Travel review – Iberostar Paraiso Beach in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

I’ve done so much travelling in the last little while, it only makes sense that I try to catch up in my travel posts. The boyfriend and I went to Riviera Maya in September, 2017. We traveled as a couple with the boyfriend’s friends, a nice group of 9 people total, including four couples. It was my second time in the Riviera Maya area and honestly it’s one of my favourite relaxing vacation spots. The first time we stayed with Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, which was an amazing resort with the most incredible food and service. This time we opted for something different, another chain – Iberostar – mostly because there were way more activities that you can do here compared to Grand Bahia Principe. The Iberostar Paraiso resort grounds includes four full resorts with varied luxury, as well as a conference centre. The resort grounds were big but definitely walkable.

I have so many thoughts about this, so I ended up organizing it into pros and cons lists. In general I had a good time; it was a super relaxing trip and it was also a good mix of things going on, such as activities to do as a big group or just with your significant other. They had a shooting range where you can shoot BB guns and arrows, as well as a full gym with fitness classes (I didn’t end up taking advantage of this). There was also a shopping centre on the resort properties that hosted a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants (included with the all-inclusive), as well as a club.

One main thing I didn’t like was the inconsistency in service. I saw people who worked at our resort also work at others on the same grounds, so I’m not sure why there’s that inconsistency.

Pros: 

  • The beach is beautiful, sand is very smooth, not very rocky, and the water is very clean with very little kelp and other things floating around. The water was so clear that we could see angel fish swimming around underwater while we were standing in the water.
  • The pool is very beautiful, lots of options for loungers and cabana beds. We would go later during the day and even with a big group of 9, we were still able to find lounge chairs in a row. There are a lot of options for quiet versus party areas, and there is also pool volleyball, pool basketball, as well as a nice waterfall.
  • The service at the pool and beach were fantastic, there were people who came around regularly asking if we needed anything, and also taking away our empty cups. The service as the swim up bars was also very efficient.
  • The alcoholic drinks were AMAZING. The best I’ve ever had for an all inclusive. It was never watered down, and the drinks were also made consistently between bars / bartenders.
  • There are a lot of food options so that you don’t just choose between buffet or a la carte. The taco place at the shopping centre was AMAZING. We went there pretty much every day. The Star Rock Cafe was also good, albeit the service was very questionable (particularly from older servers, the younger ones were good). I love the room service option as well, since on some evenings we were craving snacks and they had room service included with the all-inclusive. The food wasn’t the best but it was nice to have fries and nuggets delivered to your room!

Cons:

  • Check in was very slow and inefficient. We had emailed the resort weeks in advance to request a room on a higher floor, but when we got there they didn’t have such a room available. They were helpful to try to group everyone’s rooms near each other, and on the first night they put myself, my significant other, and one other couple in the Presidential Suite so that on the second night we can check into a room closer to the other couples. While this was appreciated, they had told us the Presidential Suite had 2 bedrooms and a connecting living room, when in fact it was just the one bedroom with the second couple having to sleep on futons in the living room, which were extremely uncomfortable. Finally on the second day when we checked into our actual room for the trip, the communication was very confusing and inconsistent, and the change in rooms wasn’t updated in their system completely, so we had a lot of issues trying to book a la cartes and other activities that required room numbers. It just seems very inefficient that such a big resort requires the guest to go back and forth between the check in counter and the activity counter to confirm the changes, and that the change isn’t actually made in their system.
  • We noticed that service is very inconsistent. Sometimes it was fantastic, other times, particularly when the person seems to be more in a management position, the service is severely lacking. We were at the Japanese restaurant with the group, no one explained to us how the menu worked, when we tried to order both the sushi and the appetizer, the server gave us attitude because we could only pick one. If that was the case, why not explain the menu to us.
  • The buffet food was just okay, we didn’t really go to the buffet much because the food was pretty bland and there weren’t that many options or changes day by day.
  • Housekeeping was inconsistent even though we tipped the same amount of money every day.
  • The air conditioning was set at 22 degrees and could not be changed. It was very very hot and humid out so this was kind of unfortunate as even 1-2 degrees lower would have been better.
  • The men in our group got sick from eating at one of the beach restaurants (#9 on the map). For some reason the women ate at the same restaurant but did not get sick, don’t know how that happened.
  • The beds were very uncomfortable and the sheets were rough. For a hotel that is advertised to be 5 stars, I definitely would not say that is the case.
  • The first few days we were there, there weren’t that many trolleys to help bring us around. While the walk from lobby to beach isn’t terrible (10 minutes), the days were very very hot and humid, so more trolleys would have been appreciated.

Overall, we’d probably not go back to this resort again. The experience was generally on the positive side, but It didn’t wow us enough to want to go back, and we’d more likely want to try out other resorts.

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