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“One Year Later & Still Feeling Ripped-Off”

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Viceroy Riviera Maya
Ranked #13 of 217 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 23 March 2009

I Went to the Tides in late Jan early Feb last year. I decided not to write a review immediately as give myself time to settle my thoughts on the hotel.

A year has gone by now and the main thought that comes to mind of my experience at the hotel is the feeling of being constantly ripped-off.

First the Positives: The reception and room staff were very friendly. The Rooms were beautiful and well kept. The hotel as a whole is very nice and quiet as we managed to avoid rooms near the building site behind the hotel. Beach furniture was also very comfortable.

Now the Negatives: I should have be prepared for what was to come as the already steep room prices then had a 15% service charge added to the displayed rate. (what service is there in a room rate?!)
Then were the standard restaurant/bar prices which were ridiculously high. A Beer or soft drink for around $10 each!! and again +15% service charge.
We had the barbeque on the beach the day we arrived and paid around $250 for dinner for 2 (+15%!!) for some cold fish/meat. Admittedly surroundings were very nice, but hardly worth these prices.
The extreme ridiculous moment was when I asked for extra milk with my coffee at breakfast and was charged MXP 85 (+15%) for a glass of milk.
They even add service charge for a massage. A Massage IS a service!!

I know that being European, we're not so used to paying this sort of level of service charges. However as a frequent traveller to New York, I didn't expect to be paying more for a beer or some nachos on the beach in Mexico than in a 5* hotel in Manhattan. If employees at the hotel actually receive the service charge (which I doubt) they must be amongst the top earners in the country.

Conclusion: As a result of this uncomfortable situation, we found ourselves 'escaping' the hotel for all meals etc, which is counter productive as we had paid so much for the accommodation in the first place.

I know this may sound absurd to some. I don't mind paying a high price, but I just don't like feeling robbed.

  • Stayed: February 2008, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Thewired
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 22 March 2009

I knew The Tides catered to honeymooners, but I should have thought a lot more about what that would mean. This hotel is really only suited to honeymooners who want to spend their days in absolute togetherness, and even then it's way overpriced if you have to pay the full fare. Very good food and excellent service were much appreciated, but they can't make up for some major drawbacks.

Mingling of guests is discouraged by the no-lobby layout, two-by-two beach and pool chair setups, and romantic, candle-lit, isolated dining tables. But I chose The Tides because I wanted a very quiet setting in which to decompress while visiting friends in the area. Given the focus on honeymooners, I expected my "villa" (think thatched roof hut with all mod cons) to be very private. Wrong!

First, no sun ever seeps through the jungle to light these "villas," so the only sunbathing you're going to do is in public, by the pool or on the beach, and these areas can be quite a hike from you "villa" if you're at the top of the property as I was. And the few plants between "villas" do not create the expected swimming privacy, let alone protect you from a neighbor's choice of music. Another issue, where privacy is concerned, is that the outdoor "villa" showers, although ringed with a fence made of local plant stakes, have enough open space to discourage anyone from using that shower except after dark, when the bugs are biting. With no opening windows and a certain reluctance to leave wide open the doors that form one entire wall (really BIG, heavy doors, some of which have screens, but not mine) while sleeping because absolutely anyone could walk in even by mistake, you're forced to use the A/C when a gentle Caribbean breeze would have been so much better.

And then there was the romantic, REALLY dim "villa" lighting. No way to read in bed or even by the pool at night. No way to draw/paint (as I do) outside, even during the day, because very little light filters through the canopy, and never inside the "villa." No way to see what you're doing in trying to work the sound/entertainment equipment, day or night, unless you remembered your flashlight. Best light is in the bathroom, which is where you'll end up reading at night if that's your desire -- and even honeymooners occasionally take a reading break.

The hotel did provide, upon request, a goose neck reading lamp so that I could sit at my romantic dining table and try to read in the pool of light created by the lamp. And when I spoke up about the lack of privacy around my pool, they built a terrific fence in record time between me and the neighboring "villa," but this didn't help when the cleaning crew came to work on that "villa" while I was swimming early one morning. Frankly, I should never have selected this hotel with the expectation of skinny-dipping in my own expensive private pool because their layout just doesn't provide that level of privacy.

The hotel does warn you about the access "road," and you should take their warning VERY seriously. It's a non-road for much of the distance, and on the one day it rained hard, it became a flooded non-road. A fortuitous mistake at Hertz left me with a humongomobile, but nothing less than an SUV or truck should attempt this dreadful road. Also fortuitous was finding a terrific little restaurant just outside the hotel's gate, turning left as you face the non-road, that was less than half the prices in the hotel's restaurant. No ambiance, but friendly service and terrific food.

Given the degree of non-privacy, not to mention very steep rates, at The Tides, I checked out the new properties in Mayakoba with private pools and will stay there next.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled solo
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1  Thank InFullBloomUS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2009

We spent a week at "The Tides" in early February and loved every minute of it. We are fifty-something and well travelled. From the moment you arrive your are invited to leave the outside world behind and awaken your senses to the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of this hidden paradise.
Thatched villas tucked along winding paths in the jungle are a delight and the plunge pools a treat for early morning/late night dips. The water temp. in the pools can be adjusted to suit each guest from the front desk. Most villas are secluded and screened by vegetation but a few of the "upgraded' ones closer to the beach are less private. The beach is wide and 7 miles long .A coral outcrop directly in front of the resort makes swimming difficult if there is surf but walk 2 minutes to your left for a smooth sandy swimming spot. If you have surf shoes at home ,bring them; if not, they loan surf boots and snorkel gear.
The room was large, king size bed was very comfortable with nice linens and pillows and a lovely ambience with high thatched roof, subtle lighting and hidden speakers. Unilike most resort rooms in warm climates with high humidity, this one smelled GREAT. Large doors to patio give light and airflow but no other interior windows open, meaning you must use A/C at night [or sleep in an unlocked room. ] Wireless internet provided. Nice rainshower in bathroom[ no tub] and nicer one outside with lots of privacy. Lighting is subtle and romantic so thanks to tripadvisor reviewer who suggested bringing extra light if you like to read outside on the patio at night. We brought headlamp/ lighted ball cap and some votive candles. Enjoyed incence sticks that were replaced daily.
The food at the restaurant was excellent; fresh ingredients, well prepared and interesting presentation. Bravo Chef Mariana! Prices are on par with fine dining in any good restuarant. Great staff.
Guests were an even mix of 50-60ish folk and honeymoon couples the week we were there. No night life. We each had 2 treatments at the Spa and recommend the "Mayan Awakening" and Holistic Massage" treatments. Played golf twice at the Mayakoba course, which is great and about 10-15 minutes away; 5 when the road is improved.
Insects were not a problem in our location, which was closer to the beach. Women should be aware that there are tiny midges that appear from the sand or ground at sunset in almost all seaside tropical locations that bite your ankles and lower legs. They can only jump an inch or so at a time and if they land on a sock or a man’s hairy leg, they don’t adhere to it. If you are eating on the beach at night, a pair of socks, although not elegant, will prevent you from having itchy ankle bites the next day. This information was given to me by a nature guide in Nevis.
Dislikes: The road. Windows that don't open
Likes: Everything else.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Bluenose Two
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2009

Alway read Tripadvisor but never review. To return the favor, the Tides is my first. As a bonus, I included a small rant on mandatory service charges.

In summary, we had a nice stay at the Tides and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from staying.. I simply think the rooms are average and price outside their range. But if there is a deal that puts the rooms in the $500-600/night range, then that’s different story. I know they have several promotions now that might make that possible.

Here is how it stacks up in my view (with references towards it two peers --- Maroma & Esencia. Each which we have been to at least once)

Staff Grade: A to A+
Reading some of the other recent comments, I suppose it is true that everyone has there own view of the world and two people have utterly different experiences at a same moment & place. I thought the staff was the redeeming quality of this hotel! They are personable, nice and did a great job. They always remember your name and seem genuine in their interest to make the stay pleasant. Things were slow at times (mostly around the dinner rush) but promptness was never an issue.

Value for $ Grade: C
My biggest issue is the price. Before I read JP3CHICAGO’s review, I had intended to say that if you stay in the Royal Villa (which we did), the extra $200/night it would be the biggest waste of money you will ever spend on vacation lodging. EVER! But maybe it isn’t that bad if the construction noise was as he indicated. I didn’t hear a thing except for mosquitoes (and they are pesky at the Tides due to the setting) and birds.

To the point, I think, $900/night just doesn’t cut it. Strip-out the plunge pool (which is a novelty anyways) and the rooms are just average. For $575/night, Esencia’s garden rooms are far better. And you also get the “plunge pool” there. For $1,500, you can stay in the Cottage Rooms at Esencia with 2 stories, 2 bedrooms, a living room and your own theater/media room. PLUS you have a full size pool (the kind you can dive in) and the most beautiful terrace you’ll ever sit around. We stayed there last year and it was wonderful. Roomwise, amongst Tides, Maroma & Esencia (the three un-arguably best SMALL boutique hotels in Cancun)…Esencia wins hands down!

Finally, on the rooms, I’m not a big fan of the DENSE Tides jungle setting around the room. The rooms are dark and mosquitoes problematic. But that’s my personal preference.

Beach Grade: B
The beach is much maligned. Yes there are rocks, but it adds character. The biggest negative is traffic…it is a very well traveled beach. So if you are looking for seclusion, you won’t find it here. Otherwise, it is very nice (the sand, palapas, service). Best beach amongst the three is probably Maroma, followed by Esencia.

Food Grade: A to A++
The Chef is awesome and the food is great. Dining “anywhere, anytime” is a brilliant idea. The barbecue on the beach…tremendous. What the staff did from Valentines on the beach…awesome.

Ambiance: B
Adult only boutique hotels like this have boring clientle. I guess that includes me then!

Finally, a rant service charges. How did we get to a point where a 15% gratuity is mandatory? It isn’t a convenience for me and frankly I’m tired of it. Let me decide! I really wish people would start pushing-back. I will pay 20% for good service at each and every place I stay…but if it is 15% mandatory, that’s all they’ll get. Maybe this policy of mine isn’t fair to the hard working staff…but that’s the way it goes. Though this is not endemic to the Tides, it did get my “goat” when I realized I was paying $200/night more for the service associated with the Royal Villa AND a 10% mandatory service charge on the full $900. Isn’t that what the $200 was for?

Mandatory service charges need to stop. It has totally malformed (wanted to use another word but Tripadvior censor wouldn't let me) the whole concept of tipping and gratuities.

So there you go.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Relaxed920
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2009

This was a beautiful resort, with a very attentive staff who had good intentions but didn't follow through consistently.

The resort is all villas, some more private than others. We purchased the Royal villas, which are the same as the Luxury villas but slightly closer to the beach and inclusive of some additional amenities and service. I agree with other reviewers that under no circumstances are these extras worth the cost - book the Luxury villa instead.

The villas are beautifully appointed, and the layout is lovely. Tthey are set in the jungle so the rooms are dark. The surrounding plant life is beautiful, but we missed the sun in our room. The lighting is dark in the room, but you can request brighter bulbs in the lights which you should do upon arriving.

There are many places to relax and dine on the property, and they all have a beautiful view. From hanging beds with private curtains near the beach, to beach cabanas and poolside tables, everything was beautifully situated.

The staff couldn't have been be more gracious and charming, but there was always a 30% chance that our requests would be forgotten. Normally this would be acceptable as a cultural difference, but at these prices, it cut into our enjoyment of our trip.

The food was exquisite and wonderfully prepared. The chef is fantastic. We had a cooking lesson with her in the jungle and she was talented and charming. She was very accommodating to my vegetarian diet. The wine list is deep, and if you are a wine lover I would highly recommend exploring the Mexican wines as virtually none are available for export. They are of wonderful quality and their smoky-ness pairs well with the Mexican cuisine.

The one culinary disappointment was the inclusive breakfast. A skant, hard, bad croissant with coffee, and sometimes tea. Given the quality of the resort, this felt off brand.

Note that both the food and wine are extremely expensive, even by Manhattan standards. You can go into Playa del Carmen if you are feeling the pinch a bit, but the food won't be of the same quality. We found the city to be very Americanized, and not very authentic, so didn't spend much time there.

We did scuba. We did a reef dive off of Playa del Carmen that was unremarkable, a cave dive in the Ceynotes that was quite unique and spectacular, and then a reef drift dive off of Cozumel (which required a pleasant ferry ride) that was also very stunning. We booked the first two dives through the Tides, but the divemaster there was a little flaky in communication style and pricing so we booked the last dive on our own. I would recommend researching dive sites before arriving so you know what you want so you can discussion options intelligently and can book the dives directly.

If you want dive operator recommendations, please feel free to write me directly.

  • Stayed: January 2009
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2  Thank luxxtraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Viceroy Riviera Maya

Address: Playa Xcalacoco Frac 7, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico (Formerly The Tides Riviera Maya)
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#9 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#9 Top resorts Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#11 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#11 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#23 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range: €371 - €1,168 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Viceroy Riviera Maya 5*
Number of rooms: 41
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located just 35 minutes from Cancun International Airport and three miles from popular Playa del Carmen, Viceroy Riviera Maya is a serene hideaway set on the turquoise Caribbean amid a lush jungle ambiance. As Riviera Maya’s #1 resort in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards, Viceroy offers world-class amenities, personalized pampering, exquisitely appointed villa accommodations with private patio and plunge pool, refined Mexican cuisine accented with international touches at La Marea and Mexican-Mediterranean fare at the seaside Coral Grill. Mayan influences abound, from the Mayan Blessing performed on arrival by the resort’s Shaman to the Mayan healing techniques offered at the award-winning spa. A Lagoon Pool, private pier, fitness center and traditional temazcal sweatlodge are among the resort’s many other pleasures. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Viceroy Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Tides Riviera Maya Hotel
Tides Riviera Maya Resort
Ikal Del Mar
Viceroy Riviera Maya Mexico - Playa Del Carmen

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