Old Reviews – Xpu-Ha Palace

April 2005

We took the family as a week away treat before my son goes off to University in the fall. Our kids are 17 and 13 years old and they had a great time. We booked two rooms and were glad that we did as it gave us all a vacation that was both together and separate at the same time……great idea for kids in this age group……worth the extra cash to do it this way. The resort is large enough that you can let your teenagers go and do their own thing and still have family meals and activities together and not have to constantly worry about them.

We were pleasantly surprised by the beach at Xpu-Ha Palace………I love Aruba and their beaches there are just beautiful, but the beach here was just as nice as any Aruba beach. Clear light blue turquoise water with lovely white sand that was not hot to the touch. You could see the fish swimming in the clear water at the beach, and unlike Cancun there isn’t the undertow, so small kids can go swimming at this resort easily.

The service was excellent and we found the food alright, but not exceptional. However, I understand that the Adventura Spa Palace has very good food although we never got a chance to get there and it is for adults only. We did talk to another couple that were staying there and it seems like the food was better there but the beach wasn’t all that great….so that was the trade off. There was a lovely breeze on the beach as well which made it seem less hot when sunbathing.

There was a lot of walking to do around the resort but at an all-inclusive this is a good thing as we tend to over-indulge, so the exercise was good. There are trams though if you feel like you can’t walk in the heat in the afternoon sun or after a long day. We did venture out to Playa del Carmen one day to do some shopping and I just want to warn you to be careful when dealing with the staff in some of the shops……know your prices and currency exchange ahead of time and don’t be conned into buying something at higher prices than they are worth. Actually the hotel store was a better bet price wise, although the selection wasn’t as good obviously.

As for the rooms…. they were nice. Our kids were in the lower level and we were in the higher level and I would definitely recommend the higher level room. The lower level room did seem to be musty smelling. The balconies were a nice size and nice for sitting out with a coffee in the morning or after sunbathing with a cool drink.

I read previous warnings about mosquitos and took bug repellant but did not have to use it. We got a few bites but nothing really …..not enough to use repellant for.

Snorkelling in the saltwater side was nice…..lots of colourful fish which do get fed but nice all the same.

The freshwater side seemed to have more stuff floating in the water as you were snorkelling so we didn’t stay there long. All in all we were pleasantly surprised with the whole resort, especially the service and the beach. I would definitely do the all-inclusive thing again and I would come back to this particular resort with or without the kids.

I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone with or without kids although it would be hard on older, less active people. It is a nice, exotic, relaxing place to be and a far cry from all the commercialism of Cancun. Give it a try…..you won’t be disappointed.

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Lance ~ Vancouver

March 2005

My wife, 12 year old son and I spent Spring Break (March 19-26/05) at this resort. In one word, it was tremendous. It exceeded our expectations in all aspects. The service was outstanding. The staff went out of their way to make our stay as pleasant as possible. They were extremely courteous and very friendly at all times.

Despite the size of the resort and its facilities, the upkeep was bordering on immaculate. The bathrooms at the beach were being constantly cleaned. Stafff picked weeds everyday throughout the grounds and regularly picked up the plants that were being washed up on the beach.

While the resort was fully booked due to spring break there were seldom line ups for anything. One night we waited 30 minutes for dinner at Bambu restaurant, but aside from that wait times at restaurants were not a factor. We waited no more than five minutes to obtain snorkel equipment during the middle of the afternoon, so changes must have been made since the July 2004 review posted on this page.

The resort is set in an "eco park" with plenty of wildlife and fauna. We preferred this setting to the concrete hotel setting. It made for a more informal, casual stay. It is relatively quiet and peaceful and not for the younger party crowd. We saw some of that element at the Cancun airport on our way home and were glad we stayed where we did.

We took the one hour eco tour and saw/learned about flamingos, turtles, birds inside the aviary, deer, crocodiles, raccoon-type animals and the cenotes. Contrary to the July 2004 review, there were several types of snakes in the serpentarium. I would recommend this eco tour.

During our stay, the guests were predominantly families with kids. Our son made friends with several kids his age and enjoyed playing volleyball and ping pong at the beach. He was never bored while at the resort.

The staff made the evening shows at the theatre a lot of fun for all ages and carried over the fun element to those who wanted to join them in the lobby bar after the theatre show.

Upon reading earlier reviews about mosquitoes we were fully armed with repellent, but didn’t use it once. Although I normally get eaten by bugs, they were not a factor here nor anywhere else we went.

We took tours to Chichen Itza and Coba through Chaza Travel. We found that the guide makes all the difference as we learned much, much more from our 2nd guide. Although the drive to Chichen Itza was 3 hours each way, and the temperature we were told was 40 degrees celcius, the site was nontheless very impressive. I would recommend taking at least one archeological tour. We also rented a car one day and drove to Tulum and Playa del Carmen – both of which are worthwhile visiting.

This resort is quite large and spread out, but there was a tram service and bikes. Between the two it was easy to get around.

We would return to Xpu-Ha Palace without hesitation!

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Dave ~ Indiana

March 2005

My wife and I spent 4 nights at Xpu-Ha Palace March 2-5, 2005: 1. If you stay here, plan on doing a lot of walking to get around-this is a big place (formerly an eco-park, it went out of business and was purchased by Palace Resorts). They have trams, but they always seemed to be going the opposite direction we were. They also have bikes you can use, but the 1st 2 I got on were broken, and I didn’t even bother after that. 2. Room-was great. We were on the go alot, and wished we could have spent more time on our balcony just lazing around. Try to get a 2nd floor room-they have a cathedral ceiling and you will have more room. I woke up every morning to the sound of exotic birds outside our window. 3. Food-was average, but like someone said in an earlier review, I don’t think you stay at an all-inclusive for the food. There are 3 restaurants-Ragazzi on the beach serves buffet, including buffet breakfast. There is also an Oriental rest. and one that alternates between Mexican and Italian. This was my first all-inclusive experience, and I am SOLD on the concept. 4. Service-OUTSTANDING. We stayed in Cancun our first 3 nights in Mexico (not at a Palace Resort) and the difference in service was like night and day. The staff at Xpu-Ha will work their tails off for you. They will never expect a tip, but are most grateful if you reward them for their efforts. 5. Tours-you are entitled to 2 included tours during your stay. We went to Chichen-Itza and Xcaret, and both were worth the trip. I also recommend the trip to Isla Mujeres with the boys from Aquaworld if just for the boat ride over and back-what a blast. 6. When staying at Xpu-Ha Palace this entitles you to visit any of the other Palace resorts-3 in the hotel zone of Cancun, 1 just south of Cancun (Moon Palace), and 1 just north of Xpu-Ha (Adventura Spa Palace). Moon and Adventura Spa are UNBELIEVEABLE! Xpu-Ha Palace is a very unique property-very laid back and relaxed. If you are looking for some low key R and R, this is the place. I give Xpu-Ha Palace and Palace Resorts in general my wholehearted endorsement.

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Richard ~ Canada

January 2005

My wife , 6 year old son and myself stayed at the Xpu-ha Palace hotel during the second week of January 05.

The accommodations, food and grounds were first rate and I would not hestitate to stay there again. The availability of bicycles, excellent on site snorkelling, animal collection and the eco- theme I thought worked well and was a bonus. Having travelled to the DR (twice), Barbados(twice) and Cuba I have seen a wide range of facilities and these were among the best. The staff, without exception were courteous and very polite. There was no pressure for tips but they were gratefully accepted.

It is a quiet laid back place- so don’t expect a wild atmosphere nor large vacuous concrete barracks blocks for rooms. The excursions to Tulum and Chichen Itza which were included in the all inclusive price were a tremendous value.

The only negative observation would be that the drinks were sometimes a little short on alcohol- but the cerveza was first rate and the availability of a decent size glass mug in the lobby bar was a welcome relief from the usual tiny plastic cups.

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Mark — USA

July 2004

My wife and I honeymooned at Xpu Ha Palace in July of 2004. Overall we had a great time, but there were some things we were disappointed with. First of all, the whole "eco-park" thing was really a let down. For example, the serpentarium consisted of mostly corn snakes, which you can see it every single pet store in the United States, the deer park and the aviary were off limits unless you went on an "ecological tour," and the turtle exhibit was just a bunch of yellow-bellied sliders. Also, we thought it would be great to kayak and explore the estuary, which is quite large, but they have a kayaking zone roped off and it takes about 10 minutes to do a circle around the entire thing. If you want to go snorkeling, you have to wait in line FOREVER to get the equipment, and they kept running out of it. The snorkeling inlet is cool but there isn’t too much diversity and it’s not really a reef. The only reason most of the fish are there is that they feed them. I recommend bringing your own snorkeling gear if you want to go a lot. On the other hand, we did see a green heron, tons of different reptiles, and some raccoons during the week we were there.

Another thing that was a problem for us was staying healthy. My wife got sick the 1st day we were there with some indigestion and I was violently ill the entire second day we were there. After that we didn’t have any more problems and we really have no idea what caused it, but be careful. The food was also frequently undercooked, specifically the meat. I got a hamburger one night which was extremely pink. Another problem with the food is that to get anything fresh for breakfast, like French toast, pancakes, eggs or for lunch/dinner, like chicken, steak or a burger, you have to wait in line at the grill. This often times took way too long and was a little frustrating. We also had a scorpion in our room one night, so if that kind of thing bothers you, you might want to think twice about Xpu Ha.

Next, the room. Our TV was broken when we got there and we notified maintenance of it the second day of our trip. However, they didn’t get around to fixing it until the night before we left. The only other problem I have with the rooms is that some rooms have a great ocean view and are fairly private, while others are right on the ground next to the path and are very public. And you have absolutely no control over which room you get. Even if you request a 2nd floor room, you will probably get stuck with a ground floor one – we did.

Aside from all these issues, Xpu Ha is a pretty cool resort. It is nice and spread out so you never feel cramped. There are a lot of plants and the greenery is nice. The pools are never crowded and most of the time felt very empty. The service was excellent and the Mexican people were very kind and sincere. It is also a great place for families. There were lots of kids around all the time as well as couples. It was a nice mix. So I would recommend it as a resort, but if you know anything about ecology, you’re going to be disappointed.

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Brian

April 2004

We stayed at the xpu-ha (eesh-pu-ha) palace April 18-25, 2004. We really enjoyed it. It’s a very different vacation, not for the elderly as there is a lot of walking to do, it’s very spread out. They do have electric golf trams to carry you around. If you’re looking for ultra-luxury, I’m not sure this is the place, but it’s very, very nice. The service and people are top notch, the food is good (no one got sick), plenty of bars and drinks. The 3 restaurants served a good mix of food, although I don’t think you go to an all-inclusive for the food. The pools were nice and the beach is very nice. There is a beach bar and restaurant. Also, there is drink service on the beach. The rooms were very unique, I really liked them. Ours had an ocean view, try to get those because there is more privacy. Some are on the pathways to the beach or pools. Also, ask for a room on the top. They are two stories and the ones on the bottom don’t have a cathedral ceiling which makes a big difference. Don’t bother booking a snorkling trip, we did and it was a waste, not good at all and the snorkling on the resort is better. The nights are on the quiet side which was fine. You can go into playa del carmen for fun, (senor frogs). It was very nice and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a little something different. The maid service was excellent and people were great. You felt like you were in a well run hotel where service was important.

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Kyle and Terri — Milwaukee

February 2004

My wife and I stayed at XPU-HA Feb. 21-24. Other than 3 hours spent "up the street" at the nearby Adventura resort, we never left. There is no need to leave XPU-HA. Each and every employee at XPU-HA treated us like family. I want to touch on other things, but make no mistake, the staff at XPU-HA is extremely courteous. I can’t touch on this enough, but I’ll fill you in on some other things. The resort is spread out. Catch the tram to bounce around or grab a bike. They have bikes at the end of the lobby bar that everyone uses. There is supposedly a time limit on these, but all over the place you see these leaning against someone’s place. Do the tram or a bike a few times to figure out where you are going or where you want to be. The tram is 7am to midnight and the bike’s are there. The food is plentiful for all meals and all food groups. Eat by the beach or wherever you end up. Don’t worry about some overblown sit-down dinner. We had that at the Bamboo and Mariachi side on different nights. The atmosphere was somewhat different, but the service everywhere is the same. It’s all good. Room service is fine as well. The room we had was an upper with tiled or marble floors. Rock floor. Awesome room. No noise from the lower. Recommend the 2000’s because they are right on the Ocean. There is a cool walkway right on the Ocean in front of these rooms. Not to mention the cool breeze. This resort was a quiet, all inclusive, jungle setting with a few animal habitats with complimentary tours. Grab a bike and relax on the nice beach!!!!!

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Doug and Faith – Massillon, OHIO

February 2004

We had a great week at the Xpu-Ha Palace 2/3 to 2/10. We picked the Xpu-Ha Palace after reading dozens of trip reports on various websites. I hope that you find this trip report both entertaining and helpful. Xpu-Ha means "where the waters mix" referring to the mix of the ocean and the fresh water from the cenote. A cenote is a exposed underground river which appears to be a lake or pond. It flows to the ocean via underground tunnels. At the Xpu-Ha Palace the edge of the ocean is only about 20 feet from the edge of the cenote.

Our package was booked with USAIR vacations leaving Akron, OH at 5:50 AM. A 30 minute connection in Charlotte (WHEW!) had us at the Cancun airport at 10 AM. I was edgy due to all the trip report horror stories about the Cancun airport but we were through immigration, baggage claim, customs and over to Hertz rent a car in about 20 minutes. I had made a internet reservation for a small 4 door, stick and air. I was happy with the rate of $200 for the week and that included the tank of fuel. This was my first experience with mexican drivers and they were very wild and aggressive. Even if I was exceeding the speed limit with a line of cars in front of me and a line of cars coming at me, the taxi or transfer driver behind me had to pass. The trip to the Xpu-Ha Palace took about a hour and check in was quick and easy. A hotel rep took us to the bar for a drink and to explain everything about the resort. This only took 15 minutes and I am glad we listened. We picked the Reptile section of the resort. We could not get a ocean view but were happy with the room being close to the beach, pool, theatre, cenote, snorkeling inlet and the Ragazzi for breakfast.

Every morning we ate made to order eggs, pancakes and french toast along with a full buffet and fresh juices at the beachfront Ragazzi. Lunch was always the the Caleta which sat on the snorkeling inlet. A BBQ grill prepared fresh burgers, hotdogs, chicken, beef and fish along with a small buffet and a full bar. Dinners were the best. We always ate at the Mariachi/Bambu. This was one large building seperated by a reception area. The Mariachi side had Mexican food every night and the Bambu side alternated Oriental and Italian food. Each table was assigned two waiters and they were funny and entertaining. They treated us special with tableside flaming dinners and desserts. We felt like we were among their favorites as they entertained us with magic tricks and spanish lessons. I thought that the food was always very good. This restaurant was on the other side of the resort from the Reptile section but only a 10 minute walk after we discovered the shortcut. We always enjoyed the walk through the warm "jurassic park". If you did not feel like walking it was usually just a 5 minute wait for a ride.

DAY 2 I was up early to start my vacation video with a Mexican sunrise. On my way to the other side of the snorkeling inlet, in the dark, I was startled by two guys with BIG guns. I quickly realized that they were security on patrol. After breakfast we drove the car to the Tulum ruins, about 30 minutes. The admission was $5 each and a $3 fee for the video camera. We toured the ruins by ourselves briefly listened to other groups guides. It was pretty hot and we were glad that we did not do the hotels half day tour. Afterwards we drove through Tulum city but did not see anyplace that we wanted to stop.

DAY 3 After breakfast we did the 9am cenote kayak tour, very interesting but we never saw a manatee. After vegging out at the pool/beach for the day we decided to drive up the Adventura/Spa Palace for dinner. This resort is Adults only. It was huge, 2000 rooms I was told. The grounds were impressive and the pool was much bigger that the Xpu-Ha pools but the Adventura/Spa did not have a beach. We chose to eat at the Oriental restaurant described on the map as ELEGANT. It turned out to be a buffet. We had a few drinks and decided to return to the Xpu-Ha for a really elegant full service oriental dinner.

DAY 4 We drove up to Playa del Carmen to catch the ferry to Cozumel. It was $18 each round trip and took about 35 minutes. We parked at 10th/Juarez for $1 hour. While waiting for the ferry talked to some timeshare salesmen, some pushy, some nice. They warned us that things were more expensive on Cozumel and they were right. We shopped around Cozumel dodging activity salespeople and listening to the shop owners banter (check it out, almost free, come in, meet my sister). Faith was looking for a nice bracelet but she did not find anything. We ate lunch at the Hard Rock and returned, never again. DAY 5 I took my first scuba lesson in the Xpu-Ha cenote. $60 for the equipment, lesson and a 40 minute dive. The cenote was only 20 foot deep but had many interesting caves and caverns. I liked it so much that I scheduled a ocean dive for Monday. Later we head over to the Lapis Jewelry Factory across from Puertas Adventuras to continue the search for the bracelet. This is the biggest jewelry store I have ever seen. The salesman started big in the $9000 case, I was hoping to get out for $300. Faith finds a beautiful fire opal and heavy gold bracelet marked at $1000. We negiotiate to $480. Who knows if that was a good deal but Faith really likes the bracelet.

DAY 6 Spend the day at the beach but it clouds up and begins to spinkle at 3 so we decide to drive up and check out Cancun, shop at the Moon Palace golf shop and maybe eat dinner at the Moon Palace. We are in awe at the endless line of beautiful resorts. I guarantee that you will not catch me here at spring break. We stop at the Hard Rock to buy my traditional vacation sweatshirt. We head over to the Moon Palace and stop to fuel the car. I was leary because of trip reports regarding gasoline purchases. I tell the attendant $100 pesos and watch him reset the pump, no problem, 10 peso tip, Adios. We stop by the Moon Palace golf shop and buy some stuff for our son. We head over to the Moon Palace and find this to be the biggest noisiest resort yet. The check in reminded me of a airport. We look around and decide to return to the Xpu-Ha for dinner.

DAY 7 picked up at 8:30am by Dive Adventura for a short trip to their school at the Omni resort in Puertas Adventuras. $85 for 30 minutes of class, 30 minutes practice in the pool and 45 minutes of diving on Castle reef at about 40-50 feet. It was fun but I was disappointed that the reef was mostly dead. I have snorkeled on better reefs with more life. Back to the Xpu Ha by 1 to meet Faith and we spend the rest of the day snorkeling in the cenote and the inlet.

DEPARTURE We arrive at the Cancun airport 3 hours early and are glad we did. After turning in the Hertz car we find the check in line at USAIR to be pretty long. It took about 90 minutes to get our bags searched and check in. We pick up some last minute booze at the duty free(best prices) and head over to our gate A5. About 10 minutes before boarding the sign changes to read Philly instead of Charlotte. One guy gets upset and somebody announces that we need to move to B19, far away. Massive people move but their is a metal detector checkpoint between A5 and B19, alot of nervous people. We get to B19 and the sign reads boarding but their is no plane. ????? Two buses pull up to the gate and there is another massive move of bodies. A announcement says that we will not be boarding the buses for 10 minutes and some people back off. Finally, we board the busses and drive over to somewhere close to A5. I am thinking that I hope that the air traffic controllers are more organized than the operations people.

NOTES 1. We overpacked again even thought we tried not to 2. Took bug spray but never used it, saw a few flies and ants 3. most workers were friendly and fun loving. we laughed our way through any language barriers. They did not expect tips but we rewarded outstanding service often and they really appreciated it. I know that the workers enjoyed the friendly and happy guests and tried to avoid the grouchy, complaining and demanding jerks. There were a few grouchy workers but everybody has a bad day 4. Always plenty of chairs, no saving 5. mini fridge in room worked well and was restocked every other day with 6 beers, 8 waters, and a assortment of soda. there is a ice machine in the middle of each group of huts 6. seaweed was cleaned off the beach early each morning 7. TV reception and channel selection was poor but who cares. Nickoledean for the kids 8. different activities at night but we were usually exhausted after dinner. We did watch a entertaining salsa dance show one night 9. gift shop selection and prices were as good as anything we say 10. we never got sick, we took pepto daily. we were very careful to check that the food was cooked well. I am sure from previous travels that alot of people who get sick have eaten undercooked food. There is alot of pressure to prepare alot of food fast and I know that undercooked food gets out 11 $1 = 10.8 peso, rarely needed pesos, dollars are fine but watch the exchange rate 12. We always rent a car 13. Maids do a nice job and make fun towel animals. 14. I took 100 $1s and was happy to give most of them away

15. in room whirlpool is fun. We put half of a bottle of bubble bath and that was way too much

Please feel free to email me if you have any comments or questions at dougbrainerd@sssnet.com

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Xpu-Ha Palace – Mayan Riviera Bill and Gerry — USA

February 2004

JANUARY 22-29 XPU-HA, (esshpooha)

Left the ASP and transferred over to the XPu-Ha. You immediately enter a jungle type atmosphere. Two story bungalows in groups of about five. Very nice rooms with large balconies. Check in was smooth and friendly and a driver drove us to our room on a golf cart.

We got a top floor in the reptile village,(GEKO) with our balcony overlooking the sea just a few yards below with the waves crashing on the rocks. The balcony has a large double lounge chair and hammock. Trees and bushes all around the bungalows up to your balconies.

We were only five or six minutes walk to the beach and beach restaurant on a nice walk beside the sea. On the West side of our bungalow only about two minutes walk was a large lagoon surrounded by Jungle where you can take a sea kyak out or snorkel. Beautiful and relaxing.

Again after getting to know the property it was easy to get around. You could either walk or wait for a golf cart which comes every few minutes.

The XPU-HA beach is great. I would say about 2 miles long, with beautiful water. We would take the four mile round trip walk every day after breakfast. You walk past the Cococabana hotel and the last one is Robinson hotel. Most of the Europeans were on the South end of the beach opposite of the xpu-ha. That is where you would find a few topless. Only saw one at the xpu-ha beach. None were walking on the beach.

On the paths at xpu-ha you will see crocodiles, flamingos, and other wild life. Along the path on the sea you will see large iguanas once in a while. There is a large bird sanctuary.

The food did not seem as good as at the ASP but was good enough. We ate breakfast at the beach every day and it was great. our other favorite was the Mexican just ten minutes walk from our room. Again the service was great and the staff extremely friendly and ready to help with anything.

On a rating of one to ten, again I would give the xpu-ha a ten. I would recommend both the ASP and the Xpu-Ha. its kind of a toss up which one we liked the best but we think we would prefer to stay at the xpu-ha and visit the ASP or vice versa.

Getting out of the Cancun airport was no problem. But would you know that when we landed at the Dayton Ohio airport, we landed in a snow storm and the temperature this morning in five below zero. Am have a time trying to warm up. BRRR

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