the buffet breakfast lunch or dinner the food was cold so you will have to expect that. It didn’t matter which resort resturant you went too for them they were all cold or luke warm at best. Drink service in the buffet’s was poor because they just don’t have the staff on hand to serve you.

Beach/Pools/Grounds  Pools were clean but water temp was around the 70-75 f area, too cold for us
Grounds were clean and well groomed , Beach was ok but water did have the rocks so were told, water too cold for us also , lots of lawn chairs in all areas of the resort so no need to reserve chairs. You cold use a palm tree instead of palapas, there were lots . The pools go the length of the resort with chairs and palaps all through the resort.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel We did the complimentary shuttle to playa de carmen to shop with no problem.

If you go remember you can barter.

Other Comments
The resort was a 5 star but in our books we would not go back due to the buffet food being cold and the bar service was not the best, they would let you wait a minute until they wanted to serve you, also understaffed for the 1300 rooms they have at this resort both in restaurants and the bars. We walked about 1 mile both directions along the beach and they still look like they have alot of work to do on beaches since the hurricane. If you have been to Punta Cana you should go back there instead of the Maya Riviera. There is no queston on the quality of the beach and water which was best. Free internet in our package was good to email kids back home. Only 2 in the air transat office so sometimes a wait to get on with kids on them and men checking hockey scores.They could use more of them there with the demand for them.

We took snacks with us when we went down to the Riviera Princess Resort which included 2 cans of Pringles that retail for $5.00 us which suddenly disappeared in our luggage before we could eat them…This sparked a debate between my wife and I if we actually packed them or left them on the bed at home. Upon our return we couldn’t find them here either. You can decide if it was a theft or an iguana. Our final comment would be GO TO PUNTA CANA INSTEAD OF THE MAYA RIVIERA…ENJOY YOUR VACATION

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Judie ~ Grand Rapids, MI

February 2009

Arrival: January 24 – 31
This was our 25th vacation at this same time of year to either the Carribean or Mexico. We had a group of 180 heating & cooling contractors from around the state. Half of the group arrived in the morning and my husband and I were in the group that arrived around 9:00pm. They checked us in on the bus and kept the buffet open since most of the group did not have supper. It took over two hours to get our luggage in our rooms. The resort is so huge and coming in at night made it very difficult to find our room. The room numbers are only marked on the outside of the buildings where the trolley runs (and we didn’t even know about the trolley when we arrived), but we were trying to find the rooms from the center of the property, where all the pools and bars are.

Rooms
We had the Junior Deluxe Suite and several in our group had the swim up pool rooms. Our room was very comfortable. Our TV didn’t carry all the stations and I reported it to the Concergie at the Platium Club and it was fixed the same day I reported it. Nice view from our balcony. We were located on the 3rd (although they called it the 2nd) floor about the center of the complex. If we stretched far over the balcony, we could see the ocean. One day our maid didn’t come to clean the room until 5:30pm when I was just getting ready for dinner. I told her to come back and clean while we were at dinner, which she did. It seems like the maids perform well if you leave a tip. To me it should be if the maids do a good job, they get tipped.

Restaurants and Bars We ate breakfast at the buffet by the beach each day. It was disappointing that all the restaurants were indoor. We so enjoy eating outside after getting out of our Michigan winters.

We ate at Le Fleur two nights. It is a gourmet restaurant so the portions are small. The first time I had the lobster bisque and the sea bass and both were amazing. Next I had the filet–very small but very tender and excellent. I was able to try the ostrich that someone else ordered and it tasted like bad medicine. One night they had a private buffet dinner for our group at La Tortuga and the food was very good. We heard good reports from others about La Fondue, Las Olas and Miso seemed to be everyone’s favorite.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
We went to the beach the first day in the Platium Club area. Lots of chairs, nice beach, but VERY disappointed in not being able to swim in the ocean. We tried it once hoping the rocks would disappear as we got out deeper, but they didn’t. Then I could hardly get back to shore. Bring water shoes. The rest of the time we sat by the swim up pools near where several of our group had rooms. That was really nice. Lounge chairs in the pool and private decks with chairs also. The pool was quite chilly and took awhile to get used to. It was ocean water and salty. It was very quiet and private. We also enjoyed the private pool by the Platium Club one afternoon. They served snacks and drinks all day long and also had Internet access at the club.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel We went into Playa Del Carmen two nights for dinner. First we went to La Parrilla Mexican Grill, which is one of our favorites. The food is reasonible, the margaritas huge, and the entertainment fun. I can’t remember the name of the 2nd restaurant we ate at in town, but it wasn’t as good as La Parrilla anyway.

My husband normally golfs, but it was $50 to fly his clubs down and then golf in the area was beteen $150-$300 for an 18 round.

Other Comments This place is too huge for us. We much prefer something with 300 rooms or less. Between the Sunset and the Riveria there are 670 rooms. We love the area and have stayed in Playacar several times and would probably return there, but not to the Grand Riviera Maya Princess.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Jack ~ Waterloo

February 2009

Arrival
Good. Typical delays waiting for the bus transfer from the airport, but this should be expected. We were fortunately the first drop-off (there were drop-offs to 2 other hotels after us) and so once we got going, it was only about 45-50 minutes from the airport to the hotel. Much better than hotels on the south side of Playa del Carmen.

We arrived at 11am, and our rooms weren’t ready. I encourage travellers to think about this when they book their trip – if you arrive in the morning, there is a good chance your room won’t be ready. Don’t sweat it! We changed into shorts, left our luggage, and enjoyed a wonderful lunch and drinks for 2 hours. No problem! The staff was very courteous.

Rooms We had a junior suite. Nice layout, nice balcony. We had room in the 3rd building, not too far from the lobby. Bathroom was gorgeous! There’s no tub, but that’s clearly advertised when you book, so was not a problem. Now, the shower wasn’t sloped properly and so the water pooled near the door of the shower. I overheard another guest complain about this same problem to the concierge – I’m not sure why bother complaining, it’s not like we have to clean the rooms ourselves. Some people are simply too picky — just put a towel near the door, and the problem is solved! Mini bar was restocked each day, and the maid service was fine.

Had a look at the ‘junior suite swim ups’ and the ‘platinum suites’, just to see what I was missing. My opinion? Not missing much for the extra cost. If I was interested in going ‘luxury class’ I’d go to a different category of resort, rather than spending money upgrading at this one. Before I booked, I seriously considered a ‘swim up’ junior suite, I thought it would be neat. But once I saw them, glad I didn’t. The way this particular hotel is laid out, there isn’t any privacy for those suites, they go right into the main pool. I’ve seen layouts at other hotels with swim-ups, and they seem to do a better job of making those suites in a different section.

Restaurants and Bars Other people doing reviews have complained about the food. We had no problem. I wonder if their expectations are too high for what you are likely to get on a buffet?

Buffet: Good selection of fruits, cheeses, yogurt, cereal etc for breakfast. I understand french toast was a disappointment, but oh well, eat something else! (I don’t eat pancakes etc. for breakfast, so never had a problem). Some people said it was hard to get coffee service in the buffet – I did experience this problem also. Some days, I decided to have my coffee first in the lobby bar, and then go down for breakfast, and this worked much better! Lunch buffet was good, but I must admit it was uninspired. Lots of salads. They always had hot dogs, hamburgers chicken wings etc. Not gourmet food, but certainly quite good. I must admit I often just had the salads and vegetables for lunch, just because I didn’t want to eat all the fried food. But I sure didn’t go hungry!

Dinner: we ate at the a la cartes most nights – 5 nights out of 7. A la carte restauarants are excellent. We ate at the italian twice, the mexican twice, and the fondue (swiss) restaurant once. None disappointed. I advise people to go to as many a la carte restaurants as you can – if you’re like me, you eat more wisely at an a la carte than a buffet! There’s too much on the buffet, and too easy to overeat! slowing down the pace makes you eat more reasonable amounts. When talking about food, you need to think about what you are comparing this resort to. We have been to 5 or 6 all-inclusives in Dominican, Cuba and Mexico. I feel that buffet food is going to be buffet food – don’t expect a gourmet dinner to appear magically from a steam table, it’s not going to happen. Also, don’t expect to compare the food to something you might get on a cruise ship – it’s not going to be as good. Still, there is SO MUCH selection on the buffets I find it very difficult to believe that anyone cannot find some food that they will like. I certainly hope that people don’t centre their entire vacation around food! If so, then I suggest that an all-inclusive is not the right sort of vacation for that, you might be better off on a cruise. There was a strange hotel policy about not serving coffee in any of the restaurants or buffet (except breakfast). I suspect that was so they could keep the tables turning over. That’s the only thing that would have made our dinner nicer, if we could have enjoyed a coffee. But oh well, you CAN go to the bar and have a capuccino! The bars were good, service was good, and I found them quite uncrowded (considering we were there in February, I thought this would be prime time, but the whole resort did not feel crowded to me).

Each night in the plaza after dinner, they served specialty flaming coffees, which was a very nice treat!

Beach/Pools/Grounds The hotel is set very far back from the main highway, so there is no traffic noise (an issue at some other hotels in the area). The corresponding downside is it’s a bit of a trek if you decide you want to hop into a collectivo to go on a trip… FYI, the Princess Riviera and the Princess Sunset are the same resort – the two hotels run parallel to each other on either side of the pool, both stretching toward the beach. We officially booked in the Riviera , but ended up with a room on the Sunset. Don’t let this confuse you, there is no difference. Even though it is a large resort, the layout was simple which is a bonus – you can’t get lost, and it’s actually very easy for us to meet up with our travel companions.

I did not find the beach "small". It’s true that the length of the hotel runs perpendicular to the beach, so the beach is not wide, but it was sure big enough. I also had no problem getting chairs, even later in the day, by the beach. As everyone has said, wear water shoes or sandals in the water. The rocks in the water are rather unavoidable! Two of us had scrapes on our feet the first day (but we learned!)

Pools were large and immaculate. And there was NEVER a problem getting a chair by the pool. Several days I just picked up and moved from one spot to the next, never had a problem finding a spot in sun or shade, depending upon what I wanted. Grounds were beautiful – if a bit modern for my taste. Building is all white, and with the green grass and the mayan cast concrete sculptures lining the pathways, it looked very impressive indeed. A bonus of the hotel design is that all the buildings are connected to each other, and to the lobby and main restaurant area, so on that one day that we had rain, we did not have to get wet to go to the bar or restaurant.

There are beautiful huts/palapas (not sure what to call them) along the lagoon area near the front of the hotel, perfect for reading a book in the morning while waiting for your travelling companions to get up, or for sitting down after dinner just to chat.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Didn’t really look for activities. We went to the shows 2 nights. They were ok, I guess, but don’t expect a lot. Again, my experience at several resorts in several countries is that the entertainment is not going to be that great – again, not like what you might see on a cruise. But that doesn’t bother me, I know what to expect. This hotel is probably no better or worse than any others in this regard. We did go on the combined XelHa/Tulum tour. Paid too much – should have done what we did last year, and just taken a collectivo and gotten our own admission tickets. But the tour was great and I had not been to XelHa before – I could certainly spend more than one day at XelHa. We also took a cab to Playa del Carmen one day. Cab fare for 4 people is $14USD each way, and took about 10-15 minutes depending on traffic.

Other Comments The weather was a bit cooler at night than I expected (clearly this is not the hotel’s fault!) I had a light sweater with me, which was fine, but I do advise at least one pair of long pants and shirt if you’ve not been to this area before, the breeze at night can be a little chilly. Overall the resort was good. We flew direct from Kitchener in February for a price of $1240 per person. It was a very fine hotel, at a good price. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, and I would go again if the price was right. But I preferred the Grand Palladium where we stayed last year – the grounds at the Grand Palladium are just stunning, and it’s so nice to walk around the resort, I sort of miss that at this hotel which was just this straightforward pathway from the lobby to the beach. But if you’ve booked here already, or you’re planning to book here, do not be concerned! You will enjoy the resort, and you will have a good time!

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Aniza ~ Canada

February 2009

Arrival: February 8 – 15
Very hospitable people.The service was great upon arrival.It was nice to see that many of them could speak English.The service was fast and effecient always,whether it was the hotel or the tour.They really take care of you well.

Rooms
The rooms were nice,spacious and very clean.The room service was Great too.Everything had it’s place.

Restaurants and Bars
The choices were endless.If you did not drink alchol they would accomodate you.They will prepare you a drink just the way you like it.The cooks were really nice too.They will always be smiling and always happy to have to there.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The pools were sometimes crowded,but there were many to choose from.The beach was well kept.They always cleaned it in the morning before sunrise.The beach beds were cleaned and ready for use for next day.Hardly any weeds or rocks.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
YES!! We went Para-sailing and also went to see Chenitzia(Pyramids)It was a great experince of a life time.They do pick you and drop you on time stated.Which was great so that you can plan your day well.Hetel very well kept.

Other Comments
Although it rained for 2 days staright in February,never-the-less we had so much fun and really enjoyed the entertainments at night.Every night had a unique show.We had an experince of a life time and we will never forget our stay there.We had in the past year recommended almost more than 50 people that we know about our wonderful experince and have strongly recommended them Princess or Sunset resort for their stay for their next vacation to Mexico.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Alex and Mike ~ Toronto

January 2009

About us: We’re a young couple in our 30s. This is was our first trip to Mexico, our third all-inclusive vacation. We were there in early January, for 7 days.

About the resort: Grand Sirenis is essentially two resorts with common facilities: Riviera Maya and Mayan Beach. We booked through Sunquest, because their rooms are in the newer, more centrally located Riviera Maya. The Mayan Beach section is further from the beach, but looked equally nice.

Structurally, the resort is very imposing, and built with local materials, like marble, granite, wood. Overall the architecture is oversized and very stunning as a result.

This is a large resort, and has a shuttle, but we never used it. We found everything easy to get to on foot. I would not recommend it to anyone for whom mobility is an issue.

One feature of the resort we appreciated was the flora and fauna. When the developers built it, they tried to save the native vegetation and structure the resort to work with what was there. They also saved some of the shrubbery and plants in greenhouses, and replanted them on the resort, around the pool areas and in a nature garden. While the huge concrete buildings strike a contrast with the natural environment, they are like Mayan pyramids rising out of the jungle. Very cool.

Rooms: Our room was in the 1600s, pretty close to the main pool and beach, and with a view of a naturally forested area. We were able to spot some really neat birds from our terrace and had a lot of privacy. The room itself was the most spacious and most tastefully decorated one we’ve ever stayed in at a resort. It had a Jacuzzi tub and a shower with multiple massage heads. Very nice. Only drawback with the room was the humidity. It did smell musty and all our clothes had that damp smell. Fortunately, the bed linens did not smell, so we were able to sleep comfortably. We were expecting a little less humidity with a newer resort. We booked it partly with that in mind.

Pools: The pools are fabulous, and there are 5 of them, including a lazy river and a children’s pool. Two have swim-up bars, and a third is very curvaceous, peaceful, surrounded by natural vegetation. It was where we spent a lot of our time, even though normally we are beach people. The lazy river takes you all around, through some natural areas. If the kids aren’t swimming in it like tadpoles, it can be particularly relaxing. We never had any problems finding chairs by any of the pools or at the beach.

Beach: This area used to be known as Xaac Bay. It was famous for its snorkeling. Huge rocks attract tons of beautiful fish, visible with the naked eye around the shallow areas. It is a snorkeller’s paradise, but not great for swimmers. We brought water shoes (this is key to enjoying the ocean). We ventured in a few times, after discovering the sandiest entry and spot to swim in and it was quite nice to splash around. Sometimes though, we lay on the beach, and swam in the pool. There is also a small Mayan ruin on the beach; it lends the area a sense of authenticity.

Bars: The service is very prompt at all the bars, and staff frequently comes to you on the beach and by the pools. We particularly enjoyed the health bar. It had smoothies with spinach, celery, beets, mixed in with pineapple juice, soy milk, papaya juice, countless delicious combinations. Very refreshing and without the alcohol. Great option if you don’t want to be drunk before noon.

Food: The main buffet feels a bit like a cattle call, because there are a lot of tables and lots of people rushing to get food. We found the service sometimes did not keep up, and trays were not refilled quickly enough. There was always plenty to choose from though, and even if the food was nothing to write home about, it was just fine. We often had lunch at the snack bars and tried to pick the Mexican food, when it was available, because it was always delicious…guacamole, salsas, sauces, all sorts of taco fillings

We had three a la carte meals – Mexican, Mediterranean and Steakhouse.

Mexican – the food was good, traditional. Everyone should try it; you’re in Mexico after all.

Mediterranean – this is mainly a seafood restaurant and it was beyond our expectations. I had the swordfish cooked en papillote and it was to die for, as was the tuna steak, cooked through, but juicy. Highly recommend it.

Steakhouse – there are two steakhouses. We booked the one that pretends to be western style steakhouse and we wish we had gone with the Brazilian steakhouse instead. It might have offered a better experience. Canadians have great steak, so the western steakhouse was bound to disappoint a little.

Entertainment: The Mexican show is the one to see. A couple of the shows are simply awful, while others are mildly entertaining. I’ve been to smaller resorts with remarkably better shows, but the entertainers do work really hard.

Things you should try: the ice cream bar, the coffee shop, the lazy river, the health bar, a walk through the ‘botanical’ gardens, looking our for fish by the rocks, climbing the Mayan ruin.

Overall: We liked this resort a lot because it has a lot of facilities. It’s the type of resort that you could enjoy for a longer stay. We would recommend it, with some caveats. If a great beach is your priority, don’t come here. If clubbing is what you’re after, go to Cancun or Playa del Carmen. This is a very isolated resort. It’s what makes it beautiful. And don’t be afraid of getting out. It’s a short walk to the highway, where you can take a local mini-bus to Playa or Tulum and see other things the Yucatan has to offer. We did and really enjoyed it.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Amanda ~ Canada

January 2009

Arrival: November 16 – November 23 – Was in a group of 5, very quick check in – rooms were to be close to one another…..only 2 were, the other 2 rooms were quite far away (silly as we booked and made this request 7 months prior to trip) – No info given to where things were, or what available

– Bags given to concierge for delivery to rooms (this took nearly 2 hours till bags delivered and had to wait in room…)

Rooms: – Deluxe Junior suite with swim up – was supposed to have "Fruit basket" on arrival (very disappointing dried fruit on a paper plate….did not even eat a single piece the week I was there) – was supposed to have bottle of tequila and liquor on arrival (I had these, 2 other rooms did not) – room was nice but had a musty smell – 2 days in a pipe in the bathroom ceiling started leaking and the bathroom flooded (no one at front desk or maintenance was helpful, they wanted to do work late at night and have me out of room, at this point room smelled like an outhouse) – went to Air Transat office (she was amazing, she got me transferred to a different room, no one from resort helped I packed everything and carried to ‘new’ room, new room had 2 single beds instead of king size…..I didn’t complain as was tired of the grief) – Do not disturb signs hung on doors were ignored, often would wake up to someone knocking at the door and housekeeping coming in while I was still in bed – swim up was disappointing, nothing private about it – no problems with safe as some have earlier reported – poor quality housekeeping (toiletries not replenished, bed made without changing sheets, never reliable time)

Restaurants and Bars:

– not many veg options – buffet is recycled day after day and I was so grateful I didn’t eat meat (some looked pretty discoloured and scary on a particular morning) – got tired of the pasta and sandwiches Iate the entire week – no veg options at Japanese restaurant – restaurants seems to just have alot of similar food that buffet had – not happy with food at all (never been to an all inclusive where I’ve actually lost weight!) – Only saving grave for the bars was Carlos the bartender at the swim up bar (hilarious and fun) – bar in lobby was very inconsistent with service, very slow, often ignored – no real fancy tropical drinks with fruit, just plain stuff – good drinks though

– great capaccino in lobby

Beach/Pools/Grounds: – swim up suite pools really just a moat, nothing private about it – not allowed to go in swim up pool after 8pm, so basically the only time I was in the room I wasn’t allowed to use the swim up pool I paid extra for – grounds were beautiful – did not find resort too big like some have reported, was a lovely resort to walk around while not taking too long to get anywhere – beach was busy but we always seemed to time it right to get chairs – very rocky water, so happy I read review and brought water shoes (cut leg once as rocks were deep in places)

– ocean was amazing with beautiful water

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: – did not go on any tours – took Taxi into Playa, and Cancun – no info really given on activities at the resort had to find things out on your own (so didn’t do much on resort) – no real nightlife to speak of

Other Comments: – this resort was in my opinion not a 5 star – I would say it was like 3 and a half stars – staff of resort do not speak much english so had a difficult time (this lead to the feeling that you just had to fend for yourself, no help) – I would maybe give this resort a try in another couple of years once it has had the opportunity to improve – tried to remember I was on holidays and not let things bug me, but there were so many challenges it was difficult – room service food very poor (only ordered once and not again, long time for delivery, cold food, disgusting) – floors SOOOO slippery throughout entire resort (had a few almost falls)

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Marc ~ Canada

December 2008

Arrival: Dec 4 to Dec 11 of 2008
We checked-in at the main counter and there were no lineups. The girl there gave us a map of the resort and highlighted the main areas we needed to know about such as the restaurants and the building where our room was. She then put a bracelet around our wrists and said that our rooms won’t be ready until 3:00 pm (which is the usual time that rooms get ready here). We welcomed the news because we really wanted some time to walk through the resort to introduce ourselves to it. We proceeded to get a drink (I never drank so much alcohol in my life) and started the tour. We left our baggage with the bell boy at the main lobby and he was supposed to send it to the room when it got ready. The place is very safe and the staff are marvelously joyful and respectful.

Rooms:
We had booked the Platinum suite which is definitely worth the extra cost. Our 7-day stay in the Platinum cost us around $1420 canadian dollars per person taxes in (At this time the Canadian dollar was equal to 80 cents US). We booked through canadatravels.com (no need for an agent). When we booked we requested a beach view (not on first floor) and it was no problem getting it. The floors in the room are slippery when wet but that’s what you would expect from marble floors! The room was beautiful and up to our expectations. The view of the beach from the balcony was stunning, and yes there is a jacuzzi on the balcony as well as in the bathroom. We had a full alcohol mini bar in the room and the fridge was stocked with a few soft drinks and water which were restocked daily except for one day when the maid forgot to restock it. The shower stall had a problem leaking water from under the stall walls into the adjacent toilet and sink areas but we were told by the concierge that this is a problem with all the units. We solved the problem by placing towels on the floors. Another solution to the problem is to turn down the water pressure a little. Both solutions worked perfectly well (no big deal). The bed was very comfortable and the pillows were good but I needed softer pillows than what was provided. To solve this problem I asked the conceirge to show me the pillow menu (yes they have a menu for of 3 different kinds of pillows). I requested the regular shape pillow with goose feathers. Man that was such a soft pillow (I wish I could take it home). The TV is flat screen but not high definition and had 26 channels with about 5 channels in english. Channels 27 to 32 have soft romantic music on them which was soothing at night. Make sure you turn off the alarm clock before you go to bed the first night because in all likelyhood it will go off early in the morning next day when you least expect it (at first I thought it was the fire alarm when I heard it at 5:00 am). The double sinks are very nice and practical! . The jacuzzi works fine but just make sure you give it a quick wipe with a detergent of some kind (I am very finiky about other people’s dirt being left behind). I did not like the awkwardness of the placement of the light switches in the room but we figured it out.

Restaurants and Bars:
the buffet restaurants were ok (similar to high end chinese buffet restaurants). The a-la-carte restaurants are also ok but I would not go to the Italian one since I do not like veal and all they had on the menu was veal and pizza. The pizza was not good either. If I would do it again I would go to the mexican a-la-carte restaurant called La Hacienda because they had the best fajitas I had ever eaten.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The beach was reasonably clean of some small rocks but going into the water a little rocky and my water shoes were very helpful in this regard. There is not enough beach chairs in the shade for everyone but the platinum suites have a reserved area blocked off by a rope. The platinum exclusive pool was really nice to stay away from the other crowded pools where kids play (I don’t like kids too much). The grounds of the resort were very clean and there is a shuttle to transport us from the platinum building to the rest of the resort.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We bought the Coba excursion package for $119 USD per person. It lasted from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. We had fun but the tallest ruin in Coba was the only attraction compared to the many ruins available in Tulum or Chichen Itza. I would not pay $119 next time because it should have been worth no more than $60 per person.

Other Comments: We had an open mind coming to the resort and our expectations were met or exceeded.

couca1@yahoo.com

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Catherine ~ Canada

December 2008

Arrival: April 2008
Great, we’ve travelled in the area multiple times before so finding the shuttles was easy. There are people who will show you to your shuttle if you don’t know where it is, but they will of course expect a tip for taking your bags. Once at the hotel check-in was quick, our bags were taken to our room about 15 minutes later. The hotel is beautiful and the walk is totally fine if you aren’t extremely lazy.

Rooms:
The rooms are also very nice, I stayed in a standard room with two beds. It was cleaned well every day. We never had any issues with things being stolen from the room The bathroom is great, lots of counter space which you don’t usually find in hotels. All rooms have double sinks which is another plus you don’t usually find in Mexico. The air conditioning was awesome, it actually worked and got the room extremely cold if you wanted, unlike the mini-fridges which only kept things from getting hot (the same as other resorts). We didn’t have any issues at all with mosquitos, and I’m not just saying that because I’m used to them in Canada. All in all awesome rooms!

Restaurants and Bars:
The buffets were better that other resorts I’ve stayed at in the Mayan Riviera. They are very large, certain things are always there like salads, hot dogs, hamburgers ect. but there were new things almost everyday. The Mexican al a carte restaurant was the best!! The tomato tortilla soup was amazing, for the main course you choose what kind of tortillas you want and you get to make it yourself. In the mexican restaurant they also have the BEST margaritas (we had the mango). The Japanese restaurant wasn’t great, but better than expected in Mexico. I wouldn’t recommend the seafood. Italian was pretty good. The bars were fun, and the servers are great. They are under staffed, but even when they’re stressed they have a big smile on their face. The pool bars are also alot of fun.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The grounds are gorgeous, there were constantly workers manicuring. I really enjoyed how large the resort was because you could pick where to go depending on the scene you wanted. For example if you wanted to get drunk by the pool you could go to the ‘party pool’ where there was music and games going on. Or if you wanted to relax you could go further to the beach. The pools were awesome, it’s really one large pool that continues around the resort.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We had travelled in the area many times before so we didn’t do many tours. We did do one on a catamaran that was way too much fun! We went to the shows at night which were a good way to pass the time between dinner and the disco. It as also a good time to meet others at the resort. The disco was fun, some nigts it was packed with young people, other nights it was the 50 year olds. The disco all in all was a fun environment and the activity crew were there every night to get the party started.

Other Comments: Great hotel, going back soon and I can’t wait! Fun for everyone!

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Sandy ~ Edmonton, Alberta

November 2008

Arrival and Flight: We flew first class (a one time treat) with Air Transat, flight was early arriving at 3:00 p.m., we zipped through customs and were checked in and in our room by 5:00 p.m.

Rooms: We had the junior deluxe room, which was adequate. We were in 3134 which was right across from the buffet and very close to the beach. Our lady that cleaned our room everyday was absolutley fabulous!!!

Restaurants: We aren’t big on the ala cartes at any of the resorts we have stayed at, although we did try the fondue and the sea food. We disliked them both. I found the food at the buffets quite good and there was a good variety, it would have been excellent if it was hot!!!!! The resort was very short staffed and it showed. We found that tipping didn’t help as they were too busy to even acknowledge who they were serving.

Bars: We did use the pool bar during the day and the lounge area in the lobby in the evening. We found service for the most part was good, like anywere else if they were busy you had to wait a little longer……order two drinks instead of one.

Beach and Pools: You had to be up early to reserve your piece of the pie if you wanted a particular spot to lounge for the day. We were marking our territory by 8:00 a.m. everyday. All areas were extremely busy while we were there. The beach area itself was nice, but the water was VERY rocky. You really did need water shoes. We had water shoes but still stayed out of the water.

Grounds: Grounds were very nice and well manicured. They seemed to have a lot of ground keeping staff…….mmmm do you think they could promote them to restaurant help.

Activities and Entertainment: We didn’t partake in either.

Tours: This was our 7th or 8th time visiting the area so we didn’t take any tours this time. Best Day on the Riviera side offered bus service into Play del Carmen daily, or you could cab it for $13.00 to $15.00 each way.

Departure and Check Out: Check out was a breeze.

Conclusion: We found that the hotel was too big and too busy. Lots of families with small children. If you are looking for a more adult setting, this isn’t the place. Right now I wouldn’t consider this resort a 5 star, they are still working out all the bugs. They desperatley need more service staff. We would not return to this hotel again.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   David, Cathy, Rachel & Michelle ~ Toronto Canada

June 2008

The Real Truth and Nothing but.

I, like many others, started to get addicted to reading all these reviews on TA, esp the negative ones. This hotel is a solid 7 -7.5 out of 10. So stop worrying unless you are a perfectionist. But this may vary according to the type of person you are.

The resort was 80% American and prob 10% Canadian & 10% other during my stay.

You had various types of people there. You could group people into:

  1. Family & Large Groups – pleasant – the odd rowdy/screaming parent

  2. Young Couples – pleasant and quiet

  3. Spring breaker types – loved to drink and hang out by the swim up bar

  4. 50 yr old spring breaker types – same as 3 above but more abnoctious

  5. Older couples – cruise ship type people expecting a 5 * Hawaii/Arizona resort service and food for Mexican price (be realistic – the price of your 7 day trip is prob equiv to 1-2 days at those other places. So if you can’t expect the same)

  6. Other naïve travelers who will complain about everything thinking this was the Ritz.(5*in mexico does not = 5* in US – comprende?)

Given this breakdown, you can see how you get so many different opinions and expectations.

As for me, I’ve been all over the world and have been to 10 AI down south (including Iberostar/Gran Bahia/Riu/Gran Sirenis/Occidental X Caret/ Grand Playdium). I would benchmark this resort in the same category except for some service issues and small issues. No resort is perfect and this will also depend on the luck of the draw. So I’m not complaining about the GRP given the price I paid due to its lower intro pricing – you shouldn’t complain. It was by far one of the most inexpensive trips so a good bargain if you are willing to live with a few small issues here and there. To me, I can live with a few small issues if it saves me hundreds if not thousands. Others may not.

PROS

  • Got upgraded from jr. suite to jr. deluxe suite. Room 6274 (3rd floor) can see ocean in distance. I did send email prior to arriving with my requests

  • Booked a la cartes in advance via email. Managed to snag 5 reservations all around 7pm. Less worries than having to line up at 9am upon arriving

  • Amazing grounds esp the courtyard at night. Marble/granite everywhere

  • Endless pools – various – party and quieter ones – all around 4 ft deep some shallow ones with sloping entry for kids. There’s a few kiddie pools too. No loud music at the pools except the party pool.

  • Tons of lounges. If you were out after 10am no loungers in shade

  • No towel card system – just sign for it but they never reconcile it

  • Endless and wide beach. Some rocks in the water but if you can avoid them, there are vast patches of nice sand only 2-3ft high where you can ride the waves. Hint: enter the water adjacent to the beach bar and you don’t even need water shoes! I would still advise you to wear some. Water is clear and warm in the sandy areas.

  • Pretty good food at beach buffet (breakfast/lunch): Good fish filets/flank steak/chicken breast/smoke salmon/al dente pasta with congac, good crème soups, – excellent assortment of desserts –flan/pecan clusters/real cream on cakes(good quality) and ice cream (but often melted). Awful pizzas. It was amazing how much each guest can pile on their plate. No wonder some got tired of the food over the week, given they sampled every items every meal.

  • Premium liquor everywhere – Corona even in room

  • Air conditioner Theatre! Usually sweating watching a show in other resorts

  • Professional type shows especially – circus one on Sat night and variety show on Monday night. Thur Mexican was ok – like a mini X Caret show. Animation team shows on Wed/Fri not as good. Good thing is they didn’t have the pre show games like other resorts.

  • Good courtyard nightly entertainment at 8pm – fire dancing/juggling and good band playing thru out the night. The courtyard was like a meeting place – like a Grand plaza.

  • Very good kids disco every night at 8pm

  • Excellent kids club – even have it at night from 7- 11pm (lots of stuff indoor like 5 PS3/Large theatre/mini pool table/mini fuseball/ping pong etc….) Reg kids club is from 10-5pm

  • Free shuttle to Playa de Carmen leaving 10/11/12/1 returning 11:30/12;30/1:30 and 6:00. Can only book 1 day in advance from the Best Travel guy on Riveria side.

  • Beautiful comtempory décor rooms with LCD TV. Nice double sink bathroom and good water pressure shower with rainfall head, quiet and big Jacuzzi tub.

  • Bar service on beach/theatre/pools with waitresses. Be patient.

CONS

  • Some rude staff – eg. sports bartenders – ignore you and when you ask them, they just say no more even though there was more (eg popcorn or food)

  • Front desk not knowledgeable. Upon checking in, the guy refused to accept my e confirmation hotel voucher and said he needed my visa card – I said no way and complained and showed that another guest had checked in with same. This was a ½ hour ordeal and he made it seem like he was doing me a favor at the end.

  • Shower did leak to toilet but just put towel on floor in toilet. No biggy

  • Safe’s sticker was ½ off. I had brought crazy glue with me and sealed that sucker up

  • Too many times they ran out of beach towels. Favorite saying “come back in 1 hr”

  • Food sometimes undercooked (fish/chicken/burgers)

  • Awful pizza at buffets – looks and taste like frozen one

  • Poor service and no replenishing of food at Main buffets (Sunset/Riveria)

  • No theme nights for dinner buffet so same food everyday

  • Only 2 working computers for 3000 guests. Also no more free Wi Fi

  • Beach bar could get busy during prime time and only 1 bartender as other is serving waited service. Mixed drinks are not as good at the beach bar as they are too rushed to make a good drink.

FOOD:

BUFFET:

Stay away from the main buffets on both sides if you can. Poor service and poorer quality food and slow to replenish items.

The best is to go to the beach buffets for breakfast & lunch. Better service, better food, and fresher food and much nicer atmosphere as opposed to those dark main ones. Of course you may not have the option if you don’t have dinner a la cartes as only the mains are open at night. The lunch buffet sometimes seemed to have a better selection from the main. The main had the same food everyday and 1/3 of the hot food was always hot tamales and some other Mexican stuff and some dried up pig/fish.  Be careful some food is undercooked. Saw chicken stew which looked good but the meat was all red. I’ve seen fish and burgers undercooked also at the buffet. Poor food handling sometimes at the grill as I saw a young cook at the beach buffet touch raw meat with a utensil then pick up cooked meats with the same utensil.

Breakfast Buffet is your regular stuff – breads are good. Sometime procuitto, lots of cheeses & cold cuts. Omelettes are good. Could be long line up depending on your timing. Lots of Mango/papayas/and other fruits. Fresh juices are not watered down – it’s the real juice. Sometime they have champagne & OJ at the door. Cappacinos are good but try to have them make if from scratch as opposed to using the machine – both are good.

Lunch Buffet is extensive for an AI. Always every meat group – porkchops/salmon filet/seabass filet/flank steak/good pasta/nicely cooked veggies (not mushy)/burg/fries/good crème soups

A LA CARTES:

Ate at 5 a la cartes. As I mentioned above, I managed to book them even before arriving to the resort. This is truly great to be able to do this. Not sure if they will do this if everyone starts doing it. I dreaded going to main buffet dinner so wanted to make as many a la cartes. Décor of all the restaurants were bland – big room without any atomosphere. Note: there is a supplementary charge of $25/pp for the Japanese/Seafood if you are staying in the jr. suite. They waived it for me.

1. International (10 out of 10)

Good place – portions are small but sufficient. But if you are use to having 3 plates at the buffet, it may not be sufficient for you.

Appetizer – salmon/tuna gelatin (good), shrimp salsa, cod salad Soup – crème of pumpkin (good), seafood soup (excellent)

Main – Filet Mignon & Choc soufflé (perfectly done), Redsnapper with mushroom (excellent), seabass with green olvie paste (great)

2. Seafood (9 out of 10)

Huge portions but Giant prawns although impressive looking were mushy

Appetizer – cod with salad; prawn/shrimp/mussel; guacamole with shrimp Soup – amazing seafood bisque – with giant prawn/shrimp/mussel/clam Main – grill for 2 (fish filet/3 prawns/shrimp/octopus) –tons of food Platter #1  – fish filet/tons of fresh scallops/giant prawn/claim gratin (excellent)

Platter #2 – fish fillet/prawns/shrimps

Everything was perfectly cooked. Very rare to come by as most places overcook seafood.

Italian (10 out of 10)

Excellent meal. Good service & food.

Appetizer – beef carpaccio (yummy), shrimps salad, mushroom/tomato bruchetta Soup – Shrimp lobster bisque (excellent)

Main – 2 veal tenderloins steak (great), seafood risotto (tons of seafood), penne in pesto sauce (al dente) – perfect

Asian (not teppanyaki) (2 out of 10)

Sushi: 3 pc of raw rice sushi rolls (yuck). Would be ok if not raw rice Appetizer: 2 noodle spring rolls (yummy) Soup – spicey egg drop soup, or strange wonton soup (not too exciting) Main – Phai Thai – Awful mush Sweet & Sour Pork (hard boiled chunk of pork) Beef stir fry – dried out shreds of meat

Crunchy Turkey Breast – dried out battered meat (Mac Donald’s chicken nuggets tasted better)

Went to buffet after as didn’t touch entrees. Don’t forgot SAKE if you dare eat there.

Grill (3out of 10)

Appetizer: Salsa fish; cold chicken cesar (gross) Soup – fishy seafood soup (unlike Seafood restaurant), Ok crème of oxtail soup

Main – Awful hunk of dried out pork rib/shank; Raw tiny chicken – actually taste ok but raw, Gross Grilled platter (beef/pork/rabbit/lamb/sausage).

Went to buffet after – barely ate entrée.

Overall,  3 out of 5 A LA CARTES were EXCELLENT and 2 DISASTEROUS. At least you had the buffet to fall back on.

Mosquitos:

A few got in the room but no biggy. Killed them before sleeping. They are usually in the bathroom or drape or closet (dark/damp). Just keep your door closed and request a 2/3rd story room. If you get a first floor room your chances are higher as there are fountains in every building with often stagnant water. Never got a bite even around the resort. Will also depend on season

Dismissing others neg comment:

  • Walk from lobby to beach is 10min. If you are mid way then 5 min to either end.

  • Food is awful. Do the buffet 101 – if it doesn’t look appetizing or it’s cold don’t take it. Wait for the hot ones. Remember also this is not the USA. It’s Mexico.

  • Limited choice at buffet– Don’t take all 100 items at once and you won’t get bored.

  • Not a 5 star place. Sure service is sometime rough around the edge. But how can you complain when you are paying around $100 per day including airfare all your drinks and 3 meals. You trying doing that in the USA/Cda!!! Remember this is not a cruise ship or the Ritz. The things “offered” are no different from other Mayan resorts. Platinum also doesn’t mean you are KINGS/QUEENS.

  • I can’t get a drink. Line up and chill out. If you see a big line up, wait til it dies down and then go. You won’t die of thirst.

  • Workmanship of the resort is poor. You are in a 3rd world and this is how it is. So what if the tiles are not lined up or the marble is not perfectly square. This is how it is even in Hong Kong when you pay $400 a night.

OVERALL, Good vacation, nice resort at an amazing price. If you are not one of those people to have the odd thing go wrong, go elsewhere or stay in your own country. Remember you are in a 3rd world country and more importantly remember how much you PAID before complaining!!! This place is a 4-4 ½ star in my opinion which is not bad.

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

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Laurie & Troy ~ Waco, Texas

June 2008

Arrival and Flight
We had travel e-documents with all the vital information including directions to the correct terminal and allowed 2 extra hours in addition to the 2 ½ hrs recommended, but when we arrived at the terminal to park the attendant told us we needed to go to the main terminal, and after calling the 800 number on the e travel document from the travel agency, they confirmed this and we headed to the main terminal which was wrong. So after two hours and paying for parking at the main terminal which they would not refund, we arrived back at the correct terminal that we started off at.

Rooms
We arrived at our room right at dark and no one bothered to tell us you have to insert the card in the switch to operate the lights, luckily we had a flashlight which we located and discovered how the lights worked. Were hot and sweaty, so jumped in the shower to cool off and there was long hair all in the shower and on the floor in the room. We called to have it taken care of, and went to eat in the bufett, when we walked around and scoped everything out, and returned to the room to get some sleep, it had not been taken care of, so I went to the concierge and told him the next morning. They did clean the floors when the room was cleaned that second day. The room was cool, and a little musty, but to be expected on the ocean. Toiletries were plentiful, and overall, the room was comfortable.

Restaurants
Buffet for dinner was a one time only experience, dinner reservations were all booked for any of the restaurants we wanted after getting in line at 9:10 and waiting for an hour and 15 minutes, so we took the grill and then just showed up at the restaurant we wanted to try at 6 and told them we would wait for no shows. The restaurant would be less the 25% full, and they would always say it was full, but we said we would wait and got seated at each restaurant. Breakfast in the buffet by the beach was the best experience as it was cleaner and the food was better than the Sunset or Riveria buffet.

Bars
My favorite was the swim up bar in the pool that had the afternoon activities. Corona draft was the only beer offered at any bar and Modelo in the can in the room, limited to two per day. Bar on the beach was fun, and an attendant came by every once in a while.

Beach and Pools
Went for the white sand and blue water. Was real rocky and luckily took water shoes. Water wasn’t very clear until you got out to the roped areas you can’t go beyond. Used the snorkeling gear the hotel lets you use for an hour and saw some fish and coral which we enjoyed.

Grounds
Always maintenance cleaning and maintaining the grounds. Beautiful and great for pictures.

Activities and Entertainment
We didn’t obtain a schedule of activities till the next to last day, so pretty much just did our own thing. Check in gave us no information on the activities or the hotel, very uninformed, had to find out from other guests who were at the end of their stay and had to figure out on their own.

Tours
Took a shuttle to Playa de Carmen, enjoyed the shopping.

Departure and Check Out
Smoothest thing about the whole trip. Our shuttle to the airport was provided by Funjet and Lomas travel and they provided us the most information we got on the entire trip.

Conclusion Beautiful resort, but if you don’t go platinum, don’t expect any thing but the basic you would get from a 3 or 4 star hotel. Talked to many people and 4 out of 5 said they would not book there again, including us. Hotel was very informative and relied on guests to tell us what we need to know.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Christina

May 2008

This was our very first vacation outside of Canada. We went April 17-26, booked through Air Transat, and had an incredible time!

As this was a new experience, we didn’t know what to compare it to, however I have been diligently reading the reviews on this site (which by the way I have found very very helpful!)

When we booked, we knew it was a new Resort, so right there we knew to expect some things that werent most desirable…but we did get it cheaper then normal because of that…

So here is what I have to say about our experience:

Arrival: We got there in the morning around 8:30ish…it was fairly busy, naturally as it was a Friday and a lot of people travel that day. We stood in line for a bit and were served right away. Our room wasn’t to be ready until 11 am. We tipped in hopes to get a decent room. We were free to explore until then…they watched our stuff at the front, not the safest, however we had locks on our luggage, so it wasn’t too concerning.

We ended up getting our room right on time. There was construction behind us, which we didn’t quite like because there is construction behind our home right now as well. The second day, we weent to have a nap in the afternoon and the construction was loud! We then went to the front desk to request a room change…didn’t care where…he said to come back tomorrow around 11 and it will be ready. We came back the next day at 11…all packed up and ready to move. The room wasn’t ready…we were angry, but pursued and spoke with the manager. We explained our dilemma and were nice and down to earth with him. He promised the next day we would get a new room. We were on an excursion the next day so we werent able to get back until night…we did, there was a bit of confusion and run around, but persistence and politeness (firm) were helpful. We ended up getting our room and an ocean view at that! So we were pleased.

Rooms: They are beautiful! We had our room cleaned/stocked every day…we tipped well and she did well. Always stocked. Our travel company told us if we wanted something, to show them. Also, if the cleaning staff say "yea yea yea" when you talk to them…they have no idea what you are talking about so don’t leave it at that that they will do it! Very true. Just point to things and be clear and simple and they get it.

We never had any troubles with our room. Mosquitoes…I was prepared for tones…NONE! We kept our screen closed all the time, but often sat outside on the balcony…still afraid of them, we covered the light outside with a towel…the only thing that came of that was a small lizard scurrying out of the light scaring the bajeebers out of me!! Check the lights!! We also spent quite a bit of time in the huts around and no bugs! I had so much spray just in case, and I think we used it one night!! We did see them spraying at night at random parts of the resort…so we just made sure to stay away from those areas when they were doing that. The safe looked fine…we read that they werent that safe, so I brought luggage locks and just locked up my stuff in a small suitcase every day before leaving…cash, passport etc. Im sure you could risk it though.

Bars: They were good. The pool bars were the best. They were fairly fast, knew what you wanted and remembered you if you went back often…Tones of pool bars, lots of variety. The BEST one was what we called the tequila bar…Jeorge was the tender there and he was fantastic!! The best ever! I believe someone wrote about him on this site, and everything that they said about him was true! Also it was the funniest bar at night!!! Closed too early, but we met so many people there. We became regulars! The disco wasn’t for us however, according to some people we talked to some nights it was fun, filled with people and other nights it was dead in there.

Activities: The resort had a lot of activities there, we never did any, but there were lots of people who did. The additional excursions you can book either through your travel company (they recommend), the one in the resort, or yourself. Depending on how comfortable you are with that. Being that this was our first time, we went through the travel company, but next time we think we might try doing it ourselves as we can save some money this way.

Staff: Generally they are good. No matter where you go, you will be bound to run into less desirable people…for the most part, if you are nice and respectful, you will be treated well. You do have to be firm when requesting things like a room change, but still polite. We found that persistence goes a long way…bug them…we ordered room service one night to have some stuff ready for breakfast since our tour bus was leaving at 6:45 am(Buffets start at 7 am)…worried it wouldn’t come, we had some stuff to come that night and some stuff to come in the morning. We waited forever at night…called several times with no avail…gave up completely. However, breakfast and our to-go lunches were there first thing in the morning on the dot!! Platinum is better. We didn’t have it but became friends with people who did. You get private beach areas, private bars and all that stuff. They still have to wait and still have to be early for the good spots, but it is adventurous for the most part. Even after, we discussed the worth of the upgrade versus the cost and if you arent that picky, have patience and don’t mind being an average Joe, its not worth the money. I found the staff for platinum were fluent in English, but I didn’t find the rest of the resort staff under fluent. Sure some were better then others, but everyone we came into contact with seemed to speak English to some extent. Cleaning staff was great, buffet staff were great, bar staff great…no complaints.

Beaches: I read on this site previous to our trip to take water shoes. WE DID! There are parts that are good, but right when you get in, its rough. I did forget my shoes once or twice, and I was ok. Once you get past the first little part, its sandy. Bringing water shoes wouldn’t hurt though and I am sure glad we read that in advance. There are tones of pools though, so unless you are planning on spending lots of time at the beach, im sure you will be fine. Spots on the beach…if you want a shaded area on the beach or even a nice place at the pool…wake up early and reserve your spot! We didn’t at first and we never got a good spot most of the time. Many days we were on excursions, so It didn’t initially bother us. Towards the end (specifically the last day) we were fed up that towels and rocks had a better spot then we ever did, so we became jerks (that’s what I felt like) and woke up early, saved a spot at the beach and then went back to bed. There were quite a few people out there at 6 am doing the same thing!! It is terrible, but if you want the spot, you have to play the game. They have games on the beach and people come around with drinks…not as often as some people would like, but seriously getting up to go get a drink isnt that big of a deal! They will bring a drink and a water. The massage on the beach…wow! Loved it!! Great experience! Advise: go as soon as you get there because if you get too much sun a nice massage becomes painful if you are burning!

General info: Yes, there were lots of Canadians there…specifically Albertans. We didn’t mind because they are super friendly! We met people from America, all over Canada, and some Europeans…and from our experience, the Americans and Canadians were great, but we could have definitely went without the Europeans! Most we came across were rude and loud! Im sure they all arent like that, but the ones we came across were.

Hockey fans?? If so, don’t except to see any games in the sports bar! They don’t have the feed. Calgary was in the play offs and many people were upset when they couldn’t watch game 6!! So much that the resort arranged a free bus ride (2 busses!!) to Playa Del Carmen to watch game 7!! They were full!!

Walking!!! Yes, there was lots of walking!! You have to make due. There is a driver that goes by…sometimes we would catch a ride…we were down near the beach. There were 2 buffets at that end. Anything else, we had to head to the other end…it’s a nice walk, we werent in a hurry since we were on vacation, so it wasn’t bad! Plus we likely lost some weight, and after all those crevasses, lord knows we needed it! 🙂

As I mentioned, hardly any bugs!! So I don’t have much on that. I seen people that looked like they had bits, and after reading about potential bed bugs…its likely. We were fortunate enough not to have to experience it though. We always were treated well at the buffets…food was ok, but I couldn’t imagine eating it for more then a week. I was glad to get home and eat more familiar tasting food. Even though it was the same, it all tasted different…even simple things! I ate well though and both of us are very picky…so again it is what you make it. The sports bar does have hot dogs and nachos…they are not that bad sometimes…and when you are hungary, its better then nothing!!

Making reservations for Ala Cart…we walked up there, between the times we were told to, went to one and was able to book for all three right there. There was a mix up at the Fondu one once we got there, but keep your chit, be persistent and make them check…they did, apologized and we were in. They are all understaffed there…and if you can appreciate that from our economy, it makes things hard!! They have the room in the restraints, but not the staff…if you think the service is rough now, imagine if they tried to fill the place!! They all work hard, its not the most desirable job, working those hours (we seen some guy work the bar all night and he was still there in the day time…) so its normal to try and talk and have some fun at work…Its important to remember that you are on vacation…relax, take things with a grain of salt and your vacation will be what you make of it. I am sure we could have complained about lots of things, but we would have been miserable. It’s a new resort…bottom line, there are things to be worked out. If you don’t like it, I would recommend going somewhere more established.

We booked through Air Transat…the flight was BAD…small and cramped and my man isnt a small man! It was 5 hours of dread for him, but we made it! As for the rest from Air Transat…awesome! They were great, had an office in the resort, the staff was always around if you needed them and they were super fantastic when booking our excursions! Orientation was super helpful, fast and informative!! There were some weddings there, and they looked amazing! We met several people there getting married and they had nothing but good things to say about their experience! So much so, we want to get married there!

So to sum it up…we had a great time! I love this place and would definitely come back again…I know it is only going to get better and better as time goes on…so unfortunately I wont be able to come back as the price is likely going to reflect this! Kidding! Again, it is what you make of it. You are in Mexico, on vacation…relax, kick back and have a great time!

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Mari

May 2008

Everything was great at the hotel except for the telephone charges. I was charged for CAD$34.57 for just not even one minute calling from the pay telephone using my VISA card. The pay phone is located on the side of the Riviera Lobby. It is really ridiculous for the rate. I called Visa company and they told me that the pay phones services are provided by some company in England. After calling the 1-800 number written on the Visa statement, I had no choice but have to except the truth. They charge you for a minimum of 4 and a half minutes, and the rate is $5 (CAD) up to $15 per minutes. It is a rip off.

That’s my only bad experience for this trip. I suggest all travellers should be aware of the rate before making any call.

Good Luck

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Travis ~ Edmonton Alberta

April 2008

This hotel should have been called the Grand Riviera Disaster. If you like to hangout with fellow Canadians and swat mosquitoes, just like back home, this is the hotel for you! It is far larger than I could ever have imagined. This makes West Edmonton Mall look small, not kidding here. From the front desk to the water is at least 1km. The buffets are at either end of the complex so plan to do lots of walking to eat and drink.

My wife and I took our 9 month old son to this hotel March 27- April 03. We returned in complete dismay and almost at a loss for words. We tried for days prior to leaving to contact the front desk to ask about renting a crib for our son. We finally got an answer when we were directed to their head office in SPAIN. We should have known.

My wife is in a cast with a broken ankle and immobile, and carting our infant son around didn’t help matters any. Front desk staff were totally unhelpful, in getting us a room closer to the pools or the buffets. I was asked to return to the front desk twice a day and ask about a room change, for 5 consecutive days, until I finally asked to speak to a manager, at which point the clerk told me he was the manager. This was a flat out lie I found out later. With 1300+ rooms there had to be SOME options, they didn’t find a new room for us until our 6th day. One of the reviews sent in by "Dan" was huge and great, but said he tipped those staff who he needed things from and got it, this didn’t work for me at all. $100USD did not get me a room for 2 days. Waitresses at the pools would take your $10 or even $20 and not return for an hour. Ugh. I lost weight on this trip walking the 1/2km to the bar for drinks. This hotel provides you with four 500ml bottles of water a day, in your room, no more. And good old tap water at the bar only. Ugh. You can however buy bottled water at the gift shop.

We saw the reviews about the mosquitoes, and were diligent about windows and doors, and brought our Deet just in case. We were upset when we returned to see the cleaning staff with the door propped open, and a new dozen mosquitoes welcomed in each afternoon. The 6pm mosquito swatting became part of our routine. We realized that this hotel has beautiful ponds which sometime soon will have circulation systems moving the water around, reducing the number of bugs. Until that time they have a wonderful mosquito haven!

The staff at the buffets are not overworked that we was, We watched carefully and they spend as much time chatting with clients as they do working. The food in the buffets was fine but we had much higher expectations at a five star hotels buffet, our mistake.

But things got worse. My wife and I kept waking up with bites on our legs. Thinking we had been bit near the water and didn’t notice. Some people call them "no-see-ums". We realized when we got home and did a little checking we had bed bug bites. This hotel doesn’t change the sheets each day, they just remake the beds….My sister and brother stayed in the Platinum suits the more expensive part of the hotel and they both had bed bug bites and problems with mosquitoes as well. This is the ONLY part of this hotel to stay in. The extra $500 for the week was well worth it, bugs or not, and they had staff to aid them at every turn.

Probably the most constant problem with this hotel was the lack of anyone who was fully bilingual to help you understand how they did things and how to actually get things. The a’la carts were a good example. I was informed by a good fellow who was just leaving from Nova Scotia that I should go immediately at 7:45am and wait in line to make ALL my reservations for the week or I would have no chance in getting seats when I wanted them.

We saw 3 couples get turned away with a reservation chit in their hand. Staff said they were sorry, but the restaurant was over-booked. We found out later that the Platinum suites Concerge can over ride the system to get those patrons what and when they wanted it. I let the sister book everything from that point on, using her Platnuim concierg

The LAST morning we were there, sitting outside our new Platinum suite, beside our Platinum pool we watched an actual manager arrive, tall good looking fellow, very well dressed, great Italian shoes. He cracked the whip and the staff finally started scrambling. Things got cleaned, organized, restocked, and wow did it make a difference.

Lastly our Skyservice rep Ulisies, who was very friendly when we met with him on day 2 to discuss activities we could do in the area, failed to show for the next 5 days. He did not post anything in his company binder for 7 days (Mar 28-Apr 03) and we were left to guess when our transfer would be ready and if our plane was on time. We were scrambling when our transfer arrived 5 hours before our flight and we weren’t done packing.

On the other side of the coin, everything we did away from the hotel was AWESOME. Playa del Carmen was OK, the tourist area by the ferries was awesome. We had a magical day in Cosumel and caught 2 huge sailfish (92", 180lbs) and played golf at the Mayakoka (PGA quality).

We have never been so happy to get home before, and will tell everyone who will listen to have this hotel’s 5 star status revolked! 3.5 at best, which we paid $4500 for…?????

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   DM

March 2008

Booked through Air Canada Vacations – the flights there & back were on time.

The resort is great – Mayan ambiance, nice location on a beautiful beach away from busy spots and airports.

Check-in was easy & took about 15 minutes because we arrived by ourselves (rather than with a busload of guests). There is no welcome with cold towel or cocktails – but that’s ok. The lobby bar was open and we were able to get drinks whilst checking in.

Rooms: Our first room in Platinum suites was smelly (bad plumbing), we moved to nicer room on the 2nd floor with an ocean view. Who ever designed the bathrooms should be fired. Its true, the bathrooms flood after a shower, you need towels around the shower stall. Also, many things promised on the brochure don’t happen, even if you ask (like bottles of liquor in rooms, re-stocking of room fridges, your complimentary bottle of tequila. renewal of vows, etc.). Don’t use the safe – its easy to open with a simple screwdriver. We kept our valuables (passports, cash, cards with us always). I did have our two new sets of snorkeling equipment stolen (most likely by a guest, not hotel employee) – a bummer because we had booked snorkeling for the next day.

The beach and pools get busy, people reserve the beach chairs early (6:30AM) by placing towels, books or slippers. However many do not show up till much later in the day. We just moved the stuff and used the beach chairs. If they show up, you can move, but most people just took their stuff and moved to another chair. I mean we all pay quite a bit of money for this vacation – not to see a slipper enjoying the premium spots on the beach! That is my advice – it worked great for us. There are some ladies topless, but we (with kids) found that more humorous than offensive.

The beach is very nice but (as noted by others) rocky so you do really need the beach shoes ($6 from Walmart, Target or Zellers).

Food: The buffet restaurants are decent, but exactly same food every day. The ala cartes are difficult to get into – and we booked as soon as we got there. We did get the Fondue (grilled meats & veggies were good, cheese is so-so), Mexican (very good – best margaritas), Italian – not good.

Drinks are good – great selection of Tequilas, whisky (including Glenfiddich 12 year old), vodka and rum. Best mixed drinks were the mojitos on the beach by Jesus, margaritas in La Hacienda and the Mexican coffee anywhere. The resort serves Corona beer on tap and Modelo in cans in the rooms, but the Platinum lounge has a few other beers. Night entertainment is ok, but tails off after 10PM. The disco is usually deserted.

The staff (waiters, bartenders, cleaners, etc.) are friendly and try very hard. Be respectful and nice to them and they will be really nice to you. They have the same values as us – a simple ‘hola’ and ‘gracias’ goes a long way.

There is a bus to Playa del Carmen which is excellent – things are tourist priced, but still cheaper than the resort. We booked the Chichen-Itza/Cenote/Villadolid tour her for $45/person (it was $100/person through the Air Canada rep.). We enjoyed the tour – great experience for us and the kids, and there are many other tours that we heard were excellent (like the Coba and Tulum).

The Air Canada rep. at the GRP was useless, there is no point going to the "orientation". He will be late by 20 minutes, and he will not (or cannot) do anything about hotel issues. He is only there to sell tours. His advice is redundant – read the travel advisory in 5 minutes. The tours he keeps trying to sell are less than half price in Playa del Carmen – by the same tour operators (like All-Tour-Native or Jeep Tours).

Go with a positive attitude and you will have a great time. This is a place to have fun, it has potential 5* luxury with some issues, but they need to fix these issues to get repeat customers

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Elaine

March 2008

We were at the Grand Riviera Princess in the Mayan Riviera for 2 weeks from February 17th travelling with friends. The resort is beautiful, the grounds are well maintained, the rooms are the nicest of all the resorts we have stayed in and the food was also excellent.

We had booked the holiday in October with a request made through our agent, and also by me via an e-mail to the concierge, that we have three rooms on the top floor, together. When we arrived to book in, we were not booked into the Grand Riviera Princess but in the Sunset with one room at one end of the hotel, another in the middle section and the third one at the beach end. We would not accept being in the wrong hotel and with those room assignments but the front desk insisted there was nothing they could do and it wasn’t until I got the Manager involved (he also did not want to do anything for us) and I became aggressively demanding that they finally found us three rooms in the same building, same floor and in the proper hotel.

During our stay we found that any requests, concerns or problems we took to the concierge or front desk were NEVER dealt with but totally ignored. Those services are totally useless.

Other problems we had with the hotel are:

1. We were provided with no information at the time we registered. At all other resorts in our travels, we received an information package telling us how and where to book for the a la carte restaurants, where to get beach towels (we were not even given towel cards), a map of the property etc.

2. A few of the a la carte restaurants changed their policy and decided NOT to honour reservations but to take people on a "first come, first served" basis. There were some very annoyed guests when they found out they could not get into the restaurant with their reservation. Also, at all the resorts we have been at in our travels, the a la carte restaurants to not allow children under the age of five but your resort does not do this. It is not enjoyable to be having a pleasant dinner with babies crying or young children running around.

3. The serving staff at the buffet restaurants were excellent but so short staffed that they are worked too hard. We felt very bad for them.

4. The cleaning staff is also excellent but again, there are so few of them that some days the rooms were not being cleaned until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. which is unacceptable. That is the time you are showering and dressing for dinner. There is also no consistency in what they provide you with. Some days you would get face clothes, or hand towels, and other days not. Or you would not get soap. It was clear that there were very few supplies but that is something a good manager should be aware of. A checklist of what should be in each room should be provided to the staff and the supplies be available to the cleaning staff.

5. Although the resort was only a few months old, the majority of door handles in all of the bathroom stalls are falling off and locks do not work. There are windows in the stall doors which were supposed to be frosted but the frosting is completely off some doors so you have no privacy. During our two week stay a sink in one of the bathrooms was broken for the entire time and the remaining sink had no water pressure. Repairs are not being done. There are broken or missing floor and wall tiles throughout the resort. If this is the condition of the resort after only a few months, it will become run down very quickly.

6. The stairs leading to the lobby and the lobby are finished in a very polished surface and extremely slippery. You also have so many different levels that people are falling. I have never seen so many injured people.

7. Probably the worst problem you have with your resort is that the room safes are being entered into by the staff and money being taken on a regular basis. We heard from many guests, and through the reviews posted on-line, that this is a huge problem.

8. There are insufficient beach chairs for the number of guests and people are jammed in so tight it is often difficult to walk around. Because there are insufficient chairs, people are waiting until someone goes for lunch, dumps their things on the ground and take the chairs.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Norm ~ Ottawa

March 2008

Arrival – Flight was late – arrived at 2:00 AM, check in was quick.

Rooms – Asked for room with a King Size Bed. The attendent checked his master list to confirm that the room assigned to us indeed had a King size bed (I looked over his shoulder and the room had a "K" in the box), but when we got there, it was two double beds. I called him back and he said that they would fix it in the morning – but they never did. I made a total of 6 trips up to the front desk, and everytime, nothing was done. The Air Transat attendent also tried to help, but the problem was that there were others that had much bigger issues and they were trying to fix those and mine became too minor for them. We wanted a king size bed since I am tall and my feet hang over the end resulting in both of us not getting a good nights sleep. On the third day, I asked to speed to a manager and told him not to bother anymore since the vacation was now half over – he apologized and gave us two free masages at the spa.

Restaurants – Of the A-la-cartes, we picked Oriental, Mexican, and Fondue. Mexican was very good, service great. Oriental – we were at the presentation table – was also very good, but we were rushed since there was another reservation after us. Fondue was OK – they use Mozzarella cheese instead of Swiss – very heavy. There are four buffet restaurants and all were good. Breakfast at the beach buffet had tons of smoked salmon.

Bars – All the bars were great – drinks were all made from basic ingreediants – no dry mixes. The main Lobby bar had drinks that we didn’t know about that were not on their menu. Don’t be afraid to ask – they did shooters one night.

Beach and Pools – Pools are great – and very large. With the water conditions at the beach, we often came up to the pools to cool down. There were always lots of places to go.

Beach is another story. We are beach people. There are a lot of Palapas, but if you really need shade, then you had better get there before 7AM to pick your spot. The actual beach is nice and the hotel has staff that rakes all the seaweed and gargage off every morning. But the rocks are bad, and the water has a green tint to it and a smell of sulphur. We read the reports and bought water shoes and very glad we did, otherwise, we wouldn’t of gotten in the ocean very much. You had to really walk and check out the better places to get into the water. At the far right of the resort, just by the jet skis was the place we found to be the best with the fewest rocks. The water is very shallow – never past your waist.

Grounds – Very nice – and when the vegitagtion gets fully grown, it will be that much nicer

Activities – Air Transat Beach party was great – don’t miss it if you can go

Conclusion – Comments – very large, have to do a lot of walking to get around. Unlike previous reports, the very large and air conditioned bus into Playa Del Carmen was free – one at 10Am and 12noon returning at 6PM – we took the bus in and cab back. Our room was cleaned and made up every day, but our friends went two days without their rooms not being made up, and one day when the maid arrived after 6PM.

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   Grand Riviera Maya Princess   Suzanne

February 2008

My husband and I just came back Monday the 18th of February from the Grand Riviera Maya Princess Resort. We loved it despite problems encountered due to it being a newly opened resort. We had a beautiful room with a gorgeous view (3rd Floor) of the Carribean and Coszumel in the backdrop. We had read all the blogs on the Resort before heading to Mexico so we were prepared for the pitfalls of a new resort and accomodated ourselves for them. We knew ahead of time we could not get into our rooms until 3:00 p.m. or later. This, we discovered, is because it is a very large resort and being so new they just do not have the staff to keep up with room turnover. BIG TIP…..our front desk clerk was a sweetheart, we also tipped him $10.00 right away and told him we wanted an ocean view and near the beach….that $10.00 got us exactly what we wanted. The Mexican people are extremely friendly and really hard working and do not make a lot of money….so tipping goes a long way and is greatly appreciated.

Do not expect the rooms to be spotless….we always had clean towels and sheets….but because of time constraints our floors were never swept. The resort provides bath robes and slippers in each room. My husband and I always wore the slip on slippers while in the room. Another big tip…..even though you have a dead bolt if someone has a key they can still enter the room. The dead bolt opens along with the other lock. We had also read the blog on safe theft…so we did not bring any valuables with us and always kept our money and passports with us at all times.

Front desk staff is also extremely new. Our guy had been there only 2 days when we arrived. Because of this there are constant mix ups on double booking rooms or sending people to rooms that are not yet ready. We were having a siesta on our last day there and 2 people walked into our room…they had just arrived and were assigned our room. Now to be completely honest…..our plane had been delayed 24 hours and we had booked, and paid for, an extra 10 hours….but with their computers being so new it probably did not show up that we were still in it.

Resort is built in a new area, surrounded by jungle, so there are mosquitos. Unlike Canadian mosquitos that have that irritating buzzing, Mexican mosquitos are silent attackers, so you do not know you have been hit until it swells and itches. Bring bug spray. There must be "no-see-ems" down there as well. I could feel the sting of the bites but could not see anything, hence the name "no-see-ems". No-see-ems are not the same as mosquitos, they actually take a chunk of skin, though small, so it leaves quite a welt on arms, legs, etc. Bug spray, again, will prevent this.

Food was great, restaurant staff extremely friendly. TIP…when you arrive get to know one of the main waiters right away and give him $20.00. If there is a line-up at the door (sometimes 30 – 40 minutes)…he will take you in the side door and get a nice table for you. There were 9 of us so this really helped….large tables were hard to come by at dinner hour. Every time we used him we gave him money and he therefore took very good care of us.

Beach is nice. Even crowded there are plenty of chairs so no problem there. Bathing suit tops on women is an option, so if you are prudish, do not visit the beach area. Very European flair. Beach is sand for about 3 feet….then about 3 – 4 feet of rocks, then back to sand. It is quite shallow for quite a ways out. You swim from sand bar to sand bar. Only unfortunate thing on the beach is that all the cruise ship going into Coszumel must be dumping garbage because we found a lot coming up on shore, not really bad, but took away from the ambiance a bit. We ended up spending a lot of time in the pools, of which there a tons of. You can almost go from one end of the resort to the other, going under bridges to get to the other side without ever getting out of the chest deep water. There are salt water and fresh water portions to the pools. They also have pools zoned for different activies. If you want action and music you go to one area, peace and quiet another area, children another pool. I have never been a proponent of staying at pools, but these ones were so nice we only spent 1 day on the beach, the rest at poolside.

Resort parameter walls have motion detectors and there are tonnes of security around. At night there seems to be one every corner of every walkway, so you feel very safe. Taxi ride to Playa del Carmen is about 10 minutes and around $12.00-$13.00. Fifth Avenue seems the place most people go to. One thing I liked about Mexico is that vendors, whether in Playa del Carmen or on the beach at the resort, are not allowed to approach you. On the beach you must go to them. In Playa del Carmen they can ask you to come into their shop but must stay on their store front steps. I liked this because after the Bahamas (where they can get right up to you) I found it much more relaxing to shop. Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate. Prices are always negotiable. If you think fair price then just pay it, otherwise you can usually get it down a bit.

IN SUMMARY…….nice resort, it will only get better with time. If you don’t mind small inconveniences and are patient, friendly and tip, you will be well taken care of. Resort is absolutely beautiful, food great, staff great. The tourist trade are resorts bread and butter, so they really do want to take care of you. Just remember, they are all new on the job and are doing their best to keep up with a fully operational resort which has (I think) over 2400 rooms. If you like everything running like clockwork with no hiccups, this is not the resort for you, not for the next year anyway. It is a 5 star resort, they are giving you a huge discount because it is new. So relax, enjoy the sun, the food and the ambiance, let everything go and think about 7 feet of snow you do not have to shovel!

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