Talk to me about Mexico, yucatan pininsula!

(51 Posts)
ihatethecold Sat 23-Mar-13 11:19:48

I have been looking at going to Riviera Maya with my family, me dh and 2 kids 13 and 10.

It looks so lovely there but when i read some of the reviews on tripadvisor i start to get put off the accomodation/resorts.

It wont be cheap to go there and im worried i will have worked my arse off for a year to save up for it and it will be a bit pants.

The scenery looks amazing, ive no doubts about that, just the resorts.

anyone got any recommendations for families.

ihatethecold Sun 24-Mar-13 17:05:55


springlamb Sun 24-Mar-13 23:23:38

I could talk to you forever about the Riviera Maya.
The all inclusive resorts are mostly of a very high standard, 4*. (I usually stay at the Gran Bahia Principe.)
The food is plentiful and well cooked, the buffet is a good selection but you can also book to eat at one of many a la cartes.
The rooms are very nice, will you be having 2 rooms or all going into one room. If you have a junior suite, the children can have sofa beds in the lounge part of the room. On the whole, the resorts know which side their bread is buttered on, housekeeping is good, the grounds are stunning, and guest relations are keen to put right any grumbles.
We go as a party of six and have never had a tummy upset. Most of the resorts have osmosis filtration systems and bottled water is freely available.
The flights are fairly hardcore, so don't go for less than 10 days. Also, try to arrange independent transfers when you get there, it takes about 1.5hrs to get down to the RM from Cancun especially with drop-offs at other hotels. When are you thinking of going? I was last there October last year and oh god the sea temperature was divine. In the summer there are complaints that the swimming pools are too warm!
Go on, ask me anything! (Having said that, I am forsaking my beloved RM and going to Egypt for Easter!)

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 23:27:40

My mum is there now envy

ihatethecold Mon 25-Mar-13 06:45:08

Thanks spring lamb,
We were thinking of August. I know it's very hot but we have to use school hols and Easter and Xmas are so expensive.
Are we mad to consider August.

I have looked at xcarat resort attached to the Eco park.
Have you heard of it?
If we go it will be for 2 weeks.
Do you think we could find somewhere with 2 bedrooms. My kids are getting too old to share a double bed.

springlamb Mon 25-Mar-13 14:56:08

I've always wanted to go in August, just so I could complain about the too hot swimming pools! It will be very hot and humid, and please don't underestimate the power of the sun there. Even last October, I upped the dc onto Factor 50 after a couple of days. But I know people who have been in August and it hasn't affected their enjoyment at all. Just sensible with your sunscreen and lots of drinking.
I used to go at Xmas/New Year but when I priced it for 12/13 it was coming out at nearly £12,000. That's why we went in October.
Xcaret is great and most of the resorts will have lobby pick-ups. Xel-Ha is also a good excursion. Playa del Carmen interesting although expect a little harassment near the shops. The ferry to Cozumel (island just off the coast) is a good trip, and there are lots of others organised by the individual hotels. There is also a lot to do around the resorts. Travelling independently to Akumal Bay and snorkelling with the turtles and stingrays is really easily organised too.
Price it up with 1 adult and 1 child in each room and ensure they are interconnecting rooms rather than just next door to each other. It won't matter who sleeps where once you're there, if you have the interconnecting door open. For example, at GBP there are 5 rooms per floor. 01 and 02 will have a door between them, as will 04 and 05, so these are especially suitable for families. To be honest, personally I wouldn't worry too much if I just had adjacent rooms, as Riviera Maya is a fairly safe area (Cancun not so much but you are far south of there), the resorts are good and secure and the people on the whole very welcoming, they realise tourism's importance. The suites I have seen have a huge superking, plus a (quite comfy) sofa bed in the lounge area and they will put another sofa bed in for the other child so no sharing.
All this is making me wonder if I shall regret Egypt.

Alibobster Mon 25-Mar-13 18:26:13

Check out reviews and pictures of Iberostar Tucan. I have been 3 times and returning this year for 4th visit. The beach is amazing and the hotel has the nicest staff I have ever encountered. Like springlamb, I too have been in October and the weather was fantastic. My only concern with August is that it would be too hot and too busy, although the tripadvisor forums are really helpful and you could ask people who've been at that time of year.

HollaAtMeBaby Mon 25-Mar-13 18:52:10

It will be TERRIBLY humid in August. I would rethink if I were you. TBH if all you want is a resort holiday, you may as well go to the Costa del Sol at that time of year. It's cheaper, closer and you won't know the difference if you're doing the resort thing. The point of a resort holiday in the Yucatan is to go in winter when it's freezing in Europe and be terribly smug about it grin

Backinthebox Mon 25-Mar-13 23:15:00

I've been twice. First time in a tent, second time we pushed the boat out and hired a cabana with a sand floor for $10 a night grin Probably not what you want with kids though. I've got no idea about the resorts, I just know it made a big enough impression on me that I can't wait till my kids are old enough for me to take them. I work in the travel industry, and have been to a fair few places, but the Yucatan Peninsula is one place I could happily go back to again and again. There is so much to see and do outside of the resorts, so don't just stay in - you can take your kids out pretending they are Indiana Jones at archaeological sites, or spotting wildlife at Xel-ha. I love the place!

sannaville Tue 26-Mar-13 21:16:52

We are going to gran Bahia principe in august smile we looked at Xcaret but didn't book it as bad reviews on the beach (its man made and meant to be quite small)

If I was going to Riveria Maya with kids I would be booking the Azul Beach Hotel - its a fantastic hotel with great kids facilities. Definitley look into getting out and about though, there's loads to see and mexican street food is amazing.

ihatethecold Tue 26-Mar-13 21:24:41

We have to go during school hols and would want 2 weeks so can't do half terms.
Xmas is far too expensive.
Maybe Easter if I save/work like a madwoman blush
I will have a look at the recommendations you have all made. I have seen the Bahia resort. Looks nice.
We definitely want to see lots of wildlife. Not just to sit in a resort.

HollaAtMeBaby Tue 26-Mar-13 21:58:14

Definitely plan to go snorkelling at Akumal beach in that case - your DCs are old enough and you wear a lifejacket so it's v safe. The beach is stunning and we saw sea turtles! It's between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, if that helps you pick a resort.

springlamb Tue 26-Mar-13 22:03:52

Sannaville, you are thinking of the hotel (is it one of Occidentals) which is a small part of Xcaret. Your thinking was quite right - the beach is manmade and not at all attractive.
But do visit Xcaret park itself, there is loads to do and the most amazing underground river to go along, traditional Mexican shows etc, loads of sealife and wildlife, and the night show is quite renowned.
You can book the trip from the GBP, the 'crazy bus' (you'll understand why when you see it!) picks you up and drops you back.
Ihatethecold - I understand your point, Xmas holidays are very awkward, the package flights for Cancun always inconvenient, hugely expensive and it's not worth going for less than 10 days in my view. The first time I went for Xmas it cost half of last year's quote.
A couple of years ago I organised a special trip into the jungle to see a mad German woman and her Mexican husband who run a sanctuary for blackfaced spider monkeys mostly saved from the beach photographer trade. It is a private visit and you get to sit in with the monkeys, they are amazing and the lady is just such a character, even their house is brilliant. Think the place was called the Jungle Palace. Although it was costly, about 50USD per person it was a great experience.

springlamb Tue 26-Mar-13 22:04:52

Sannaville, what section of the GBP are you staying in?

ihatethecold Wed 27-Mar-13 10:20:17

so is easter the best time to go then?

sannaville Wed 03-Apr-13 17:51:37

We booked with virgin so think its Coba section we will be staying in any advise on any particular room no I should ask for?? We have got a junior suite as have got two kids. Can't wait to go!!! I know coba is furthest bit from beach but not overly bothered really, just want a room near everything really

ihatethecold Wed 03-Apr-13 18:05:23

Sannavile, can you let me know all about your resort when you get back. I will prob book with virgin and I know that resort gets good reviews.
When are you going?

sannaville Wed 03-Apr-13 19:49:32

Hi we aren't going til august 22 but happy to let you know about it on my return if you could give me a reminder!

PicaK Tue 09-Apr-13 17:00:14

Went to Bahia Principe years ago - it was fab. A truly fabulous holiday. And the beach was to die for.

suebfg Tue 09-Apr-13 20:55:34

We went last year and although we had a nice time, I felt it was not value for money. We are pretty well travelled.

The beaches are fab but I think the sea is a little rough for little ones. Our resort wasn't great although it gets good reviews on Tripadvisor (Iberostar Tucan).

The best day we had was at Akumal (snorkelling with turtles, beach side restaurant). But we had already snorkelled with turtles in Egypt in shallower water (we had to go out until it was about 10ft deep to see the turtles in Akumal).

springlamb Wed 10-Apr-13 22:48:21

Sannaville, I've not stayed at Coba but the beach is just a couple of minutes on the resort's golf-cart shuttles so it will be fine. The shuttles drop you at the Akumal section beach and that it is a lovely sheltered section of the water, fab for the kids. Interesting snorkelling out by the 'whales' too. You'll recognise the 'whales' as soon as you see them!
Remember you can eat at any of the section buffets too.
Coba has just built a kids' waterpark pool area so that will be extra fun.
We always have a junior suite too, although in the Tulum/Akumal sections.
Back from Egypt now, temperatures higher than the RM, AI deal rather different than the Caribbean but workable, smaller resort, fab beach but the water was rather cooler. Snorkelling unbelievable though!
And, no jetlag.
I shall probably go Mex later in the year though.

BellaVita Wed 10-Apr-13 23:02:38

We went to Mexico last August and are going back this August.

We were fine with the heat. My hair did not like the humidity though

springlamb Wed 10-Apr-13 23:20:06

Brazilian blow dry about a fortnight before departure BellaVita!
I am so used to my sister being the frizz-bomb on our holidays but now she has a BBD she's all sleek and glam and I look like I've been electrocuted. You do have to rinse it thoroughly after each swim though.

sannaville Thu 11-Apr-13 20:50:51

Fab thanks guys can't wait to go! Yes my bleah blonde hair doesn't cope well with surf and sun!

sannaville Thu 11-Apr-13 20:57:49

Springlamb is there a beach restaurant there or a beach bar to get drinks? Also is there a kids disco in the early evening ? Thank you! Looking forward to going! We are going to visit Xcaret, Chichen Itza, Akumel for the turtles, and do a bit of shopping somewhere!

springlamb Thu 11-Apr-13 21:17:07

Oh yes yes and yes.
Each of the 3 sections has its own buffet restaurant, its own selection of a la cartes (you will probably be entitled to 2 a la carte meals a week with your package) and also a lobby bar and beach bars/restaurants and there are also a couple of small bars around the beach area. Maybe take in a pina colada or margarita at the Swing Bar on the Akumal section beach, I have seen many people swinging away there, and I mean like sitting on the swings and swinging). Each section also has a 24 hour restaurant/bar although I think alcohol may be restricted between midnight and 9am now. Remember you can use any of these bars and restaurants for whatever meal you like. The shuttles whizz you around, it's about 5 minutes between the sections. There is a large Hacienda at the main gate with lots of shops and Playa del Carmen is about half an hour away for more shopping.
The small town of Akumal Playa is where the turtles lurk and that's about 5 minutes away by cab, you can take a guided snorkel trip from there or just go in independently. You can hire bouyancy vests from the Akumal Dive Shop there on the beach and have a good meal at the Lol Ha.
There's sometimes confusion about where the turtles are, the 3 sections of the hotel are named after 3 local towns, the turtles are to be found at the town beach not the resort Akumal section beach (although lots of tropical fish are there). I saw green turtles almost immediately at Akumal Playa and also a little ray in about 10ft of water there.
All sections have kids club and there is a kids disco each evening at each section, but you can also dip into entertainment anywhere on the resort too.
It's lovely and although I wouldn't venture into Cancun central independently, on the whole the people are great and friendly and you feel safe.
Oh god, I'm starting to flex the credit card...

sannaville Fri 12-Apr-13 07:02:30

Amazing thanks for that springlamb really helpful x

sannaville Fri 12-Apr-13 07:08:14

Sorry forgot to add I read its nest to get to beach with turtles early in morn to avoid crowds, any idea if the dive centre there is open fairly early for life jacket hire? Can't wait to go now! Hope weather good in august

BellaVita Fri 12-Apr-13 07:26:25

sann, when visiting Chichen Itza, make sure you wear hats. Try and go on a day that will promise a bit of rain in the afternoon. It is very very hot. DS1 had a touch of sunstroke after, nothing that a day in bed the next day didn't sort, but obviously you don't want your holiday spoiled. When booking, do the luxury tour one (means an air conditioned coach) and they will also a continental breakfast and cooling drinks. When I finally getting back on our coach for the journey home, we were given lovely cold flannels to freshen up with.

Our hotel had turtle enclosures on the beach and we were lucky enough to see some hatch and let some go too.

Never heard of a BBD springlamb, I will go google.

springlamb Fri 12-Apr-13 14:55:06

There are lots of boats coming along the coast (there is one also from the resort beach) and the snorkellers go in from the boats. The dive centre also run their own boat trips from the beach. But I've never seen it so packed that it was not enjoyable. Sometimes it's useful to watch and discreetly follow the guides as they know where the interesting stuff is. The dive centre opens quite early and will fit you with bouyancy aids and snorkels. I'd advise aids for adults too, although the water is generally very calm, it means you can stay in longer and also gives you two hands to help kids and adjust snorkels etc. Take your hotel beach towels with you as it is a public beach so no sunbeds, although you can hire sunbeds from the dive centre and set them up in their small reserved area. Have a look at the bay on locogringo's webcam (which is mounted on the Lol-Ha's wall). Many a time I have stood waving at it whilst texting family in the UK to get on the internet and see me!
In August I'd advise doing your excursions as early as possible anyway. When you go to Xcaret, don't get rushed into the secret river ride immediately, save it for a little later as it is a lovely way to cool down, much of it is through lovely white-stone tunnels and lush groves and the water is quite cool. The kids will have bouyancy aids supplied for this too so you can all just float along through the noonday sun.
Bella is quite right about Chitchen Itza, and also the Tulum ruins if you are visiting. They are really really hot.
OK, I am googling prices for October as DD's new secondary school has very odd holidays and she gets a fortnight then. Stop me now as I cannot afford it.

sannaville Fri 12-Apr-13 20:07:48

Thanks spring and Bella that's really helpful! Haha do it spring book now! We got a great deal with virgin

Me again, what's the best currency to take? I usually take half cash half travellers cheques, what would you recommend? Thanks

springlamb Mon 22-Apr-13 10:41:43

Gosh that was good timing wasn't it.
Exchange rates say take pesos, but by golly they are fiddly and I find it difficult to work out how much things are. You will find everywhere readily accepts USD, try to get smaller denominations as if you decide to tip, one or two dollars is perfectly sufficient. (You might decide to leave a dollar for your room attendant if they do some lovely towel art for you, or a dollar in your fridge for extra chocolate, or leave a dollar for very good service at the buffet or bar, but you don't have to tip).
Reception will exchange money and there's an ATM in each lobby and also one down at the Hacienda. I believe there's a HSBC in the town of Tulum but can't swear to it.
Don't forget you have exit tax to pay on your way back and I think it has to be paid in pesos, so put it aside in an envelope!

That's fab thanks will take us dollars and enough pesos for the tax!

suburbophobe Mon 22-Apr-13 14:36:51

I went to Yucatan with my then about 17-year-old, it was great. We stayed in Playa del Carmen which has a nice evening vibe on the 5th Avenue. Good beach too.
We went to Cozumel for a day for his scuba diving, the ferry is lovely but for me I found it a bit boring. Only place to hang out was a beach club (the town is not much going on).

We went to Chichen Itza, Tulum (you can get on to the -very small - beach from there, so take bathing stuff) and Coba, which has only been excavated about 5% so very "jungly", it's the only pyramid you can still climb up and you can rent bikes to cycle around, it's so big - they also have rickshaws.

We were there in August but I don't particularly remember a fierce heat (but I'm well-travelled....).

Perfect opportunity for your kids to get to know about the Mayan culture

Oh, and the food is to die for! grin

I'd go back any time too.

BellaVita Mon 22-Apr-13 22:17:38

Last year we took the majority of our spends in pesos and about $300 dollars. This year we will take all pesos. I did feel sorry for the lady in M&S who had to count them all out for me grin

HollaAtMeBaby Fri 24-May-13 21:55:50

bumping for MarshmallowFarm smile

Got another question!!! When we go swimming with turtles at akumal beach does the hotel run boat trips to akumal beach? Thinking of doing a boat trip there rather than getting taxi and will the boat trip provide life jackets etc? Will be taking my 9 year old with me smile

Also we would like to sample real Mexican food would it be quite safe for us to venture out of the hotel complex and go to a nearby local restaurant? Within walking distance? Thanks

Heather100 Fri 31-May-13 22:31:20

I have been to Mexico twice with the family, it's fantastic. Stayed at the Gran Bahia Principe both times. Coba first time & Akumal second time. Couldn't fault it. Extremely clean & well maintained and very safe. Private beach. Fantastic.

Heather100 Fri 31-May-13 22:34:26

Yes the hotel does a turtle snorkelling trip it's awesome & yes closes place to go is Puerto Del Carmen fantastic day out or evening looooads of restaurants and the most beautiful beach, about 45 mins away but well worth a trip

Heather100 Fri 31-May-13 22:36:32

Nowhere in walking distance! It's a taxi to puerto del carmen, totally worth a day/evening out the bars, restaurants, shopping & entertainment

Great thanks heather how far is PDC from gran Bahia roughly? Many thanks for info that's great can't wait to go!

Heather100 Sat 01-Jun-13 10:04:28

It's about 45 mins in a taxi, but it's a nice drive you get to see all the hotels & a little culture. There taxis at the resort however they will charge you a fortune. If you walk up to the resort entrance there are big people carrier taxis that stop for you they stop all along the hotels and people get in and out $3 a person and they go to and from PDC all day & all night

That's fab thanks so much

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 02-Jun-13 11:14:24

Heather do you mean Playa del Carmen? Never heard of Puerto del Carmen...

Heather100 Sun 02-Jun-13 12:25:35

Sorry yes I mean Playa.

Puerto del Carmen is lanzarote lol smile

HollaAtMeBaby Tue 04-Jun-13 21:56:49

It's not that bad! You just need to get off the main pedestrianised tourist strip. The people carrier taxis that drive between there and Akumal are a cultural experience in themselves...

Spring lamb I have another question smile what travel adaptor will I need? I know it's the flat prong one but is it two prong or the 'earthed' 3 prong. Also I read that the plugs are recessed into the wall making it difficult to plug chargers in with some sort of adaptor (unless they were perhaps Americans talking who didn't have an adaptor anyway perhaps) .

Any issues with plugs before I go that I need to know as need to be able to charge phone and iPad, than youuuuu

And any idea what malaria risk will be like end of august? Would you recommend medication?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now