In early June, I had the pleasure and honour of going to Mexico for my friends’ Buttin and Jen’s wedding. We went to Barcelo Maya Palace on the Mayan Riviera. It’s about 1 hour South of Cancun, and 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen (20 or less if you find a driver who will zoom down the highway at 120+). Barcelo Maya has 5 resorts all in a row. We stayed at the best one which I think was a 5 star resort. With our All-Inclusive package we had access to all of the other resorts too. It didn’t work the other way around. The problem is, if you are at the Palace, you would have no reason to go to the other resorts because it gets crappier and crappier down the line. Only visited two other resorts, and it was a lot worse, from the quality of the ammenities, to the food at the buffet. Ours was definitely best. My friends visited all of the other locations and it truly got worse and worse. I think I only visited one other resort to watch the hockey game,and the sensor on the urinal was broken, and the soap dispenser was just barely staying on the wall. That same buffet was also really lacking compared to ours. We went during Asian theme night, and they had really limited selection.
For the most part the service was really good except for three places. First was the reception – they are usually good, but so freaking slow! Checking in took almost an hour, and checking out took over an hour. We kept our bus waiting! For us to check out literally took 15 seconds because I had cleared our room bill a couple hours before hand, so we just had to give them our room keys. But the wait in line took ages. They really need a separate check out line.
Anyways, I was really impressed by the Barcelo Maya Palace, in most aspects. The resort looked great, was clean, had better than expected food at the buffets. Everyday that we were there, they had different food. Our buffet had 4 sections where you can get a cook to make fresh food for you – steaks (yup, we had a steak or two a day!), teppanyaki, pasta, tacos, and more. For breakfast, they had omlette stations. For lunch there was even a tequila bar. The buffet was great, and would’ve been happy eating there everyday for every meal because they had lots of variety, and most of the food was pretty decent or good for a buffet. But, with our package, we were able to book as many a la carte dinners as we want. We booked three – Caribbean, French, and Brazilian. Kind of regret doing it though, the managerial staff at the restaurants were horrible control freaks and had no sense of customer care. I’ll start with the good:
Caribe (the Caribbean, Fish restaurant). Pretty good, excellent waiters and had a good time although I couldn’t eat much from the menu because it was a seafood restaurant overall. The food was only OK for me. My food wasn’t that good. Yup, that was the good for the a la cartes. Aside from your three courses, they have a bar in the middle for salads, hams, cheeses, and other vegetables. They start you off with bread and butter. They gave us 4 different butters, with one weird strawberry flavoured one. One kind of gross thing was that one of the clams had a dead little crab in it. I ordered a suckling pulled pork, which was lacking in flavour.
Brasserie (French restaurant). We take partial blame because although we booked before hand, a few people in our group decided to test the theory that you don’t really need closed toe shoes, and long pants. Fail, and I blame my friends. Since we were “late” we had to sit outside for dinner. It started off OK, but once the sun disappeared it was torture. We were being eaten alive by mosquitos! There was no netting like some of the other dining areas have, so we were easily attacked by dozens of mosquitoes. We were only able to try our appetizer course before it was unbearable, and requested to sit inside. There was plenty of room for our 6 person group inside and after 10-15 minutes of repeated requests we decided to just walk out. We were able to have our appetizer. The escargot was humungous and had a really good garlicky butter sauce. I’m not a fan of escargot though due to the texture, and knowing what it is. I had a pate, which was pretty good. I was pretty excited for the main course which would have been lamb, but it was honestly torture.
Rodizio (Brazilian restaurant). For this one we had a really big party, and I’m not sure why we booked it for so many people. We could have gone in smaller groups. Again, we were told to sit outside, however we requested to sit in smaller groups, and they obliged as long as we finished within an hour so the next group could sit. We were given a plate of vegetables and potato to eat with our meat. This is really similar to Samba’s, where they have servers walking around with large meat on skewers. Most of the meat was pretty flavourful and tender. We however didn’t receive the sauces (chimichurri). Well, we were able to finish our dinner, but decided to go outside for a bigger table so we can all chat and enjoy dessert together. The desserts were pretty good, and guess what, by the time we finished our dessert, it should have been well into the next dining time, but there were plenty of empty tables.
Wedding food was better than most of the a la cartes for me, because one, the service was good, two our friends were getting married and it was a fun reception, and three, I was actually given special courses because some courses were seafood. The first was a scallop ceviche served in a coconut. I was given shredded duck wrapped in a crepe like thing. Then we were all given french onion soup. For the main, we had steak and lobster, but I was just given the steak.
Jaguars was the club. They have go go dancers dancing up high, and pretty good music. They’d have short dance lessons for certain songs, and the club gets into it. I’m happy to say we got the party started on the wedding day, because it was completely dead when we got in. It was a rocking party a few minutes after. Really fun time since the alcohol is free. That being said, the alcohol and tequila used was pretty disgusting. We didn’t get the premium alcohol that our bracelets should have given us here. But with so many people and not much light, they probably can’t control what alcohol to use. They also free poured a lot of the shots into large plastic cups. The shots were way too much for a shot, and often left me gagging. But the 3-4 times we went, we had a lot of fun.
I do recommend this place, aside from the long waits at the Lobby, and the crappy managerial staff at some of the a la cartes, we had a really good time. Everyone enjoyed themselves. They have excellent ammenities that you can use at the beach. Some are free, some cost money. Free things include kayaks, snorkel gear, paddle bike things, and wind surfing. You’ll have to pay for parasailing, and jet skiing. The price for parasailing was about $65 per person. The jet skiing was similar to how much it costs here. Massages within the resort are the same as they are here too at about $80 an hour.
Now with my first all-inclusive resort being a 5 star restaurant, can I settle for less on my next trip? I don’t think I’d want to spend this much again…