Barcelo Tropical Resort, Mayan Riviera, Mexico
submitted by- Marsha, Bursch Travel Hutchinson client
We flew on Delta, and everything went very well. There was mix-up at the airport last year with their flight and that left a bad taste for Delta. As for myself, I have been so happy with Sun Country and would have preferred to stay with an airline that has worked well in the past; plus we are quite familiar with the Humphrey Terminal. But, everything went well on the flight there and the flight home. Our hotel shuttle dropped us off right outside of the Delta check-in. Check-in went very smooth and it was great to have our seats assigned ahead of time. I will definitely want to do that again next year.
We were pleasantly surprised how well things went with customs. They had more customs agents working this time than in past trips and so we didn't have to wait in line very long.
Shuttle to the resort
Our red-shirted tour operators were waiting for us outside the airport and we and two other couples had a direct trip to the resort in a van. The other two couples had stayed at the Barcelo at Punta Cana and liked the property there and that is why they chose a Barcelo property in Mexico. They were staying at The Barcelo Palace for nine days. We didn't get to re-connect with them to see how they liked the Palace.
The resort was beautiful. Our room was 7225 and our friends were in 7221, so as you requested, they put us very close together, which worked really well. We had a bowl of fruit waiting for us. Normally that would have been a real treat, but there was such a good variety of fruit at the buffets and we never got hungry between meals, so although nice, it wouldn't have been necessary. We also liked our location. We were centrally located from the theatre, the buffets, the lobby and the pool and beach area. Everything was very clean and kept up. We liked the food in the buffets and if you find something you don't like, you just go back and get something different. We booked 4 of the restaurants; Italian, Seafood, Steakhouse and Thai. Some were better than others, but it is a good experience to try different things. The Thai and the Japanese restaurant were together and I wished we could have tried the Japanese as well. We had a room safe at no extra charge that worked very well. A room safe is almost a necessity in Mexico to give you the assurance that your passports and other valuables are safe.
We felt very safe at the resort. We went walking one night and other than a rat running across the path ahead of us, we weren't bothered at all. One of the trip advisor reviews mentioned a rat in their room. With this resort being very jungle-like, I can believe that there are critters running around and so we were glad we had second floor rooms.
They have an 18-hole mini golf course on the resort, that we enjoyed. It is located in very jungle-like settings. Very nice.
We had fun with the staff. Everyone was very helpful and friendly and one thing that we should do for future trips is to brush up on our Spanish so we can communicate with staff members that speak no English. The room service gals, for the most part, do not speak or understand English at all. Once on the resort, the only tipping we did was to the cleaning gals and room staff. It seemed they were in our room sometimes three to four times a day; to make our bed, to restock the refrigerator, to bring extra towels later on in the day and then to turn down our bed at night and leave a chocolate on our pillow. There was no pillow art at this resort.
Size of the resort
The combination of the 5 Barcelo Resorts made the property quite large, but that was not a problem for us. We enjoyed walking round the 5 complexes and one day we took the trolley around to see if they went to some areas that we hadn't yet walked. If the size is intimidating to someone, they can just stay at their own resort because each one is self-sufficient. We liked being on the Tropical. We walked to the Palace a couple times. It might have been a bit ritzier, but we were very happy with our accommodations. I don't know how much higher a week's stay at the Palace would be vs. the Tropical and whether it would be worth the difference. Maybe we'll go back to this resort someday and check that out.
The resort never seemed very full, and yet at night the theatre, which we calculated held about 800 people, was usually quite full. I think because the resort is so large, there is enough room for people to spread out and we you could usually find a lounging chair at the beach or pool without too much trouble. I think there are three theatres in the Barcelo Complex. The Palace has their own, for only the Palace guests.
We never went off the resort. The Barcelo has a shopping complex that contains a lot of Shoppe's and we found everything we needed right there. A taxi into Play del Carmen costs $18.00 each way and so we decided to save that expense and enjoy the convenience of shopping right at the resort.
We went to each 9:30 show. The shows that we saw at the Catalonia were better than those we saw at the Iberostar or now at the Barcelo. I say that because of the type of show the Catalonia had with more variety each night, more audience participation and more humor. The Barcelo's shows were pretty much singing and dancing; just with a different theme each night. They were very good, but still quite similar and very LOUD. And, most of the songs were sung in Spanish, so we had no idea what they were singing. But, I'm not criticizing that, because after all, we were in Mexico! The announcer said his lingo first in Spanish and then in English and he was the same announcer that was at the Catalonia when we stayed there.
We enjoyed the aqua trykes and we took a catamaran out one day, after we took a 1 hour lesson about how to operate one. All non-motorized water equipment was free, with a 1/2 hour time limit. We didn't go kayaking. The wind was strong enough several of the days and so there were times when they were not allowing the water equipment to be taken in the water.
We went snorkeling 3 or 4 times. We saw three or four species of fish and did see a turtle the last day we went out. The nice thing was that we could snorkel right from shore, usually at the Palace beach. We bought our own snorkeling equipment prior to this trip to save the hassle of having to sign out equipment and then being limited to 1/2 hour. We were happy with the snorkeling.
Shuttle from resort to the airport
For our trip back to the airport, we were to be ready at 1:45. They were a little late in picking us up, but no problem. We didn't mind sitting in the lobby and taking in our last views of this beautiful resort. We were picked up with a bus this time and were told that there would be two stops on the way. Because of the extra stops and because of all the traffic on the way in, the trip to the airport took about 21/2 hours. I'm not a big fan of riding on a bus (I'm showing my age here), so the rocking motion and maneuvering through narrow streets and speed bumps and tight corners at the two resorts, was more than I cared for, but the driver did a good job under the circumstances. The one resort where he had to make a pick-up had such tight corners that he did an amazing job of getting in and out of there. My observations from all my trips to Mexico are that they for the most part drive quite crazy, weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds. Thank goodness, our bus driver drove with caution, or it could have been a more challenging trip than it was.
Every time we consider a resort, I will go on trip advisor to see comments from recent travelers to that resort. Usually the reviews are complimentary, but there are usually one or two reviews that are quite negative and those are the reviews that tend to stick in your head as you think about your upcoming vacation. I just keep telling myself that Sheila has never sent us to a bad resort and once again, that held true! Trip Advisor did have a couple bad reviews for the Barcelo, but we were fortunate to have a very good experience. It makes me wonder if some people are just too picky, or have been too pampered in the past and expect too much. We had a good experience at the Catalonia, at the Iberostar and now at the Barcelo. Each one has their own flair and we've enjoyed them all.
The only thing that could have stood some improvement, in my opinion, was the weather. I usually like to have it warmer than most. For me, it could have been warmer, sunnier and less windy. It was probably in the mid 80's, but with the wind, it could be cool down by the beach. One day, we actually moved from the beach to the pool area where the wind couldn't hit us and it immediately felt warmer. We had rain showers on two days and our last few days at the resort were more cloudy than sunny. Weather can make or break a vacation, but despite those weather moments, we still managed to get tan lines and once we got back to snowy Minnesota, we were quickly reminded how great we really had it for that week.
Overall, I have no complaints. For next year, I hope we can once again book in November. I don't feel like we gained anything by waiting until we did to book. Hopefully next year will be different in that regard.
I do not think the Tropical was full. I didn't notice or hear a lot of traffic in and out of rooms on our floor or cleaning ladies getting rooms ready for the next vacationers. Our flight down there seemed full, but the flight home was about 3/4 full. I still don't understand why the Barcelo raised their prices so drastically just at the time we wanted to book that first go-round. There seems to be no rhyme or reason in the traveling industry. They always say that if you asked everyone on a plane what they paid for their trip, you would come away with varying prices from one person to the next. I guess that's just the nature of the traveling business.
Again, thanks for all your hard work to make this happen for us. I appreciate all the research you did on our behalf and especially for getting our seats assigned for us on the way down and back.