Our Trip and a Review of the Paradisus Rivera Cancun
We arrived in Cancun after an uneventful flight. Our transfer to the hotel went smoothly and we checked in. The room we were shown to had nothing we had requested and paid for. We had paid for a non-smoking room with a king sized bed and an ocean view. We were shown to a smoking room, with two double beds and a view of the Jungle. As Eric says, I went into full New York City mode and by the end of the next day we had a king size bed, ocean view and a Jacuzzi to boot.
The Paradisus is a truly beautiful hotel. The biggest pool is right on the ocean and had loungers in the pool. That was where we spent all of our time. The swim up bar was nice and you have to try something called a Miami Vice. There was no problems getting chairs in the shade or sun depending on your preference, even on the days we slept late. Although there is a activities staff coming around and asking if you wanted to do things like water-basketball, bingo and yoga, they only asked once. Mostly we sat in our chairs and watched the beach and the pool. It got kinda cool in the shade in the late afternoon, so bring a long sleeved shirt or cover-up if you plan on getting wet and sitting in the shade, which was what I had to do after I got sunburn on day 3.
The ocean-view suites are worth every penny you have to spend to get one. There is nothing like sitting your private Jacuzzi and watching the ocean. The room was very comfortable, with plenty of lighting and outlets. Yes, Mexico is on the same current as the US so I was able to charge my music machine every night. The rooms come with clocks and TV, neither of which we used while we were there. The bed was just right and there was no problem getting extra pillows, towels, clean robes. (Yes, the room came with slippers and a bathrobe.) The bathroom comes with all the amenities you could want including bubble bath for the Jacuzzi. The mini bar had pop, beer and water.
The restaurants were very good. We didn't feel the need to leave the property. We liked the French one the best. The portion sizes were very French and the night we were the hungriest we both order two main courses. Our waiter seemed surprised but did as we asked. We ate at the French restaurant three times, the Japanese twice and the Mediterranean and Mexican once. The seafood and especially the lobster tails were amazing. As good if not better than any I've had. Both French and Japanese style lobster were very good and the mixed seafood at the Mexican was great. The desserts were a little uneven, tiny chocolate cakes in the French restaurant were the best. The buffet for breakfast/lunch had many choices, and if you didn't like the many choice you could eat lunch at the poolside grill (pizza, burgers and fajitas) They even made me corn free nachos one day. Because we like to eat late, we made our dinner reservations at 8:00 or 8:30 and stopped by the dinner buffet on our way back to our room around 6:00 to pick up cheese and crackers or other appetizers. One thing is for sure: you'll never go hungry. They have 24-hour room service, which I was very excited about before we left, but we never ended up using it. There is no menu, you just call and ask for what you want. Breakfast at the French restaurant is a treat, but takes a longer time than the buffet. But you should do it at least once. Because we ate so late most nights we only got to go to two of the shows, but they were fun.
We left the resort only four times and used Olympus, use them to book your tours if you can. They were very helpful, even contacting our tour company for us when we hadn't heard from them about a pick up time to leave to go to the airport. They also run the free shuttle into Cancun for the hotel, book with them for a pick and drop off time.
We left once to go to Tulum and Xel-ha ($95 per person). Both are worth doing. But don't do them the same day like we did. Do Tulum as a half day trip and spend a whole day at Xel-Ha. Get the all inclusive package and if you want to go swimming with dolphins, it's $90 extra dollars but if you like me have always want to touch a live and swimming dolphins it's worth it. The snorkeling is amazing, the fish have no fear of humans and swim right up to you. There is no Scuba at Xel-Ha. We only got to see half the park in our half day so go for a full day.
We also went horse-back riding at Rancho Loma Bonita, the horses went into the water and everything. It was pretty cool ($65 per person for a two hour ride with 15 minute lesson) We went snorkeling at the reef right out from the hotel. ($35 per person) The reef protects the beach, so the waves remain small, but it does cause more seaweed than in the hotel zone. Having grown up at Atlantic Beach on Long Island, I didn't think this was a problem and it didn't stop me from swimming, but most people stuck to the pool.
Lastly we went into Cancun to the Hotel zone for a couple of hours of shopping and looking. Don't stay at the mall the hotel bus drops you off at. Take the city bus for 5 peso to Coral Negro (black coral) market. Also if you want braids get them in Cancun. We heard the Market 28 was wonderful, but didn't make it and that you could walk along the beach to Puerto Morales in about 30 - 40 minutes and take a cab back for about 66 peso, but that sounded like to much work for us to do.
Mostly we slept, ate, sunbathed, and had drinks by the ocean.
Some Notes of Caution:
One - I'm pretty sure that all the rooms with ocean views have Jacuzzis, so if your travel agent says you have an ocean view, but no Jacuzzi, watch out.
Two - a number of people I spoke to had room control issues - i.e. being shown to rooms with people already in them, being shown to rooms that we not what they had paid for or requested and being locked out because the hotel thought they were leaving a day before they were leaving.
Three - the pool steps are very, very slippery.
Four - Ah yes the drinking water. We were told that the water served in the restaurants was from a big bottle, one night it smelt like sulfa which could only mean that it was filter and not bottle. Since we drank mostly water and didn't get sick, I'm going to go with it was well filtered. I also had a shaved ice in Cancun without thinking about it and haven't gotten sick yet. We were told that almost all of the water and ice in Cancun is filtered for the tourist and I'm inclined to believe it, but if you have a sensitive stomach, are very old, very young, pregnant or immune-comprised I would stick to bottled.
Five - wear a sweater for dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant
I think most of the notes of caution will be worked out over time since the resort has only been open since mid December.
The Paradisus was one of the most beautiful resorts I have ever stayed in and the second time I have stayed at an all-inclusive resort. I had concerns about the food, activities and grounds. I was pleasantly surprised. The food was wonderful, the grounds beautiful and the activities low key. I would recommend this resort to my friends and I would love to stay there again.