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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Marva and Wayne ~ Alberta

December 3 2009

Arrival: November 2009
We just spent a week here from Nov 12 to Nov 19. What a pleasent surprize! This being our 4th trip to the Mayan Riviera, we typically stay at the mega resorts out of Playa, but this time tried something in town on a whim. AWESOME! Because the Gran Porto Real is right in Playa Del Carmen and real estate is at a premium, don't expect the the massive gardens and grounds you would find at the big resorts. With that said, you will find very nice flora and fauna all around the resort that is well kept. The other reviews pretty much cover it all so I will just give a quick, current update on this resort. 

Rooms:
The rooms were excellent! Very clean, we had a suite so there was more than enough room. The drinks were good and cold in the bar fridge which was promptly restocked everyday. The maids left us towel animals and hibiscus on the bed everyday, which the wife loved. Yes our room came with a hard liquor dispenser just like you would find in a bar or tavern, with a jigger for rye, rum, scotch and tequila.

Restaurants and Bars:
The restaurants were small but very nice, like I said we were used to dining with hundreds of people at a time, so this was was a welcome change. EXCELLENT service at all the bars and restaurants!!! You did not have to wait long for a drink. Also very important, there was hand sanitizer everywhere!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Like I said earlier, the grounds were very nice and well kept. The pool and pool area was clean and the water was warm and refreshing. The beaches were awesome, pure white sand and yes there are sand bags but have you seen what a hurricane can do...? Enough said about that. The ocean was also very clean and warm.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There was activities people all over the resort to help you book everything from deep sea fishing to skuba diving to para-sailing. Also lots of free things, bingo to dance lessons to towel animal making classes, it was crazy, we loved it! The wife and I tried the para-sailing, UNREAL is all I can say, shes still talking about it. The nice thing was we just charged it to our room, so I didn't have to pack cash or credit cards down to the beach. Only a 2 min walk to 5th ave.

Other Comments:
I would go back in a second!!!! Awesome little resort and the people were great!!! Yes there is the time share people around but you just say no thank you and carry on. One last point, I did not see or hear any signs of H1N1 while I was in Mexico!

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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del CarmenBarb and Ben

March 2007

We recently returned from a 1 week stay (March 2-9/07) at the Gran Porto Real Resort in Playa del Carmen. This was our first time in Mexico and we were "talked into" this resort by our agent so we were somewhat sceptical about it as it wasn't the big resort out on its own somewhere. What we found we liked very much.

Location - as others have said you are on the beach yet 2 blocks from 5th Avenue shopping, jungle bars and restaurants, nightlife.

Beach - Definitely the beach is sandbagged but when your lying on your lounge you can't even notice them. The water outside the resort has coral outcroppings so beach shoes would be recommended. Some toplessness but very little. Lots of shade areas and no problems getting a spot.1 beach bar, 1 beach buffet for burgers, dogs, nachos and many waiters to take your drink orders - starts at 10am!

Accommodations - we booked an Oceanview Junior Suite and couldn't see any Ocean from our room plus no balcony. So we were not that happy but the room was big, bed was good, shower was almost luke warm most mornings. We were on our anniversary so we were sent a fruit platter with champagne upon arrival and a couple days later, more champagne and cake. The maids were nice in making towel figures on our bed with hibiscus flowers and making sure we always had plenty of towels, soap and accessories; they even left chocolates on our pillows. The room was very clean and had a nice mini-bar which was re-stocked daily - only 2 beer though. Lots of smoke detectors and fire paraphernalia.

Food - at the resort, there are basically 3 restaurants to choose from; the Buffet, Maria's Mexican, and Pescadore Italian. For breakfast we preferred the Buffet since it had a good selection, fresh omelettes and varied the menu every night to suit the theme of the day. The waiters were particularly friendly and extremely efficient. There is also a 24 hour snack bar in the games room which had a variety of light snacks (so-so), the lobby bar would have some sweets during the day so you could have something with your afternoon coffee or tea, the relaxation bar with healthier choices (so-so) and the beach bar offered a variety of lunch menu items like hot dogs, burgers, pizza and my favourite, nachos with cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo. Dinner at Maria's was nice and you could go a couple of times and have something different. The house wine sucks, they have a wine menu you can order off of (and pay of course). Il Pescadore is the Ital/Seafood spot and we thought not as nice (food/environs) as the Maria's. Note: there are lots of long skinny cats around the restaurant areas - they are skittish so don't come around you but you do see them.

Resort - overall, the resort was beautiful, clean, and spacious. They had 2 pools; the main pool by the beach which tended to be a bit noisy but very sunny, and the relaxation pool with swim-up bar on the 3rd floor above the Spa. This area also has a sushi bar all day too. If you get a chance, go to the rooftop hot tub two flights of stairs above the relaxation pool, the view is spectacular and it's very tranquil but don't forget to bring a drink or two with you since there's no service up there. I booked a massage at the spa and had it done down at the beach-it was great. We saw a couple of the evening shows which were fun - nice effort!. Also, the resort is very family oriented and has many guests with small children around. The resort is small enough that your never far from anything yet big enough to find a getaway. By the way, say hi to Filipe at the 3rd floor pool bar - he had our drinks ready every day we came!

Area - The Mayan Riviera is a very exciting area to explore. There are numerous day trips you can make and excursions to interesting destinations. There are also overnight trips you can make to Merida if you have that inclination. We did a day excursion to Tulum and the ecological theme park, Xel-Ha, about $90 USD admission price.It was very good, 2 hours at Tulum and 4 at Xel-Ha We took the bus package from the hotel, and we were gone all day, back by 6pm. Note in Xel-ha, you have to use biodegradable sunscreen which they sell for $15US so don't wear any water or sweat-proof stuff going to Xel-ha. There's really something for everyone in this part of Mexico. If you prefer nightlife, you can go out on 5th Avenue to check out the bars there or the Animation team at the resort regularly hosts bus rides to Cancun for party nights. We did a lobster cruise in Cancun 1 night and it was very good - 2 big BBQ tails each. I went up and watched the Canucks hockey game at a sports bar on 5th avenue with a few other "Canucks" so just like home.

We went over to Cozumel for a day. Very rough ride over so if you are prone to sea-sickness watch out for wavy days. Cost $20 US each for round trip. Cozumel is very trendy since the cruise ships park there. Lots of jewellery stores.

The only thing I could warn you about is the time-share people. Right at the airport they will try to get you to sign up for free trips if you go to a time-share presentation (which they swear is not time-share). They will even try to guilt you into it by using the hurricane for sympathy. When you're at the airport, just walk to the exit and go straight to your destination rep holding a sign for whatever provider you bought your trip from. Then at the resort, after you check in, there are employees of the hotel chain with "Real" shirts on who will try to hit you up again. The sister resort of the Gran Porto Real is the Royal Porto Real across the street.We wanted to see the Royal and got sucked-in by the customer service fellow at our hotel. He walked us over, we spent 2 hours looking around (very posh) then ushered into a room for some high-pressure sales work by 5 or 6 different people. In the end we said no, they were upset and we wasted 3 hours but, after a couple of Tequila shooters, we forgot about it.DON"T GO. We found that we liked our resort better for overall ambiance and size, the Royal is a Royal bore plus its beach isn't as protected. All in all, we had an extremely enjoyable vacation at this resort. If your thinking Bali Hi type resort this isn't it, but if your thinking you want a variety of options while you veg out, this could be your ticket. Just remember - everyone is looking for a tip - you will tip more than you think! Would we go back - to the area yes.


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Canada

November 2006

We recently returned from our honeymoon where we stayed at the Gran Porto Real Resort in Playa del Carmen. What a wonderful experience it was. This was my second time to the Playa del Carmen/Playacar area and my husband's first time to Mexico and we both enjoyed it immensely.

Location - the location of the resort is ideal. Last time I was in Playacar (May 2003), I stayed at what is now the Riu Lupita but was then the Occidental Allegro Caribbean Village Playacar. It was a lovely resort as well but being in Playacar meant we had to take a taxi into town every time we wanted to go since the heat makes it difficult to walk. At the Gran Porto Real, we weren't even 2 blocks away from 5th Avenue which is the main strip in town. Every night after dinner we could just stroll through town at our leisure and not have to worry about finding a taxi.

Beach - Unfortunately, after the hurricane that hit in 2005, most of Playa del Carmen's and Playacar's beaches have been significantly reduced. They have placed sandbags along the coast to try to save what beach they still have left which isn't exactly picturesque. Mind you, the beach is still beautiful with crystal clear cerulean water, a few fish to look at while snorkeling, and it's bath tub warm.

Accommodations - because it was our honeymoon, we had our Junior Suite upgraded to an Oceanview Junior Suite which when we saw it, we were amazed! I believe it was one of the largest rooms I've ever had in an all-inclusive resort with tons of room for luggage and to walk around in. The shower was really the highlight which was so enormous, you could've housed a small Mexican family there alone. The maids were so nice in making towel figures on our bed with hibiscus flowers and making sure we always had plenty of towels, soap and accessories; they even left chocolates on our pillows. The room was very clean and had a nice mini-bar which was re-stocked daily.

Food - at the resort, there are basically 3 restaurants to choose from; the Buffet, Maria's Mexican, and Pescadore Italian. For dinner we preferred the Buffet since it had the most selection and varied the menu every night to suit the theme of the day. The waiters were particularly friendly and extremely efficient. There is also a 24 hour snack bar in the games room which had a variety of light snacks (so-so), the lobby bar would have some sweets during the day so you could have something with your afternoon coffee or tea, the relaxation bar with healthier choices (so-so) and the beach bar offered a variety of lunch menu items like hot dogs, burgers, pizza and my favorite, nachos with cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo. We tended to have breakfast at the Buffet as well since they offered such a selection but on our check-out morning we ordered from Room Service which also prepared for us a wonderful meal.

Resort - overall, the resort was beautiful, clean, and spacious. They had 2 pools; the main pool by the beach which tended to be a bit noisy but very sunny, and the relaxation pool on the 3rd floor above the Spa. If you get a chance, go to the rooftop hot tub two flights of stairs above the relaxation pool, the view is spectacular and it's very tranquil but don't forget to bring a drink or two with you since there's no service up there. I would also highly recommend taking a nap in the numerous hammocks they have around the resort; I found it was the best way to unwind and forget about where you came from. I can't give any input into the Spa since we never partook of their services and we only caught occasional glimpses of the evening shows which looked very interesting before we headed into town. Also, the resort is very family oriented and has many guests with small children around. Unlike some of the other reviews below, I did not find this irritating in any way, shape or form but if you are considering taking your family down there, please note that there are a lot of Europeans there who like to go topless on the beach. If this offends you, you may want to choose a different destination than the Mayan Riviera.

Area - The Mayan Riviera is a very exciting area to explore. There are numerous day trips you can make and excursions to interesting destinations. There are also overnight trips you can make to Merida if you have that inclination. We did a day excursion to the ecological theme park, Xcaret, which is worth every penny of it's $58 USD admission price. We decided not to take the bus package from the hotel, going instead by taxi. When you take the taxi there you only save a couple of bucks in transportation but you save a lot in flexibility. We even went back to the resort for lunch, a swim and to get cleaned up before the show. The nice part about taking the taxi is that you can get there before all the buses arrive and have the Underground River all to yourselves for a while. There's really something for everyone in this part of Mexico. If you prefer nightlife, you can go out on 5th Avenue to check out the bars there or the Animation team at the resort regularly hosts bus rides to Cancun for party nights.

The only thing I could warn you about is the time-share people. Right at the airport they will try to get you to sign up for free trips if you go to a time-share presentation (which they swear is not time-share). They will even try to guilt you into it by using the hurricane for sympathy. When you're at the airport, just walk to the exit and go straight to your destination rep holding a sign for whatever provider you bought your trip from. Then at the resort, after you check in, there are people there with "Real" shirts on who will try to hit you up again. The sister resort of the Gran Porto Real is the Royal Porto Real across the street. At the time we were there, it wasn't quite completed yet so there was a lot of construction noise going on. The time-share folks will try to get you to upgrade to the Royal for a small fee which is really your prerogative to do so but we found that we liked our resort better for overall ambiance and the construction noise was a bit of a turn off.

All in all, we had an extremely enjoyable vacation at this resort and are already making plans to go there again for our 2nd anniversary. The motto of the resort is "we exceed your expectations" and the employees there really try to do that for every guest.


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Barrie & Marlene ~ Belleville Canada

April 2006

We are a late fifties couple ,well travelled to resorts.This was our 25th trip,over the last 25 years. The Gran Porto Real is without a doubt one of the best resorts we have ever been to.Every aspect of the hotel was beyond our expectations.The hotel motto is "exceeding your expectations",and it is lived up to in every way.

The location is perfect,on the beach and less than a block from the shopping street 5th avenue.

All the Mexican people we met ,from the time share guys, to the touts on fifth avenue,to the wandering musicians were a absolute delight. Fifth avenue is the best for shopping ,people watching or relaxing with a drink or coffee at one of the many lovely bars and restaurants.For the die hard shoppers ,or if you forgot something from home there is a Wal Mart about five blocks from the hotel and it is just like the one at home. Our room was beautiful,on the third floor right next to the relax pool and swim up bar.the fridge as stocked daily with water,beer and soft drinks.A TV DVD player and radio are in the room.Cable TV with Canadian and American channels(ctv from Toronto)

The food was quite good and the Italian ala carte restaurant should not be missed.A combo plays easy listening music from 8 till 9 when the stage show begans and starts up again at 10.

The margaritas were great as were all the drinks,mostly top shelf liquors and the bartenders will make most any kind of cocktail.Tips are warmly accepted but not expected and service does not vary tipping or not.

The beach is quite nice,narrow and a little crowded but not a problem.Loungers and palapas were never a problem as they have a lot all over the beach and both pools.

We had a small problem with our room and called maintenance,the problem was fixed within 5 minutes,which is how all requests were answered. The only negative encountered was the rude unruly guests who treat the staff poorly,drink way to much and generally give tourists a bad name.Learn some Spanish,relax,respect everyone you meet and you will have a great vacation as we did. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need further info willis4@sympatico.ca


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Lynn ~ Canada

April 2006

This April was my husband and my third trip to this resort.
We don't think it is fair to judge the beach as before the hurricane, it was gorgeous. Now it is about half the size and we felt there was too many palapas now and we could hardly get any sun when in our lounges. However, there are always a few boats tied up there. Just pop on over in front of the Royal Porto Real and the beach is great. However, you cannot use their facilities but they can come and use the ones at the Gran Porto Real. Not really fair!

Other things the hurricane had an effect on was the Restaurants. The food was not up to the usual standard and I think they are trying to cut back. The theme nights seemed to have all but disappeared and the selection is no where as good as it was.

The staff will go out of their way to make you comfortable. For instance, I told our beach waitress my neck was sore from the hard pillow and upon returning to our room, I had several to choose from.

I had an upset tummy one day and the bar manager Louis and again our beach waitree, Theresa had the kitchen whip up some chicken soup for me. Now talk about being pampered.

Being return guests we were also upgraded to an oceanfront room which was absolutely gorgeous.

We are going back again this December to visit with our friends that work there. For us it like going home again.


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Nancy ~ Toronto, Ontario, Canada

February 2006

A group of 40 of us stayed at this resort from January 18th - January 25th 2006. This was our 4th All-Inclusive vacation. We’ve also been to Cuba (Arenas Doradas Resort), Mayan Riviera (Colonial Palladium Resort) and Puerto Vallarta (Palladium Vallarta Resort).

RESORT INFO:

First Impressions:
This resort is really beautiful. It has a "chique" Mediterranean feel to it. The staff were constantly cleaning, painting, etc... to keep it fresh and new. Check in was a breeze. We were originally put on the 1st floor and when I asked for a room anywhere but the first floor, the front desk was happy to oblige.

Accomodations:
We stayed in room 213, which I believe is a junior suite. We had 1 King bed, a huge shower, which I’m sure could fit 4 or more people (no, we didn’t try) but no bathtub, balcony overlooking Constituyentes St, telephone, air conditioning, TV, mini-bar and safe. There was no coffee maker or alarm clock, even though some of our friends had them. The mini bar was stocked everyday with water, beer and soda. We simply left a note for the maid if we wanted it refilled more frequently.

Staff:
There was no language barrier, which made things easy. The front desk was always happy to help us with our questions. However, we did ask for a TV remote, which we got 2 days after the fact and we never got the alarm clock we asked for.

We would like to thank a few key people who made our stay more enjoyable:

-Benito our pool waiter, who always had a smile to greet us.
-Carmen the lobby waitress, who always made us feel welcome.
-Teresa who served us by the pool and in the lobby.
-Ruben from the animation team.

Nightly Entertainment:
We never watched any of their nightly shows. We’re not even sure where the stage was or if they even had shows for that matter.

The animation team did play a game one night. They had two chairs with sombreros on them. They'd play a song and then you would have to run to a chair, put the sombrero on and say "Arriba Arriba Arriba". Once you did this, you had to give the name of the song along with the artist. If you got it wrong, they poured tequila down your throat. If you got it right, they gave you some poker chips. Whoever had the most chips by the end of the game, won. Believe it or not it was fun and our gang won. !

Restaurants:
For the most part, the food was O.K. It seemed like everything was deep fried. They even had deep fried battered cauliflower. Who does that? Breakfast and lunch were the best meals but we still wouldn’t say they were “great”. As for dinner, it was below average. They were supposed to have theme nights but we didn’t see that. It seemed like a lot of the meals were recycled for the next one. For instance, if you had something for dinner, you might see it there the next morning for breakfast. Who eats steamed veggies for breakfast?

The snack bar near the pool had nachos, hamburgers, fries, onion rings, etc… We ate there for most lunches but again, it seemed like most things were deep fried. Unfortunately, we never had a chance to eat at any of the A La Carte Restaurants. Although the food was average, we don’t think anyone from our immediate party of 8 was sick.!

Bars:
There was a lobby bar, pool side bar, beach bar for the Real Playa Carmen guests and a swim up bar at the Relax pool. They didn’t have a drink list, nor did they know how to make most drinks we ordered. Oddly enough, there is no disco at this resort. However, there is a lot of bars and clubs on and around 5th Avenue. The animation team also organized a group of guests to go to Mambo Cafe on most nights. We believe it was $27USD, which included cover and drinks. Not a bad deal.

Beach:
What beach? People were right about the fishing boats. They are lined up all along the front of the resort. If that wasn’t bad enough, the fishermen cleaned their fish too. That resulted in loads of birds lurking the area. If you walked past the Royal, you could get to a “swimmable” part of the beach. But then you don’t have the resort fac! ilities like washroom, drinks, etc… which, isn’t very convenient.

Pools:
We found the pool average sized but it’s connected to the baby pool. The area was crawling with screaming babies, bratty kids and teenagers. We weren’t even there for Spring break! We never went to the Relax pool as it hardly got any sun and there were mainly seniors up there.

TOURS & EXCURSIONS:

Mayan Coba Adventure:
Cost: $95/person USD (All day tour) Lunch is included.

We booked this tour through our Air Canada Vacations rep and they arranged for a van to pick us up at the hotel. Our first stop was at some jungle destination where we hiked, zip lined across a river, rappelled down a small cliff, canoed across a river, had lunch, got blessed by a Mayan priest, and saw s! ome monkeys.

Then we got back in the van for another long drive to Coba. We got to spend about 45 mins of free time here. We climbed the Nohoch Mul pyramid and the view was amazing up there. All in all this was a pretty fun tour. We’ve been to Tulum and Chichen Itza back in 2003 and we’re glad we did Coba this time around. We’d definitely rate this tour a 5 out of 5 stars!

LOCAL BARS & RESTAURANTS:

Blue Parrot:
We went to the Blue Parrot on a Thursday night where apparently ladies get in and drink for free. My husband and his friend paid $6 for cover and they were told it included 2 beers each. When we walked in, a girl asked for his tickets so they gave them to her. Once our party of 6 was at a table, the waiter asked for the guys tickets. We were a little confused and told him the girl at the front door took them. ! He didn’t believe us and when we confronted the girl, she blatantly lied to our faces and said we never gave them to her.

The whole night, our original waiter was telling all the other waiters not to serve us. We can’t believe they scammed us out of 4 lousy beers. What was the point of that? It was the worst night ever and we will not be going back there. Funny thing is, apparently there was a fire a few nights later. I guess karma has its way of getting back at people.

Santanara:
We went there on a Friday night and cover was only $5. It’s has 2 levels playing different kinds of music. The rooftop played dance music but we don’t think it was a DJ. The main level had a DJ that played house music. It was the best music We’ve heard in a long time. We were there ‘til 6am and the place was still packed when we left. We’ll definitely be going back there if we're in the area.

La Parilla:
Our Air Canada Vacations rep recommended this restaurant. It’s located on 5th Avenue. We were so sick of the resort food that we wanted our last dinner to be an authentic Mexican meal. The atmosphere is really romantic, minus the mariachi band playing way too loud. We had chicken enchiladas, salad and chicken kabobs. Prices are decent too. Our bill was $60 for 2 chicken enchilada entrés, a chicken kabob entré, a salad, 2 Parilla punch drinks, 1 beer and 1 coke. It was the best meal we had all week. We highly recommend it.

LOCAL SHOPPING:
Shopping on 5th Avenue was different this time around than when we were there in 2003. The merchants don't seem to want to bargain anymore. Some places wouldn't even drop the price by a buck or two. We guess with the hurricanes hurting Cancun and Cozumel recently, the tourists ar! e coming to this side of Mexico and they don't have as much competition so why bother bargaining.

OVERALL OPINION:
All in all it was a great trip. We're glad we had our friends there to make this a more enjoyable experience. However, we don’t think we would go back to this resort. Some of the staff members tried their best but some of them clearly didn’t want to be there or bothered. The food was just average and the lack of beach really turns us off from this place. Next time we might try the Royal Porto because we really love the area. We would only rate this a 3.5 star resort.

You can view our pics here: http://community.webshots.com/user/nboyd0430

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email at Nancy.Boyd@Rogers.com !


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen C & K ~ Vegreville Alberta

October 2005

My wife and I spent a wonderful time at this resort. The Playa del Carmen area is a great place to relax or keep busy taking tours to the many historic sites close by. The resort rates a #9 out of ten ( we have been spoiled by the fantastic beaches of Punta Cana and feel this resort's beach doesn't quite rate as good). The staff however is the best we have encountered. They do what ever it takes to keep you happy. It does not matter if you are at the beach, pool bar, lobby or any restaurant, the staff was great! Our room was an ocean front (as requested) and was perfect in every way. The resort was full but you would never know it as everything flowed like clock work.

Take a stroll on 5th avenue at night for a great experience. The bars, shops and restaurants are so alive with music, guests, culture and the smell of fresh cooked food that we found to be a great way to spend a few hours after a late dinner. We also took a tour of the sister property next door, the Royal Porto Real and found it to be even more spectacular. We would recommend either resort to all and will return again.


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Randy & Janet ~ Halifax, N.S.

April 2005

Greetings Fellow Caribbean Travellers,

We have just returned from the Royal Porto / Gran Porto Real Resorts in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Travel dates were April 3rd to April 17th, 2005. booked through Air Canada Vacations. My wife and I are age 48, no children. We have been all over the Caribbean ( approx. 15 times over the last 25 years ) and have used all-inclusive resorts on several islands. I only mention this to assist you in judging our experience with the appropriate perspective.

I will be as brief as possible, and attempt to focus on the strong and weak points of the resort, and offer suggestions as to what the resort could do to correct or improve the deficiencies in their operation. Please bear in mind that the Royal Porto Real Resort is new, and just recently opened a small section of rooms, the 2 pools, and one restaurant. We moved across the street from the Gran Porto Real ( old resort ) to this new section of the Royal Porto Real for the second week, and in hindsight, I believe we should have stayed where we were. ( in the old Gran Porto Real ).

As the new resort is not ready, there is a great deal of construction noise from approx. 7:30 a.m., until sometimes after 11:00 p.m. every day except Sunday. They are making a huge effort to get this resort fully operational as soon as possible, and consequently they are attempting to " fast track " the work. Personally, I feel they should remain closed until it is 90 % completed, as it is very congested and noisy at present. I would estimate it will be ( at the very least ) another month before this resort is properly " finished ", and ready to accept guests.

ROOMS : The rooms are however, simply magnificent. They all have a jacuzzi tub ( for 2 ), and each room measures roughly 20 x 24 with an ajoining bath and shower / vanity area. And these are not the master suites, just the regular rooms ! They now offer 24 / 7 room service ( unlimited ). They have internet service ( charge ), CD / DVD players in each room. Very nice. Try and get a room on the third ( top ) floor, so you won't have to listen to the people above you walking around and making a lot of noise. Very poor sound-proofing ( if any ) between floors and ajoining walls.

POOL : Pool is huge ( there are 2 actually ) however once all the rooms are open and rented, I suspect the pool area will be very crowded. The second pool is where the swim-up bar is located ( towards the front of the resort closest to the beach ) and also contains the pool volley-ball net. Pool at the old resort ( Gran Porto Real across the street ) is looking a little long in the tooth, and the water looked murky. Very crowded and noisy all the time

ROOM SERVICE : fast and friendly - I was tipping 20 pesos each time, and they seemed happy with that. Room service menu somewhat limited though. Basic fare, but good - french fries were cold !

MAID SERVICE : came fairly early in the morning, ( around 8 ish ) was very thorough, and the ladies were always friendly and courteous. Spoke a little english, but I wasn't there to chat up the maids, so who cares ? ( don't forget to tip them ).

BAR SERVICE : The bar tenders are a super bunch of guys at all the bars scattered around both resorts, however I would much prefer to pay more in the base price of the all-inclusive package to avoid being served watered-down " no name " booze. The beer on tap was quite good, however the other people in our party complained later in the week that it was not that great if that's all you wanted to drink all the time. In Jamaica, we drank Red Stripe beer on tap every day and loved it. I am not a big beer drinker, however you can ask for SOL beer by the bottle in the restaurants, and that was better. The bar staff appreciate a 10 or 20 peso tip at the bars - there is a tip glass ( a large brandy snifter ) on all the bars for this purpose - please use it - you will get better attention when it gets busy in the evenings and they do remember who and who is NOT tipping. I personally went to the store and purchased my own booze, as I really dislike the " bulk " no name crap they where pouring - no big deal - good booze is relatively cheap in Mexico. Problem solved.

DAILY FOOD AT BUFFET : Staff in main dining room were very prompt and friendly - too bad the food they offer wasn't as nice. Breakfast is definately the highlight of the day. Lunch and dinner got boring really fast........... Go out and find dinner on your own for a couple of nights on 5th Ave. around the corner - your tastebuds ( and stomach ) will thank you.

LA PESCATORE ITALIAN RESTAURANT : Not bad lasagna, good filet of beef, strangest Caesar Salad I ever had....... They served the red house wine chilled one night ?!?! I couldn't believe it ! When it's served at room temp., their house wine isin't bad at all. The bottle indicated it was a form of Californian Cabernet " no name " ( made in Mexico - I think ) but who knows......order off the wine list instead.( charge to room ).

MEXICAN RESTAURANT : Not my favorite, but hey, it's Mexican food right ? Again - very good service, and the same house wine ( all over both resorts ). They have a Mariachi House Band ( 4 guys ) that wander around and play the same 8 songs all evening - nice ( the first time ) By the second week, they were an annoyance. My least favorite spot.

PELICANOS STEAK HOUSE : This is located in the front ( facing the beach ) of the new resort ( Royal Porto Real ) and has the most potential to become an excellent steak house. Service is very good, same house wine, however I would recommend that you order off their wine list and bill it to your room. The wine list prices are quite reasonable at all the restaurants, in addition to offering several choices instead of having the " California Cabernet mystery wine " every night. France, Australia, Chile, and Spain are all represented here, and range from a high of $650.00 pesos, to a low of $180. pesos. ( roughly $20.00 - $ 75.00 USD ). They offer a 12 oz. filet which was cooked as requested ( rare ). Very nice. There are other choices in addition to just beef - lamb, chicken, and a fish dish. Try and book this restaurant more than once if possible. Seating times for all 3 restaurants start at 6 : 30 p.m. I must mention that they use this particular restaurant for breakfast and lunch ( a la carte ) daily, which we highly recommend over the buffet ( across the street in the Gran Porto Real ). It's so much nicer to have someone serve you than line up at the buffet every day, plus the menu is better !

PROBLEMS & SUGGESTIONS :
1 ) The first complaint ( and easiest to solve ) was the frequent noise in the hallway directly outside the rooms caused by the laundry and towel carts going by. They have those cheap, hard plastic wheels on them that have no lubrication or wheel bearings, and consequently they squeal, rattle, screech, and bang their way up and down the tiled halls all day. please - CHANGE THE WHEELS ON THESE CARTS !!! All the other carts used for housekeeping, bell hop, service carts, beverage carts, etc., have the larger rubber tires on them, and are virtually silent. An easy fix.

2 ) Place room service menus in each room.

3 ) Offer free internet service - it's not expensive to have the connection for the whole resort - why not ?

4 ) Offer more English television channels and some better english movie channels ( only 2 english stations ).

5 ) Fire hose cabinets in the hallways are locked with a key lock, and there is no nozzel threaded on the end of the any of the hoses ( 100 ft.canvas jacketed lines 1 1/2 inch. good water ressure ). You will have to break the glass ( and probably cut yourself ) to use it in an emergency. Not good, as the entire resort has no sprinkler system. Also, I did not see any kind of fire suppression system over any of the grease fryers or grills in any of the restaurants - strange what they get away with in other countries - May I suggest you sit near an exit..................

6 ) Place a small ABC fire extinguisher on the wall in each room. ( they are presently located under the ashtrays in the halls, and are not tagged as to when last checked ).

7 ) Display emergency fire procedures, closest exits, and muster stations on the back of each room door.

8 ) Are food & beverage staff trained in basic live-saving skills, CPR, etc. Is there a Defibrillator on site ? If so, tell us - patrons like to know those things, and the resort should promote the fact that they have trained their staff for emergencies.

9 ) Make the Royal Porto Real side of the street the " adults only " resort, and leave the Gran Porto Real as the " family " resort. We found the " screaming baby factor " very high on both sides. Use a different colored braclet to identify the " adults only " group. Wonderful Idea !

10 ) Offer better brand-name alcohol at the Royal Porto - trust me- people will pay more for good booze. Again, use a different colored braclet to identify these people. Another " no-brainer " fix.

11 ) Provide live music at least twice a week in the evenings. Bring in a band from another resort, island, etc., or a band from Mexico - please do something ! People want to listen to live music, and have a drink after 11 :00 at night, so please keep the bar open, and have some " local color ". We have always enjoyed a live band at all the other resorts, and it adds so much to your holiday. We're on vacation, right ? If I have to see another " Michael Jackson " show, I'm gonna scream ! Please stop the insanity !

12 ) Add a couple more beach wait staff for drinks - we had to go get our own drinks on several occasions because the poor guy was run ragged trying to keep everybody happy and their drink orders straight. I felt sorry for him most days and got off my butt and went to the bar myself. No big deal, however my point is : don't advertise that you have beach bar waiter service when you really DON'T.

OVERALL RATING : We would give this resort a 6.5 out of 10, however I feel that rating would go up if they pursue some " fine tuning " as indicated above. With some effort, these resorts could score an easy 8. I understand from the travel books that the Royal Porto Real is a 5 star resort ? Not yet it isin't - not by far ! They are both presently 3.5 - 4 max. If you have small children, don't mind noise, don't care what you drink, and have a strong stomach, check it out - you'll love it ! 90 % of the staff can speak basic english, so that was really not a big problem. Don't drink the water from the tap anywhere. We all took turns spending a day or two on the toilet. Probably just the change in diet, too much sun, too much cheap booze ? We have been to Jamaica, Barbados, Cruise ships, and some of the Saints ( islands ) and we NEVER got sick or had any stomach problems on any of those trips. You be the judge. Why is it you only seem to hear about G.I. problems from people after they've been to the Dominican Republic, or Mexcio ? BAD WATER. Somewhere between the time they purchase the food, peel it, wash it, clean it, rinse it, cook it, fry it, steam it, or drop it, inevitably, it will come in contact with BAD WATER. It's a very, very hard thing to avoid 100 % of the time. The plus side is they have soft toilet paper - Thank God !

Let me finish by stating that for the money,( $ 5,000.00 Cdn.for 2 weeks ) it was an acceptable, cheap vacation, however I would not return here unless they made 90 % of the changes recommended above. ( We will be returning to Jamaica or Barbados next year ). If this resort implemented most of the above suggestions, I estimate they would have to charge approximately $7500. to $8,000. for the same holiday. Then, and only then could you call this resort a true 5 star. So please remember to place our assessment of this trip in the proper perspective, as this was a $5,000 holiday, not a $8,000. holiday.

Happy trails


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen  

August 2004

We were having a hard time planning this family vacation with some of us wanting to do the real playa (local hotel, 5th Ave. meals every night) and the other wanting to do an All-Inclusive (but still close enough to 5th Ave. )So we agreed to a happy medium and we booked 4 nights at a local spot and the other 5 at Gran Porto Real. Now my brother and girlfriend arrived early and he had planned to stay for 1 full month so he was on a tight budget. He found us a room right on 5th Ave for 700 pesos a night. That was the best bargain we ever got. It was a studio type room…one room with a kitchen, stove, microwave, table and TV. The other room with two double beds, bathroom etc. It was totally A/C and quite comfortable and clean. There was also a fold down double bed in the living room. For my family of three this was perfect, to make it even better. There was a balcony overlooking 5th Ave. This was fun. A nightly ritual opening a few beers and people watching. This place looks very deceiving on the outside, but the rooms and staff were great. The place is named El Sol del Caribe. So for our first few nights we did the “Real Playa”. We found great local spots and then the younger kids wanted to do some festive places. We had dinner at La Parilla one night. It was alright. It was very much like a Tex-Mex spot you would find in the US. I had the shrimp and chicken fajitas and my daughter and husband had various types of shish-ka-bobs. The calamari as an appetizer was tasty. The nice thing was the serenading mariachis. Another night we did Frida’s. That has always been our favorite restaurant but this time we were rather disappointed. They lost our order and after an hour and 45 minutes we decided to leave. The manager quickly came behind us and asked us the problem. He investigated and then came back and said your food will be out right now and all your drinks and meals are on the house. Wow that was over 850 pesos. We then left and went right across the street to a new spot called Deseo. That was great. I’ve only seen the nightclubs with the beds in it on Sex and the City. Here a real live one! They had a old Spanish movie playing against another building and the ambiance was to die for. The drinks were a little expensive but hell it was worth it just for the atmosphere. We really felt chic in this spot. The other few nights we did my favorite, El Oasis and their shrimp tacos and the kids ran off and did their thing. For breakfast my 8 year old and I would walk down to the ferry area and buy fresh cut up fruit from one of the vendors and then stop in at one of the Pandaria (local bakery) and buy breads. This was the best tasting breakfast along with the cheapest. We spent all our days on the beach since we have been to the Mayan Rivera in the past and have done all of the ruins and eco parks. The area was very crowded with many Mexicans and Europeans traveling.

Then we were off to our All-Inclusive. I was excited to be pampered. We got in around 10:00 am to find out that we had a little line to wait in. Check in was a breeze and then we heard those words, we have a problem. I was ready to put on my boxing gloves and pull a Holyfield on him. They said we only have a room with a king size bed in it but we can put in another bed for you. I thought let’s check it out first. Wow, it was an ocean front junior suite, 354 baby! There was enough room to put a few extra beds. We were happy with it and took it. This has the most amazing view and after we did a few hours of ooh’s and aah’s, we were ready to hit the beach. Our room was very comfortable with temperature control panel, a shower for a million people and a two level balcony with 2 lounge chairs and then a table and two other chairs. The fridge was stocked with softdrinks, beer and water. This was living. We headed downstairs and breakfast was still going on. We decided to grab something to eat. This became my favorite meal. Made to order omelets, fresh pan dulce (sweet breads), fruits, cheeses, the works. My daughter loved the French toast and sausage. One thing to note, bacon is not placed on the buffet. A huge secret…just ask your waiter. They bring out a big plate of it. We had our bacon every day. We had some guest ask, where did you find the bacon. We’re not mean people, we shared the secret.

Our days were filled with lounging on the beach. Now the big uproar about bad beach this or that. The beach area has boats moored to it. We are in a former fishing village, and many people still make an honest living fishing. The boats add to the whole atmosphere. There is great beach up a little further and there is also a small bar right there. We would get a few boogie boards (free from Aqua world) and use them in that area. It was fine and we spent every day sunbathing and enjoying the water.

The hotel has a lunch buffet and also an outdoor grill area. They have the best guacamole and salsa. Most of the time the kids ate there, hotdogs, burgers, fries, nachos, onion rings and various other American style fast food. Inside you can get your fruit, cheeses, and tons of food. I am not a picky eater but out of 7 of us there has to be someone complaining, right. WRONG, everyone always found something that they enjoyed. Food was never issue at all. Drinks were fine, if you want to be drunk by 2 in the afternoon just ask for another shot. They will happily give it to you. We didn’t eat at the Mexican restaurant but ate at the Italian 3 times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Important to note, you must make reservations a day in advance NOT the morning that you decide to eat. Also, don’t forget room service once a day. That came in handy for late night snacks or icecream for the kids after we headed up to the room.

Try out Mambo Café for awesome dancing and a good time. We enjoyed this spot more than all the others.

The entertainment staff did their daily routine. We participated in a few games, they were fun. We didn’t hang out by the pool much though because by mid afternoon it was a sauna. Find the pool on the third floor, adults secret hideout, with a swim up bar and all.

Avoid the customer service people, they give you a little information about the hotel and then try to sell you a timeshare thing.

Overall this was a great vacation. This was also the first time we traveled with such a large group and everyone from the 8 year old to the 40 year old had a ball. We all agreed that we got more than our money’s worth. I think many people expect a 5 star hotel with a 3 star price. Would we return…Yeah, I think so! Any questions, feel free to e-mail me at shalue@yahoo.com


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Gran Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Cathy

June 2004

We just returned from a terrific vacation in Cancun! But, and there is always a but, we were originally booked in the Gran Porto Real in Playa Del Carmen. And, as per the reviews in Tripadvisor, the hotel was OVER-BOOKED! We had called our travel agent prior to leaving for our vacation with our concerns. She, in turn, contacted Holiday House. They spoke with a rep. for the hotel 2 days before our arrival and were assured our rooms would be ready. When we arrived, no rooms! The hotel offered to send us to another resort for 3 days then back with them for the remainder. We refused. After much discussion and many Phone calls, they agreed to send us to another resort in Cancun. This choice on the advice of a porter. We had emergency numbers for Holiday House, But!!!!, the hotel told us they couldn't call out to these numbers! We hopped on another bus for another 40 minutes back to Cancun to the Riu Caribe. We had a great time there! My advice, put some stock in the reviews you read, and be very careful to have your travel agents phone numbers with you!


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Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Canada

May 2004

We flew into Cancun Airport from Canada on a Sunday, airport was crowed but we were no time in going through Customs etc..watch out for the Time Share people,that are disguised as travel agent people, in our case Air Canada Vacations..it oly took us about 1 minute to realize it was a scam. They are very official looking behind desks. We left Cancun the following Sunday and although the airport was packed, we went right to the Air Canada section and although our checked luggage was searched thouroughly, it only took a few minutes..

This was our first visit to Mexico and will not be the last. We loved the Porto Real, food excellent, service unbelievable,waiters all so friendly, beach service for drinks, all the drinks were so yummy.

The beach in front of the rsort is nto for swimmming,there are fishing boats anchored they will take you out to fish for 50.00 an hur,seen people with barracudas, although people complain about the boats,we found them to add to the charm of the whole area.

The location of the Porto Real is about a 2 minute walk to 5th Ave and all the fun shops and sites. We had a standard room, facing the construction of the new Real Resort which is going to be adult only, we had no problem with noise,etc. The roof top pool with the swim up bar was right outside our room. We took a collectivo to Tulum 2.00 each, took the ferry over to Cozumel and took a 3 reef glass bottom boat snorkelling trip.

There is one thing negative I can say about our stay at the Porto Real and our visit to Playa. They also now have interactive TV, in which you can access your email for 5.00 an hour, nice and convenient.

We also spent the last 2 days up at their sister resort Caribe Real (formerly the Continental Plaza) they are just in the midst of changing over to a Real Resort. We loved Cancun, esp the beach. We have beento DR and Cuba and we both found Mexico to be the best vacation we have ever had.

Tip: order Mapchicks Map of Playa, had I known we ere goign to be in Cancun I would have gotten the map for Cancun...we found the map so helpful in finding streets,etc. ALso wish I would have gotten one for Cozumel, oh well next year.


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Porto Real - Playa Del Carmen Karen --- Abbotsford BC Canada

April 2004

We stayed at the gran porto real resort (all inclusive)febuary 20-27/2004, with our two teenage sons (19and16). All inclusive is the way to go! We had a juinor suite which was just awesome! The boys had their own room(standard) The food was excellent,the buffets always offered something new and delicious. We also tried the two ala carte restaurants(keep in mind a dress code)one was italian and the other mexican. The service thru-out the hotel was perfect in every way!! Even on the beach , our drinks were full at all times. The entertainment was unique, we even enjoyed some keriokee at the sports bar. Just a short walk away was 5th avenue, shopping , shopping and more shopping, with tons of restaurants to choose from as well. We let our kids go to the "Blue Parrot" which is a great place for teenagers their age to hang out. We will definitely go back soon....we also recommended this very resort to friends who are now booked to go april 13/2004.


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