The Select Club pool last year was for Select or Elite only but this year it seemed to be open for all adults. It is a huge pool and there was always plenty of sunbeds available at any time of day. I have no problems therefore with any adults using it, however I did pay to go Select Club to be able to have the pool and now am wondering what I paid extra for? The Select section of the beach was also used by all adults. (Personally, I don't want a Select section anyway as I can't see the point). I did appreciate the breakfast buffet though as it saved a bit of a walk to the meeting point area first thing. Huge choice- everything from porridge to refried beans.
The adult pool is so big you can't see all of it from where you sit. I must have spent hours each day in it as it was so hot. We made full use of the pool bar, but I did actually mainly just drink cokes- honestly! Aurellia was a star behind the bar- she never stopped working even when no-one was at the bar. A huge asset to the pool area was Israel of the entertainment team. Last year, the one we had didn’t appear to do much. Israel got it right for everyone. He had lots of activities on the go but never bothered those who obviously just wanted to relax- like us.
The beach is gorgeous. Loads of activities to keep everyone happy but not “in your face” so you could relax quite happily as well.
If you have children, this is the place for you. The children’s clubs ran up till 10pm I think. They have a superb indoor area as well that would keep from toddlers to teenagers happy.
Last year we got as many a la carte restaurant bookings as we wanted. This year it was limited to 8 for our 17 day stay. However, the buffet food was excellent so we weren’t disappointed as we had thought we would be. (Perhaps this is something that the hotel could look at for those paying for Select Club, who now have fewer advantages- more bookings allowed?) I can honestly say that I enjoyed all the meals I had. We tried the French, Asian, Argentinean and Mediterranean restaurants. During the day you could eat at the main buffet, the outdoor Riviera buffet, the Adult pool area, the beach bar, the creperie and a new addition- the Cupcake Cafe. We never ate at Cupcake but did have a look and as well as cakes, it had wraps and sandwiches. The coffee has been compared to the range you get in any well-known coffee chain, and the quality to rival them. I have to say that it was pretty novel. The beach bar becomes the Bagel Bar in the evening and has a full range of bagels, savoury and sweet. It is also very pleasant to have the beach area at night, where you can relax away from the (superb) main entertainment, listening to Reggae music.
The hotel has a spa and very well equipped gym, tennis courts, yoga, spin classes, aerobics, and a new addition- mini golf.
The grounds of the hotel are extensive and beautiful. Although the hotel provides shuttles from the adult area to the meeting point and beach, we enjoyed the stroll down. I know a heap complain about the distance but unless you have mobility problems it takes well under 10 minutes. I love seeing all the wildlife, particularly the coatis. We also fed a few cats along the way- but the hotel does look after them as well. We just missed the turtle hatching and the helping make a safe passage to the sea. The hotel does a lot to improve the environment.
Two things I would love management to change- the air conditioning in the lobby is very poor. We couldn’t sit in bar area at night without pouring with sweat. It was cooler to sit outside. The background music in that bar and in the breakfast buffet needs to be changed. It is on a constant loop which hasn’t changed from last year. The loop of songs at breakfast was so short that we heard Billy Jean every single time, and we are probably out and in within 20 minutes. As much as I liked that song before now, if I hear it again I think I will scream!
Overall, we both love the resort and just de stress when we are there. I have to say that we picked it originally as the room only hotel we looked at in Playa Del Carmen was the same price as AI at Sandos. We had decided that we liked the look of the resort but obviously the food wouldn’t be up to much so we would go out to eat in the evenings. We obviously found that we were wrong and to be honest, we had to make an effort to go into the town a few nights.
Travel operator: Hotels4U
The grounds of the hotel are beautiful and extensive. It can take up to 10 minutes to walk to the hotel beach from the back of the complex where we were, but its easy and you can see the hotel animals along the way. You do see a few moans from reviews elsewhere but there was a shuttle bus for those who really needed it. Mexico must have some of the most beautiful butterflies in the world- very vivid colours and I was just fascinated with them.
There are two pools at the Riveria section- one for adults only, which we used. It was massive and had a pool bar at one end and an island where a group played on Sundays. If you didn't want the pool bar music, you could sit at the opposite end where you could barely hear it. There are loads of loungers, each set with a wooden and straw umbrella. The other pool is for everyone and even that one always had loungers available. In the older section of the hotel, each Hacienda had its own pool and there was a huge pool next to the beach. The beach is gorgeous.
We chose this hotel as I had been trying to find good hotel accommodation only but the price of this AI was the same as what I was looking at. There are 5 speciality restaurants which needed reservations and a further one( Mexican) which didn't. On top of that there were 2 buffet restaurants at night and a further two during the day, including the adults only one. The pool areas also served food during the day. I'm not sure if there was a limit to how many you could reserve during a week in the main part of the hotel, but we could book as often we wanted. We tried them all. These are Mediterranean, Asian, Brazilian, Argentinian, and French fine dining. The food was incredible. We didn't have one bad meal. We didn't go to any of the main buffets at night but did give the main one a go twice for lunch. We even had free 24 hour room service, including drinks.
In the reception areas there was always snacks and cakes. We also had a premium bar we could use but all bars had the main brands. We even had champagne and good red and white wine(avoid the wine at the main bar by the meeting point-it was disgusting). The Gaucho restaurant also served as the Adult only section morning buffet. It was extensive and you could even have champagne or bucks fizz.
Staff were all friendly and polite. The hotel was immaculate and room cleaning even meant washing the balcony doors each day! The grounds always had loads of people working on them. Entertainment-we never saw the earlier shows, which were mostly geared for families but the later ones had some really good groups. The main entertainment stopped at 11pm but there was a disco open till 2am.
All in all, I couldn't really fault the hotel and would even think about returning, which is surprising, given my previous views of AI hotels.
I'll start with the one niggle - after a ten hour flight, and a wait for the other passengers for the minibus at Cancun airport, we wanted to check into our room, drop stuff off and go for a swim. Oh no. You have to meet your own concierge who tells you about the hotel and resort. And then tries to get you to sign up to a breakfast meeting in order for them to sell you membership of their Elite Club, offering you a free week's stay for going to it.
The only way we managed to get out of it was to make it for two days in advance and then cancel it. They want you to take photo ID and your credit card. Just be honest and say absolutely not and keep saying it if they don't listen.
however, now onto the good things! We were upgraded to a junior sweet in the newest block which was great. The room was huge with the biggest bed (in width, not neccessarily length - I'm 6'3") - very comfortable.
Also had a sofa, chairs, table, a nice big terrace (we were on the ground floor), ironing board, iron, plasma screen TV, coffee machine with coffee and minibar full of beer, soft drinks and water. (note - leave a tip in the fridge and you'll find it full to overflowing when you come back!)
the bathroom was great. Huge jacuzzi bath, power shower, two sinks and mirrors, hairdryer - plenty of room for two at the sinks, in the bath or shower if thats your thing!
the newest block is a 4 minute walk to the main bar and restaurant area through beautifully kept gardens. Was lovely to have a stroll and not be right next to the entertainment.
the main pool had a buffet restaurant and bar around it, plenty of beds (very few being used as this was low season). Pool lovely. very clean lots of shallow areas for kids too. The daytime entertainment / activities were held around here. These included lazy games (e.g. how many balloons in the bottle), more adult games (e.g. do a mexican dance, some pushups and then down a large measure of tequila), aquaaerobics, cookery demonstrations - even spanish lessons if you wanted them.
there are other people dotted around included some just for Elite Club members. Also an adults only pool which was very quiet most of the time.
just 30 seconds walk from the main pool took you to the beach - beautiful white sands, again lots of beds and umbrellas and hammocks too. very nice. Carribbean - beautiful. Clear, warm, shallow. wonderful.
the food was generally great - breakfasts were fantastic. loved an omelette freshly made everyday, also french toast with cinnamon sugar - yummy! and of course don't forget to start the day with a Mimosa (Bucks Fizz to us!)
Lunch buffets were fine too and even buffets had different special dishes each night. The resort was too quiet for them to open all the restaurants so the Italian buffet and Brazilian restaurant werent open.
There are a la carte restaurants which you can eat in three times per week. The Asian restaurant was fine- non complaints. Indeed my salmon, scallop and white fish sashimi was excellent. The steakhouse was good - I had the biggest T bone steak I've ever had. They don't ask you how you want it cooked and mine was served rare - how I like it - but you'd need to ask if you want it cooked more.
The French restaurant was fine. no choice for veggies and service was a bit slapdash. e.g. no bread with soup - even though everyone else got it, side plates missing, slow service - hopefully just a blip.
24 hour room service available too. the veggie club sandwich and mexican shrimp cocktail were great.
bar service was great. round the pool there was a drinks waitress (Shaday, she is absolutely lovely)and in the evenings outside Bar Bambolino there was table service though often just quicker to go to the bar yourself - no queues again as the resort was quiet.
drinks were great. all cocktails you could think of were available. I recommend the frozen strawberry daiquiris and mojitos.
the onsite shop had souvenirs, tequila, tshirts etc that you might need though unsurprisingly more expensive here than the shops in Playa del Carmen.
took some trips out - swimming with dolphins and the Mayan tour of Coba, a Mayan Village and a swim in one of the cenotes.
all in all it is a fantastic hotel and I can't recommend it enough. I'd go back in a heartbeat. We got a stonking deal for a week AI (
Travel operator: First Choice
This was our first ever AI., something we have always avoided and we fully expected to be eating out frequently, it didn't happen. The quality and variety of food here is superb as is the wine.
The staff could not be faulted and the whole place is kept spotlessly clean. The previous report is so detailed and accurate I will not attempt to add to it. We did quite a few excursions and spent a good deal of time on the beach, if we were pool people I think the lack of shade around the pools could have been a problem, it was very hot!
Travel operator: first choice
Good food, nice wine, branded drinks. Decent entertainment (& I don't mean the Americans they are are funny though).
Pleasant, helpful staff.
Go - you'll have a fab time.
Travel operator: First Choice
Reception - very nice in a large palapa style roof. Couches to relax on. Butler service included and guys who can order you a taxi’s for getting out and about. They take your room number and names when you go and check you off their list when you return. There is a gift shop, concierge for any enquiries and for booking speciality restaurants. There is also a side section/archade where all the reps have there own rooms plus a games rooms for teenagers and a jewellery shop. The hotel has its own little room where you can book trips and car hire – we went with First Choice, it wasn’t much more £ for trips and we were pleased to be with Brits/Canadians for a whole day (First Choice is also partners with Canadian Signature Holidays)! These ‘rep’ and ‘game’ rooms are great late at night if it is completely humid and sticky as they are air-conditioned 24/7 so can cool down a bit. There is a photo shop too as there is a photographer that comes around during the day pool/beach to take piccies, sometimes with animals like toucans and lizards, etc, not pushy or in your face though. Can’t remember the price but they were good value.
Rooms - they have the normal hotel rooms which have 2 double beds or a big queen size bed. Very clean, have lots of wardrobe space and mini bar (stocked regularly with various branded drinks, inc diet!, water and beer - twist top local XX brand, very nice). All have balcony / terrace etc. There is satellite TV with lots of channels. You can also order 24/7 room service for free included in the AI! We did this once when we were tired out from a long day out n about. It’s a good choice of room service food too.
There is also a separate Royal Section at the front of the hotel - all in blocks with small swimming pool, jacuzzi, own hammocks, bigger rooms etc + Royal Club guests have own concierge, own beach area, a little motorised golf cart thingy as its only 3 or 4 minutes walk from the reception to the Royal rooms but I suppose some people want/need a lift to and from.
Food/Restaurants - very good food.
· The main buffet restaurant is open for brekkie, lunch and dinner - all buffet style, theme evenings, lots of choice, different dishes every night and loads of salads, fruits, desserts, soups, etc. Okay-ish for vegetarians like me (learn the key words like no carne (meat), pescada (fish), pollo (chicken) - they try to understand the best they can). Fantastic choice and quality. Waiters very good. Very clean. There is also a help yourself to liqueurs at the front entrance and hand-made choccies – we used to have a tipple after we’d eaten. The waiter/meet and great you chap gave you tips on the best tequila’s etc. Also in the morning and lunch this is there – and is even a champagne you can have if you want with brekkie.
· There is a poolside bar which serves brekkie and lunches – buffet style but is waiter service for drinks etc. Just walk in and get a table. Great choice, fab waiters, very good. At night this turns into a speciality seafood restaurant, menu looked good, wasn’t as busy as the other 2 speciality restaurants but people said it was very nice. I didn’t eat there as wasn’t anything vegi (all seafood). You have to book for this restaurant at the concierge desk.
· Mexican Speciality Restaurant – didn’t go there as all meat dishes. The people that did go raved about it. This is up at the top courtyard next to the main restaurant and Italian restaurant. You have to book in the morning (usually before 9.30am/10.00am) with concierge.
· Italian Speciality Restaurant – we ate here about 4 or 5 times. Very good choice for vegi’s. The wine’s were fantastic – amazing quality. Great food – pasta’s better than the pizza but was good too. There is a salad bar/anti pasti help yourself/buffet style in the middle. The breads are fabulous and the desserts brilliant. Great atmosphere. Very good – go there. Very smart restaurant and good waiters. They even have hand-made chocolates as you went out. Again have to book it, we winged it one night without a booking at got in but then tried on our last night as got up too late to book and we couldn’t get in, so defo book.
Tip for vegi’s, we ate out a couple of times with my mate who lives in playa del carmen (we only ate out as a social thing, would of happily ate at the hotel 24/7 everyday) – ‘quesidillas’ are wheat tortillas with cheese – very nice. Mexico is very meat orientated but I ate well at this hotel and previously at the Viva Azteca. Do not worry if you are vegi, I am also reasonably picky vegi and ate well and extensively - so its all fine.
POOLS – there are 2 to 3 main pools - large children allowed/activity pool by the pool bar/restaurant and next to this/joining it a sports pool with basketball nets and they do introductory scuba lessons in there (free lesson, obviously pay for the scuba diving out in the sea) + kiddy club (at the kids club house) has own very small pool with slides. There is also a small adults only pool (very peaceful and quite) just before the beach, where we spent most of our pool time, they really do adhere to the adults only sign which is good and when kids did go and parents tried to ignore the sign they were politely asked to leave by security/barmen.
AMINATION – there is a small team with staff from all different nationalities, they do various daytime activities for the kids, ping pong championships, bingo, Spanish lessons, aerobics, etc. There is volleyball on the beach all time. At night there is always a main show which is different every night.
OTHER ENTERTAINMENT - Mexico night is held once a week so we saw it twice (fab, really authentic, small around the courtyard between the restaurants and top bar). They have donkeys, a Mexican band, a traditional game for the kids where they get sweets, all the staff dress up, very pretty and quaint. Probably about 3 times a week there are stalls selling jewellery and Mexican crafts, souvenirs etc by the water fountains.
GYM / SAUNA – went to the gym once, was fine, not massive but modern machines. Never seemed to be busy (pretty much used by the animation team to keep toned & trim!) We didn’t go to the sauna. There is a beauty salon/hairdressers next to the gym and also massages etc that you can pay for on the beach. People who had them said they were good. I thought they were a tad expensive but seemingly the Americans said the prices were what they paid in the US.
OTHER SPORTS – they have bikes you can use for free in the daytime (finish about 5pm though), multi sports court, tennis courts, aerobics, loads to do.
Kids – fantastic activities and staff. we do not have children but other guests raved about facilities and from what we could see they have 3 different age brackets for kiddy clubs and you could leave them from 9am in the morning til about 9pm at night (every night before the main show, they put on a kids show for all the parents - very sweet). They have crafts next to the pool some days – like paint a pot style for kids (and adults!). I saw a sign for evening babysitting that you could pay for. For TEENAGERS there is a games room with about 10 Playstations and also a games hut which has ping pong, 2 pool tables and table football. To be honest it was often empty at night and we’d go for a game of pool/ping pong for a laugh.
Bars - there is a main bar open all day til about midnight (ish) which where the barmen are great (there is a double act on at night who try to be very entertaining, cocktail style) they all work like trojans, you don't have to wait for drinks (like it states by our American friends on other forums) there is also a coffee machine/bar at the end of the main bar. There are TV's above the bar + a room next door with a TV & tables in (great as we were there when the world cup was on). There is a big bar at the Poolside buffet restaurant/evening seafood restaurant which is open morning until about 10/10.30pm ish. This has a help-your-self soft drinks machine for the daytime and is much quieter at nighttime. The beach has 2 small bar kiosks and there is a nightclub with a bar open from 11pm til 3/4am! The restaurants all have their own bars too. All the drinks/cocktails are fabulous and I was well impressed to find they had premium brand drinks included as general and they put these in as standard to your drinks/cocktails, not the local versions as a rule- Smirnoff, danask vodka, absolute, bacardi even the top gold stuff, baileys, Kahlua (a bargain buy in Mexico to bring home) etc. There is waitress service at the top main bar at night. There is also a pool/beach waitress service so you can be a total beach bum and have someone fetch you drinks all day long - all included. Before 8pm at the main bar they sometimes serve antipasti. You always get crisps at night too at the top bar with your drinks – not good for the waistline, but very nice! Also there is a pool table at the top bar (always in use) and a ping-pong table at the pool bar.
BEACH – spot on, large and wide, beautiful and outstanding sand & sea. Clarity of the water is amazing. Loads of sunbeds and palapa style umbrella’s – never a problem getting one. There are showers etc to wash off with. It is very clean and waitresses are constantly collecting glasses and any rubbish. As this is the last hotel on the Playacar strip then you don’t get loads of traffic. The beach has not been ruined by the hurricanes of 2005 like other parts of the Playacar strip (beginning to mid sections – some hotels have sandbags, but the Mexicans have done a great job in restoring the beach). There are water sports included in the AI like canoes, pedalo’s, snorkeling equipment etc. There is also a paid jet ski, banana boat etc stall just up (I don’t think it is attached to the hotel, but not sure). The snorkeling in Playa itself isn’t that great due to all the sand, but if you swim out a bit you see some more fish and even some lobsters. For snorkeling you really need to be in Akumal, Cozumel, the Eco parks etc. The Cenotes are great for snorkeling to.
The hotel used to be called the Gala Resort but was taken over by Sandos, hence named Sandos Gala Resort. Sandos also have another hotel on the Mayan Riviera called Sandos Carocal - you can't visit both/dine around or anything though.
I always listen to the British/European reviews about hotels - whilst we were there all the Brits/Europeans were extremely pleased with the facilities. Some of our American friends were moaning and picky, and bless them but they will moan whether it’s a 3* or top 5*. Please visit this hotel, for the fab prices you can get AI deals for you will not be disappointed.
Overall a fabulous hotel which I will defo return to. It is excellent and fabulous value for money. It is a very good 4* hotel, perhaps even 4.5*. Very impressed. Great, friendly and efficient staff – a great holiday. There were a few British guests, quite a lot of Americans, some Danish and Germans and quite a lot of Italians.
You can have a relaxed as holiday as you like and non of the entertainment/animation is in your face or if you are active/need to be doing things you will have so much to do you will be spoilt for choice. GO THERE!
Travel operator: First Choice
Ask a Question
Got a question? Ask our community of over 1.5 million users.