Old Reviews – Mayan Palace

Mayan Palace The Kendy’s 100 Mile House B.C. Canada

March 2008

Just got back from 2 weeks at the Mayan Palace in the Mayan Riveria.

General Coments
Very nice place. Bought a time share their in 2006 and went back this year. There was My Wife, my Son and myself. We are happy with our timeshare and the rooms we had were very nice.

Maliciously clean. We have nevered stayed in a cleaner resort. They don’t just clean they polish. It was the first time we were not at an all inclusive and I have to say the prices for the food were very reasonable. We ate breakfast in the room and lunch & dinners out. Lunches seem to be about $10.00 and Supper anywhere between $14.00 & $25.00. We holiday every year for two weeks in March and there is no doubt we spent less this year than any year previous that we had gone all inclusive. The Pool was out of this world we have never seen a bigger one or nicer one. They charge 15% gratuity on everything and for the most part it is deserved. However they tell you that the Maids and the Bellboys are not included in that 15% so they are extra. We stayed in Building # 6 and it was close to everything except the front gate. Actually nothing is really close to the front gate. We went to Playa several times and ate on 5th Ave lots. 5th is a great time and the Restaurants are very reasonably priced. Our favourite place to drink and eat was The Tequila Barrel. One tip, if you want to drink while walking down 5th buy your beer from the little confectionary stores along the way. It is a buck a beer and very cold. My son and I are both Golfers and we played 4 times. We played the par 3 at the Hotel twice ( Nicest & Toughest par 3 I a have ever played) and we played The Mayacoba and the Iberostar. Both are extremely nice courses. The latter two courses we played were at twilight rate which was about 1/2 the regular cost. If you don’t want to rent a car there are local buses that come by every 15 minutes or so out side the main gates. If you come home late from 5th ave you will probably have to grab a taxi. The taxis are all owned by one company and they are $20.00 each way however we never paid more than $18.00 and sometimes $16.00. Went on three excursions, Xel-Ha, Selvatica (Zip LInes lots of fun) and rented Mo Peds on Cozmel and went around the Island (What a great time). Our friends went the ruins Chichen-Itza. Said it was great. We had already been to the Coba Ruins and really enjoyed that. Most of the negatives we read was about the transpotation to town and too much walking from your building to anywhere. We did not have a problem with either of these things. The shuttle is easier and cheaper than I had read about.

When we bought our timeshare one of the things we were told was we could bring coolers down to the pool and beach area. They told us again this year when we went to the presentation. Well we took our cooler and we got hassled everyday. Drinks are expensive at the Pool and Beach except at Happy Hour (which for some stupid reason is from 11:00am to 1:00pm) I had finally had enough from ROBERTO the Security guy and told him we were keeping our cooler and if he had a problem then go see the Timeshare people. He was very insistent and would not leave me alone so I said bring the manager and I will talk to him. He brought some poor flunky who he called his manager who couldn’t speak english and didn’t have a clue what was going on. I still brought a cooler down everyday however I was more discreet and he finally left me alone. The Beach. DON’T go to this resort if you are going for the the Sandy Beach & Ocean Swimming. The Beach is fine but you have to walk to the next resort if want to swim or do any water sports. When we bought in 2006 after the Hurricane they said within a year the beach would be back to normal it wasn’t and it isn’t even close to being a proper swimming area. They have an area roped off but it is not great. My friend went out there and cut his foot on some rocks. They also said the water park would be ready and of course it is not ready yet either. I know these things take time but they shouldn’t give you a date when they are going to ready, they should just say we are working on them. The Entertainment wasn’t nearly as good as any all inclusives we have been too. However we didn’t really care.

Well that is about it. All in all I would say it is a very nice place to stay and we really liked the Mayan Riveria and Playa Del Carmen area and we had a great holiday. If you have any other questions my e-mail jkendy@bcinternet.net

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Mayan Palace Brad and Maureen

April 2007

General Comments
There have been no recent reviews posted for the Grand Mayan and Mayan Palace resorts, so we thought that we would offer an updated one now. Along with my wife and 17 year old son, our family stayed at a hotel room in the Mayan Palace in March 2004 and then we stayed in a full 2 bedroom suite at the Grand Mayan in March 2007. To explain, the 2 resorts are typically shown as 2 separate places in most brochures and the RCI catalog. To me, this is very misleading as the 2 resorts share the lobby, pool, restaurants, shopping and just about everything else. The difference is that the Mayan Palace (MP) buildings on the north side have hotel style, although large, rooms. The Grand Mayan (GM) buildings on the south and west side are 2 bedroom, lock-out suites. These suites have a single bedroom on each side with a main, front room / kitchen between them. Both the MP and GM rooms are clean, nice looking and kept in great shape.

Like many of the Riviera Maya resorts, the MP and GM complex is between the Cancun airport and Playa Del Carmen. This is important to note since you can not walk to Cancun or PDC. I recommend renting a car (get full insurance!) unless you plan to mostly stay at the resort. A few trips to get groceries, shopping and site seeing and the rental car will pay for itself. There are cheap buses that can take you to these places, but we watched as people sat on the side of a very hot road waiting for the less-than-clean buses to arrive. If you do rent a car – stay within speed limits. The police love to stop violators and the stops can be unpleasant with cash payment expected.

Checking In
This was done quickly and easily, BUT, you will then be asked to attend a timeshare presentation with the offer of 10% off all charges or something equivalent. We chose not to do this and we were not harassed at all about this. Your choice, but plan on a full morning if you take the invitation. You might wish that you were in the pool as your guide walks you through the complex.

The Resorts
The MP and GM are on a sprawling complex. In the middle is a large lagoon and near the ocean is a huge pool. Plan on walking and walking and walking as this place is big. There are some golf carts to take people around, but for the most part, you will walk between your room, the restaurants, the pool, your car, and anything else you choose to do. Although the place is well landscaped and beautiful, it is just too big for my tastes. You’ll find yourself constantly planning ahead to keep from making another hike around the place.

Couldn’t be nicer! It was huge – lots of room for everyone and fun chairs and pool bars. Happy hour at the pool bar was 11 – 1, kind of early with nothing offered later in the day. But we managed.

Some past reviews suggested that a lazy river was being added for 2006. Well, there is no lazy river and we did not see the making of one. On the day we were leaving, a new pool area opened up, specifically for the use of guests from the Grand Mayan. MP people were not to use this, but no one seemed to stop them from going there.

Disappointing. There was plenty of sand and chairs and shade for those that want to sit and watch the surf. But at the shoreline, it was nothing but rocks. No one ventured into the water, not for swimming or snorkeling. This was a big disappointment as we hoped to do some snorkeling off the beach. There is a nice sand volleyball area and a pier to walk out.

Construction of a new, large activities area had begun when we were here in 2004. Now in 2007, much of the main structure is in place, but the activities center opening appears to be a long time off. With this being in the middle of the resort complex, you could hear construction noises all day and there were many detours in the already long walking paths. Actually, there is construction going on in many areas of the complex. To the south-west, new rooms are being built and we were told that this will become the Gold Mayan. It will be a LONG walk from the Gold Mayan buildings to the oceanfront.

Each building is 3 stories high, no elevators. We stayed in room 1461 which is the first floor, building 4. If in the GM, buildings 3 and 4 are the furthest from the pool and restaurants, but closest to the parking lot. Buildings 1 and 2 are close to the action and less walking, but expect nightly sounds from the entertainment building. Buildings 5 and 6 seemed to be a nice compromise. At the MP, I did not pay attention to the building numbers, but those buildings that are west of the lobby are close to nothing and should be avoided unless you just love a long walk in the hot sun.

This was covered in previous reviews. Get up early and place things on the chairs if you want a covered palapa later in the day. This is the way it is at this, and at every other Riviera Maya resort that we have stayed at. Some vacationers like to complain about this system. They are the ones getting up at 11 and expecting to find a shady bed waiting for them. Sorry folks. Get up and get out or get burned.

Having been to several other resorts in the Riviera Maya, we were disappointed with the quality and amount of entertainment and activities at this resort. There were plenty of kids activities and just about something happening every half hour. If you have not been to other resorts, you will enjoy the many things offered by the MP/ GM. However, the resort does not have the fun and daily scheduled activities to match the Iberostar or Riu properties. At night, and keep in mind that we were there at peak season, there were only 2 nights during the week for nightly entertainment. And to see these, you had to eat at the restaurant. Other resorts offer free nightly shows.

Zip Line – We used the MP / GM travel desk to sign up for a bike ride, zip line, snorkeling in a cenote, lunch tour. This was great and well worth the $47 each we paid to do this. Highly recommended, this was all done within 20 minutes of the resort and fun for everyone.
Chichen Itza – Did this in 2004, but did not need to repeat it in 2007. I love the Mayan history, but wife and son can do without it. I would recommend using the travel desk and the bus trip over a rental car. CI is far away and a bus would make this more comfortable. You arrive in mid-day and it will be HOT! Too hot maybe. A better way, if you can do it, would be to go late in the day and stay at the local and nice hotel at the entrance. Have dinner, enjoy the pool and have a cervesa. In the morning, head to the ruins and enjoy them in the cool of the morning. Head back in mid-day when everyone else is arriving in the heat.
Tulum – A nice compromise for those that want to see the Mayan history, but not spend hours getting there. These ruins are not up to Chichen Itza, but still very nice and on the oceanfront. A day trip of Tulum and Xel-Ha would make for a great day.
Xcaret – Highly recommended. But this is pricey if you take the bus excursion. If you have your own car, drive there early in the day and pay the admission price. Do the underground river snorkeling and/or dolphins first as these get crowded later in the day. Snorkel in the inlet later – you’ll love the fish. This place has lots to do and you’ll find something for everyone here. Xel-Ha

– Nice for the snorkeling, although we found the waters a bit too cold. I would recommend Xel-Ha as a shorter, cheaper version of Xcaret. Not as much to do, but still very nice.

Playa Del Carmen
Not very long ago, PDC was just a bus and ferry stop. Then shopping was added to a few blocks along 5th street. Now, 5th street is a couple of miles long with lots of shops and restaurants. We love to go here, do bit of shopping and then eat a lot cheaper, and many times nicer, than the resort prices. There is a Wal-Mart in town and a huge grocery right on the main street into PDC. Can’t remember the name, but on Jaurez street, about 3 blocks north of 307 (the main street), south side of the street, there is a restaurant in a cave – highly recommended and tons of fun.

Fun Around the Pool
The pool is huge and although shade may be at a premium, there were always chairs available at all times during the day. In mid-day, the activities staff hosted some pool games and dance instruction. Volleyball games were going on regularly at the pool and at the beach.

Summary The GM / MP is a beautiful resort with fine amenities, pristine golf course, fine meals (wine), huge, well decorated rooms, very, very clean and with top service throughout. Certainly, the MP / GM is worthy of the 5 star rating for high class service and accommodations. The construction was distracting, but I’m sure that the finished work will add to the quality of the resort. On the negative side, the beach was rocky and of no use for swimming. The daily activities were a bit lame, the entertainment was almost nonexistent and the resort, while gorgeous, was too big. Overall, this is a top resort, but I would prefer being closer to the action of Playa Del Carmen (or Cancun, if you enjoy the crowds) at a place with more activities and a working beach.

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Mayan Palace Mac & Emily ~ United States

August 2005

My wife and I just returned from a week at the Mayan Palace (week of August 19-26, 2005) and I wanted to post a few observations. I’m not going into extensive comments about offerings of restaurants, grounds, services, etc., because I think lots of other reviews here do that quite well. For reference, we are in our early 50s and have traveled extensively in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. We are not time-share owners, we were regular guests.

And rent a car!

Check-in is 5:00 p.m. but we arrived at 1:30 p.m. and were allowed to check in and our room was ready. Check-in was efficient and friendly, no delays.

We were located in Building 6, a 5-minute walk from the pool and beach. It wasn’t bad, and the way the buildings are arranged you actually can walk through buildings (in air conditioning) just about all the way to the pool if you don’t want to walk outside. We initially were bummed about being so far from the pool and beach, but we came to enjoy the location as it is a much shorter walk to carry junk and groceries to your room from your car if you are located in building 6 or 7.

The rooms were magnificent. We had a huge living room with dining room table and full kitchen, two bedrooms, one with two double beds and one with a king bed. Three televisions, three balconies, two bathrooms. I paced it off and it was over 1,100 square feet! It was truly a luxury two-bedroom apartment, with marble floors throughout. We couldn’t have asked for more.

This is a no cash resort; everything is charged to your room tab. Everything is expensive.

We are rather cost-conscious travelers and because of that we did not eat at any of the restaurants on site. We went for a light meal one evening at the snack bar, but the only thing they were offering that evening was a buffet for $34/person. We spoke to other guests who said that the food was excellent, but we ate at Playa or other places for half that and had outstanding meals, plus we got to experience other places. One gentleman told us they had an evening buffet on site for $48/person (this might have included a show?). Our meals all week ran no more than $13-22 per person, not including drinks, and we never had a bad meal. To each his own….

We had grand experiences with everyone. Everyone was helpful, friendly, nice. Couldn’t have asked for more.

The beach is crummy, about a 4 on a scale of 1-10. Lots of pebbles in the sand and very rocky so you need water shoes to enter the water. We didn’t spend any time on the beach here; we had a rental car and went to lots of different beaches.

If you have a car, take a right (north) out of the entrance on Highway 307 and go exactly 1.6 kilometers to milepost 310, and take a right turn onto a dirt path with the sign Playa del Secreto. Go all the way to the T, then take a right turn and go several hundred more yards to a security hut; ask if you can go to the beach. He let us in without paying, we parked at the beach and had it all to ourselves. Very pretty.

Mamitas Beach in Playa is very nice as well. 20 minute drive to Playa.

Akumal Beach, 45-minute drive south. Beautiful beach, lots of palm trees. Sea grass, but very pretty. Couple of restaurants. This is where one of the English staff guys at the Mayan said he takes his family, so we thought if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for us. It was.

30 minute drive north to Playa Delfines at Cancun. We put our towels up on top the cliff and had a commanding view of the entire beach area, spectacular view. Not many people, great waves, too, but there are concrete blocks there to help form the beach. They are easy on the feet and you don’t need water shoes.

We found the nicest beaches are at Tulum. If you go to the second traffic signal on Highway 307 just as you enter Tulum (the first one wasn’t working and that’s where you turn to go to the Tulum ruins), take a left (the sign points to Bahia Pauilo or something close to that spelling!), take that road until it tees (about 1-1/2 miles), and go either right or left you will come to some gorgeous beaches. We went right (south) about a half-mile and found some nice and inexpensive little roadside stands/shops. Take a left at the tee and head about 1-1/2 km north and you will find a gorgeous, beautiful sand beach. As an added bonus, from that tee, go exactly 1 km north and you will find a wonderful restaurant called Nachos Latitude 20. We ate dinner there, it was awesome, inexpensive, and wonderful. The restaurant only has about 8 tables, 3 of which are on the beach, and the setting is awesome. You will not be disappointed! We had a seafood dinner for two that included fish, lobster, mussels, calamari, octopus, and shrimp, lots of veggies and we couldn’t finish it. 350 pesos (less than $35) for the two of us. What a memorable evening, and the service was prompt and courteous. Very, very informal and relaxing. Go in your swimsuit if you want.

The pools are wonderful, huge, clean, and we never had a problem getting loungers and palapas. We could be in the shade 100% of the time if we wanted to be, there never was a problem finding shade at the pool.

We went into the store (the Boutique) and the prices are exorbitant. If you want to purchase food, go to the grocery store in Playa (it’s huge and called Chadraui) where everything is 50%-75% less expensive. It’s convenient, but pricey.

We rented a car off the internet before we went for $134 for the week, unlimited mileage. It was the best thing we did; it gave us complete freedom to travel to and from the airport, go to beaches, ruins, Playa, other towns, restaurants, shops, etc. It more than paid for itself, and we only used about $40 in gas although we traveled 900 kms during the week. We went to a different beach every day, sometimes more than one, and took trips to ruins, snorkeling, etc. No waiting for buses, taking shuttles out to the highway, etc……. We did not get insurance because I called VISA and then went to their website to download the coverages and was convinced that I did not need their insurance; we felt adequately covered by what VISA provided. Had we gotten the insurance, it would have been $296 for the week. If you do this, call your credit card company and read the fine print to make sure you are covered in Mexico! Driving was easy, roads were good, no hassles.

Just beware the gas rip-off that happened to us: get out of your car and watch the attendant while he fills your tank at the Pemex! All gas stations in Mexico are Pemex and are owned by the government, and they are full service. We got gas twice and it cost $13 and $15. On our third fill, surprise, we got ripped off big time! My wife and I sat in the car this time, and two young teenage boys began washing the windshield, then one began talking to my wife, asking about the needlepoint project she was doing. I thought it a bit odd a young boy would be interested in needlepoint, but then his friend started asking where we were from, etc. They had both of us fully involved in conversation on the passenger side of the car, then the attendant came up and told me 253 pesos. I had already pulled out $15, thinking it would be less than that. 253 pesos (roughly $25) threw me… I said, how much? and looked at the gas pump. It showed 253 pesos. Confused, I pulled out the money and paid. As we drove off, bewildered, it began to dawn on me that the two kids were decoys, and I am certain that the attendant, while I was not paying any attention, began filling some other containers. Even if I had figured this out before I paid, what argument would I have had? The pump meter showed 253 pesos… they had me dead to rights. I’m certain my bill would only have been $12 or $13 dollars; heck, the car wouldn’t even hold $25 worth! But I was snookered. Moral of the story: get out and watch the attendant, and pay attention.

We had a wonderful cave snorkeling trip; they call them "cenotes." We went to Hidden Worlds, about a 45-minute drive south. This was a filming site for an Imax film, and we snorkeled two different caves. One was about 45 minutes, the other a little less. It included about a 15-minute trip through the jungle to get back to the caves on a totally wild jungle truck. Cost per person including all gear was $40. Well worth it; the entire thing takes 2-1/2 hours.

An hour drive south of the Palace. Get there when it opens at 8:00 a.m. to beat the crowds, heat and bugs. We used insect repellent and had no problem. We paid a guide for a 45-minute tour. He wanted $35 for the two of us, I offered $25, he countered at $30, then we agreed to flip for it; he won the toss so the price was $30. Then another couple asked if they could join us, and we said fine and the guide asked us both to pay $20, so it worked out well for everyone. We felt like the guide was worth it and tipped him $5.00. By the time we were leaving around 10:00, people and tour buses were rolling in in droves.

We were hit up immediately upon check-in for the free breakfast and tour. Said they would upgrade us to the Grand Mayan (on the other side of the resort) if we signed up, and it would be a slightly larger room. Folks, our two adjoining rooms, which were actually a living room, two bathrooms and two bedrooms at over 1,100 square feet, were plenty large! we didn’t bite. For the rest of our stay at the resort no one badgered us about this, but we were approached several times in Playa and other places about it. You get a colored wrist bracelet to wear to identify you as a Mayan Palace guest, and they recognize you at other places, like in the grocery store, gas stations, restaurants, etc., and badger you to sign up for time share presentations, snorkeling trips, parasailing….. anything and everything. "Ah, I see you’re staying at the Mayan Palace; have you done the Jungle Tour yet? I can get you 10% off." That sort of thing. Just be prepared to be approached when you least expect it, and you’ll do fine.

THE BOTTOM LINE The Mayan Palace was a wonderful accommodation with the second best pool we’ve ever been to in the world. I’d go back, but I’d do it the same way again: I’d darn well rent a car and save a fortune on transportation, have the freedom to go where I wanted when I wanted; to get to lots of beautiful beaches (which the Mayan DOES NOT HAVE), and spend less than half of what I would for food at the resort. The accommodations were magnificent, staff very pleasant and accommodating, the pool wonderful, the beach forgettable. Rent a car at the airport (on the internet, before you go) and you will have all the best of everything; I’d hate to be stuck there all week or have to rely on the buses or collectivos; there are so many other things to see and do, where you can’t get to on them, and you will save a bundle. A day trip to Tulum Ruins at about $75/person is more expensive than what we paid for a car for the whole week, and that doesn’t include transportation to and from the airport, into Playa, etc.

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Mayan Palace Jack ~ Montreal

February 2005

We stayed for a week at the Mayan Palace – Mayan Rivieria from February 18-25. Overall the week was very good although there were a few things that we wish we had known before we decided to stay at this resort.

The positives are numerous. It is a new resort so everything is in very good condition. The pool is large and very accomodating. Yes, there is a lack of shade and the covered areas are reserved quite early in the morning despite posted announcements forbidding this, but there were always a few lounge chairs available so long as you didn’t mind being in the sun. Just bring lots of sunscreen! There is always some sort of activity going on if you want to remain active and participate in the fun (beach volleyball, dancing lessons, kayak races etc).

There are three restaurants on site: an Italian that requires reservations (one to two days in advance)which is very good, a beach-front restaurant that is average and a snack shop/buffet by the pool which is good for lunch or supper for the kids. Prices are reasonable (89 pesos for a lasagna at the Italian, 240 pesos for a bbq buffet) but are more expensive than in the restaurants in the nearby town of Playa del Carmen. The resort is cashless – you don’t need to worry about bringing your wallet around with you, everything gets charged to the room.

The beach isn’t the finest white sand in the world, but it is still comfortable to walk barefoot in. The ocean floor has hard rock which was a bit uncomfortable, but great snorkelling was found just a little bit offshore. Unfortunately it was red flag almost every day, with only afternoon at yellow flag.

There is nightly entertainment, but after three days of different variations of latin music and dancing it got stale quickly. Kariokee night was fun for about 15 minutes until the same 4 girls got up over and over again singing every Britney Spears song in the list.

The negatives were the fact that the jungle is close by, so they spray for bugs around the perimeters of the building every night. Although they say they chemicals are harmless, when you see the big cloud it creates you start to wonder. Also, our unit had several tiny ants running around constantly. Not an infestation of biblical proportions, but if you dropped a piece food and left it, you will find a swarm of ants over it after a few hours. I was never bitten, but by wife received a few bites that swelled rapidly.

Another negative was a hassle at check-in. Our request for an upper floor unit was not found in the system, and they originally put us in a ground floor unit facing directly the new construction site (currently the hotel has 2 "zones" of residences with a third being built along the side of the golf course running out towards the road). Of course, we were quickly offered an upgrade to a second floor unit in the newer section, but only if we took the 3 hour sales tour. Left with no choice (who wants to spend their vacation in a construction zone?) we took the upgrade but suffered the sales tour. Later in the week, the room they originally put us in had plywood covering the windows, leaving me to wonder if we really would have stayed in that room anyways.

The pricing system in the boutique for the food was curious to say the least. On Monday the bottled water was 33 pesos. Tuesday, the same bottle was 78 pesos. Wednesday and Thursday there was no water. A bottle of water half the size left in the hotel room was only 12 pesos. Best bet is to go to Playa del Carmen and do your shopping there (if you have a room with the kitchen). You can save a lot of money if you need to by cooking a few meals yourself and buying the groceries at local prices.

The last negative is that it is still under construction, with 2 fairly large construction zones at present (one for a new reception area / pool and the other for the new residences as mentionned above). Once the resort is finished it will be quite nice, but at present you have to accept some noise and dust near the hotel portion. Down by the pool and beach it was perfect though.

Visiting around:
Getting to Playa del Carmen was easy. Just go to the highway and wait for either a bus or collectivo van to stop by and pick you up. Longest we waited was only 5 minutes. However, when we were there, there was no stop area – we had to wait right on the side of the highway. They were building what looked to be a pullover spot, but that won’t be done for a few more weeks obviously. To get to Playa del Carmen cost only 10 pesos each way and is definately worth it. Lots of life, shops and very affordable restaurants (fillet mignon for 150 pesos, fajitas for 80 pesos). Prices for everything is very reasonable, but there are a few places where the tourist is a taget (one such is the ferry to go to Cozumel. The "official" place sells tickets for 20 pesos each way. However, we saw other places selling tickets for 45 and 90 pesos so look around before you buy).

The ruins at Tulum were a highlight of our trip. About 1 – 1.5 hours from the resort (depending on the number of stops the bus had to make), it cost only 33 pesos each way from the resort. Tulum may not be the biggest ruins site, but it must be the most breathtaking. Built on a natural cliff, with a white sandy beach, it was great for swimming after the 1 hour guided tour of the ruins.

To go to Cancun, it was a 30-45 minute ride in the other direction from the resort, again for only 20 pesos each way. Not much in Cancun except for the hotel strip. The downtown of the city is typical for medium sized (800 000+): lots of cars, concrete, and noise. Nothing special to see, except once I saw how close the hotels are there I was glad to have the open space and tranquility that the Mayan Palace offered.

Overall it we had a good vacation, and once we got over / used to the negatives of the resort, we found it to be very pleasant.

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Mayan Palace Gail ~ Canada

February 2005

We have just returned from a one week stay at the Mayan Palace in the Mayan Riviera. We arrived at the resort on February 18th following a one week stay at an all inclusive resort further down the coast.

Check in is advertised as 5pm however at 5:15 our one bedroom suite was not ready and we were told to wait in a rather unimpressive lobby that was crowded with other waiting vacationers.

Once we were given access to our suite we found it to be large and fairly nice. There were two balconies attached to our suite. One located off the living room and one off the master bedroom. The balconies were large enough to stand out on but not wide enough for chairs or to use as an area to relax as you basically could just stand. Use of the balcony would have been limited anyway as there is no inspiring or relaxing view. We overlooked the construction site and when there were people were working at the site the dust was heavy and unpleasant. Even when employees were not working the view was unsightly. Perhaps we were a little spoiled from the large balcony with table, chairs and ocean view that we had enjoyed the previous week.

Upon arrival in the suite we found bugs in the unit. We did complain about the unwelcome guests and were promised that the room would be sprayed. On Sunday the 20th we were off to tour Chichen Itza (great place to tour for those looking for a worthwhile excursion). Prior to leaving the resort we specifically asked that the room be sprayed and noted that we would be away from the room for about 12 hours so it would be a perfect opportunity to have the spraying completed with a minimum of disruption or inconvenience to us. Upon our return that evening we found the room had not been sprayed. It was easy to determine this as there were many bugs present in the kitchen and bedroom and the four spiders occupying the toilet room were alive and well.

Additionally there was a light indicating we had a voice message. We were unable to retrieve the message so we called and we told by the operator that the message could not be found but she would call us back. We also again asked that the room be sprayed and were told that it would be done at 9:30 am the next morning.

Monday the 21st we waiting for someone to arrive to address the "bug problem". When 9:30 came and went we had to call again and basically demand it be done. By this time I had over thirty bug bites. Given that I had managed to get through the previous week without any bites, this was very annoying. Following the third request the room was sprayed however we want to note that the bugs were back in full force on Friday the 25th. Obviously spraying one unit is not effective unless you spray the other units in the building as well. For those interested we were located in Building #3 on the third floor.

The operator never called us back about our lost message so we called again to ask about it. We were told that "sometimes the message light just comes on for no reason and there was no record of a message". Upon our return to Canada we received an email message from some friends who had been staying at another resort. They mentioned they had called and left a message asking us to join them for dinner.

The pool is very large and it is impressive. There is a decided lack of shade and despite the resort’s disclaimer that people cannot put items on the chairs to save them, people did so. Resort staff should either remove that statement from the information sheet or remove unattended items after the 45 minutes indicated in the information sheet. Drinks from the pool bar were excellent and reasonably priced during the happy hour.

The beach has little pebbles and is mostly devoid of effective shade. There is a lot of rock and coral in the water. Although there is a flag system to indicate when the water is safe for swimming we never saw a green flag indicating the conditions were safe (or even a yellow or red flag for that matter).

We ate one meal at the resort and found it over priced and of poor quality. We went into Playa del Carmen or Cancun to eat and/or to buy groceries. Having a kitchen in our suite was great but we still enjoyed dining out in the evening so we were always on the hunt for a great place to eat. There are some great restaurants in both Cancun and Play del Carmen and the local bus is easy to access from the highway (10 pesos to Playa del Carmen, 20 to Cancun). There is a shuttle bus to take guests from the lobby to the front gate but you may have to wait for one at the front gate. If you do take the bus you should note that you will have to cross the four lane highway at some point (either coming or going).

The store located on site is definitely over priced. We accept that resorts will charge higher prices for items and basically don’t disagree with that policy. However there is a difference between charging customers for the convenience of shopping on site and price gouging your guests. Some prices were two and three times the cost of items bought in Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

Our comments about the cost also includes the price for the golf. We found the price too high for a par three and opted not to play. In seven days we only saw one group of golfers on the course.

We would not stay at this resort again as there are other resorts in the area that have more to offer and that have quality that exceeds that offered by the Mayan Palace.

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Mayan Palace Don ~ Ontario

February 2005

On Sunday, the 13th, we arrived back from 2 weeks at the Mayan Palace resort. It’s about half way between Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. I believe this is the newest of the 5 or 6 in Mexico. We’ve usually stayed at a 3 1/2 or 4 star resort so this was the first time at a 5 star. And it IS a 5 star.

The resort has only been open about 3 years, and they’e adding still more sections. Once completed, the resort grounds will be bigger than anything we’ve been used to. There are 2 parts – the Mayan Palace and the Grand Mayan. In the Grand Mayan part the rooms are just a little bit nicer, although there was nothing wrong with our room. Check-in was fairly quick.

We were lucky in that we stayed in the section closest to the biggest swimming pool we have ever seen, in Tulum 1, in the Mayan Palace section. If you are in Tulum 8 you have a good walk to the pool and/or beach, and from the further sections of the Grand Mayan as well. We were told that around the pool you can fit 600 lounge chairs and I believe it.

Right now they are building yet another big pool that will be covered, another restaurant, 8 more sections towards the highway from the Mayan Palace ones on the right hand side of the picture,, and a small water park, so there is some construction noise during the day. They are also adding another restaurant/bar down on the beach that should be open shortly. And they are still putting in more plants all over the place.

I am a fussy eater and I must say we did not have one bad meal in the 2 weeks. One breakfast we had wasn’t warm at all, but delicious. Other than that all the meals were great!!! In any of the 4 restaurants. After a couple of days we found out it was cheaper to go for breakfast in the Tum Tah restaurant on the beach rather than go for the buffet. About 180 pesos for the 2 of us vs 320 for the buffet. And it had all the choices we needed.

The beach area right now is not completly done, yet what they do have is more than ample. There are not too many lounge chairs but usually we did not have any problems getting one. Although we put our towels down early, 7:30 – 8:00, people would come late in the morning and still found a chair. One thing about the towels. There are notices NOT to do this but people did anyways, mostly around the pool Some as early as before 6 am. I used to get up and go for a walk around this time and there were already towels or whatever down on some chairs and also the covered beds. I’m sure some people must’ve slept on the beds as they were out cold when I walked by and they were using blankets from the rooms.

I imagine that once they are almost finished with all the construction they will start to work on the rest of the beach. I’m guessing this area is about the size of 5 CFL football fields. It’ll more than triple the beach area.

There are still a lot of small rocks in the sand on the beach, but not enough to bother you that much. Each day though they go back and forth with this small machine that sifts the sand to take the rocks out. You also have to be careful on the north side as there are some rocks just under or at the surface of the sand. Makes it hard on the bare feet when walking and unknowingly step on one. The entrance to the water is also all coral so you should use water socks. There is one area by the watersports centre where you could walk out with your bare feet if you are careful They are trying to make an artificial reef.. They have put huge, hollow, bell-looking pieces of cement with holes in them to attract the fish, and to try to stop the outward flow of sand. There has to be 2-300 of them out about 250-300 feet from shore.

You have to walk at least 1/2 kilometre north before you hit a nice walkable beach. Before that you have about 4 small points that either have a lot of coral rocks on it or are solid coral Then you can wa;lk about a kilometre before you hit more coral. To the south is not as bad, although at the properties edge you have some character, we were told, that used to be in the army and is piling coral rocks on the point assumingly to stop people from walking around his property. Although you are not legally supposed to do this, he is.

Don’t take the taxi to Playa Del Carmen or Cancun. It’s about 180 pesos to PDC. You can take a shuttle out to the highway and take the Playa Express. It’s a 16-seater van and only costs 10 pesos/person to PDC. I think it’s about the same to Cancun. You have to visit Playa Del Carmen and it’s famous 5th Avenue. It’s the main street, with only pedestrian traffic, that stretches for quite a ways.. We ate in PDC numerous times and each time the meal was great as well ( Plaza pes Vela – Hemingways – Cafe Tropical – Restorante da Bruno – Idea Pasta – Playa Maya on the beach) If you are into diving there are numerous dive shops in PDC. I used the Abyss dive centre for a couple ocean dives and Tank Ha for a couple cenote dives. I preferred the Tank Ha centre. You have to dive in a cenote as it is awesome!!!!!!!

We also went on a day trip to Xcaret. You should go as early as possible to see and enjoy the whole park. Our tour unfortunately never arrived till around 10:30. We went down the subterranean river, ate lunch, walked around a bit, and I went "Snuba". Just like scuba diving except your tank is on a float on top of the water. Unique. You have to stay for the night show which starts around 6pm and is finished around 8pm with a short 5 minute break in the middle. It’s a little bit of history of the Mayan people and Mexico. Pick up a pamphlet and it explains it all. Next time we go I think we’ll go to Xel Ha.

Although it is handy, you can go scuba diving from the watersports centre on the beach. I thought it was just too much – $66 US for one dive. What I did was make arrangements to go diving from a dive shop in PDC, 2 dives for about $70, with their equipment, and the wife would meet me at the dive shop around 1pm when we would get back. We’d walk around PDC, have something to eat/drink, then go back to the resort.

The theatre shows were held in the restaurant by the lake and were not of the quality we’d expect from a 5-star resort. We saw most of them and were not that impressed.

They also had a Super Bowl party in this same restaurant. One deal they had going was that if you bought a ‘pail’ of beer you received a certain gift, 2 pails another one, and then another gift for the 3rd pail. What they did not advertise was that these were not available after half time. Not impressed. We’ve seen better.

Just a few dislikes of the property.

It would be nice if they had some non-smoking sections. Every place sells Havana cigars. Down one room and across the hall some guys used to smoke them and play cards. We had to put towels at the bottom of our door so our room wouldn’t stink from the smoke.

At night, shortly after 5pm they fumigate the grounds, as they said we are in the jungle. Two sections were joined together with an elevator in the middle. (Three floors high with about 18 rooms on each floor. ) There were also no doors in the middle or the ends. Some times the fumes from this defogging would permeate the building. Not always, but often enough. I’m sure this stuff can’t be good for you as it would always bother us.

This place is NOT an all-inclusive resort so you pay for everything, with a 15% tip added. Even if you buy a cup of coffee or one beer, 15% is added. For example beer is about $4.50 Canadian, tip included and coffee is almost $3 a cup take-out, or $3/person at breakfast. We also preferred ordering a meal vs going to the buffet for supper. If you like chicken as I do, order the breaded parmesan chicken in the Tramonto restaurant. It’s to die for!!! My wife had lobster and just loved it as well. This is a timeshare resort also and they really push it. So if you don’t want to buy a timeshare, DON’T go to the presentation. They’re pretty slick!

As I had noted, it’s not a good place for getting in to the ocean to go swimmimg. Yet!

They have a Jack Nicklaus par-3 golf course on the property. But they want $120 US to go golfing, plus equipment if you didn’t bring any. A bit too much for a par-3 course. We hardly saw anyone using it.

We used airmiles to fly Westjet to Cancun, from Winnipeg, direct flight. Out total price we figured, wasn’t that much more than the last all-inclusive we stayed at. We’re not big drinkers so a lot of times we ordered drinks when happy hour was on – 2 for 1 – 11am-12 and 4-5pm. We found the Cancun airport a bit on the dirty side. It was also cold at night time when we were to leave ( 1am) so bring something extra to wear just in case.

Would we go back again? In a minute! But since there are another 4 or 5 of them in Mexico we’ll try another one. If they are anything like this we can’t go wrong.

P.S. If you go to the locogringo.com website and go to aerial photos, go to playa del carmen and click on the (>>) double arrows to the right until you come to the resort. The picture isn’t uptodate as the beach area on the left hasn’t any grass, although you can’t use it yet, and it doesn’t show the construction on the new sections on the right-hand side going towards the highway. E-mail me at donaldg@drytel.net if you have any questions.

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