|Old Reviews - Catalonia Royal Tulum|
Arrival: October 6 thru 16, 2009
Restaurants and Bars:
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Arrival: April 3-11
Restaurants and Bars:
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
My wife and I spent a glorious week at the Catalonia Royal Tulum, Mar.18 - 25/09. We are going to forgo the airplane trip, the airport, the transfer service, as this has nothing to do with the resort itself. Some would say its the overall experience, however we are going to focus on the point of the review, the CRT as its known as.. The resort is absoultly stunning. Right from the moment you arrive at the main lobby and are greated with a cool mimosa and cool towel, till the moment you leave you feel like you are part of the family. The jungle setting makes this resort unique. We have travelled a bit and have never run across this type of design. The walkways with the jungle on either side makes for a calm and relaxing walk. The spa music that plays even makes a relaxing walk even more so. There has been much talk about the LONG walk to the rooms and the beach. Folks you are on vacation. Slow down. It litterally takes no more than 5 or 6 mins. to walk from the main lobby to the pool area and another minute to get to the beach. 7 mins for this experience. I'll gladly give that time away. Anyway back to the point. The bldgs are great. Very clean and well kept which is a tribute to the staff at this resort. Everything is so clean.We stayed in bldg #5 2nd floor. Perfect if you want the sights and sounds of the jungle to put you to sleep and to wake you up. The room is spacious and has all the ammenities one needs for your stay. The shower is wonderful after a long hot day at the pool or beach. Room service excellant, although we only tried it for breakfast once. Was quick(15 mins max.) The staff at this resort is the hardest working, most friendly group of people we've met in the Maya. They are certainly what makes the CRT what it is. The pool area is lovely. Hugh pool, lots of loungers and palapas. The beach is spectacular. Clean turqoise water, powdery white sand, and miles to walk on either side. Again there appears to be enough loungers and palapas or palm trees which to get shade. All this clearly depends on capacity and the infamous "Chair Wars". This is the olnly downside we found. What can be done I don't know but something must be. The snack bar(Sorrentos) is perfect for lunch. No line-ups.Good food, good service. The buffet for lunch is good although we only tried it once. Never did the breakfast buffet, rather picked up a coffee at La Palapaon the way to the beach. While on the beach you have to check out La Moo, the juice bar. Superb. The al a carte resturants are a nice change to the a all inclusive. I like the fact you are not limited to a certain amount and that you don't have to stand in line to book. Just show up and you're in. We never waited more than 5 minutes to get in, however we are early eaters(6-6:30). Our favorite was the Royal Grill down near the pool. It has a beautiful ocean view as you have your meal. I'll let you make you own judgement on your favorite. I must mention the "Tapas Lounge". If you didn't go out at all throughout your stay make an eception and try this lounge. Absolutly perfect. Small setting, live music, good food and drinks, perfect location(right on the banks of the cenote), could get much better. A word of advice. If you go to the Tapas go early or you'll be standing in line. Anyway I've rambled on far to long. You get the picture and its perfect. Would we go back, in a heartbeat if and when we travel to this part of Mexico again. I've included some pics for you to look at and hopefully solidify whats been written. Any questions I'll gladly answer. Just post them or PM me.
Right from our patio we saw many different birds, a coati mundi and little lizards. We did find that the ground floor was much damper and mustier smelling than our friends' room on the second floor. But it helped to use candles in the room and fabric softener sheets in the closet/drawers. The A.C. worked well but couldn't keep up with the humidity but no big deal. We never had any feeling of being unsafe on the ground floor. Our room was well kept and we had some fun towel art every day. The refrigerator was kept well stocked and plenty of bottled water.
I did ask the housekeeper one day to be sure to give us fresh coffee cups because it was obvious she was just wiping them out. We never drink the tap water and try not to get much in our mouths when showering. I noticed that occasionally the tap water had a brownish cast to it but no odor. I think their plumbing systems are challenged by a high water table and the pipes are older in this older resort. Once we figured out that we were turning the shower control the wrong direction we had nice hot showers... hee, hee...duh!
The rooms are older but very pretty with the marble floors and baths. As long as they are clean and the bed is decent that's all we need. The king bed was firm but I didn't think it was bad, slept well. If you're not sleeping well...drink more beer or tequila!! Junior suite vs. Standar room well, our junior suite room was at the end of the building therefore, having one less room on one side is more quiet. We never really used the couch and extra chair (which is about the only difference other than being on the ends of the bldgs.) and I don't think our bath had anything over the standard rooms. If we could have a junior suite on the end closest to the beach on third floor (we were at the opposite ends toward the front of the resort) I think that would be the best...but that is luck of the draw! We were very comfortable in our room. We didn't have one of the updated rooms with the new bed linens but the towels we had were new and were very nice. Maybe next time Our friends' junior suite was on the second floor (as I've said) and their housekeeper was truly amazing. He went absolutely wild with towel art almost every day with flowers for embellishments. It made it really fun for our great friends. They never knew what they were going to come back to the room and see!
Restaurants and Bars
They appeared to be in the process of changing their ways with the ala cartes in that a couple of the restaurants were not set up in the same places that they used to be and the signs confused us as to where they were. One night one of the restaurants that we were going to eat at was actually closed. We were told it was because the resort was not filled to capacity. We weren't all that pleased about this partly because, I think, there needs to be more variety in the menus as it is.
I, personally and strongly wish they would offer an evening buffet. The ala cartes were very good but rich, rich food. I would order items from just a couple of sections of the ala cart menu on evenings when I wanted to eat lighter... it would be too much rich food even then and wouldn't provide much variety. So, to get the variety I would order from more sections on the menu. Then I have a hard time just leaving more than half my plate of food and knowing it gets thrown away. Therefore, I came away feeling too full frequently. I believe all 4 of us felt the same where this was concerned.
Sometimes I just like to wear my grungy shorts to supper and eat only what I need and want. I don't think an evening buffet spoils the ambience that the resort is aiming for with the adults only concept. The lunch buffet and pizza/hamburger place was great.
The bars and bartenders were very good and seemed enough for the number of clientele that were there at the time. But while we were there we were told by the bartenders that the resort was only filled to 70% at most. I think if they were full they would definitely need another bar. I think all 4 of us wished for some musical entertainment in the eveninings at the lobby bar and at the beach bar. I guess they had someone singing at the tapas bar but that has very limited seating capacity. I found the drinks to be very good and a good selection of premium liquors. Good cold Dos Equis and other decent beers to choose from. Juice bar at the beach is yummy but could open earlier than 10 a.m.
And I'll be.... we neeeeeed coffee and capuccino available somewhere besides our rooms and close to the beach early in the morning. This is only one of many resorts that seem to find it hard to do this for their clientele. I love to be able to grab a to-go cup of Joe and walk on the beach. C'mon!
This place has an absolutely pristine and gorgeous beach. Great for swimming, lounging, water sports. No rocks to hurt the feet in the water or in the long and wide areas that they keep raked clean each day. We really enjoyed walking south of the resort and watching the kite-boarding, wow, what a sport that is. For the most part the sea was moderately wavy but for one or two days it smoothed out nicely and people were able to really get out and snorkel. That is another plus in that there is every type of water/wave action one could want on that stretch of beach. We walked north and found a couple of areas in the water that were so calm that it was just like sitting in a bathtub...so warm and clear and the fish swim all around you. Other days the waves north of us were huge and beautiful to watch and listen to.
The pool was very nice but we mainly stayed on the beach. The new lounge chairs at the pool with nice pads were very comfy. The resort definitely needs more chairs and palapas on the beach but are probably in the process of getting more with the updates they are doing already. The area by the old kiddie pool with the covered sunbeds is really nice.
CRT ARE YOU LISTENING??--YOU NEED TO HEAT UP YOUR SO-CALLED HOT JACCUZIS!!! Other than my coffee gripe this is the other biggie!
Towel game in full swing! We do play that game in self defense. We waited until about 8:30 the first day and we ended up on our towels on the sand that day...which wasn't all that bad because the sand is really clean and deep.
The grounds are well preened but dense jungle all along a sacbe (the walkway from the lobby to the beach). Beautiful plants, interesting birds and critters, cenotes with fish (don't miss the big cobalt blue-black catfish in the cenotes at night) under the bridge close to the lobby entrance. Each morning on the way to the breakfast buffet there would be an onslaught of critters running around in the jungle along the sacbe. That was crazy and wonderful to see! The iguanas clearly own the place! One never knew what one might see. We would frequently take the brick service road to and fro which is behind the buildings and on that walk would see more flowering trees and shrubs which were beautiful.
This resort is so different in it's layout from any other resort we have been to that it made it an even more wonderful experience.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We two ladies took the complimentary shuttle to Playa del Carmen for part of a day and taxi back since we didn't want the whole day in Playa. Playa is a great place to shop. We really want to go there for the nightlife sometime with our hubbies. Taxi back was fine and fast. Just turn and act like you're walking away and it's amazing what the cost of the taxi will be!!
We took a snorkeling excursion with the dive shop connected with the resort. We rode along in the boat with some divers to the reef just out from the Barcelo. We saw spectacular reef and sealife with our own Mayan guide pointing out the best things under the water. We only paid $25 for 1 hour snorkeling with the guide. And it was an interesting boat ride along the coast about 15-20 minutes to where we snorkeled. Gotta learn to scuba dive, for sure!
This is one fantastic resort and beach with many points of interest and such easy access to many more fun things to do and see. I hope this resort stays small. I am always terribley saddened to see all the trash on the beaches that are not raked daily by the wonderful people who take care of us tourists. It is an obvious fact that plastic is one of the biggest problems in our oceans. Remember to take good care of the sea everyone...if it dies, so do we!
We will be back to see the CRT and the lovely Mayan people, a huge "thank you" to them !
Restaurants and Bars
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Arrival: December 29th - January 5th
Our luggage was taken by the door men. Lobby was empty, another couple was checking in, watched them get served welcome drinks.
No welcome drinks for us, we checked in, did not have to supply our credit card, which was unusual. Given a room key and safe key.
Restaurants and Bars
Food I thought at all the resturants including the buffet were above average compared to any other place I have stayed. However service seemed to lack.
Plenty of wild life to see ranging from birds to lizard, to quadi(ring tailed racoon) We had our quadi as a visitor for a couple nights and he loved keeping us company.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The snorkel tour was the worst money I ever spent any where in any country. 30.00/PP for 35-40 minutes of what they called a fabulous reef tour. I seen lots of sand and very little coral. The highlight of my snorkeling was swimming with two sea turtles. This was on our final day at the resort, and we were told that if it was red flag again that we would not be able to go, and our money would not be refunded...well that was over my dead body. Waters were calm and we had out worthless trip.
Did go to Tulum, which was beautiful. Went through the resort which was fine. Found people in our tour group that were less than polite, and talked with each other through the whole tour.
Spa services were wonderful, and I think this is a good selling point for this resort.
Not a place for night life, quiet low key and laid back. All in all a nice vacation.
I found that this area compared to other areas in Mexico, seemed to have locals that IMHO were less than pleasant. My favorite part of vacation is going and mingling with shop owners and purchasing from locals. Not something I ever want to do again in Playa Del Carmen.
Flight: We flew out of Detroit, Michigan, on USA 3000 airlines on February 15/07, heading for Cancun, Mexico. We were delayed taking off because the plane needed to be de-iced (I don’t know why as there was no snow or freezing rain the night before).
We just spent 1 week at the CRT and I will say that for a low-key resort , it is pretty good.The food is good in the ala cartes but the variety is not really what it should be at a place without a supper buffet.The beef was surprisingly good. The prime rib steaks were a great meal and we had them 3 times.The staff was the usual hard working , eager to please types that have been written about a hundred times before. One standout tho was Ivan. He works the breakfast times and the beach bar. On the one day off he had on the week we were there was the one day I didn't get my coffee , or a spoon for my yogurt and I had to try to " train " another barkeep. With Ivan there , my vacation" flowed easy . He also worked his butt off for everyone that he could , but the resort managers do not allocate the right amount of staff forthe various places. The gift shop had 5 people in it and they were tired of cleaning things that were already spotless. Yet the lobby bar had 1 guy that I swear was part octopus with the amount of drinks that he dispensed. ( Jesus ). The after show disco was so loud that NOBODY was in it ,,,,,ever!. When I mentioned to the 4 guys there to turn it down so your ears wouldn't bleed , I was told , that " this what we were told to do "..
The shows were good but only 40 minutes long with no before or after dance music ,except for some MTV videos on a 4 fooot screen hanging down from a corner. The " Micheal Jackson " show is an absolute must see. This is a guy that goes from resort to resort and he is amazing.
Some of the bad stuff
As you deplane in Cancun you will be met by people in beige clothing that will say the name of your tour provider. Walk on by the and proceed outside the building to meet the actual transport people. These clowns are timeshare and will lie their a$$ off to waste your time. They give you tours and other crap to waste your vacation.
Tours are sold thru your resort. Another waste of money.
A Tulum tour cost about $ 100 us a couple at the resort. It cost a $ 30 US cab-ride there and back and a $ 4 usd per person admission, or $ 68 usd per couple.The tour at Xel-ha costs $ 280 per couple at the resort. The cab ride is $ 23 each way and $ 75 usd per person admission for $ 196 total.
Can you say ripoff ?
There is a R. V. park adjacent to the resort and a cantina between it and the CRT. There is a jet-ski rental guy right beside the CRT and jet skis buzz the water in front of the resort steady. This a drag because the best snorkling is right in front. Went on 3 tours and saw less than what was in front of the resorts. We had to bring a boogie board out with us to use as a marker. The jet skis also buzz along in front of the whole bay and the renter-guy was not interested in what the people that give him money do.
Thebeach is also not good for those of us that like to beach walk. Before I booked this resort I knew that the beach was about a 15 minute walk to get to either point but what I learned the hard way was that it is impossible to go beyond that. The rocks that make up the points at Maeva and before the Barcelo are completely impassable due to the sharp points ( volcanic I think ) and the slippery nature of them. If you fall on these rocks your vacation is over. You will have hundreds of 1 to 3 inch puncture wounds all over your body. This is very important to us beach walkers. On this mile long beach bay there are 3 active resorts and 3 closed resorts. and an R V park, cantina and jetskis.
This is a resort for those that want to just sit and drink or sit and read a short story ,like " War and Peace " The lunchtime buffet is a shirt and shoes place and the buffet serving dishes had mostly cold food that was supposed to be hot except for the pasta station and the meat grill.
The rooms were nice and the shower was built for two. The beds were a tad on the hard side , okay , more like a rock. But , hey , it is not home right so no big deal..The beach pizza and burger bar is the place to have lunch because they do way more than just that. Truly , ignore the fancy buffet lunch place and stay at the pizza bar . All the food is hot and delicious. The one thing that the buffet place has is awesome sorbet but that is it.
We paid $ 1900 CDN for our week and it was a fair deal from Toronto. The nolitour rep never once showed up or called us. The only thing that we needed from them was our bus arrangements to return home. In general we had a good time because we make all our own fun. If you think you will be entertained, I wish you well.
We will definately be going back to the MR but not at CRT.
Lobby and room:
My wife and I spent a week at the Catalonia Royal Tulum on Xpu Ha beach in early April, 2008. We have previously stayed at the Grand Coco Bay (when it was the Reef Coco Beach), the RIU Palace, and the Bahia Principe.
We picked the CRT because of the good reviews, its beach, and its small size. Our priority is to be at a comfortable, clean hotel where we can enjoy a beach holiday without being surrounded by a mass of humanity. The CRT fit the bill.
We booked through iTravel2000 and Sun Wing – first time for both – and everything went smoothly. I paid an extra $100 for reserved seating with more leg room and I would happily do it again.
We arrived at Cancun early in the morning and found that the route through customs had changed since we were last there 3 years ago – it’s now more modern but our success rate with the green light remains unblemished.
Transportation to the hotel was good; because of the way in which south-bound traffic on highway 307 has to make a u-turn to reach beach-side hotels, we were dropped off first (followed by guests going to the Barcelo and then Dreams Tulum).
Check-in was very quick, but because of our early arrival time, we were told a room would not be made available until 3:30 pm. No problem. We headed to the pool for lunch and a swim.
The lobby of the hotel is situated relatively close to highway 307, and a path or sacbe winds its way through a semi-natural rainforest setting in which the six guest room buildings sit. Between the last building and the pool is wilder mangrove. Overall it’s quite different from the landscaping of the other area hotels we’ve been to.
From a third-floor balcony it’s admittedly not much to look at, and the walk, depending on the time of day, can be hot and a bit of a chore. On the other hand there are times when the walk can be quite pleasant. At night they pipe in what I would term new age or relaxational music. And you’ll see more critters than you can shake a stick at. Aside from iguanas, which are a dime a dozen, during our stay we saw agouti, coatamundi, and what I think was a cormorant fishing rather successfully in the cenote.
I requested a quiet room on the third floor. After picking up the room keys I arrived to find the door open and a towel on the floor soaking up the condensation from the air conditioner that was dripping out of a light fixture (the same thing happened in the early hours on the day of our flight home). Back to the front desk and they offered us the choice of a junior suite close to the lobby or a room in the Agua building close to the pool. We chose the latter, which I think was the right decision for us. The trips from the beach/pool to room were as short as possible, which worked out well.
The room had two double beds, an ironing board and iron, a bathroom with a hairdryer and a large shower stall, a mini fridge and a safe. The use of the safe was included in the stay. The beds have the typical Mexican hardness to them – not like what we sleep on at home but I never have any trouble dozing off nor did I ever wake up anything other than refreshed.
The balcony, which had a telescoping towel rack, two chairs, and a table, looked out onto the mangrove, and had the teensiest bit of an ocean view in that you could see a small streak of blue off in the distance. To the best of my knowledge there are no true ocean front rooms in the traditional sense.
Thankfully the walls are of much sturdier stuff than those of the Grand Coco Bay; except for a few door slams and some kids having fun first thing in the morning, I was largely unaware of having neighbours. Nice.
Speaking of guests, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many generations on display at any one resort. They ranged from unknowingly lucky babies to cane-bearing grandparents, all having a good time frolicking in the pool or surf. In fact I saw more canes than I have ever seen elsewhere, and I commend those folks for showing the rest of us that the desire to travel can trump all else. The only thing in short supply was the obnoxious teenager; the few teens that were there were well-behaved.
Back at the room, the air conditioning had no trouble cooling down the air when we returned from a day out. When leaving in the morning, all valuables were locked up in the safe or in our luggage, and as a result we never experienced any problems with items going missing. I would leave a tip each day on top of the mini fridge, which resulted in it being stocked with two Dos Equis Clara, a Coke, Fanta Orange, Coke Light, Sprite, 3 bottles of water, and a yoghurt.
We never saw any towel art but that’s not essential. The room was generally made up later in the afternoon, and the service was perfect.
The pool is large and beautiful but be forewarned that all loungers under the palapas are gone before 8 am. The towel game is in full swing with many people reserving a spot at some ungodly hour and then not showing up until much later in the day. Guests are packed in pretty tight when everyone shows up; chances are you’ll be sitting close to someone you don’t know.
The towel hut had posted hours that weren’t strictly kept – they’re on Mexican time, doncha know - and I wondered if in part it was due to the habit of many guests to hold onto towels overnight or to switch them mid-day, with the lack of fresh towels in the end driving the hours of operation.
The Mariachi Bar is situated between the Alegria Spa and the hot tubs by the beach. We brought insulated mugs with us – they are also available in the lobby store – but eventually stopped using them, never finding the wait times to be as bad as we had previously read. Plus there were a couple of employees who would take drink orders in addition to picking up empty plastic glasses.
The bar has a drink menu - Banana Mamma, Tequila Sunrise, Margarita, Mojito, Daiquiri, etc - but never having strayed from it, I can’t comment on their ability to make anything else. They did have one tequila made from blue agave, and while better than the other tequilas on offer, it wasn’t exceptional.
The Palapa Restaurant is poolside and conveniently located for lunch, where a wide selection of food was available. To the left is a grill where pizza, burgers, and hot dogs, etc are made. Adjoining that is a salad bar (hint: guacamole is to be found here). Fronting the whole operation is the beverage area with self-serve soft drinks, beer, and wine.
I never touched the wine during our stay so I can’t vouch for or pan it. The beer is Dos Equis Ambar and Clara. Mexico needs much hoppier beers or Bavarian-style wheat beers.
To the right is a steam table full of hot foods and vegetables, and at the back of that rotisserie chicken is quartered and plated. Also in that area is the Mexican foods station.
There is a lot a seating under the huge palapa and the smoking section must be furthest from the beach as we were always seated beach-side. It was always very pleasant to get out of the hot sun and enjoy a meal with a cooling breeze coming off an ocean that was right there in full view.
Here’s a partial secret: plastic plates are set up to the left of the drink area for those who’d like a bite by the pool. On several occasions we enjoyed guac and chips this way.
The Animacion team is a fun group. Many are from Italy with a few Mexicans thrown in. They do a good job of entertaining the guests and encouraging participation, and crucially knowing how to differentiate between those who want to participate and those who don’t. The ladies of the troupe are very easy on the eyes, and as a whole they are a very professional group.
We are not nighttime show people, and besides we were offsite many nights, but to be honest I saw about 20 minutes of one show and it was perfectly awful. I trust that was an aberration.
Xpu Ha beach could very well be the best beach I’ve ever been on in Mexico. It is much like Coco Beach, or at least what that beach was three years ago when we were last there: soft white sand stretching off into the distance with a mere sprinkling of buildings.
Rustic shacks, many seemingly abandoned, are the most common structures found on Xpu Ha, with the only real functioning concerns being the CRT, the small hotel Al Cielo, and a couple of beach clubs. The old Club Maeva Tulum anchors the southern end and sits there abandoned, an all-inclusive ghost town.
In short the beach is largely empty and therefore the most un-Playacar of beaches. So I want to whisper this as quietly as humanly possible: Xpu Ha can support several more large hotels, and given the number that are popping up all along the coast, it is somewhat puzzling as to why this hasn’t yet happened. But I’m glad it hasn’t. Make sure you visit Xpu Ha to enjoy it in its current state while you can.
The first half of the week at the CRT was of the red flag variety, providing a steady dose of crashing waves to play in. The flags changed to yellow mid-week, after which dense clouds of what I am told were angel fish came close to shore and swam along with guests.
The ocean floor is for the most part as sandy as the shore, with the slope being very gradual, making it great for kiddies and those who have difficulties getting into the water. When the water reaches about six feet there is a rocky section that may be exposed depending on the wind and wave action.
And unlike the pool, loungers on the beach can be found at any time, with the additional bonus of several hammocks being at your service. There are also a number of palapas and a good number of palms that provide much needed shade.
We were off-resort on a number of occasions and taxis were our mode of travel. The hotel offers several shuttles per day to and from Playa del Carmen – an extremely generous service given the multiple departures and returns - but we just decided that taxis would better fit our schedule.
The cost one-way to Playa del Carmen was generally 180 pesos (the peso at that time being roughly the equivalent of 10 Canadian cents). From the CRT to the Tulum ruins cost 260 pesos, the trip from the ruins to Tulum pueblo was 40 pesos, while the trip back to the CRT was 280 pesos.
By the way, Highway 307 is being expanded from the Bahia Principe all the way down to Tulum.
We had a lot of interesting conversations with the cab drivers, with them generally speaking English and we generally speaking Spanish (my wife is fluent, I am a slowly-improving hack). If I understood one driver correctly he said that there are 1,300 taxis in the PDC area and a cab license costs one million pesos, with the government providing help with the financing. From all appearances it is a good job to have, and one driver spoke very highly of the syndicate to which they all belong.
With respect to money, I used as I always do the bank machines in Playa. So I’m going to take this moment to once again nag Canadians to get a Scotiabank account. There are two Scotiabanks with machines in Playa and I did all my banking there, incurring the same fees I do at home – nada.
And of course I spent those pesos. The enrichment of Playa del Carmen via tourist dollars is quite striking. It would appear that many locals drive a shiny new car. And there are also a lot of new big box stores such a Mega, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club.
But the Cancun-ization of Quinta Avenida marches on, with original shops slowly being replaced by grander enterprises. This of course was predicted and is unstoppable, and while it may very well be argued that overall it is beneficial to the local populace, some of it really curls my toes (Starbucks? Haagen Dazs? At home, OK, but why in Playa?).
Even though we pay a lot to go to an all-inclusive, we generally try to eat some of our meals in Playa del Carmen. This trip was no exception.
But first, CRT dining.
The La Selva restaurant is located off the lobby and is an open-to-everyone buffet-style restaurant that is the main breakfast restaurant in the mornings and hosts dinner at night.
For breakfast a typical North American breakfast was available: scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit, cereal, toast, bacon, pancakes, yummy French toast with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, made to order omelets, they had it all. Add to that chilaquiles, frijoles negros, and those fruit-based blender drinks, and you could get happily fat pretty fast. I know I did.
For dinner there was pasta, chicken, beef, pork, Mexican delicacies, salads, breads, cheeses, and a whole lot of desserts. There’s something for everyone - one night they even had tacos al pastor, and while not as good as the street-side stuff, I give them full credit for at least trying.
There are also a number of a la carte restaurants for which you can reserve a table. We only went to Centenario, the Mexican restaurant, which is also off the lobby. I had sopa de lima to start and then duck in three mole sauces as a main. My wife had some sort of mixed salad to start and seafood fajitas as her main – it included a lot of tiny squids and octopi amongst other things.
I topped off my meal there with a banana-chocolate bombe and a Mexican coffee in a clay jug that had a many varieties of fruit stewed in it. I hadn’t thought I’d ordered it – there was some kind of mix up or misunderstanding – but I’m glad I got it, as it was delicious. In fact I found the regular coffee very good at the resort and I regret not bringing any home.
Although we never went, we heard from an Italian-American that the Italian restaurant, La Scala (La Palapa by day) was first-rate.
And a quick browse of the menu for The Terrace, the not-included outdoor steak and lobster restaurant adjoining La Selva, generally required an extra US $30 – 35 coughed up, with one plate coming in at $55.
In Playa del Carmen, we went to the much heralded HC de Monterrey for the first time, the location on Constituyentes, and had aracherra nacional. It was every bit as good as raved over in reviews. I would go back in a heartbeat.
We also ate at Ajua, which is a bit of a tradition for us, but I think that will be the last time I ever eat on or just-off Fifth. Yes the waiters are entertaining and we had good live music, but the cost vs quality of the food really disappointed me; I had a small rubbery lobster tail with four or five small rubbery shrimp for 350 pesos.
Thankfully we ended our dining expeditions with a stop at El Pastorcito on 30th street. I had gone by there previously on a walk from the Grand Coco Bay and had seen them setting up the trompo for the tacos al pastor. When I told our taxi driver where we were going he was practically salivating, saying that he goes there to eat. And we were not disappointed – the tacos al pastor were terrific. Another must-return place.
After five trips to the area – seven if you count stays in Cancun - we finally made it to Xcaret. I can’t add much that others haven’t already said, except that it’s fantastic and for all the people there it really doesn’t seem that crowded. And the night time show is exceptional.
Same thing for Tulum – first time there. Given the heat of the morning and the fact that we’d previously been to Chichen Itza, our tour of the site was relatively short, spending most of the time near the temple overlooking the ocean where the cool breeze acts as a restorative from the blistering heat of the rest of the site. Entrance is 48 pesos per person and 35 pesos for the privilege of using your camcorder. We didn’t hire a guide; we wanted to come and go on our own terms, and in the end our visit was relatively short but we feel we saw as much as we had wanted.
After Tulum we grabbed a cab to Tulum pueblo and ate lunch at El Mariachi (¡desde 1997!) on the main drag across the street from Don Cafetto. It’s a nice open-air place with a gravel floor, the type of place locals would eat – in fact a family sat a few tables away. My wife and I both had a gringa, which consisted of al pastor meat and melted cheese sandwiched between toasted tortillas – it was a great lunch.
After that it was another taxi ride back to the hotel for one last afternoon of sunning ourselves before our week was up.
In conclusion I would go back to the Catalonia Royal Tulum in a heartbeat, and would recommend it to anyone. My wife particularly liked the fact that the beach was free of wall-to-wall hotels, as in Playacer, and that it can be walked its whole length without constantly running into other people. She also felt the food was good and of variety, and I agree.
The Catalonia Royal Tulum is pleasantly designed and laid out, the rooms are clean, the pool is very nice, the beach is spectacular, and the employees are extremely friendly and hard working. The location is great and the price was reasonable. We had a great time.
My girlfriend and I were at the Catalonia Royal Tulum from April 1st to the 8th.
The place was clean, the food was incredible, the people were friendly, we liked it alot and will recommend it to everyone we know.
End of review... :-) But seriously... We really liked it!
For those of you who like more details...
The resort is about an hour bus drive from Cancun airport, and they can sell you Coronas for 3 USD each on the bus. Don't buy them at the airport!
We arrived late at night (around 9h30pm, local time) and the buffet was still open, which was good, since we were both starving. Our first impressions were good, the front desk staff was friendly and helpful, and they spoke much better english than we spoke spanish (our native language is french)! The walk to the room was long, but that's probably the only "problem" with the Catalonia Royal Tulum - it stretches from the 307 highway right to the beach. If I remember well, it's an 8-minute walk from one to the other. Our room was right in the middle, in the 4000's - there are 6 units, 3 left and 3 right, we were in the second on the right.
The room itself was quite spacious, and had a very nice bathroom (my girlfriend wanted to take the shower back home with her). Everything was very clean. We had a TV, a mini-fridge which was refilled every day (and everything in it was free with our package) with soda, bottled water and a couple of beers. The room we had was on the ground floor, and since the balcony looks out on the "jungle" which composes the middle of the resort between the units, there is no real "view" to talk about. But it was clean, and quiet. There were two chairs, a table and a drying rack. The two double beds were quite comfortable, much more than most of the beds we've had in the past during such trips! No backache in the morning, yea! In our package, the safe was also included, and we made good use of it. One thing missing: an alarm clock! Bring your own...
After getting our luggage (they were delivered to the room) we went back to the front to eat at the main buffet (La Selva). My girlfriend eats about anything, but I don't. I'm quite difficult with food, and sometimes that get to be a hassle, believe me! But at that resort, I always had many choices of things to my taste, and everything was really (really!) good. We sampled the drinks at the Las Maragaritas bar, and went to sleep.
The restaurants we had were a little different from what is described in earlier reviews. We had a Mexican restaurant, (Centenario) and the noon buffet at the beach (La Palapa) doubles (in fact, triples) as a grill (Royal Grill) and an italian restaurant (Toscana) depending on which day of the week. We had to make reservations for those three, which we did on the first morning we were there. There is also another restaurant (Terrace Grill) which wasn't included in our package - it was relatively expensive, and when making reservations, you had to choose at that moment what you wanted to eat.... which could be a couple of days later.
Royal Grill: Being right next to the beach (which you can't see because it's dark, but you can hear it!) it makes for a wonderful setting. Food was good - we've had better, but still very good. We still talk about the mexican bread we had, a very strange recipe that tasted sooo good!!
Centenario (Mexican): I took Pollo Pibil (chicken pibil) and my better half got herself some Tequila shrimp. As I told you, I'm quite difficult with food, but that was incredibly good! I ate everything, and I'd still eat some more right now. My girlfriend's dish was very good too, but not enough food in her plate I'm afraid... Five shrimp, Tequila or not, is not enough. The La Selva buffet took care of that.
Toscana (Italian): Even better than the Royal Grill! We were sitting right next to the beach, close enough that my glasses were getting dirty from ocean spray while we ate! :-)
We always took our breakfast at LaSelva (La Palapa buffet serves a continental breakfast too) and there is a wide variety of things to eat
The pool area: Pool is huge, and if you want to get a chair, you have to get up early to go put your towel on some, because at 7h30 in the morning, there are none left available... Nobody on the chairs, but towels everywhere, same applies to the beach, but you can still get some very nice places during the day, as the beach area is quite spacious. The entertainment staff is using the microphone profusely, and please, somebody, bring some new tunes to the DJ! My brain has blocked that tune so I can't remember what it was, but it was played in a loop I'm sure! Still they are friendly, and when they ask you to come play with them and you say "No thanks", they don't insist, which is good. There are activities for all tastes, whether it's exercise, spanish lessons, drinking contests, soccer, volleyball (beach and pool), or simply baking in the sun. I can understand Tracey (February 2008) who found that it could be less than relaxing, but still, I've been able to read and relax without problems. There is only one pool, but it's very large, so you can be at the quiet end and enjoy the weather.
There are three spas - they were renovating the pergolas over the first two while we were there, so sometimes there were only two available at a time. At the end of our week all three were open. One is almost cold, the middle one was very comfortable, and the third one was a real one, at around 100 degrees - if not more. We chose that one most of the time, but after getting a few sunburns, the middle one was better! :-) They are located in front of the beach, that makes really great pictures (and memories)...
We went shopping at Playa del Carmen, and bought a few things on Quita Avenida (Fifth avenue) which is the local tourist trap. B-A-R-G-A-I-N, else you'll buy T-shirts at 70 USD a piece... (yes, seventy US dollars). They are hungry, and they want your attention...
We rented a car for one day to get to see Cancun. A little less than 90$ for the car, 20 USD to the local police to forget that we were going at 66 km/h in a 60 km/h zone (or pay 100 USD at the local police station while they hold your licence). Driving the Riviera Maya is an exercise in patience, as the speed limit on the 307 easily goes from 100 km/h to 40 km/h then back to 60 km/h - all in the same 1000 feet. If you rent a car, drive the limit, even though the locals speed by you at double the limit. They don't have bright rental company stickers on their front bumpers..
Oh yeah... don't believe the weather channel! The Servicio Meteorologico Nacional warned us of thunderstorms every single day we were there, and.. well, we got nasty sunburns, solar cream or not. We got two drops of rain one day (I got them both) and a 5-minute rain while we were in Playa del Carmen - but it was so refreshing we didn't mind at all! To know the weather, stick your nose out. If you get wet, either it rains or the sprinklers are working. I guess it's hard to get good "pronostico" on an ocean's front...
Try the dark beer, it's really good, the blonde is also very good.
All in all, we really liked the place, and would send close family there. We're talking about going back ourselves with the kids eventually...
Thanks for reading that far, and thanks for all the previous reviewers!
My husband and I, sister, brother-in-law, daughter and son-in-law spent a week at the Catalonia from Feb 6 to 13. The place was so clean with awesome views from the balcony. My sister and daughter had side views from their balcony but we had a straight view to the ocean and pool. The rooms were so clean and we got the cutest towel decorations daily. One on the bed and one in the bathroom. Room 447 has to be the best at the resort. The food was good. We didn't know that you need to make your ala carte reservations asap so we missed out on those restaurants for the first 5 days but the buffet was good anyway. The best tour to take is the Coba Ruins. You get to go to a Mayan village and swim in a cenote. It was an awsome tour that I would recommend to anyone. Our daughter wanted to do the dolphin swim down at Aventuras but was told by the booking company in the lobby that it was full for the day so we walked down to Aventuras to see the other people and when we got there they had room for her to do the swim. In fact since she was a walk up they gave her an upgraded swim for the same price as the cheapest one. That maybe the best way to swim with the dolphins, walk down to the marina and if they have space they give you a good deal just to fill it up. I would recommend the resort to any age group. This was our first all inclusive stay and we would do it again.
Myself, and two other girls just returned from 7 days at the Catalonia Royal Tulum and liked it. I always turn to these reviews prior to booking a vacation, and was not at all disappointed with our vacation.
We departed out of Montreal on February 14th with Air Transat (yuck) - and our flight was delayed over two hours. Other than the crappy airplane food (chinese), and the drunk people on the flight - we were very anxious to arrive.
The Food - overall was Ok -
Lots of fresh fruit, nachos, guacamole, and fresh salsa!
This resort is HUGE!!!
We preferred the smaller pool near the grill restaurant which was much more relaxing!
Day Trips! Check out Xel Ha! It is only a 5 minute cab ride, $10.00 us for the cab, and much cheaper than one of the Hotel planned trips. We paid an extra $100.00 on top of our $75.00 entrance fee to swim with the dolphins! An experience of a lifetime. You can't miss that. But watch out for the prices on the pictures they will try to sell you. 20.00 a piece!
All in all, a nice resort, nice beach close to the Akumel side, but the red flag was up all week. The Ocean can be very very rough so I wouldn't suggest small children swimming in there. But nice fish right off the beach for snorkelling, bring your underwater camera. Definitely would go back, although I never go to the same place twice. The world is far too big of a place to keep going back to the same place over and over again! CHEERS!
We just returned on Feb. 3rd from a week at the Royal Catalonia Tulum and we really loved it. I had scrutinized all of the previous reviews and had prepared myself for things to be "on the watch for", but after having spent a week there, I really believe that your experience will have a LOT to do with luck and your expectations.
We had hardly a problem compared to the very few who noted problems with this hotel or their rooms. I can only imagine that it was luck.
Upon Arrival - We were the only group in our van checking into the hotel. (3 of us). They had welcome drinks and a 'cold washcloth' to wash up with and cool off from the ride. Our room was ready and we left the luggage for the bellboy and went to find our room. I had asked for a room away from the Entertainment as we have a 6 year old son and didn't want him to be awakened with loud music etc.
We were given a room in the middle of the three sections of buildings. It was just perfect as it was half way between the lobby/buffet restaurant and the beach and pool area. It was a ground floor room and was just great. We have stayed at true 5 star hotels and though this was by no means, "opulent", it was very nice and everything was in great shape with lots of little things you don't always see at 3-4 star all inclusives.
There were plenty of towels, the showers were huge, with plenty of hot water and there were comp. Bottles of shampoo, shower gel, body lotion etc... Everything in the room is tile/stone flooring and it is REALLY SLIPPERY when WET! Be really careful when you get out of the shower...we threw extra towels down, just to be on the safe side....Don't forget if you come in with a wet bathing suit from the pool/beach, it's going to be slippery if your 6 year old drips on the FLOOR! :-)
The A/C worked great and there was a fan too, but we enjoyed opening the slider and (we did have a screen door on ours) and getting the fresh air and listening to the wildlife outside the doors. The birds in the morning are just beautiful and really make you wish for Sping to come in New England!
The beds are really hard! The good news is that you'll be glad to get up early and start your day. You'll also be really glad when you get home to your OWN bed! We've stayed in Mexico 5 times and all of the beds are hard. Unfortunately, that was the worst thing, but we still slept fine and also napped at the pool and beach during the day, so got plenty of rest. Our TV didn't have a remote, so after asking for one for a couple of days at the front desk, we finally got one. It wasn't a big deal to us, but if it is to you, you just have to "stay on them" for stuff like that so that you get what you need. Truly though, that was the only thing we really needed to even inquire about. Though we were on the first floor, we felt our things were safe. Our slider locked fine and we just kept the safe locked and secured. We had no problem with anything missing. This is one of the safest resorts that I've been to.
The Pool is absolutely gorgeous. During the day they played soft music most of the time which was a nice change from some resorts that play loud hip hop that is really not relaxing. They did play some louder music when the Activity crew were doing activities, but it doesn't last long and provides a lot of entertainment. The chaises have really nice cushions on them and they are really comfortable. There are lots of 5 star hotels that don't even have those! The bar is a little slow at the pool, but the bartenders are friendly. There are three Jacuzzis and depending on the day, there was usually at least one that was warm, if not hot. The other two were cold or Luke warm and you could tell which one was the hot one of the day....it was full!
The Beach is gorgeous and raked each morning. It is true that the chaises are hard to get at the pool and at the beach, mostly the one's in the shade as there isn't much and the sun is very hot!
The best bet is to get up early and go down with your towels or magazines/books to save your chaises. 7 AM to 7:30 isprobably early enough....Also, make sure you use plenty of block the first day or two until you get a base tan. There are some hammocks in the shade that are really great. There is a volleyball net and a lot of organized play and pick up games. The boogie boarding is really fun as there are some good waves. Right off the beach there is a reef to the left of the swimming area. My son and I swam out and snokeled on them and were amazed at the variety of fish in a small area so close to the beach! I heard from a local that there is an even better one a hundred yards to the right of the resort up the beach, so you could try that also.
There was a woman taking drink orders on the beach, we were usually sure to have a dollar or two for her and she would always come back by. That was a nice treat too!
The food - The food is great. I love to eat and am somewhat picky, but I always found something i really liked and it was not bland as a lot of buffet food is. There is definitely some repitition of foods, but overall there is a great selection and everything is so good. I gained 5 pounds! The fruits are amazing - tropical and fresh and the bread is baked each day. There is a huge variety of breads, as well a selection of 2 soups for each meal and pizza at lunch. The desserts were to die for. Usually they are more "European" and dry cakes etc., but these were excellent!
(See the part where I gained 5 lbs.) There is a huge salad bar...(where I should have been...) and the cooks are really willing to give you what you want, so don't hesitiate to ask if you want pasta wwith alfredo instead of the tomato sauce that is out. There were shrimp cocktails, obviously a lot of authentic mexican food/snacks available and I overdosed on the BEST guacamole all week. The service is Fair in the restaurants, but the best part is that it's a buffet. They are quick to seat you and once seated, you can get anything you need yourself. I was waiting my first day or two for someone to bring me coffee, but once I found I could get it myself, I did! No problem! If there was something we needed at the table, you could get it if you asked. And some days we did have good service and our drink orders were served to us.
Don't bother going to the Grill restaurant - the prev. reviews were right - it was slow and not great food. You're much better off at the buffet! We didn't try any other a la carte restaurants as we were so happy at the buffet!
The walkways are beautiful through the middle of the resort which is the jungle area. It was fun to see iguanas, birds, fish etc. along the walkway. They have soft music playing and I have to say it all lends itself to relaxing you from the moment you arrive.
I also went to the spa for a massage - one hour with Carmen. Amazing! They give you a robe and sandals to use and full use of the spa tubs, steam room, and sauna as well as a beautiful relaxation room. It is really worth the money if you can splurge!
There is internet access for $5 for a half an hour. There isn't usually a long wait. The keyboard is similar to the one's in the U.S., but there are some tricky things you need to learn. Don't hesitate to ask someone if you aren't sure about something.
My son spent some time at the Kids Club. He loved being there, but also loved being with us too, so was back and forth. Selene, the girl that runs it is just great and this is the first place that I've felt was safe enough to leave our son with anyone. He is also old enough now that we felt better about it too, but the club is really fun for the kids and Selene does a great job keeping them busy and juggling many languages.
We got a great deal on this hotel, but I wouldn't have been upset if we paid more as we were really happy with it! We would definitely go back again!
If you want to email me with questions, feel free:
This was my 12th trip to the resort Catalonia Royal Tulum formally (Copacabana) We had a great time and it was fun to put some faces to those that I had communicated with via e-mail for tips on the resort. Our trip was April 30th to May 18th. This was a best friends get away. So we had a nice long trip.
You will love the beach I think it is one of the best in the area. It is great, white sand that does not get hot on your feet. And the entrance to the sea is not rocky at all. There are many lounges located in the sun and under palapa (grass huts) and allot of shade also under the palms and many hammocks also.The area has a nice long beach for walks. If you go to the the Catalonia royal tulum site on trip advisor and look just under the rating area there are many candid pictures of the resort that others have posted. I will add my pictures as soon as I can get them up. I seem to be technically challenged lately. We prefer to stay in building 5 or 6 all the rooms are set back from the beach so there are NO beach front rooms. They are 3 stories in each building. Building 1-2 closest to the lobby, 3-4 (Non Smoking) middle, 5-6 closest to the beach and pool. There are no elevators so if you have a problem climbing stairs I would ask for the first floor.
The walk to the lobby is not that long it only takes about 10-12 min to do the walk from building 5 or 6. I am not sure why but many travel agents do not tell you that it is about an hour and 15 from Cancun airport, and it can be even longer if you take a group transfer (they stop and let off people at resorts along the way) Enjoy the scenery and you can get a flavor or the area as you head down the coast. As I go on and on now for the food part. We did like all the buffets that we went to at night there was always something that we liked and they offer a different kind of food each night. There is also a children's section. There was a nice salad bar, Fresh baked pizza every night and great dessert table. For the ala carts you do have to make reservations Jayme is usually there or her helper from 8am to 11am I think you can make all your reservation at once if you want. The tickets that they give you are for the whole family not just one person. I can never figure out this system some tour groups such as Apple vacations give you so many and another group may give you another amount. Who knows I would just ask Jayme if she can accommodate you with an extra one if you need them. It just depends on how busy the resort is though. There is a extra pay restaurant also but I have not gone to it. The Ala carts were great also they now have the Mexican, Caribbean, Royal Steak, and the Vegetarian. The Buffet and the Mexican are always open. What they do with the other 3 ala cart's is they rotate using the Lunch Palapa one night one then one night the other. At the Mexican I had the 3 taco plate and was overwhelmed with the amount of food on my plate but it was very good, Linda had the Chicken dish many said that the Tequila shrimp was good also. At the Caribbean I had the fish dish and it was great Linda had a chicken dish that had 2 half breast of chicken in a great sauce. At the new royal steak (included) not the pay one. I had the t-bone steak it was thin but it was tender and tasty We did go twice but I forgot what Linda had. ask for rare if you have the steak they cook steak well done in Mexico almost no matter what. I do not know why it is just the way they like to eat meat. And the new vegetarian I had the spicy spaghetti (but it was NOT spicy) It was good but ask for the spaghetti not al dente I also ate there again and had the risotto it was creamy and Linda had the ricotta cheese wrapped in pasta what was really filo twice and loved it.
The lunch area always seem to have 2 fresh soups and salad bar, with many dressings to choose from. Many hot dishes and veggies and a nice grill area also (on the smoking side). Look for it, there was always a roasted meat and when we were there was a selection of fresh fish, chicken, pork chops, hamburgers or hot dogs that they grill in front of you. On the other side there is a Mexican selection that changed daily also. They also have a good selection of fresh baked breads. And a soft Ice Cream machine on each side. By the Ice Cream machine there is also a selection of desserts and fresh fruit. The breakfast buffet is located at the lobby And you have so many choices it is elaborate and you can have fresh made omelets, or have them cook you your eggs if you are so inclined any way you want them. Also pancakes, French toast, and Belgian waffles. The bread and danish selections are baked right there in there brick oven. The coffee and tea was good also. But remember in Mexico they only use powdered decaf. Many juices to choose from one side has juices in cooler machines and on the other side there is fresh made juices. Beware of the Dark green one's they could be Cactus or spinach. But the others are GREAT. You can go all out and have a big breakfast or just juice and fruit or yogurt. They also have a selection of hot and cold cereal. There is also a continental breakfast set up in the lunch palapa for those who get up later.
One thing I would do is take along a Glad air freshener to plug in. You are in a humid area and it sure helps the room smell nice when you come in. There are not that many plugs in the room so we also take along an extension cord so you can plug in things like your camera or your I pod to charge the battery or if you have children what ever hand games they have. Just makes it easier. Do make sure before you leave your room that the safe is locked and that you have the key and keep all valuables and passport in it when not in your room, and the patio door also. Some of the entrance doors are starting to swell because of the humidity so after you close the door check the handle to make sure it is locked .
Internet and phone calls home.
There are also 2 computer they are now located in back of the area that you meet your trip coordinator. Apple tours etc. I think that you have to check with the front desk to use them the cost was 5 USD for 30 min when we were there. There is a sign on the wall telling you how to use them and how to get to the @ sign. The Mexican key boards are set up different then here in the USA. So if you have and underscore like I do in your e-mail address you will have to ask at the front desk how to do that also.
Taxi's, Collectivos, and the now free ride to Playa Del Carmen
The Spa and Gym
They are in the process as of our trip printing up all the new paper work for the resort. So if at check in they do not explain the details of the resort just ask. They will be glad to help you with how to book the ala carte's and the times of the buffets or any other questions that you may have. When we were there depending on the time of day they had someone who spoke English, French, Or Italian and of course Spanish. They also will change your US dollars or travelers checks and at our time it was 10 peso's per dollar and most likely will give you since you are in there country Mexican money back it just depends on what they have on hand. The resort was also in the process of having the robes imprinted with the new logo for the rooms. There is also room service that is at an extra charge. There was a short menu in the room. They also have an area in the lobby that is called CATA Tours and Sophie she also speaks many languages or her helper would be glad to assist you for any tours that you might want to go on. They are both very informative about the area.
I am sure that you may have a few more questions for me if so please write to me and I will send you a list of tips that I just updated last week. It will have also the e-mails if you need to try to get a special room. They will do there best to help out but can not guarantee the room that you want. Or for Jayme who is in charge of the guest relation if you have a special occasion that you are celebrating while you are there. She can also help you if you are planning a wedding at the resort.
Well this has gotten long. Below is my e-mail and I will do my best to help with questions that you may have or if you would like to request The list of tips.
We stayed at the Catalonia Royal Tulum from April 6th to April 13th 2007. My husband and I purchased our trip from Go Travel Direct who was selling a package called "Riviera Maya 5-star Wild Card". We were advised by the Go Travel rep that we would find out which 5-star hotel we would be staying at once we got off the plane. When asked which hotels were part of the "Wild Card" deal, the rep told us it could be any 5-star hotel situated on the Mayan Riviera.
We booked our trip to depart from the Ottawa Airport and we were advised 1 week prior to our departure that the destination was no longer available from Ottawa but that we could still depart from Montreal on the same day but a later time. We decided since it was so short notice and vitually all the all inclusive vacation packages were sold out, we would travel to Cancun from Montreal - we did however manage to get a 100$ credit per person for the change in departure city.
Upon our arrival in Montreal we headed to the Zoom Airline gate and noticed that the checkin staff had not yet arrived. They recommend we arrive 3 hours in advance, but 2 1/2 hours before take off the Zoom Airline staff had not yet arrived. They finally arrived but for some reason, unknown to us at the time, we were made to wait another 1/2 hour before they started checking people in, then we found out that the flight was delayed 3 hours - our plane was still in New York (that's what they told us at the time) and in order to compensate for the delay they gave us a whole 10$ meal ticket (wow how generous - not). Once the prescribed boarding time had arrived we were once again advised that the flight was delayed yet another hour. Then once again just before boarding they decided to change our boarding gate and upon arriving at the new gate the flight was once again delayed another hour. So instead of leaving at 10:45 am we left at 3:30pm. You can imagine how fed up we were.
Once we actually got on the plane, the pilot advised us that the reason our flight was delayed was that a plane that was to fly out of New York for a transatlantic flight had mechnical problems. Therefore they sent our plane on that flight and WE had to wait for the plane to be repaired - lucky us (I guess we weren't as important as those individuals flying to the transatlantic destination)
At least our flight was uneventful but due to the lengthy delays we arrived in Cancun at 8:00pm instead of 3:00pm - we lost a half day of trip. Once we got to the Cancun Airport we found out that we were staying at the Catalonia Royal Tulum. In our opinion it wasn't a 5 star resort but more like a 4 star resort but we decided to stay and hope for the best.
A safe is provided free of charge, but you need to ask the front desk for the key/lock. You also need to ask for the remote control for the television - they don't leave them in the rooms - I guess people steal them? There's also a small clock radio (no CD player) and its actually glued to the desk - I guess people steal those also?
Restaurants and bars:
The desserts were always amazing but once again you needed to get there early to ensure the good stuff was still available.
Waiters are only there to clean away your dirty dishes, if you want water, soft drinks, etc.. its self serve or unless you get a really nice waiter who is really service oriented he may offer the service but don't count on it. Don't look for seafood, it was non existant - fish was available.
We had our lunches at the beach buffet. It offered a salad bar, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled pork or chicken and desserts. Again, the trays often remained empty and weren't automatically replenished.
There were 5 à-la-carte restaurants but we were advised that we could only pick 2 during our 1 week stay and one of the à-la-carte restaurants we had to pay extra (30 to 60$ USD). We picked the Mexican restaurant which was probably our favorite of all the meals we had at the resort, the entrees were savoury and the main course was delicious. We also tried the Royal Steak and it was decent and different but nothing exceptional. The staff do their best and are very cordial but I believe they are under staffed and would need more training to be considered 5 star service.
The bars were OK and had a variety of mixed drinks and liqueurs, but again if you wanted something specific you needed to make sure to get there early because they aren't replenished either. Some of the main liqueurs were however missing from this supposed 5 star resort, no mexican bottled beer, no sparkling wine, no creme de menthe, etc. The line ups for the bar were often very long - sometimes waiting up to 15 minutes for a drink.
Pool and beach:
The pool was very nice and always clean. There were plenty of beach chairs and palapas around it too. There were also 3 hut tubs, 1 nice and hot, 1 luke warm and 1 was cold. The only down side was the fact that kids were always playing in the hot tubs so it was hard to sit and relax.
After this everyone was invited to the discotheque.
We stayed at the Catalonia Royal Tulum from March 16th until March 23rd 2007. Sorry, but this will be a far from flattering review. I was travelling with three good friends. We bought our trip from Go Travel Direct who was selling a package called "Riviera Maya 5-star Wild Card". When one of our group booked our packages, the Go Travel rep told us that we would find out which 5-star hotel we would be directed to, once we got off the plane. When asked which hotels were part of the "Wild Card" deal, the rep told us it could be any 5-star hotel situated on the Mayan Riviera. When we found out we were headed to the old Copacabana, we were disappointed because we knew that this hotel was rated a 4-star by every other provider except Go Travel Direct who rates it as a 5-star. Three of us had been in the Mayan Riviera area before and had stayed at 4 and 4 1/2 star resorts so we figured that if it was anything like these, we'd do just fine. Were we in for a surprise! This is not even a 4-star if you ask me. We met up with the Go Travel Direct rep to try to switch hotels because of our insatisfaction, but she told us it was impossible. She was extremely rude and went so far as to say that if we accepted to take the risk in purchasing the Wild Card, we had just better live with it. We also found out from her, that everyone who had purchased this 5-star Wild Card had been brought to this hotel. So buyers beware, if you think you have a chance of getting an authentic 5-star hotel from this package, you'll be very disappointed.
A safe is provided in your room at no extra charge. We were told that we were the only people to have a key and should we lose it, they would have to drill through the lock at a cost of 50$ US. There must have been a master key somewhere because when we decided to convert a few of our US$ into pesos at the front desk before going into Playa del Carmen, my friend and I both noticed that we had exactly 50$ US missing from each of our wallets. We had been careful to keep our wallets in the room safe at all times and hadn't been off the resort since our arrival. The few dollars we had spent up to then, were for tips. We reported the theft to a girl named Jeymy. We still don't know exactly what Jeymy's position is on the hotel staff, but we were always directed to her when asking to talk to hotel management. She took down our written complaint and then told us that hotel security would do an investigation of the theft. Right from the start, we knew that this would get us absolutely nowhere since she was telling us that no one could possibly get into our safe but us. We returned next morning to find out the results of the investigation and sure enough, the hotel couldn't possibly be held responsible. When we asked Jeymy what the next step was, she told us to file a complaint with the Ministerio Publico Turistico in Playa del Carmen. We then requested copies of the complaint forms we had filled out the day before, so we could bring them to the police in Playa del Carmen but Jeymy refused. We refused to take no for an answer so she finally agreed to send copies to our room that evening. Not suprisingly, no copies were sent. Next morning, we went back to see her and she told us she hadn't had time to make them. We then asked her for the address of the police station in Playa. Needless to say, Jeymy was not happy. I don't think she expected that we would go through with an official report but there was no way that we were going to let this hotel get away with stealing our money. She promised that the copies would be in our room that evening but again they weren't. We went down to the front desk to find out if Jeymy had maybe left them there, but she hadn't. The clerk made a phone call and told us that Jeymy would have them with her next morning. We went back to the front desk next morning only to find out that it was Jeymy's day off !!!!!!! We're sure this deceit was deliberate. We then hopped on the shuttle into Playa and filed an official report about the theft with the police. We know that this is not going to get our money back but we were determined to let Jeymy and the rest of the hotel staff know that we had gone through with it. We never spoke to Jeymy again before leaving the hotel but we made sure to leave copies of our reports at the front desk. So please beware of thefts during your stay !
Restaurants and bars:
We had most of our lunches at the beach buffet. It offered a salad bar, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled pork or chicken and desserts. Again, the trays often remained empty and weren't automatically replenished. Both buffets seemed to be understaffed and here, like the main buffet, dirty dishes weren't picked up and drinks were not served.
The à-la-carte restaurants: The vegetarian was the best, the mexican was ok and the caribean was not good. We were expecting to find seafood at the Caribean but no luck. They even have paella on the menu but when I asked what kinds of seafood were in it, I was informed that there wasn't any, just fish. The service in all these restaurants was very good. We never made it to "The Terrace" since you had to pay extra for the meals at this restaurant. The filet mignon went for 31$ US and the lobster tails went for 55$ US. After sampling the food at the other restaurants, we weren't taking any chances.
The lobby bar was nice and had a good variety of mixed drinks and liqueurs. The beach and pool bar had a good selection too. But if you wanted any of those mixed "slushy" drinks, you had to get there early because these machines weren't replenished either. Once they were empty (mid-afternoon), they remained empty. At one point, after serving us our drinks, the bartender was so bold as to point to the tip glass. Needless to say, he didn't get one.
Pool and beach:
We didn't use the pool at all since we're all beach fans. However, I can tell you that the pool is huge and seemed to be very clean. There were plenty of beach chairs and palapas around it too.
I always think it helps to know a little bit about who is reviewing. We are an older couple with adult children who did not come with us. We are well traveled-lots of trips to Europe etc, but I have not been in Mexico since I was a child and my husband has never been. We probably would qualify as "foodie"-though we do not have to have fancy food, but quality is important to us. I am in the salon/spa distribution business so am very picky about services.
I got this hotel stay on Skyauction--sort of by accident. I had never bid on anything before and was sort of interested in this place because it is environmental, so I decided to bid too low to win. Low and behold, I won. So I stipulated a holiday ( valentines day) thinking they would not have it available. They did and we were going.
I booked a direct and expensive flight to make sure we got there OK and booked a car from Thrifty so we could do day trips. Flight was fine and the Thrifty Car rental went well--even though I did not recognize the nice helpful lady as a timeshare saleswoman. She was nice about our no and we drove off, getting used to the topes and pulling over to the right to let people pass. It took a bit of doing.
We arrived at the hotel about 3 on February 7 and I asked for the manager , Yolanda, at the front desk. I had sent several e-mails with room requests and had not gotten an answer-I assumed because of the ownership change. She was lovely and , having dropped Carolyn Gustafson's name ( ;0) -she is an expert here on the hotel--Yolanda apologized very nicely by upgrading us to a superior. with a bit of sea view--in building 300 if you are interested--about halfway between the ocean and the main building . We liked this fine.
The room was very comfortable and the bed --though hard--was fine for sleeping . I laughed to see that they have added padding to the mattress--what it must have been before. The maid kept it beautifully clean and we tipped her generously --I believe in this because I don't believe they get enough credit. It's only a few dollars to us , but all the world to them. She responded by a new and pretty towel sculpture every day. We kept our passports and extra money in the safe and never had any problems.
The beach, as everyone says, is gorgeous-fun to walk . Lots of teeny children there and there were some days that they might not be able to swim in the ocean , as it was a bit rough, but the pool ( and there was a nice baby pool) was perfect.
Food was good. Breakfast was lavish because the resort has a lot of people from French Canada and Italy and they all ate different things--so different things were provided. Just about anything you can imagine. There was always a good grill cook for omlets and one for pancakes etc. Lunch was just fine . There was always a roast or roast chicken, hamburgers, pizza, salads , a grill cook for tacos, soft ice cream--not exciting stuff but not bad either. Later in the week the resort became very full and lunch lines occurred--we just ate earlier or later than 12 if we did not want to wait. We ate twice at the reservation restaurants ( would have liked to eat there more but only got 2 tickets while someone else got 3. I was a bit disappointed , but feel sure that had we asked, we could have gotten another--they were awfully accommodating) .
Mexican was good and interesting. Caribbean was fun too. We did not try the steak and lobster because we ate off site at Hezixho in Tulum for Valentine's Day. GREAT restaurant .
I had two services in the Spa. Do you remember that I said I am very picky when it comes to Spa services? Well I had a really wonderful deep tissue massage and a really good Mayan massage. I was quite impressed. They have a steam shower, a hot tub etc. Nice dressing rooms and a very nice open air Papua with loungers where they serve you water or green tea afterwards. Being in the industry, I asked why they didn't market the spa more and one of the two sisters that now have the place told me that they were just starting to build the spa image. .She said the new owners have a lot of plans for upgrading the former Copacabana and I could see that this was true , because later in the week there was a lot of management out looking into things.
Oh yes--the weather wasn't perfect , but we went to Tulum and Chichin-Iza and Playa for some shopping. The side streets are better than the main street of 5th.
We went to the shows often and were most impressed. They do a great job and the shows had way more personality than those on the Celebrity cruise we took. I particularly remember the girls dancing with lit candles on their heads in the Mexican Folklore show and the cute "borrowed " baby who was the baby lion king when that did the show. He or she didn't cry --just looked at all of us so seriously we had to laugh.
Oh, Drinks. I thought the beach bar drinks were probably more watered down because a falling down drunk would be a bit awkward in the pool or beach area. At the lobby bar, all you had to say was strong and the drink was. We drank less of the fancy mixed drinks and more basics and thought they were fine --though the fancy drinks were kind of fun.
A little tip goes a long way.
Altogether, we had a great time. We really loved the path through the resort. Some folks have complained, but I found it charming and loved seeing the small animals and birds. It was kind of a de-stressor to walk the Very few minutes to the beach of restaurant.. We actually though it was one of the best parts!
This is a great place to go . As my husband said, it has "Good Bones" and the upgrading that is being done will make it even better. Just do remember--you are in Mexico and everything won't be done fast or perfectly --but what the heck--you are on vacation!!!!!!!!
The first week of January 2007 we had a family reunion at Copacabana with our two children and their families, and stayed in three separate rooms. The quality of the hotel and the various amenities were comparable to those of other resorts in its category. The beach was quite nice and so was the pool. The food was average, but the wine tasted homemade. No beer in the room fridge, and tips were more or less required to get the fridge replenished with soda and water, and to get the room made up properly. The big complaint we have is that the cleaning staff routinely went through our suitcases (of course our valuables were in the safe). We became suspicious the second day after the room was made up, as my summer cotton pj’s which I wore the previous night were missing, so we set the outside zippers of our suitcases in a very specific position in order to be able to determine if they had been touched. Sure enough, after the room was made up the next day, the zippers were in a different position and the stuff inside was not exactly the way we had left it. The same happened for the remaining days of our stay. Our granddaughter had her favourite stuffed bear missing from her room, and our grandson had his earphones missing. We complained at the main desk about our missing items, but with no result. We made no accusations about the suitcases being opened, as we could provide no tangible proof of it, and as we thought it might actually be counterproductive, preferring to write instead to the hotel management after our return home. Which we did, about two weeks ago, but received no reply at all. Our recommendation: LOCK your suitcases when you leave your room. Or at least leave a sheet inside your suitcase, on top of the contents, saying (preferably in Spanish) “I’ll report you to the hotel management if you open this suitcase again!”
(By the way, nothing like this ever happened to us on previous vacations in Mexico or elsewhere in the Caribbeans or Europe.)
-This resort was bought by Catalonia Resorts. The new name is Catalonia Royal Tulum. It's a 4 star hotel (don't pay more than 900 US dollars/person or 1000 Canadian dollars/person - taxes included for a 7 nights vacation!)
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