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mtp51
01-02-2008, 06:04 PM
I am doing a site visit/pre-planning/vacation to the new Beach Palace in a couple of days. If anyone is interested in feedback, I will also tour Cancun Palace, Sun Palace and the new Isla Mujeres Palace. The Beach is totally rebuilt and just opened mid-Dec. Cancun & Sun had complete renovations after Wilma. I have also stayed at both the Moon Palace & Aventura Spa Palace in the last couple of years so I can comment on both.

Ned
01-02-2008, 06:29 PM
I for one will look forward to your report. I'm trying to come up with an "inexpensive" vacation for the spring. We love archeology, so I was thinking of a few days at the Yucatan ruins, including a quick flight to Tikal for the day, where my wife hasn't been, followed up by a few days at a Cancun resort. I know logistically it's a possibility, but knowing the true condition of Cancun is essential to the trip.

jfrenaye
01-02-2008, 06:36 PM
Ned--stay out of CUN proper and head south to the Riviera Maya. I like the Secrets Capri--luxurious but not over the top and not too much of a budget breaker. If you are in CUN, I say Dreams is a great hotel (one of the World's Leading Hotels). The RM is a lot less crowded a little more refined and not too much of Spring Break central in the spring. Closer to the ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum. If you are looking for a lower cost sort of eco resort (but it is large) I like the Occidental Grand Xcaret.

But Marge will have some good stuff when she comes back---any excuse to get down there eh Marge?

Ned
01-02-2008, 10:43 PM
I'm not looking for an economy resort. I'm just not looking for a "buster" price. For example, the Marriott Resort down there, for an ocean view room is not a problem, price wise. I'm looking to hit Chichen Itza, Becan, Palenque, and Uxmal, and Tikal if possible. I just wanted to top it off with a short resort stay and maybe do some snorkeling. We've had a string of very expensive trips lately, and I wanted to take a less expensive trip this time to get away from things in early spring, but not at college spring break of course.

We're not going to be able to take a summer vacation this year due to scheduling problems, but I am planning to probably hit Aruba in the late fall, but that's a cheapie, as we stay in a friend's timeshare there. We have a very good arrangement with them. They have a second one, and we all go down and spend a week or two together.

Ned--stay out of CUN proper and head south to the Riviera Maya. I like the Secrets Capri--luxurious but not over the top and not too much of a budget breaker. If you are in CUN, I say Dreams is a great hotel (one of the World's Leading Hotels). The RM is a lot less crowded a little more refined and not too much of Spring Break central in the spring. Closer to the ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum. If you are looking for a lower cost sort of eco resort (but it is large) I like the Occidental Grand Xcaret.

But Marge will have some good stuff when she comes back---any excuse to get down there eh Marge?

ebrener
01-03-2008, 08:25 AM
Have a good tripe, Marge. I will be in Playa del Carmen next week, staying at the Playacar Palace, and visiting at least the Aventura Spa Palace as well.

We'll compare notes later :)

Regards,

Enrique

flip
01-03-2008, 08:51 AM
Enrique - I have potential wedding party of 50+ looking at the Playacar Palace could you possibly look into the wedding facilities and let me know.
Thanks, Nina

susanliber
01-03-2008, 09:07 AM
I will be in the Rui Palace Macao in Punta Cana.........TOMORROW!!!!!!!

(does that count??)

LOL....

(it is ZERO here today!)

ebrener
01-03-2008, 10:33 AM
Enrique - I have potential wedding party of 50+ looking at the Playacar Palace could you possibly look into the wedding facilities and let me know.
Thanks, Nina

Sure Nina, no problem!

mtp51
01-03-2008, 02:23 PM
I for one will look forward to your report. I'm trying to come up with an "inexpensive" vacation for the spring. We love archeology, so I was thinking of a few days at the Yucatan ruins, including a quick flight to Tikal for the day, where my wife hasn't been, followed up by a few days at a Cancun resort. I know logistically it's a possibility, but knowing the true condition of Cancun is essential to the trip.
Ned, I have some opinions/recommendations for you but it'll have to wait until I return - just too much going on right now. I sort of agree with some of what John says but it's all a timing thing when you get into Playa, Puerto Aventuras, etc. etc. If you can clarify what you mean by "true condition of Cancun" that would be helpful. The majority of the Zona Hotelera has a beach problem - not enough to sit on but one can certainly walk it. I am going to be in the area because I'm doing a site/pre-planning visit. (NOT complaining, of course) If I were going on a planned Yucatan vacation, it would be CZM or Playa or farther south.

Ned
01-03-2008, 04:51 PM
Thanks Marge. I'll look forward to your report. By "true condition" I've gotten mixed messages about how well things have been rebuilt.

Ned, I have some opinions/recommendations for you but it'll have to wait until I return - just too much going on right now. I sort of agree with some of what John says but it's all a timing thing when you get into Playa, Puerto Aventuras, etc. etc. If you can clarify what you mean by "true condition of Cancun" that would be helpful. The majority of the Zona Hotelera has a beach problem - not enough to sit on but one can certainly walk it. I am going to be in the area because I'm doing a site/pre-planning visit. (NOT complaining, of course) If I were going on a planned Yucatan vacation, it would be CZM or Playa or farther south.

jjjenny
01-04-2008, 07:37 PM
I will be interested in reading your report on the Beach. Years ago I used to sell the Cancun and the Beach but my clients didn't like the fact that they had to go elsewhere for water sports. Now then they allow the high school graduates and I tend to steer my clients away from those two resorts.

pezmanffx
01-14-2008, 08:38 AM
Does anyone have any info on RIU Palace Las Americas? We are looking at staying there in April.

ebrener
01-15-2008, 10:22 AM
I just got back from Playa last night. I'll post a review as soon as I have time to write it, but feel free to ask any questions in the meantime. I stayed at the Playacar Palace, and visited the Beach and Sun Palaces, as well as the Aventura Spa Palace (for dinner and drinks).

Nina, I have some info for you (contacts and pictures).

Regards,

Enrique

flip
01-15-2008, 12:12 PM
I just got back from Playa last night. I'll post a review as soon as I have time to write it, but feel free to ask any questions in the meantime. I stayed at the Playacar Palace, and visited the Beach and Sun Palaces, as well as the Aventura Spa Palace (for dinner and drinks).

Nina, I have some info for you (contacts and pictures).

Regards,

Enrique
Thanks Enrique I will look for your information and appreciate your review.
Besides the desitination wedding at Moon Placace, I have a Honymooner interested in booking Aventurura Spa. Wait to hear.
nina

ebrener
01-15-2008, 02:37 PM
Thanks Enrique I will look for your information and appreciate your review.
Besides the desitination wedding at Moon Placace, I have a Honymooner interested in booking Aventurura Spa. Wait to hear.
nina
Nina, send me a PM with your e-mail address and I'll send you the info.

mtp51
01-15-2008, 05:03 PM
USA 3000 flight scheduled out of O’Hare for CUN at 630am on Jan. 5. Flight departed 2 hours late as there was no gate crew. Flight attendants, pilot & first officer were on time. When a gate crew finally arrived the pilot discovered a left engine malfunction so there was another 30 min. wait. Personally, I love USA 3000 but this faux pas was slightly irritating and unnecessary. A first for this airline since my last experience in Feb. 07: Advance seat assignments were $7 and snack boxes were $5. No biggie. Their FAs have always been cordial and fun. The flight was seamless as was the return on Jan. 12 which departed early and arrived 20 min. early. It has been my opinion that ground handlers in CUN are very competent. Their new (open one year) terminal 3 is a godsend and a new runway is also under construction.

We were met by GDS (Group Destination Services) in a spotless Suburban and proceeded to the Beach Palace. I had not been to the Zona Hotelera since 1998 so the Miami Beach look – one large hunk of concrete after another – was a jolt. Throughout the week, we toured most all of the Hotel Zone and I was impressed with the cleanliness. As we can all agree, “new” in Mexico is very, very good. Things looked spruced and fresh. (if you like concreteJ)

BeachPalace had been open barely two weeks and throughout the week, they continued to work on the fine details. This is an extremely hip, modern property and is expertly designed by a most creative Mexican architect. I can’t begin to explain all of the décor and special effect lighting but it is impressive. There is a curvy red leather sectional in the center of the lobby and the chandelier looks like a glacier. There is glass everywhere and the light fixtures, furnishings and ambience in the bars is more NYC than Mexico. The rooms are the largest of all Palace properties in Cancun. They are sleek and modern with light woods, marble, chrome and crisp white vessel sinks. All Palace properties now have flat screen plasma TVs. (Double jacuzzis too but I’m not a fan) The food at Beach was the very best we have ever had at any all-inclusive, including the Moon Palace & Aventura Spa Palace. There were no complaints at all about the food quality or service. On a side note, there is one realization that was confirmed after years of speculation: There is no way the liquor is not diluted in all-inclusive resorts. Beer and wine are fine but liquor is not equal to what you would buy in your local booze store. That has been the case in every all-inclusive we have visited.

My husband thinks they will have to change their name as the beach was non-existent at the Beach Palace. We heard people complain to the staff about it – like they had some control? The beach situation changes daily and I’ll be interested to see if there is a beach when I take my group back in April. There is a lot of talk of Cancun’s beach reclamation project but who knows when that might become a reality.
This property is about 15 stories tall with a sky roof terrace with two bars and two small pools. It’s the only place to watch the sunset and the views of the ocean & lagoon are expansive. There are 24 suites – two on each floor – that boast gorgeous views and are beautifully appointed. This property will be perfect for my group but for a personal vacation, we prefer low-rise authentic Mexican décor with lots of flora and fauna. You know – green trees instead of concrete. (287 rooms)

On Tuesday, in one day, GDS transferred us to Cancun Palace, Sun Palace and Le Blanc Spa Resort. It was a long day and we were treated to extensive tours at each location.

CancunPalace: Completely renovated after Wilma. Large, open public spaces, jewelry store, gift shop, business center, ample meeting & banquet facilities. Occupancy was at about 77% and it was bustling with families. There was a very small amount of beach and the pool areas were spacious and well designed. (601 rooms)

SunPalace: Our personal favorite. This is an adults only property that had a certain “feel” that we couldn’t quite explain – almost Zen like. The size is perfect – only 252 rooms and the gym was one of the best I have seen. It is large with a huge variety of brand new Life Fitness equipment and a beautiful view overlooking the lagoon. There are a number of pools at varying levels as well as an indoor lap pool. There is a nice beach area as well. This place “felt” wonderful. I had stayed here in the mid 80s when it was brand new before Palace acquired it and for some reason, it seems so different now.

Le Blanc Spa Resort: This is their jewel. The service level mirrors the Ritz. It is also adults only and each floor has its own butler service. The beach is substantial and there are some really outstanding, intimate public areas. We toured the spa and it is the finest in all of Cancun and possibly all of Mexico – really top notch and huge. The décor is complete relaxation, streams, waterfalls, pebbles and fabulous scents. The only surprise at LeBlanc was the size of the guest rooms. There are a few different configurations but most are on the small size. I don’t think that large is necessarily better but I just expected more. The amenities are stronger and there are certainly some luxury touches. Oh, one more surprise – many rooms had only a small balcony just big enough to stand on. (260 rooms)

On Wednesday we took the Ultramar ferry from Gran Puerto to Isla Mujeres, rented a golf cart and toured the island. We spent an hour with the GM of the new Isla Mujeres Palace who happens to be the son of the GM at Sun Palace! He had a soft opening in late Oct. and his first “real” guests in Nov. 07. What I did not realize is this is a brand new construction. It was under construction for two and a half years. Talk about manana!!:) This is such a nice, hacienda-like, open-air property with only 62 rooms and a small meeting/banquet room overlooking the ocean. Since he only has one restaurant, he changes the menu every other day so it doesn’t get boring. Speaking of boring, he does not recommend his hotel to people who use that word. As he said,” the only entertainment we have around here is at 5:18pm.” And it’s quite a sunset!

After we dropped off the golf cart, we walked to Cockteleria Picus, right on the ocean near the ferry dock for some fresh seafood. I had the Shrimp Diablo. What was I thinking? - HOT and spicy but delicious. This is a cool place. You can watch the fishermen (within touching distance) haul their catches out of their boats. They were delivering fresh lobster to the restaurant and one fellow held up a huge sting ray for us to see.

Isla is a small, quaint island and we’re glad we went but my heart still belongs to Cozumel.

I’m sure this “novel” has been boring for some and I may have left out information of interest for others so let me know if you have questions or need further information.

ebrener
01-16-2008, 10:50 AM
Great review Marge...Here are my impressions:

We traveled on Spirit out of Fort Lauderdale. Everything was uneventful, as should be. Fort Lauderdale is a great airport to depart from (not so to arrive at internationally, more on that below) and much easier and friendly than MIA. The flight departed a few minutes late but we made up the time and arrived early. The plane itself was new and service was courteous. Snacks and drinks are sold on board (even water), credit card only.

As you leave the customs area in Cancun, there are a bunch of "counters" where people try to entice you to buy into timeshares. Avoid them like the plague.

Once outside the terminal, we met the van that was taking us to the Playacar Palace (new and spotless, by the way). We arrived at the hotel and checked in, glass of champagne in hand, and were taken to our Deluxe Oceanview room. The hotel has only 208 rooms. It's located right in Playa del Carmen, a couple of minutes walk from the Quinta Avenida. The decor is minimalistic, with an open air lobby, a lot of glass and white walls, but with rustic elements that gave it a warm touch. It was very pleasant. Rooms are large and have a double Jacuzzi, as well as a balcony (some don't have a balcony, and also, some balconies are larger than others).

Service at the hotel was exceptional. Most everyone had a smile on their faces and were very attentive. We had a problem with out bed the first night, reported it in the morning, and it was promptly fixed.

The pool area is very nice and overlooks the ocean. The beach however, is practically non-existent. You can go down a few steps into the sea if the tide is not too high, but there's no room for walking or lounging. Entertainment was also good, with nightly shows and activities throughout the day. I don't think many people took advantage of them, though, especially the ones during the day.

The hotel has only 3 restaurants, and the food was good to very good. The fresh grouper at the lunch buffet was very simple, but exceptional. So were a couple of the dishes we tried at the Italian and Oriental restaurants. My only complaint is that if you stay there for too long, and have some dietary limitations (like we do), there's not many dished to choose from without repeating. Wine selection (I'm not an expert on this, though) was good, with mostly Spanish wines, plus some French and Chilean.

We rented a car and went to Cancun for the day. We started at the Beach Palace, and I concur with Marge's impressions on it. We just stayed there a few minutes, looked at the pool area, some of the other common areas, and the Sky Bar, which is really nice. It's a shame there was no beach. That day you couldn't even go down the steps into the sea. The vibe was very active and energetic, in total contrast to the Playacar.

We then went to the Sun Palace because we wanted to lie on the beach for a while. The beach here was very nice, and we enjoyed a couple of hours of quiet time. We then changed and went to lunch at their buffet restaurant. I have to say that it really disappointed us. It was 3 pm, granted, but all the food looked like it had been seating there for a while. The salmon I had was dry and tough, the salads where not very good, etc.

That night, we went to the Aventura Spa Palace for dinner and drinks. The hotel is completely different than the Playacar and the others we saw. It is huge and built in a colonial style. It was really nicely done. We had dinner at the Argentinian restaurant. The beef was good, flavorful, but a little overcooked, but what I had was definitely not a bife de chorizo. I wasn't in the mood to argue, so just let it slide, but I'll be sending my comments to them.

One note on the return to Fort Lauderdale. The airport is definitely not prepared for the volume of international arrivals they have. We had to stand in line before we even entered Immigration, in a very narrow corridor. It was so narrow you had to stand against the wall to let crew and wheelchairs through. The Immigration hall is very small, and there were no separate lines for US Citizens/Residents (as there are in MIA). The customs area was OK, but the restrooms were really disgusting (this coming from a man!).

I'll post some pictures as soon as I process them (I have about 300 of them to sort through and clean up).

Regards,

Enrique