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All reviews shangri la caribe half board palapa style las olas fuego restaurant garden view breakfast and dinner las palapas palapa roof ocean front ping pong fifth avenue the penthouse infinity pool yogurt palm trees the wait staff
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Reviewed 1 August 2005

Just got back from a Post-Emily week at the Shangi La Caribe. Had a wonderful time, and all the reviews are pretty accurate. We arrived just 4 days after the storm hit and I’ve posted some comments about damage on the Playa Del Carmen Forum in response to some queries. The management and staff did an outstanding job of minimizing the effects on our vacation.
This was a wonderful location for relaxation and beach fun. If you want a hotel to “entertain you”, or want Jacuzzi tubs, pampered hotel rooms, and fancy marble common areas – this isn’t the place. But if you want to be treated wonderfully, surrounded by nice guests, feel like you are a world away from typical urban/suburban life, and have a great beach vacation – check out the SLC. I do wish the beds were softer – but I read most hotel beds in Mexico are not soft. We took our teenagers and gave them their own “grass shack” as they called it. They loved it even without a TV, Radio, fridge, microwave, internet and clocks. They spent hours reading in the hammocks on the porch. In comparison to reviews of other PDC beach hotels, we saw very few bugs in our rooms. The languages of the guests were pretty evenly spread across English, Spanish, French and German, with some Italian tossed in; and everyone seemed to respect each other.
The staff was incredible – whatever SLC has done should be a textbook for other hotels. The staff was the friendliest and most team oriented I have ever seen anywhere – the restaurant staff all seemed to be having a fun time even when interacting only with themselves and in spite of the long hours. They welcomed everyone – leaning our names, always having jokes, and were kind, happy and friendly with each other. Our rooms were always spotless and the front desk was very helpful. The hotel conducts language training for their staff and it shows. It would be good if the management explained the tipping policy, some degree of tip/service charge is built into the rates. We always added some more tip as well in appreciation for their outstanding service, but were told once not to add a tip to the check (which we got for drinks or lunches) so we switched to leaving cash. However, the quality of service didn’t seem to be significantly affected by tipping – they treated everyone very well. The front desk said something about we could leave a tip at the end in an envelope and they spread those across the staff. That might explain why everyone works so well together.
After reading other reviews on the food, we were very pleasantly surprised by the dinners. The first dinner was fabulous – both the fish and the roasted chicken (always had 2 choices except for the buffets). Their sauces are wonderful and unique and the soups were uniformly excellent. The meals weren’t “fancy”, but generally very tasty and different than the usual experience – using mayan and other unique flavors. I’m sure that some of the town restaurants offered better meals (along with more choices) and 5th Ave was a 15 min. walk down the beach or a 30 peso cab ride. But the family enjoyed the dinners so much we never went into town, and our family is used to excellent (but not pretentious) restaurants. Their chocolate ice cream and chocolate mousse were wonderful – full of real chocolate flavor as befits the Yucatan. And if you wanted something different for breakfast or lunch, the Monkey Cave was a block away – a very unique little place. If you need water, munchies, beer, etc. – there is a little corner supermarket a block past the monkey cave that even has used books organized by language. We really enjoyed the music at SLC, they had live dinner music 3 nights with different styled Mexican groups: 2 were strings based plus the Maraichis for the Mexican fiesta and all were very polished and played at appropriate levels for an enjoyable and fun dinner. The rest of the time they had MP3/CD based background music in the restaurant and bar that was very eclectic, wide ranging and very enjoyable; spanning Spanish, modern, blues, jazz, “unplugged”, reggae, country, Buffet, etc. The Casa Bar was a great place to gather during an all day rainstorm from the tropical depression that lagged behind Emily or during the heat of the afternoons, playing pool, ping pong and cards.
As for beach time, the beach is the best we’ve seen and was only 30 yds from our room. It was so nice falling asleep and waking to the surf with the off shore breezes. The fans help a lot, but in July, its still hot and humid. We did have Air Conditioning which was nice for the nights there wasn’t much breeze. The Ocean View rooms were great – close to the beach and the breezes; but still pretty basic (2 beds, closet, desk, bathroom). The high thatch roofs of the single units and 2nd floor units made it feel bigger. The Ocean Fronts and Penthouses are a bit bigger with some extra sitting space. There were lots of space both under palapas and palms for shade and on the beach. It was a short 5 min walk north to just before the Reef Coco Beach where there are a couple of beach bars and folks providing jet ski, parasail, and fishing opportunities. We hired some guys to take us fishing for 2 hours at a pretty decent rate, and caught over 40 yellow snappers and other fish. Lots of guests were taking advantage of the Dive Shop and dive training provided at the hotel. I was disappointed with the Turquoise Reef Travel agents that came by daily, they basically offered the usual high priced lengthy tours or expeditions. All day excursions cut into our beach time. Their fishing offerings were out of Puerto Adventura (30 min. away) and high priced. Instead, walk the 5 minutes down to Coco Beach and ask for Ruben – he’s real nice, speaks fair English and can set up whatever you want. The front desk arranged a reliable driver to take us to the Coba ruins, on our schedule – the “tours make it a 13 hr trip with extra stops. It was cool being able to climb up the 2nd tallest pyramid in Central America – built back when the Europeans were in the Dark Ages.
I hope this description helps capture the flavor of the Shangri La Caribe – its not for everybody, but it was a home run for our family and its on our list for a return visit some day.

  • Stayed: July 2005
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43  Thank wanderingbadger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2005

Wow... what an amazing week we had at Shangri La! The beaches, property, and character of the palapas was everything we could have asked for. The staff were all so kind and helpful, and always tried to accomodate our needs. The feel of Shangri la is simple relaxation! How great it was to lay in our hammacks or just sit out on the veranda enjoying the views- or of course, we could relax on the beach. We were beachfront -and we couldn't have been happier! I highly recommend spending the extra dollars for this. We had 33P, and I would request that palapa if you can. It was the perfect location, and seemed to have the most beach space. Our room was wonderful, although the beds really are HARD. It takes a little getting used to. The palapa rooms have so much character and personality- that they make up for the the few ammenities and luxury that a hotel offers.

The food was o.k. - not fabulous, but not bad. It was great having both breakfast and dinner included in the price - and as most other reviews expressed - the breakfast was the best.

We went down to Shangri-La to get married on the beach - and the entire experience exceeded my hopes and dreams. They (Beatriz!) handled everything - so we were able to just enjoy the end result. I couldn't have been happier. We had about 38 guests with us, and everyone had a wonderful time- and enjoyed their stay. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful wedding.
Although I had no idea what my flowers were going to look like, what the wedding cake was going to look like, or what we were having for our wedding dinner.... it was all great - and I was pleasantly surprised with everything.

If you're looking for a luxury hotel with all the ammenities, this would not be the place for you... no tv's, no telephones in the room... but if you're looking for a unique, charming, and special place to relax on an incredibly beautiful beach without the crowds- where noone wears a watch - this is the place!

This truly is the most beautiful beach front that we visited, and after walking down the beach to find nothing but crowds, we were amazed at how quiet and secluded Shangri la was. We will definitely be back, and truly enjoyed our time there. We left the day of Hurricane Emily - and we hope the resort is back up and running quickly.

Enjoy!

  • Stayed: July 2005
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15  Thank Flyer36501
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2005

As the other reviewers have stated, the best thing about this resort is the beautiful beachfront setting. The hotel has a wide beach area, with plenty of shady palapas and palm trees.

We stayed in a "garden view" room in the Caribe section. The room had a palapa roof, as it was on the second floor, and was in the 3rd row of bungalows from the water. We had a partial ocean view, and we preferred the Caribe area because the beachfront and water were better, and the bungalows only had 1 upper and 1 lower unit in each. Our room was about a 20 second walk from our beach chairs and palapa. The room was relatively spacious, although the bathroom was small. A great improvement would be the addition of small fridges for the rooms. All the rooms in this section of the hotel had air conditioning, as far as we could tell.

The breakfast and dinner were more than adequate, but nothing too memorable. The service in the restaurants was very good. Try the french toast or omelets at breakfast.

If the quality of the beach and water are very important to you, this is the place. We walked a few hundred yards south to the Puerto Real and Gran Puerto resorts, and were appalled at how crowded their small beach area was, and how rocky and full of seaweed the water was. We were SO glad to be at the Shangri La instead of there!

Even our 9 year old loved it, and we would definitely return our next time in the Riviera Maya.

  • Stayed: June 2005
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18  Thank ddffdd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 July 2005

Recently stayed at the Shangli-la and had a wonderful time. If you want a big, canned all-inclusive experience this isn't the place for you. There are places we've gone where an all-inclusive was worth it, Playa del Carmen isn't one of them. The town is worth frequenting so if you're the active type don't plant yourself at the resort, visit the town in the afternoons and evenings. Shangri-la, the layout and landscaping of the resort is excellent...it's a peaceful place. The pools are not as big as they seem in pictures, but were never crowded. During our stay the resort was 100% occupied, but it felt only half full...which I've been told is by design. Staff is friendly and helpful. Tip $2-3 for the maid/day and at meals. Also drop $1 for other services (drinks, etc). You'll be glad you did and they deserve it. The beach front at Shangli-la is the best in Playa del Carmen. We walked up and down and into the city and there isn't a more beautiful and peaceful stretch around. The difference is noticeable. If you aren't interested in SCUBA or snorkeling, but want to see some fish there is enough coral to keep you occupied about 15 feet off the beach front.

The food (breakfast and dinner is included) is decent. Breakfast is better, but we also enjoyed the non-buffet dinner days. Don't expect excellent food, but it wasn't bad and the service was good. If you choose to have lunch at the resort, the portions are huge. You may want to split the meal among two people. We ate in town for all but two dinners and a lunch. The bar area is fine enough for the day, but pretty dead at night (go into town). Happy hour is 2 drinks for the price of one not half price off the drinks.

Rooms were good. We were in a bungalow which was large, had 2 queen beds, a separate seating area indoors, a front porch (2 hammocks). Best part, we were 5 feet from the pool area and 15 feet from the beach. Most of the bungalows were very well situated. It took the AC about 4 hours to really cool the place down, but with the high, thatched room that is expected. Once it was cool, it stayed pleasant throughout the trip. We met people with garden view rooms who were not happy at all. You've been warned. This resort emphasizes rustic elegance so no TV, no telephone, no mini-bar in the rooms. We didn't miss the first two, but a mini-bar to store some food and drinks would have been nice. You can buy a cheap cooler and some ice at the convenience store a couple blocks away if you want to store drinks, food.

Taxi to Playa is no cheaper if you order one from the front desk or walk street side. It will be $3. That said, we negotiated a trip to CUN airport for $30 with an individual driver (the going rate was $50). Don't take a taxi or a group van from CUN to Playa. Take the bus to Playa and a cab to the resort. It costs $7 pp (ticket stand is located to the right as you exit the airport), than $3 for the taxi. Compared to a shuttle bus, it will save you time since you don't have to stop to drop the other passengers, etc. Also, will cost about 1/3 the price. We took a shuttle bus...wish we didn't.

See more of Playa, walk to town via the beach and back to the resort via the road at least once. Plenty to see, stores, restaurants, bars, etc. In general the food and drinks are priced similar to what you would pay in the States, but bargains are to be had by walking a block or two off the main drag.

Random stuff: Beach towels seem to go early in the AM so make sure you get a fresh set before breakfast. The night before you leave ask the front desk to pack you a breakfast to go if you're leaving in the early AM. Internet access: Free wi-fi.

  • Stayed: July 2005
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24  Thank SBN72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 July 2005

My husband and I just returned from a 4 day trip to Shangri La Caribe from June 30-July 4th and absolutely LOVED it! This is a long review but I just can’t say enough great things about this place, so here goes:

Rooms: We stayed in 32 Playa, a beach front bungalow and I couldn't have asked for a better location and room on the resort. When we walked out we were smack dab in the middle of the pool (about 10 feet) and the beach (again 10 feet). Often times we found ourselves lounging in the hammocks and just watching the ocean in front of us…that was the best! Several previous reviews stated that this bungalow didn't have AC but when we arrived there was one in the room. I think all of the rooms are now equipped with an AC unit, which is tremendously good news, considering how hot and humid it is in PDC. At night, our room was quite chilly between the AC and fan blowing full speed, very comfy. I will say though, the beds are pretty hard but that's such a minor factor considering you're in such a beautiful setting. We met another couple at the resort who were given a Garden View Puebolito room and absolutely hated it. They said it was very small and clausterphobic, view wasn’t that nice and the ceiling was very constricting. I would highly recommend a Superior Garden View or higher grade during your stay and if you can, definitely go with 32 or 31 Playa Beach bungalows. The Aventura Playa side is newer. Also, a note, there are NO tv's, radios or phones in the room. We took our laptop and a couple of movies, which worked out great. On the nights that we were too tired to go into town, we popped in our DVD's and hung out in the room. We had a wireless card and were able to get a connection, weak but good enough to go on the internet and check emails at the least.

Staff: The staff was wonderful. I wanted to practice my Spanish since I'm currently taking classes here in Houston, and when I mentioned this any of the staff, they were constantly encouraged me to speak to them and would teach me new ways to say certain things. Remember that most people in Mexico make next to nothing so even a $1 tip goes a long way. We always left a couple of bucks in the room for the maid and were rewarded with an exceptionally clean room and great towel art.

Beach: The Shangri La beach, in my opinion, is by far the best stretch of beach in PDC. We walked along the coast to some of the big AI beaches, and they were small, crowded and somewhat dirty. Ours was very clean, peaceful, romantic and simply magnificent (I would go on, but you get the idea). The water was crystal blue and sands were breathtakingly white during high noon.

Food: The breakfast buffets were great every morning. Don’t expect a lot of variety. What they do serve is an array of fruits, delicious pastries and the BEST hashbrowns. I think I inhaled those suckers every morning. They also have a variety of different egg dishes you can have made to order every morning and they were muy delicioso! We tried a different one every day. The lunch at the resort restaurant is over priced and not worth it. I would highly recommend venturing into town to try some of the local restaurant. Avenida 5 is a brisk 10 minute walk along the beach or a mere $3 cab ride. After my first day of walking and nearly melting in the heat, we opted to cab it every time. Some great restaurants to try are Babes (a great and cheap noodle place), Siam (another make your own noodle place) and Tango Taco. We had dinner at the resort 3 nights and ate in town one night. Dinner was actually pretty good. There are some who just hate the food, but honestly I think these people are very picky and expect gourmet meals at a 4 star hotel buffet. A word of advice: Caribbean resort food in general is NEVER spectacular, especially if it’s in buffet form. Food is generally more bland and they make it to accommodate several hundred people’s taste. Also, every evening they had happy hour from 5:00 to 6:00. You get 2 drinks for the price of one. I can’t tell you how many pina coladas I had. They make the best ones.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a huge, packed All-Inclusive with a set group of restaurants and tons of activities, avoid Shangri La. But if you’re looking for a romantic, peaceful and charming get away with almost a Robinson Carusoe feel to it, then definitely come to Shangri La Caribe. I promise you won’t be disappointed. We’re definitely coming back!!! If you have any questions at all, feel free to write me.

  • Stayed: July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
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27  Thank nikiv13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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