Old Reviews – Viva Wyndham Maya

  Viva Wyndham Maya   Ray ~ Sheldon, Vermont

November 2009

Arrival: Oct.17-25 2009 We landed at Cancuun Airport at around 1:30pm. It took us 1 hour to get through customs and another 15 minutes having the bags checked. Just when it looked like we were going to get out of the airport we were grabed by the con men. They pull you aside and want to sell you a deal on excursions if you check out a resort for 90 minutes. The sales pitch was another 30 minutes but my wife was interested, so the 6 of us waited. It turned out to be worth big time! For $215- we had 5 excursions for all 6 of us. We had to go to a Palace for the pitch, they paid for 15 minute cab to and from, fed us and gave us a day past. The wife and my mother in-law also were given massages. We had to wait and fill out paperwork and had breakfast and then listed for an hour and half about the pitch. It’s like the time share bit, vacation coupons. My suggestion is do it but say "no" after 15 minutes or so. They honored the deal and it saved us huge money. The 215- we spent could have been 1,500-2,0!

00 easy.

Nice room, basic but very clean. We had a nice view of the pool and beach. Everything was great, rooms cleaned every day.

Restaurants and Bars:
You get two dinners at the restaurants and have to book them in advance. Make sure to do this early in the trip. We loved the Italian  one at the sister resort we were able to use. We didn’t really care for the Mexican restaurant on site. The main restaurant had lots of choices and it was decent. If your used to 5 star dinning you might be in for a let down. It was fine. The bars were very good and the drinks were not watered down like I’d heard they might be. Service is awesome!

The pools weren’t all that big but they were fine. The beach was great! I’ve read about the sand bags for erosion being a problem, it’s not a deal at all, for the first couple of days I thought they were rock or coral!

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Lots of classes and plenty to do.

Other Comments:
The bottom line is that we went off season and it wasn’t really crowded. It’s not 5 star but it’s very clean and the service was great! Everyone was so nice, we would go back in a heartbeat. My wife ordered the trip on-line, airfare (we’re from VT) transport to and from the airport and insurance fro $841- per person. Friends don’t believe the deal we got. Shop around and try going in Oct. for best price I’m thinking.

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  Viva Wyndham Maya   Wendy ~ Canada

February 2009

Arrival: Jan. 30 – Feb. 6
We arrived mid-morning. Rooms were not ready until 3:00, the usual time. We explored the resort, had lunch. It started raining just as our room was ready, so the bellman took us along the covered path, and through another building to our room. We were surprised to find that the electronic room safe was included at no charge.

Rooms: We had a ground floor room. This was the first resort we’ve been to that had screens on the sliding doors. It was a basic room, bathroom with tub and shower. Good lighting and long vanity shelf. Lots of hot water and water pressure. The air conditioning was very noisy, so we just turned it off when in the room, and opened the sliding doors. The room did get musty smelling though.

There are only 2 open shelves to put clothes on. A small dresser with drawers would have been nice.

Restaurants and Bars:
We really enjoyed the food at the buffet. Lots of variety. Most nights there was a table set up just outside the entrance of the buffet where dessert crepes were offered, and one night deep fried ice cream, both with all the toppings.

We really enjoyed the Mexican ala carte restaurant. Food was beautifully presented and very good. The night we went to the Italian ala carte, it was windy and cool. The food had to be brought up from the snack bar, and wasn’t as hot as it should be. The staff in both restaurants were excellent.

The beach snack bar has a wood fired pizza oven. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, nachos, salsa, guacamole, salads, and some days a pasta station was available.

Top shelf liquors were included. Espresso and cappucino were also available at the beach bar. The Lobby bar was really nice. Again, espresso and cappucino were availabe. The courtyard and Lobby bar were great places to just sit and relax with a drink.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: The grounds were beautiful and the staff were always watering and raking up leaves. There were ashtrays everywhere, so there was no reason for people to throw cigarette butts on the ground. The sidewalks were a little slippery when wet. The quiet pool was a popular place and a few more sunbeds would have been nice. There is a jacuzzi at one end of the pool closest to the bar. The water temp. was cool.

The main pool was a good size with a childrens section at one end. There is also a swim-up bar. Lots of action here. The beach was one of the largest on the strip. Lots of sunbeds were available, and there were also a couple of bali beds. The beach whales (huge sandbags)weren’t the most attractive things to look at, but the beaches have really eroded, and the sandbags are necessary to prevent further erosion.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There was lots to do at the resort if you wanted. The animation staff were not pushy. Spanish lessons, dance lessons, archery, tennis, trapeze lessons, beach volleyball were all available. Although we didn’t go to any shows, we heard that they were quite good. We didn’t go on any tours, but there were many available.

Vendors came in 2 nights during the week selling various goods. Very polite, not pushy.

Other Comments:
This resort is perfectly located. The Plaza Playacar is right outside the hotel entrance. Playa del Carmen is about a 20 minute walk.

We really enjoyed our week at this resort. The staff were great, the food was good and we will probably go back. There were no complaints at all, except for the noisy air conditioning.

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  Viva Wyndham Maya   Neil/Alison ~ Canada

January 2009

Arrival: Feb 2008
No problems with anything concerning flights and transfers. Everything was on time. When we arrived at the resort at 4:00 am, it was pitch black and after checking in with a rude and uninterested clerk, who spoke very little English, they made us carry our bags down the dim paths to locate a room, we only knew, was near the beach. We then also had to carry our bags up the stairs to our room.

Most of the staff speak only broken English. We received a call from home and our daughter had to speak Spanish to the front desk just to connect to our room.

Rooms were quite small, but clean. No dressers for clothing but some shelves to lay clothes out. We had a small fridge, not stocked, and a in room safe. Adequate. When it rained, the water came in under the patio door and we had to put towels there. 1 bottle of water that you were to refill in the hallway if the container wasn’t empty. Some mornings we had to find our own water. When I went out to get water one morning, I saw a couple young boys sucking the water from the spigot. REAL SANITARY and not happening, but worse, the resort did nothing about it, they didn’t even send someone down to clean them up.

Restaurants and Bars:
Booking the ala cartes was ridiculous. Because we arrived late, everything was booked before we even got there. We had to book 3 days in advance and it’s too bad because the buffet sucked big time. The ala cartes were quite good if you could get in, but they were never more than half-full when we ate there. Us and everyone we talked to there could not understand why?

The buffet…unbelievable….if you didn’t eat it at lunch, you got it for dinner. They offered a very small variety of food but the only thing it almost had going for it was the pasta bar. Again the same every day, lunch and dinner. You usually waited in line 30 minutes, most days we just walked away. The wine served, if they even served you, was quite watered down and cloudy. We ate late one night and found very little food out, but when they closed the doors, the employees came out with plenty of fresh cooked platters and it actually looked good.

The pool snack bar was supposed to be open 24 hours, I guess Mexican hours, maybe 16 hours at most and never very late. They made decent pizza, 1 small at a time that usually got gobbled up by 1 or 2 kids before anyone else could reach in. The food sat out open in the heat and it was disgusting to watch kids and adult grabbing with fingers, eating in line as they waited for the elusive pizza or the odd hamburger.

The pool bar was very good….quick service and polite, accommodating bartenders. Tip them a few times and your drinks were ready when you got there.

The pool was very small and the pool bar was usually occupied by kids splashing about because it was a little shallow. The grounds were very well kept and the beaches were clean. Unfortunately the beach isn’t much after the hurricane and the big sand bags not only take away from the scenery, they can be dangerous when the waves get big. There were plenty of chairs and while we were there, they built about 20 additional palappas. The negative, this was the only beach that got closed by the resort when the waves actually got big enough to do something in. But, walk 30 yards north and the next resort beach was open. The water was clean, but not a good area for snorkeling.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The evening entertainment was very much geared to Italian/European language, but you can usually figure out what is happening. They do host a flee market once a week that is quite nice, but same trinkets you can get on 5th Avenue.

Other Comments: I have never written a review, but just be aware. We were sold this resort as a 4 1/2 * and it was expensive. It is a 3* and don’t expect more. My wife got very ill over the last four days, so much so, we considered a hospital. We had met several people during the 2 weeks that were also sick, and everyone related it to food poisoning. Not hard to believe after seeing the same food meal after meal, day after day. When I complained to Wyndham, I was advised that it was a new owner who had just purchased the franchise. Opened our eyes, when you’re booking a resort by reputation, make sure it is still owned and operated by the resort. Obviously we would never go back, but there are some really nice resorts within walking distance.

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  Viva Wyndham Maya   Brian & Barb ~ Calgary

January 2009

Arrival: Aprl 2008
Plane was delayed 3 1/2 hours out of Calgary due to snow storm. Flight was normal got our luggage and bypasses the time share people got a couple of Coronas and hopped on the bus

rooms are what you would expect for 3 star resort. Nothing fancy, but clean, 2 double beds were good, showers lots of water and hot. Room contained a fridge and small safe. Maid service was great we tipped each day a small amount and looked forward to their towel art. There was a very wide space on the entry door and it looked like it wouldn’t take too much to force it open,

Restaurants and Bars:
Buffet was good for breakfast and lunch, we only tried it on the last night for dinner and my wife didn’t feel well at all on trip home. We really liked the restraunt above the pool area service was Gabriel was fantastic. We ate there 3 times. My wife usually got the drinks at the bars as the women (particularly those in bikinis) got much faster service. Drinks were fine

Beach sucked with those big sand bags. No snorkeling. pools were okay. Grounds were awesome well maintained. Lots of iguanas wandering around. The courtyard was a great place to unwind with a drink at the end of the day.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
I went diving on 4 of seven days through Pluto dive, Once to cozumel which was incredible, once just off Playa and twice to Centoes which were very cool. Water on all dives was crystal clear, lots of fish on ocean dives. We enjoyed 5th ave in Playa, and shopping in Cozumel. The shopping plaza in front of the resort was also good although more expensive than Playa.

Other Comments: All staff at resort friendly, service was good we would go back to this resort and when friends and family ask us about it we really have no negatives other than beach area. The beach and swimming at the Riu Taino in Punta Cana was far superior.

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  Viva Wyndham Maya   Stan and Maxine

January 2008

We enjoyed our vacation very much. The grounds were well kept and clean. Our room was not large, but very quiet, kept very clean and had plenty of towels and face cloths. You must hurry to book evening reservations upon arrival as it seems to be difficult to reserve dining in the nicer restaurants because of very limited numbers, however we did book at Azteca at the Bamboo and loved it, as well as the three restaurants on site that did a great job of food and presentation. We enjoyed the beach and compared to others nearby it is one of the better ones. We would go again!

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December 2006

We stayed at Viva Wyndham Maya for our Honeymoon in June 2006. We are 27 and 28 from Cananda and stayed for a week – The weather was beautiful – rained once for about 20 minutes and that was it. Was super, super hot, but loved it!!

Welcome drink upon arrival, attentive staff – accommodating and friendly. I researched resorts like crazy and was weary of the beach pictures I saw posted here, but it was not like that at all when we got there. There was no crazy drop off to the ocean – the water was amazing, no seaweed, no rocks and the beach was soft and sandy and on the whiter side. (I’ve also been to Trinidad and Tobago, St.Lucia, Barbados and Puerto Vallarta, so I do have some experience). The grounds were pretty – grass, flowers, animals, the usual, but it was a good looking place – not run down or anything at all.

Since we’re young, we drank – all day and all nite. The selection was fine, not overly exciting, but it was alright – just the basics at this place though – no fancy beer – just cerveza – it even came in a container marked ‘cerveza’. They don’t hold back on the tequila either, which was fun. We Got up every morning around 7 or 8, went to eat at the breakfast buffet and found no problem at all getting chairs on the beach – just the umbrellas were hard to come by cuz people kept them in their rooms over nite, even though you have to sign them out. We rented a jet ski from the guys down the beach, which was pretty fun – you get it for ½ hr which is plenty since you can only ride a certain distance either way along the beach, but out far, past the other boats. Can’t go past the last resort on one end and can’t go past the big red buoy on the other end, so driving for 3 min one way, back and forth was fun for the first while, but it was still exciting – probably cuz we fell off when we were going the slowest to turn around!

We brought food to the beach from the little buffet they have out all day, we went to the lunch buffets and dinner buffets, which all did the job. They varied slightly in selection every day, and everything was good. We ate at the specialty Mexican restaurant – food was good, but they ran out of salsa – haha! We felt like just running down to the little buffet and grabbing our own, but it was fun atmosphere in there. We also ate at the Italian one. Good service and good food there too.

The pool bar was great – after lazing on the beach the whole day, we’d move over to the pool and we did try every drink they had on display – some were really sweet and some weren’t that great, but they all had booze. There were shows every nite, which were ok to watch, since we didn’t leave the resort area. The staff in the shows definitely put their all into it and the ideas are great. They always had something for the kids before the main show, which everyone enjoyed watching – the songs are catchy for sure.

We went to Xel-Ha for the day and absolutely loved it. We swam with the dolphins, did the lazy river tube ride and snorkeled. Good thing we mentioned to the booking agent at the resort that we wanted to swim with the dolphins cuz she had to book it for us since she said it fills fast and when we were there, we heard lots of mad people trying to book the swimming, but couldn’t for that day (they were too late). We did buy some Dolphin swimming pics though – you only do that once, right?! And since you can’t take your own pics, you kinda have to do it this way – pricey, but worth it. Looking back, I would skip the lazy river tube ride and do more snorkeling and touring of the park – there was so much to do and see, and the tube was kinda a waste of time for us. Sometimes it didn’t even move and we had to kick and paddle to get it to move down stream. We would definitely do this tour again, but watch out for all the iguanas on the pathways – it was nuts how many there were! Also, don’t do the half day tours where you go to one place in the morning and another in the afternoon – there is no way there’s enough time to do and see everything each place has. Bring underwater cameras – there were some great tropical fish and we saw two sting rays – the bigger fish are kinda scary, just cuz all of a sudden, they’re right in your face, but it’s a totally amazing experience to snorkel there. We brought our own equipment, but you can also rent it there and rent lockers to keep your stuff in too. Bring water shoes to walk around – it’s easier to jump in and out of the water with no worries of where to leave your things, although we left our snorkel bags on the beach by some chairs and they were fine. We didn’t even use towels since you dry off in about 2 minutes under the sun, anyways,

We also went to Chichen-Itza to see ‘The Ruins’ – which was amazing. The bus ride is long, but had AC and it’s really hot when you get there – bring water, good shoes and a good camera. I didn’t realize there were so many other ruins around the temple, but it was definitely something we’re glad we saw and the history behind everything is really interesting too. We did the tour guide thing – just worked out that way – he was the same one from the bus and he kept us all together the whole time. At the end of his tour, he asked how much time we wanted to spend on our own, exploring – some people went back to the bus right away, but we kept going and found other ruins that he didn’t show us. The tour guide, I thought was good to have cuz otherwise you’re just looking at a bunch of old rocks and have no idea how amazing they are and what they were meant and used for. Educate yourself here – it’s really an eye opener and an amazing experience to their culture. There are kids everywhere though – trying to sell stuff and it got a little annoying, but you can get their prices down pretty low for some stuff, so it wasn’t too bad. Also, if you say no thanks, and smile, they’re not too pushy.

This resort was nice – a great relaxing vacation for sure, but we both agreed that next time, we’re gonna spend a little more so that the food and drinks are little on the higher end. Viva Maya was great though – room was good/clean, bed was comfy, pool was nice, staff was polite and it was lots of fun. We’re not that lovey, dovey romantic couple at all – we enjoy doing things and hanging out instead of gazing into each other’s eyes for a week in some super fancy resort, but we would still go one star up, maybe, just for a little bit of a higher quality in food and drink – just for more variety – missed that Cap and Coke!!!

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Viva Wyndham Maya Gail & Jim

April 2005

We spent a week at this resort. It was wonderful. At first when i saw all the kids, I thought it was going to be terrible but it was not.

When we got there, we got right to our room, we had a welcome drink. We went through gwv charter flight. The plane seats were terrible but once we got to the resort we forgot about the squeezed in seats we were in to get there. The grounds were beautiful, the staff was friendly. Victor was the best, he was very outgoing. The shows were wonderful. It had to take lots of time and work to put them together. The bed was comfortable, which sometimes when you go to places you can get a hard bed.

The food was great. We did not go to the speciality restaurants. There was plenty at the buffets. The waiters were pretty much there for you if you needed anything.

The beach was wonderful, sandy, good length. when you walked out it was pretty much sandy. few pebbles. You did have to get up around 6:45 or so to get a seat on the beach that you would want, especially if you wanted a hut to keep the sun off. The pool area ,people always had them saved during the day, but we didn’t mind cause we usually came up to the pool around 4 or 5 and you could find a few seats. The pool bar was great and the bartenders were very nice and did real well in trying to please.

You could not get bored with this place the activities were many, Water aerobics, step aerobics, stretching, spanish dancing, cooking classes, , bingo, archery, horse shoes, painting for all, volleyball, waterpolo and if you just wanted to lay in the sun you could. sailing, other water sports.

Excursions: we only did one. We went swimming with the dolphins. We went through the discovery in puerto aventuras. It was the best. Be careful if you buy the dvd $50.00 american money. If you don’t have the right kind of dvd machine, it won’t work. It was a life time experience as they say and we are so glad we did it. That was i believe $125.00 each.

We like to go to different places in the caribbean and have been to many. This would be a resort we would go back to.

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Viva Wyndham Maya Thomas ~ USA

February 2005

We just got back last night and I wanted to share before I forget everything! We had an overweight charge of $50 on our luggage. It was my husband’s golf clubs. Read your weight allowances carefully! We have never had a previous problem after 6 trips with Apple and Condor Airlines and we always take the clubs. Seems like everyone had some overweight charge-even without golf clubs. They wanted cash. This was out of Detroit-DTW.

We did not have an all-inclusive package so we ate all over and the entire week the food was wonderful! We heard many all-inclusive people complaining at the Wyndham that there was an upcharge for certain items on the menus (anything interesting).Our meals there were fabulous though a la carte and expensive. The service is terrible too. There is a 15% gratuity added to all bills which Apple Vacations says is not the tip but other places say it is a tip. Whatever. Our dinners averaged $100 for two- one glass of wine and we split a dessert add on to that an additional $15-20 and you are not in the mood for a tip. The service is terrible too. No refills on coffee or soda. Wait forever for a check.

The beach was nice. I would bring watershoes. Water was cloudy. We went towards the buoy-palapas 3and 4 but around 2 natives and cruise people crowd in there. We left then for the pool. Rather small and little shade. The other way palapas 74 and 75 were nice but some people complained of the wind. It never bothered us. Palapas are first come, first serve starting at 8 am but guests when we were there (median age 75) got up at 6 to be there at 6:15 and would sit there and drink coffee and socialize. We got there around 7:30 and the above numbers I mentioned were always available. Not much action. We walked to the Marriott or to Eagle Beach every morning, as did everyone else.

We walked to restaurants in the area- Aqua Grille, Fishes and More, Morasteria’s (sp?) all were excellent. We took the bus downtown- very easy- shopped and ate at the Driftwood and El Gaucho both excellent. Our budget was $250 per day and that was what it cost. We went over when my husband golfed at Tierra del Sol. That was $145 and taxi was $20. He said it was okay. Not very pretty but some nice holes. You have to know how to play in wind. It was about 15mph when he was there. He said he wouldn’t go back and if he did he would consider renting clubs- they had some very nice sets to rent.

Rented a jeep one day to see the sights and drove from one end to the other seeing all the sights. It was fun, driving was easy though lunchtime and dinner traffic can be horrendous.

Our room was nice we changed to a better view but incurred a $20 per day upcharge. I never noticed an odor and the bed was fine.

Overall I just wasn’t blown away. It was like a nice stay in Florida with better food and a heck of a lot more money. You never felt like you were out of the US. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There were people we talked with who absolutely love it here. I read a remark on this site or maybe another that people who rave about this place are either newlyweds or first time travelers. I tend to agree. It was our first trip here and unless somebody else is paying, I would definitely take a trip elsewhere. Riviera Maya is a true value and an experience to remember.

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January 2005

We visited the Viva Wyndham Maya in January 2005 (Jan 6 – 13th) and all I can say is PLEASE don’t pass up this resort if you are considering a visit to the area.

Having said that, it should be noted that other resorts along this strip appear to be more upscale but the Viva Maya left NOTHING to be desired. As a point of reference, we visited a 5 start resort in Cuba last year – the differences between that and the Viva Maya were apparent but certainly did not detract from this resort.

We are a family of 4 – 2 daughters ages 17 and 11. We did not want any kids or youth club activities. Our main desire was a nice beach and pool area and the Viva Maya did not disappoint.

Here are a few comments by category if you are considering visiting the Viva Maya;

Rooms (We were in 1147 & 1149) – although the view from our room left a lot to be desired (back of the neighboring resort), it really didn’t matter to us. Sure, an ocean front room would have been fantastic, but those are reserved for the time share (private club) guests anyway. We still sat on the balcony and enjoyed a cocktail each evening before going for dinner. The sound of the waves in the distance and the birds in the trees made all other aspects seem irrelevant. There were 2 beds in the room and they were firm but new mattresses were being installed during our stay – we slept comfortably each night.

The air conditioner works very well and once you get the temperature set to your liking, you won’t have to touch it again. It is also a bit loud and drowns out all external noise.

It took us a couple tries to get the shower temperature from fluctuating but the trick seems to be to not turn on too much hot water – just enough to get the pressure that you need. We used bottled water to brush our teeth rather than risk the alternative – but likely didn’t need to take that precaution. The water and ice everywhere in the resort was filtered and provided no problems.

We had requested adjoining rooms and had no problem getting them. The rooms were pretty basic, but met all of our needs and were pretty close to the pool and the beach.

Restaurants/food – WONDERFUL! At the last all inclusive resort we went to, it was very hard to get reservations at the Al la Carte restaurants. This was NOT the case at Viva Maya. We got the restaurants and times that we wanted and they even allowed us to visit Portofino twice during our stay (I hope that doesn’t get anyone in trouble…but we DID have 2 rooms). We only ate at the buffet one night.

Portofino is an upscale Italian restaurant with a nautical theme. The service is wonderful – well paced and attentive. The staff made our daughters feel very welcome and even adjusted the menu to suit the tastes of our youngest. Please note – this is a "fancier" restaurant, so gentlemen please do plan to wear pants. You are provided with a wine list at the beginning of the meal, but may opt for the house wine at no extra cost (and we were not made to feel "cheap" by doing so). The food was above average – not as good as a fancier restaurant in North America, but certainly tasty and appealing, and portions were more than sufficient (they will gladly bring you more if you request).

Mexican restaurant is more casual and doubles as the pool bar during the day. It is open air and has no walls. You may wish to bring a sweater as the breeze off the ocean can get cool if you get a late seating. The staff here was VERY friendly and fun. They were attentive to the girls and got involved in our conversations. The food was not spicy Mexican and should be acceptable for most palates. Stick around after dinner and enjoy the evening show which starts at 9:45.

Viva Café is located in Playa Del Carmen and is available at a surcharge of $10 per person. We thought it was worth the $ if only for the fact that you got off the resort and got to experience downtown Playa Del Carmen. The taxi will drop you off at the entrance to 5th avenue, so you will have about 12 block to walk. Just stroll along and enjoy the atmosphere – lots of music as well as a number of vendors chattering. The food at Viva Café is Italian and is very comparable to Portofino (including the extra charge wine list- which again can be passed over for the very adequate house wine).

La Scala restaurant is located at the Viva Wyndham Azteca which is 3 resorts down from the Viva Maya. I read that is was a 50 meter walk but in reality is about a 15 minute stroll. La Scala is definitely more upscale and unlike the other restaurants is completely enclosed (the others often had windows open to let in the breeze). The menu selection was by far the most varied and the pepper steak that I ordered was outstanding. The service was quite slow however, but that may have been because we arrived just after a wedding party of about 16 people was leaving.

Grounds – The grounds are immaculate and easy to navigate. There are a couple of resident cats that wander the grounds along with a native rodent that looks like a cross between a rat and a beaver (I apologize that I forget the correct name). You see them wandering amongst the greenery quite often. We also encountered a few iguanas catching some sun on the pathways. The pathways are all covered so that you can stay dry if it rains (or cool in the heat).

Beach/Pool – When we were at the resort, the beach had a small "drop off" from the sitting area and the palapas to the water. Some of the sand filled bags that are used to prevent erosion were exposed. The staff told us that this had occurred only a few weeks earlier and was not expected to last. Even so, the beach was magnificent. The sand was soft, the water warm and the area was kept very clean. We had no problem getting chairs – but I was usually on the beach by 8:00 or 8:30. Getting chairs at the pool was a bigger challenge. You do have to get there early and place something on a chair to reserve it. Please don’t bother if you are only going to be there for a few minutes – because other people will miss out on the space (be respectful). People seemed to respect chairs that were reserved with a towel or magazine and left them alone.

There was a constant breeze coming off the ocean which kept the temperature on the beach bearable – the pool area got very warm however and when we sat there, we spent a great deal of time in the water. The beach seems busier in the mornings with a steady stream of people walking along. There is a lot to look at. Other reviews mention the topless women and there are several…if that bothers you, the beach is not for you. We didn’t see any topless women at the pool area, so that may be a solution. LOTS of topless men though J (and plenty of speedos).

The resort had plenty of equipment available and we never had trouble getting boogie boards. If you want lots of sunshine without palapas, head to the beach and then to your right. As you near the end of the resort grounds and the scuba hut, you will find chairs and sand with few palapas (no shade).

If you plan to sit at the pool bar, learn to turn around and lean back on the bar or else you will go home with sunburned shoulders and a white chest!

Activities – Although we did not participate in any of the organized activities, they seemed to be quite popular and always had a good sized group. The activities ranged from ping pong, volleyball, and dart tournaments to Spanish and dance lessons and water aerobics. For the less adventurous there was also an afternoon bingo game.

Our daughters did go parasailing and there are a number of operators on the beach. They all seemed to be equally priced and we saw no advantage to one over the other. You take a wave runner out to the boat and they have harnesses to hold 2 people at a time if you choose (we paid $70US for 2 people).

Shopping – There is a small mall across the street from the resort that has almost anything that you could want. We also took a cab into Playa Del Carmen and shopped there a few times (great system – the cabs are all a flat rate depending on where you are going – to Playa Del Carmen was $4.00). The vendors on 5th avenue can be a bit tiresome as they are constantly calling out to you to check out their shop, but there is a small mall and a few "upscale" stores at the start of 5th Avenue that make shopping comfortable. We found no great bargains, but still wound up with some new clothes and silver jewellery.

The girls both got henna tattoos across from the resort and they loved them. They lasted almost a week which is almost a week longer than they last at home. They were priced 2 for one at $10US.

Entertainment – The entertainment at the Viva Maya was very enjoyable. Every night there is a different show in the outdoor "amphitheatre". We are not usually interested in watching a show, but this was obviously a meeting place as well and most of the guests appeared to be in attendance. The dancing was pretty good and we really enjoyed the Michael Jackson show. The Broadway type shows (Grease and Cinderella) left a little to be desired. We saw 7 different shows and on the day we left, they had posted another different show for that evening, so the repertoire must be fairly extensive.

They had a very active kids club (although we didn’t participate), so if this is a requirement for you, the Viva Maya fits the bill.

A couple nights we found live entertainment (one man band) in the lobby bar and when we went to Viva Azteca, he was there as well. I assume that he alternates between the 2 resorts. It was pretty good music and easy to sit and listen to. Had we stayed at the lobby bar on those nights – we would have started dancing although nobody else seemed to be interested in that.

One night we tried the disco. Our girls stayed with us until midnight and then headed back to the room. The DJ seemed to alter the music to the age and interest of the crowd. It was not crowded and was a good place to meet people if you are the least bit outgoing.

The pool bar (aka Mexican restaurant) seems to be the place to "hang out" after the show and meet some people in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. The bartenders are very friendly and fun – try some of their specialties….go on, live a little! My favourite was "Mono Sucio", a blend of Kahlua, rum, bananas, and pineapple juice.

Pictures – Feel free to visit my Webshots page to see some pics of this resort – http://community.webshots.com/user/wpalendat. You can also send me an e-mail at woodyp81@hotmail.com if you would like to ask any questions about our visit to this resort.

Overall – I am not sure what differentiates a 4 star from a 5 star resort (I have read other reviews that list this resort as a 3 star) but I would definitely recommend this resort. There was nothing lacking and the amenities were plentiful. Some of the other complaints that I read seem completely ridiculous (ie no clocks in the room – you are on VACATION…and by the way there was a clock in both our rooms). Miserable people can be miserable anywhere in the world and will always find something to complain about. Listen to their comments with that in mind – but don’t overlook this resort as a result of them. Go and enjoy.

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August 2004

The Viva Maya is a quite nice resort for the money, and compared to our stay at the Viva Fortuna (Bahamas) several years ago, the change to Wyndam has been positive. We booked directly with the Wyndam website and applied for the free Wyndam preferred membership. I’m not sure exactly what the membership entitled us to, but we received different colored wrist bands, a very nice room, toiletries, I believe preferred reservations at restaraunts, daily newspaper, as well as wine and a fridge stocked with beverages in our room. As a Viva guest we had use of the facilities and restaraunts at both the Viva Maya and the Viva Azteca, a 5 minute walk down the beach (or via the street).

Facilities: Grounds are nicely landscaped and maintained. The single pool is kept clean, but water can get quite warm. Public areas are nicely maintained – not lavish but quite adaquate. Other than specialty restaurants, gym, disco and a few offices, no public areas are air conditioned. Great beach – white sand and gentle slope with no rocks, coral or sea grass – and is well maintained. Cute cats roam the gardens but watch out; one of the children in our party received a nasty bite. There is a definite shortage of palapas on the beach and umbrellas by the pool. People get up early and put their towels on chairs to reserve them for the day – signs descourage this but if you want any shade during the day you have to play along. While we were there, the beach palapas are generally all claimed by 6:30 am and the pool umbrellas by 7:00 am. (Note to Wyndam management – relocate the volleyball and watersports huts and build 30-40 more palapas!)

Rooms: Ours was a very nice 3rd. floor room (no elevator). We had a spacious room with a pool and ocean view. Large 4-drawer dresser, TV cabinet with drawer and cupboard plus a closet with built-in cupboard gave us plenty of storage. Amenities seem to very from room to room – our neighboring room did not have dresser or tv cabinet but had a series of shelves in the closet. Maids do a superior job of cleaning. Nice fluffy towels, extra pillows and comfortable beds. Plenty of hot water and good water pressure. More than adaquate room air conditioning. One caution – If you are an early sleeper, rooms by the pool can be loud until 10:45 due to the nightly shows, and later if beach disco night (though the AC drowned out most of the disco noise).

Food: Our experience is that this is where the difference in price among resorts seems to most manefest itself. Viva is a “popular priced” resort so do not expect so see shrimp, imported cheeses, tender beef, or much fresh seafood. While the specialty restaraunts were a nice break from the buffet, their food is not on par with “white tablecloth” restaurants. The main buffet (not air conditioned) offered good selection and quality. Always lots of fresh fruit and salads. Breakfast includes all of the regular items as well as cooked-to-order eggs and omelets. Good variety at lunch. Dinner selection is good and varied from day-to-day. Best was Mexican Night (freshly-made tortillas with stewed fish and chicken in a red sauce). Good selection of desserts presented nicely – most things very sweet. Best were the flans. Pool-side buffet open all afternoon – fruit, excellent fresh guacamole, salad, OK hamburgers and hotdogs and a few other items. After dinner no food is available except for some pre-made tuna and chicken salad sandwiches at the bar. Specialty restaraunts have nice ambiance, are mostly air conditioned and have very profesional service, but food generally no higher quality than buffet – though presented and garnished very nicely. Viva Café (in town and $5 extra plus cab fare) had limited menu but was nice change from resort. Portofino (mediteranian) OK – flaming coffees provide nice tableside show. La Scala OK as well. These three restaraunts have very similar food with Italian/pasta emphasis. The best meal we had was at the Japanese restaurant. The spring rolls and beef salad appetizers were great, but spicy and some of our family members thought this food was too salty. We did not try the Mexican restaurant, which is the evening version of the non-air conditioned poolside bar. Coffee in all restaraunts was good. The resort has two bars and the drinks are quite good – they have good quality liquor if you specify brand when you order (examples: Stoli and Skyy vodka, Johhny Walker Red, Jim Beam.) I especially enjoyed some of the sipping rums – try the Bacardi Solara on the rocks…yum. The lobby bartenders make very good espresso and cappacino and they also offer frozen espresso (frappacinos).

Watersports: Scuba Caribe runs the scuba, snorkling, parasailing and banana boat rides for the resort. Snorkling gear available but there is nothing to see off the beach except a few scattered small fish. Snorkling trip ($30) was one hour of snorkling on a crowded reef . Our snorkling guide was very unprofessional – kept getting vertical in shallow areas to remove and clear his mask and we watched him destroy a lot of coral with his flippers– also would stop to feed the fish every couple of minutes…tacky. Boogie boards available for the kids and kayaks and sailboats available for 30 minute loan. The scuba instructors/guides were experienced, professional and pleasant, but I can not recommend Scuba Caribe for anyone who looks to scuba as an important part of their vacation. Boats just OK – most offered limited or no cover, warm drinking water (if it is offered at all), and no rinse bucket or storage table. Scuba Caribe is very sales oriented. Before you even get to their shack you will be approached on the path to sign-up for activities (scuba packages, para-sailing, snorkling trips etc.) Once you get to the scuba shack, again you will be asked to commit to a multi-day scuba package. Even at the free scuba demo in the pool you will be pitched, several times, to sign up for scuba lessons. Scuba Caribe is also VERY expensive. Dives are very rigid and sites not varied depending on interest or skill level of divers. No attempt made to separate groups or customize dives based on interest or experience. Boats are used for scheduled scuba and snorkling trips so timing is very rigid. If you plan to do more than 1or 2 dives, I highly recommend you contact another dive operator in the Playa Del Carmen area. Also, consider taking the ferry across to Cozumel for a day of spectacular diving with a Cozumel-based operator.

Shows: Quite impressive – in an outdoor theater. The musical shows were lip-synched versions of mini-musicals. Dancing and costumes were extraordinary. The performers definitely give their all and are quite talented. The show highlighting traditional dances from around Mexico was the best. Did not get to see poolside water/fire show due to inadaquate seating. During the day, the performers have resort jobs –kids found it cool that they could interact with the “stars”.

Staff: Best aspect of the resort. Like our other experiences in the Maya Riviera, the people here are the most friendly, gracious people you will ever meet. The bellmen, bartenders, waiters, grounds crew, security and maids were all extremely nice and mostly multi-lingual. They are nice in a very gracious and genuine way, not in the subservient/”tip-me” sort of way you find at some resort locations. I encourage you to tip very frequently and generously since most of these people are supporting families on poverty wages and rely on tips. Due to Mexican labor laws and tax structure, they clear very little money other than tips.

Teen programming: While planning our trip, I searched reviews for information on teen activities and programming at the resorts. I found very little. I have a very social 14 year old who dreaded going away from her friends for the week. She has now declared this the best vacation she has been on. Viva Maya has a Junior Club for 13+. They have a few scheduled sports activities during the day, and the kids are welcome to join other activities like dancing and exercising, etc. But at the show, all the teens sat together. After the show, they went to the disco, which begins at 11:30PM at night and has a full bar. I was quite hesitant about this, but found that the disco had 8-16 year olds there when they opened. After two nights, they did not allow anyone under 14 in, and by the end of the week they said you had to be 15 or older. Even on the nights the younger kids were there, they left around 12 midnight and the 14 year olds, by 12:30 PM. The music is popular American teen music – not the censored versions from the radio – so be cautioned. Also, there are mattresses outside the disco for seating. Until I was comfortable, I stayed at the door or outside, but the bar is just below the only steps to the disco, so we sat there and listened to music each night once we felt comfortable.

Misc. One of the nice things about Viva Maya is its relativly small size. This was especially nice for the kids – they would constantly run into kids they had previously met at activities at the beach, pool or buffet. A big caution: In the pool/bar/theater area there are many drop-offs (20+ inches) where there are no markings or railings. There are no railings or lights to help find the stairs and the whole area is very poorly lit at night: This is a definite hazard to an older person or anyone with limited sight or agility. Also, there are no stairs into pool -only 2 laddders – so accesiblilty could be an issue.

Overall: A very nice resort and a very good value. We would consider coming back.

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