My sister and I stayed at The Royal Haciendas (TRH) in Playa del Carmen (PDC) for the week of April 16-23, 2011 (week before Easter). We booked with them over Expedia and chose the resort after seeing what was included and the age requirement for making a reservation is 25. We weren’t interested in crazy spring break partying. Most of the travelers were older couples whose kids are grown or families with young kids. There weren’t many couples, and we were definitely the only two single travelers together. The resort is so large that you don’t get the feeling there are many people there, although many of the rooms were booked. I had read somewhere that the staff might not be that helpful because of the property being condos for buying rather than a hotel. I found quite the opposite. Everyone seemed even more hospitable, interested in our stay, and extremely helpful.
The resort is enormous and beautiful. All of the villas, landscaping, grounds, pools, shops, etc. are very well cared for. There are two sides to the resort, and both sides are surrounded by the rooms (they call them villas). Each side of the resort has one lap pool, a child’s pool that is 1.5 feet deep, a larger pool (about 4 feet deep) with the swim up bar, and a hot tub. There is also a gym, rec room, tennis court on top of the hotel, bar/pool area...My sister and I stayed at The Royal Haciendas (TRH) in Playa del Carmen (PDC) for the week of April 16-23, 2011 (week before Easter). We booked with them over Expedia and chose the resort after seeing what was included and the age requirement for making a reservation is 25. We weren’t interested in crazy spring break partying. Most of the travelers were older couples whose kids are grown or families with young kids. There weren’t many couples, and we were definitely the only two single travelers together. The resort is so large that you don’t get the feeling there are many people there, although many of the rooms were booked. I had read somewhere that the staff might not be that helpful because of the property being condos for buying rather than a hotel. I found quite the opposite. Everyone seemed even more hospitable, interested in our stay, and extremely helpful.
The resort is enormous and beautiful. All of the villas, landscaping, grounds, pools, shops, etc. are very well cared for. There are two sides to the resort, and both sides are surrounded by the rooms (they call them villas). Each side of the resort has one lap pool, a child’s pool that is 1.5 feet deep, a larger pool (about 4 feet deep) with the swim up bar, and a hot tub. There is also a gym, rec room, tennis court on top of the hotel, bar/pool area inside the hotel (The Rotunda), fancier restaurant (Los Murales), and then the main restaurant (La Palapa) that has a nice menu, buffet, and express/take-out option. Each of the main pools also has a bar/restaurant with seating. There are also sports desks and towel desks for both sides. The sports desks have the scuba tours through Dive Balam (closed on Saturdays), with instructors and equipment. The towel desk offers towels whenever and is open from about 7:30am to 10:30pm. For everything you do at the resort (eat, shop, use towels, etc.), you will be asked to give your villa number. All charges are made to the total room bill and paid at the end of the stay, except for tips. You will receive your final bill the morning the day before you leave, and can pay it that day making check-out easier. After you pay the bill, you can then use credit card or cash. For the towel desk, they will run your card and then keep the white/yellow copies of the charge slip. When you return the towel, they give you the yellow copy for your records. You can check-out and return towels as often as needed.
On each side of the resort are lifeguard stations to watch the beach, flags indicating the level of caution for swimming, and beach chairs with umbrellas. The chairs and umbrellas are available for anyone. They just ask you do not leave you stuff for hours at a time and prevent others from using them. Later in the morning or afternoon, a hostess will give each group a flag to indicate if you need food or drink service, and she will wait on you at the beach. The waves were pretty rough most of the day when we were there, and the flags generally alternated between yellow and red. The lifeguards and beach monitors keep a close eye on the guests to keep everyone out of the water when the flags are red, and especially as night falls. There are a couple of smaller spaces off the beach for swimming, but otherwise the beach has a lot of rocky areas. Don’t let that deter you from visiting, though, because you can walk around the bend to the south toward the Grand Coral and find very wide shallows for great swimming (soft sands, brilliant clear water, no rocks or coral, etc.). We only saw the Grand Coral from the beach, but it seems to be much smaller, less developed or progressing, and maybe condos? There wasn’t much to it, and there were very few people which made for great enjoyment for us. From TRH beach, you can see Cozumel in the distance and approaching cruise ships. You can’t make out the size of the island, but can see the taller buildings.
We booked the junior suite, which is the smaller side of the villa. The floors are all tiled, the walk-in bath/shower is tile, there is a separate dressing area with a double vanity; small kitchenette area with a sink, microwave, refrigerator, basic dishes, and toaster; two double beds, small desk and chair, another small table by the terrace/balcony, large armoire with the TV and drawers, and excellent closet space. Within the closet was the large ironing board and iron, hangers, storage above and below, and a closet safe. We were on the first floor, and therefore had a small terrace that was accessed through sliding doors. There were two chairs and a small table outside to view the resort. The resort has free WiFi, and you will be given the code when you check in. We had no problem using it, and were even able to access it with just my sister’s ipod (not an iphone).
We took the Thomas More transportation shuttle (housed within the resort and other hotels; more comment elsewhere regarding tours). You can Google their website and call/email them directly to set up the transportation. The shuttle will be billed to you room, so you don’t need any money on hand to pay except for tips. We were warned by other travelers online that when you arrive at Cancun airport many people will try to stop you to provide you transportation. The voucher emailed to me in confirmation explained what the Thomas More would be wearing to help differentiate them. Pay close attention to what they say to look for and make sure to leave the airport. If someone stops you while you are still inside, they are not from Thomas More. The Thomas More staff was located just outside the doors (this is after you get your passport stamped, get your luggage, and go through security again for customs). They were wearing short-sleeved dress shirts in bright yellow, with navy pants. You show them your voucher and they hook you up with the shuttle and other parties you’re scheduled with. They will place luggage stickers on each piece and give you copies to claim later from the bellboys at the resort. The shuttle runs every 45 minutes between the hours of about 7am and 7pm, although you should check the times when you are there. The shuttle you arrange only transports between the Cancun airport and The Royal Haciendas (TRH), which means once your shuttle has your party and the other parties scheduled on that shuttle, you go directly to the resort. You will be asked to schedule your return transportation the day before you take your return flight. You can do that at the Thomas More desk in the resort.
When you arrive to The Royal Haciendas, it’s a ways back into the arid jungle/brush, near other major hotels (although you can’t see them from the resort). We often entered at the same entrance as Grand Coral and there are signs for others. The trip from the Cancun airport is partially on highway and partially through town. TRH is not located in the downtown of Playa del Carmen (PDC), but is right on the beach. (More on getting downtown later.)
The front entry is bustling with transportation going in and out, and bellboys. The bellboys will hook all of your luggage going to your room together and deliver it to your room once you’ve checked in and you call them for it to be delivered. At check-in, the staff provided a book that guides to all of the resorts amenities and gives recommendations for tips. A map was given, with the villa number. In the lobby, is the Thomas More travel agency through which you can book the airport shuttle or tours to local ruins, cenotes, towns, excursions, etc. There is an ATM in the lobby that dispenses U.S. dollars for a charge of 60 pesos. The front desk will exchange U.S. dollars into pesos. There is a daily limit on the exchange (maybe $300/day USD) and the week (maybe $1,500 USD). They typically dispense the larger bills of pesos, so you may want to ask for smaller bills. At the time of our trip, the exchange range was about 11-12 pesos per dollar. They were giving 100 peso bills, which meant initially our smallest bills were $10 USD. Some of the local vendors in town and on the excursions may haggle that they cannot make change if they see you only have a larger bill. The smaller bills ($50 pesos and $20 pesos) are useful for tipping.
Also off the lobby, are the spa, market, Rotunda bar, Los Murales restaurant, membership area, and a schedule of activities. We did not visit the spa, Rotunda bar, or Los Murales, so I can’t comment on the services or costs. Los Murales does have the menu posted outside the restaurant, so you are able to check the menu and costs before going inside. The market is a mini-grocery store that offers the basic for all meals (breakfast, fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen meals, juice, soda, milk), snacks, desserts, liquor, souvenirs, a small pharmacy, pool toys, flip-flops, etc. The market is open from about 7:30am until about 10:30pm. Prices are in pesos. Many of the brands are native to Mexico, although some are U.S. brands in Spanish packaging. The prices on Mexican vanilla and honey are reasonable, and better than most of the shops we visited in downtown Playa del Carmen. The honey is real bee honey, and the Yucatan is supposed to have some of the best honey because of the type of bees. Either way, it was better than what we often find on shelves here (most often clover honey) and far less expensive than our pure bee honey. The membership area is where you might meet with the personal host and concierge assigned to you. You will receive cards, notes, and phone calls to join them for welcome parties, taco parties, breakfast, etc. If you choose to visit with them, you’ll hear about the company that owns TRH and your opportunities to become an owner in the property. We did not attend the parties, although we tried to be polite and decline. We booked through Expedia, and were not interested in time share opportunities. You may need to call/visit the membership desk if you want to book a shuttle into the downtown of Playa del Carmen that is at a time not run by the front desk. The other thing that is at the hotel in the middle is a selection of souvenir merchants. They offer many of the same handicraft and jewelry choices as you’ll see in downtown, so you would be better off to wait and see what else you find. They will tell you they are only there for that day, but will magically reappear the next day and thereafter.
Transportation to Playa del Carmen is offered free of charge through the hotel. It is generally provided by taxis the hotel calls and organizes around a schedule. (There are many taxis that stay on hand on the property just around the corner from the entrance. They are readily available as soon as you get to the front steps by the lobby. The front steps staff will call the taxi and set up the transportation for you at that moment. You do not need to schedule ahead.). The first taxi going into PDC is at 10:15 and the last is at 6:30. The last return taxi from PDC to TRH is at 6:00. When you check in, they will give you a schedule, along with the limits on how many people can go at a time. If you want to go in the evening, book early. We went out on the last Friday night, and they had four vans going. The limit was 40 people, and they were booked. The taxis are white with sea green strip on them. They are clearly marked as taxis and have the numbers on the back. TRH staff keeps a close eye on which travelers get into which taxi, and will keep track of the taxi you bring back. This is true for the shuttle if you set it up, or if you book a taxi separately. You can arrange a taxi to many of the local hotels, towns, and excursions. The front steps staff has a table with the estimated costs for those trips. If you want to go into/leave PDC at time that isn’t offered on the shuttles, the cost is about $12USD plus tip. The shuttle drops off and picks up at the same spot near 5th Avenue (the main street for food and shopping). It’s at the same area where the taxis congregate, so they’re easy to find if you choose to go it without the shuttle. There are many warnings on other sights online to be wary of taxis and be sure you take one marked correctly. We were very fortunate with our drivers. They were all courteous and helpful with local recommendations. Most were able to speak basic English and understood our even more basic Spanish.More
- Free Wifi
- Free Parking