Apple Vacations Traveller Reviews
We really enjoyed ourselves at the Playacar Palace. The staff was top notch. Everyone greeted us with smiling faces and were eager to assist us. Francisco, the bartender, was always a pleasure to see in the morning and afternoon. He takes pride in what he does and it shows through on the service he provided us. Erik in customer service was very helpful and answered any questions we had. He went above and beyond to help us any chance he got. This vacation will be hard to beat and we look forward to coming back. Thank you for everything!!
A Non-Members View
Positives included the swimming pool and beach; the close proximity to Playa del Carmen's shops and restaurants; and, the closeness to the pier that provided transportation to Playa del Carmen. The smallness of the hotel also provided for a very relaxed environment without the need to get up early just to get a chair either at the beach or pool area. The hotel could use another restaurant for those who stay 7 days or more. Another food venue would have been greatly appreciated. The biggest disappointment was we ended up with a room with a beautiful view, but no balcony. We've never been to a highly rated resort in a room with no balcony. The bad part was that no where on the resort website (and while making reservations) does it state that there are rooms with no balcony's. Upon arrival, and getting our room, I immediately requested a move, but was told that the rooms with a balcony would be given to members, but we could upgrade to a suite for an additional $1000 for the week to have a balcony. We even asked to be contacted when guests moved out, but were never contacted by anyone from the hotel in 7 days. In fact, of the 6 or 7 calls I made to the front desk, my calls were never answered. Very disappointed. In addition, once we indicated that we were not interested in becoming a "Palace" member, help from the hotel staff became very limited.
Playacar Palace is exactly what I want in a beach resort, so I’m reviewing the resort in the order of what my priorities are; with the beach first.
Beach: It is the best beach in the Riviera Maya for swimming. I’ve stayed at several resorts in Mexico and in Punta Cana and none compare to this. The sand is still soft, white, and plentiful. You can wade well past any breaking waves (when they have them) and still stand up. The water is clear and beautiful. The water was unusually rough when we were there and it was still very swimmable. There were always beach chairs available and although there is only one beach side bar, the staff is always walking by and taking drink orders.
Location: Again, a perfect location. One block from the pedestrian Fifth Ave. in Playa del Carmen, next to the pier for the ferry to Cozumel, and yet it never looked or felt overcrowded. Senor Frog’s is next door but was never too loud (but it wasn’t spring break either).
The Hotel: Unusual but met all my needs. It is actually the old Continental Hotel that was bought, gutted and rebuilt by “Palace”. It is white; stark white. There is no Mayan or Mexican influence in the decor so if you want large palapa reception areas, and trails through jungle gardens with iguanas, coatimundis and monkeys, you won’t find them here. Instead the resort takes on a bit of a chameleon presence with a little Brazilian bossa nova music, good jazz, hip hop by the pool during the day and even a country song or two. It is small (200 rooms) and it looks like they all have ocean views. Everything is very close together, which I like. Reception area has one bar. There is a huge second story outdoor veranda overlooking the ocean, one buffet dining area next to the pool. The one outdoor bar serves the beach, the poolside and the swim up bar. One gift shop, one sports bar, an outstanding Italian restaurant and a Japanese restaurant. Everything looks towards the ocean. The entire resort appears to be handicapped accessible in a very subtle way that just incorporates into the design. The pool is nice but not one of the huge, ½ mile long rivers with fountains, bridges and waterfalls; those exist but not here. The pool is right on the beach, small to average in size and usually had available chairs. Water activities, kid’s area, swim up bar, even a ping pong table in the water are all there, but I prefer the ocean.
The food: I’ve been to enough all inclusives to not expect great food; however this was the best (still not great). They’ve added a wood fired grill to the outdoor bar so you can get good pizzas day and night. The Italian restaurant is close to great and unlike the usual so-so theme restaurants in other resorts. It has a modern and changing menu with things like pumpkin risotto and a parmesan soup. Husband said the beef was excellent. I think the buffet worked well with this size resort. Food just appeared fresher and there were no mobs of people.
Staff: Being a smaller resort, you get to know them staff and their shifts. Everyone from the girls that walk untold miles every day taking drink orders on the beach, to the waiters who always remember your name and how you like your coffee. Antonio usually met us as we walked in the door with a smile and a handshake. Angel at the reception bar is a gem; professional and knowledgeable. But everyone was eager to help and here’s the best part; they all appeared to enjoy working there and they all seemed to work as a team. The front reception area was a little more chaotic when we were there and the physical reception area is not terribly impressive to look at, but they did their best. We had paid for a small upgrade for our room and ended up with a substantial upgrade to a suite (Other than getting there late on a crowded night, we’re still not sure how that happened). There are many people doing many things in that area and it was confusing when you had a question. Best bet is the “public relations” desk to the left of check in.
Specials: There is a 1500 dollar resort credit that can be used for many things. Don’t know if this is a permanent offer. Anyway, previous reviewers were correct when they say it can be tricky. You pay fees and taxes and the quoted base price is usually inflated. Still, we had a nice wine upgrade at the Italian restaurant and brought back a couple of tequila sampler boxes for very little money. We were not asked to take a time share tour but I think others were. The gift shop will let you use 40 credit dollars but only if you spend 100 dollars. You’ll get better deals in town if you like to bargain. Or if you hate to spend time haggling over prices, the gift shops at the Cancun airport have decent prices.
Entertainment: I seldom go to the shows at resorts but these were amazing. I loved the water ballet in the pool, try not to miss it. I think their overall entertainment is much better than any place I’ve stayed in the past. The weddings (of which they have many) look beautiful and I don’t think they cost much (if anything) extra to set up. I watched their photographers on the beach and was so impressed with their creative poses, set ups etc.
The Riviera Maya has great places to stay and explore but I doubt that I will find a place better than this one.
Had a rocky start
The day the Apple rep drove us to the hotel he tried to let us off at a hotel that was not ours. He did not speak hardly any English I insisted this was not ours and I was not getting off because I would never get to ours without it costing an arm and a leg, so he drove on, I showed him my paper work next he tried to drop us at the Riu palace, once again I said I was not getting out. He was pretty frustrated as well as I was. Finally he asked at another hotel that just has palace in the name. On the way home we had a delayed flight because something with the crew in St.Louis. After sitting 5 1/2 hours at the airport we finally got out of Cancun. They gave us a 5.00 voucher for lunch but our lunch was 60.00 at the airport. Also I liked that we bought an upgrade at the airport each way 20 dollars a piece to board first a couple drinks and a snack. I wouldn't have bothered paying the 40 dollar on the way home cause we sat soo long at airport I was starting to be fit to be tied. As far as resort it was great but getting there with the Apple rep was very frustrating!
My wife and I arrived @ 12- not able to access our room until 3pm. We were given a double and not able to be moved to a king-so slept in separate beds all 4 nights... The wait staff/service people were very kind and helpful all throughout our stay. The beaches were nice-no rocks or strong currents but littered with a lot of trash and a ton of seaweed. We met a couple that said they found a vile of blood on the beach the 1st day and wouldn't go back- it wouldn't surprise me.
One week before our trip we were told by Apple vacations that our return flight thru Air Tran was cancelled and we needed to book something else ourselves that ended up costing us $667 more! Ironically we were put in a van from another hotel getting on our cancelled Air Tran flight to Atlanta...needless to say were were furious. It was a very expensive 4 days of subpar paradise. I will never book thru Apple Vacations again.
Room service left a lot to be desired.on 3 occasions they either got the order wrong or forgot to bring items.looked like they just threw it together.food was descent.in one rest. Our waiter was tasked with other duties hence food was delayed and presented in the wrong order,but good when we got it
TripAdvisor Traveller Reviews
Wonderful Dining and Employee Service
My wife and I are Palace Resorts VIP members and have been to most Palace properties. We went to Playacar for the first time in May 2018 to experience the adjacent city atmosphere of Playa Del Carmen.
The dining was exceptional. My wife is a celiac (gluten free) and the restaurant staff made sure that we had a great dining experience. Mateo, the restaurant floor manager, discussed the various restaurants and prepared the wait staff for our visit. We've been to many Palace Resort restaurants and Playacar's Italian restaurant was the BEST gluten free meal my wife has ever had. The wait service at both the Italian and Asian (Momo) was superb. The chefs knew exactly how to modify their offerings to meet my wife's gluten free requirements. We were saddened to find out that we could not eat at the Mayan restaurant, since it's very small kitchen they have no ability to segregate their gluten items from non-gluten items. We were thankful that Mateo described the situation. Heck, we could eat every night at the Italian restaurant and be extremely happy.
The staff was gracious, as we have found with all the Palace Resort properties. Whatever the formula is that Palace uses to train and keep employees, it works really well. We felt valued and respected. Bravo.
One item that was not to our liking was the layout of the hotel's interior that emphasized an open air environment in the hallways and common areas. Rooms, the nightclub, and 4 out of 5 restaurants were enclosed and air conditioned. However, the rest of the resort was exposed to the outside air, so if it happened to be a humid day (or night), you were hit with humidity the moment you left your room. As a result, on humid nights, we stayed in the nightclub.
The resort's location next to the ferry dock is certainly convenient for going to Cozumel but if the wind is blowing from the east, you can sometimes smell the diesel exhaust of the ferries (perhaps a poorly tuned boat engine), especially if we sat on the beach, not so much if we were sitting on the pool deck behind the glass screens. The beach has the typical seaweed line, like you get at Moon Palace. Not a surf beach. You can easily step over the seaweed line, so not really a problem.
[Not a Playacar Palace issue but noteworthy] Lastly, when leaving the resort to walk along the nearby 5th ave, where all the shops are located, some of the mom & pop shop merchants have "representatives" that approach you and chat with you to get you into their store. While this is not uncommon behavior for Mexican/Cancun merchants, the ones on 5th ave target people wearing the Palace wrist bands and make you believe that the "representatives" are Palace waiters or bellboys, in an attempt to create a connection with you. Most likely they are NOT Palace employees. We heard the same sad "I live with my grandmother" story multiple times. We walked on 5th the first day we arrived, before we met with any Palace waiters, so we knew that none of them actually met us at the Playacar Palace resort. So beware and be strong.
...and that's why we keep coming back
This year marked our eighth return to the Playacar Palace and I think that after the remodeling we were more excited to return than ever. The size of the hotel is intimate â€“ it seems like everybody knows everybody. The staff at Playacar treat us like family and many remember us from prior visits. We were excited to return this year to see the upgrades after the remodeling. We booked up a different restaurant every night, each one a unique experience. From the moment we checked in, Paola made all of the reservations, gave recommendations, and accommodated all of the changes to the original plans plus changes to the changes. She was also very patient with my Spanish and helped me make the changes to be grammatically correct. Abigail in guest services, a long time friend, helped to make our stay there wonderful.
There was Shabu Shabu, Japanese style hotpot, a romantic table with a nearly private server, Ayanei, who was very helpful since it was a new experience for us. Alkimia had been redone and was served at a table for 10. Wine pairing to each of the courses could not have been better. Lahna, the tequila cellar restaurant was amazing. Each course was a traditional Mayan recipe and our servers Madeline and Cesario told the story of each course. A tequila pairing could be made of each course and added a finishing touch. The Brazilian Grill served up slices of grilled meat, pork, chicken, chorizo, beef until we had to tell the server that we could not eat another biteâ€¦ then he brought the desert menu. Dining at each of these restaurants is a must do! The other nights we ate at restaurants that have been standards at Playacar. There is the teppanyaki grill and Mario still puts on a great show and interject humor into each dinner that he prepares. Also in Momo, the Asian restaurant we were pleased to see Jonathan the manager and Marisol the hostess. The Italian restaurant Terraza was a great spot to get a steak. Our servers Raphael and Pedro saw to every need and made our meal there very special. I recommend checking out each of the restaurants and itâ€™s often necessary to make reservations as quickly as possible.
We spent a lot of time at the pool. Conversation with other guest was easy and we met some very nice people there. The pool bartenders are amazing. Carolina might be one of the newest, but she is one of the best! The other bartenders, Benito, Joel, Herlin, Juilian, Carmen & Guilermo all worked hard to make sure that everyone got exactly what they wanted. And special thanks to Reyna, Josaphina, Eder, Daniela Sylvia, Sandra, and Keyla who worked tirelessly to bring drinks and food from the snack bar.
Breakfast. Easy to dawdle and just take in the beauty of the Caribbean. Nearly every day we were greeted by Elizabeth who worked hard to make sure that every detail was just right. Sometimes inside, sometimes outside but Olivia found us a table wherever we wanted to sit. Olivia was another one of the staff who remembered us from past visits. Inside, Porfirio worked hard to make sure we had whatever we wanted. Cappuccino routinely arrived without needing to ask and nothing was a problem. Outside it was Dionisio. Polite, great conversation and made us iced coffee with tequila cream (yum, ask him for one).
The lobby bar is a wonderful place for a quiet drink when there isnâ€™t a show going on. I tried a variety of tequilas and Francisco would always give me tastes until I found one that I liked. And the lobby bar servers, Juan, Paulina, Roger, Felipe, and Ivonne are right there for any requests.
Itâ€™s the service here that brings us back time after time. We see the value of our membership and that is why we come to Playacar.
First time staying at Playacar Palace. I have been to other Palace resorts and, being a travel agent, multiple resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean for work and for fun.
The hotel greeted us with a welcome drink and a fresh flower for my wife. Check in was easy, room wasn't ready when we got there around 11am but they emailed us when it was. Rooms have been renovated and were nice and clean. I love the rain showers and the Palace whirlpools that comes in their rooms. Beds are soft and comfy. Good selection of in-room liquors and they have Anheuser Busch brand beers in the mini-fridge. Snack bar was restocked everyday. On our anniversary we were given a lovely turn down service and a special chocolate treat.
For those people that have been hearing online of staff doing terrible things to guests at some resorts, Playacar Palace has in place measure for guest safety. The staff would not enter my room with me and my wife in it, until they had asked for permission to come in and permission was granted. They also left the door open for the entire time that they were in the room. That went for the bellman, room service, etc.
Found the food quality to be very good. Smaller buffet so not overwhelmed by food choices. The Brazilian steakhouse has good quality meats. The Italian was good. (I saw a cook making fresh pasta before dinner so it wasn't store bought noodles). My wife liked the Asian restaurant here more than she liked the one at LeBlanc (that's saying something). Great waiter Alberto and manager Jonathan helped me out a lot. Our favorite was the Lahna Restaurant with authentic Yucatan food and the waiter Cesareo was very attentive to us.
Room service was very quick and the menu is on the TV so look there when figuring out what food (from the huge list) of what to order.
The beach was nice and the sand soft. Always was able to find a chair with umbrella on the beach. The beach service was good and food/drinks came often. There is seaweed but its everywhere in Riviera Maya and the staff did as much as they could to bury it in a timely manner. The pool was clean and the swim up bar service was quick.
Nightly shows at 9pm were top notch with performers brought in each night to entertain the guests. No hokey shows here.
3rd Time and Still Loving It!
This is our third time visiting the Playacar Palace and we still absolutely love it! It's small and easy to navigate which creates a personal experience when we are there. You have the same waiters and entertainment staff each day that learn your name and make you feel like you're the only people there. They seem to enjoy their job too. Fonya and Cain with the entertainment staff spend their entire day setting up activities and are always fun and entertaining. Fonya is like the energizer bunny leading yoga, paddle board crossfit, volleyball, etc. She is really great! Our bartender poolside was Carolina and she was absolutely amazing! She is like a chemist back there putting love into each drink! She was so sweet! Our poolside waiters, Benito and Carmelino, were both amazing each day and never let our hands be empty with drinks, food, and water! Mario was our hibachi cook at MOMO each time we have went and he does an amazing job entertaining us and cooking awesome food. Each morning we ate at the buffet and sat in the same seats to have Edgar as our waiter and he was absolutely great. He was very attentive and brought us special requests each morning that would just be waiting on us as we sat down. Israel, our waiter for lunches at the buffet, was also amazing! He made us his
All inclusive resort
Great location, friendly staff, clean rooms. This was booked and paid for as part of a work trip. Upon arriving there, we were warmly greeted and went to a separate area as a group check in and it was very efficient. Most of us tired from a almost being in the air for 24 hours. This hotel is located conveniently on the doorstep of 5th avenue and the pier. However being right next to the pier the beach isn't the best.
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