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Reviewed 26 April 2011

Lucky for me I can honestly say that I have never had a bad vacation. This could be because of my nature to pre-plan and research everything I can. I will say that I read T.A. reviews religiously when considering which vacation or hotel to book and I have yet to be disappointed. I like to read the good and the bad and figure that it’s probably somewhere in the middle. We have just returned from another wonderful week in the beautiful Caribbean. We had stayed at Dreams P.A. 2 years ago and from my research of that trip, wisely heeded the advice of my fellow T.A. travelers and took a pair of water shoes for every member of the family as well as a snorkel and mask. Although the Catalonia property does not have a sandy beach as in Playa del Carmen, you can walk into the water, put your mask on and within 30 seconds see all sorts of fish. This is why I love this area. No need to spend a ton of money on snorkeling excursions. Kids can spend all day in the water and never get bored.

This year was the first time ever that my husband and I decided to leave the kids at home for once and spend a week on the beach doing whatever, whenever we wanted. Here is a rundown as I see it:

Transfers:

Long (2.5 hours) trip to the resort, but we expected that. Only 50 minutes on the way back. If you are concerned, book a private transfer from the airport. I am certain this would be faster.

Room:

We booked the Chameleon Deluxe Privilege room and it was fantastic. It was located on the Riviera Maya side. Large area, mini bar, safe, large bathroom with rain head shower and view a quick walk to everything. They were cleaned very well every day and it was nice to have an air conditioned room with a ceiling fan to sleep under every night.

Food:

We chose to eat at the Mexican, Japanese and Tapas restaurants. Booking system needs some work. Only 1 person to register hundreds of people. Go to the chill out bar before 8 am and be the first person there. You will already be up because if you want a chair in the shade you will have to be up at 6:30 to get one. Just do the rest of your fellow vacationers a favour and use your chairs. We mostly ate at the La Brisas buffet (open air) for breakfast and dinner as it was closest to our room and it had a nice breeze. We did eat in the air-conditioned buffet (El Mercado) on our last day before we left. It had really good lunch food. Lunched usually consisted of some nacho chips and guacamole. Our last night we went into Puerto Aventuras (5 min. walk) and ate at Dos Chilies. Amazing!! We also had drinks at Gringos one day for happy hour (2pm – 6 pm everyday). That was also very fun. We had the ice cream at La Creperie on resort once or twice but usually we were too full after dinner. Would be nice if it were open in the afternoon as well.

Drinks:

The Chill out and the Tequila bar were the best but the drinks were decent everywhere. Some of the mixes are not good (strawberry daiquiri) and some are a little on the sweet side. The rum punch is delicious. My only wish was that they had a Spanish coffee station at the resort. It’s so nice to have after dinner.  Also, if you are a coffee drinker, bring some Starbucks Via with you as the coffee is awful unfortunately. The cappuccinos aren’t bad but don’t bother with anything else.

We didn't go to the spa, gym, tennis, theatre, disco or sports bar so I can't comment on them. 

The beach and pools are great. Clean and refreshing and well maintained.

We loved this resort and we plan on returning for many years to come. We prefer the small resorts to anything with the words grand or palace in the name. This place delivered to us exactly what we expected! Have fun if you have booked it or if you are just browsing, go ahead and do it. 

  • Stayed: April 2011
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3  Thank ontariogirl77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2011

We just got back from CAT. We stayed for 2 weeks from 11th April, bought as a package from Thomson UK. The transfers guys and Carlos (Thomson rep) all were brilliant. Really helpful guy, I think best rep I have ever had.
Now the hotel itself. This is really great value for money, it was really more than I expected. But lets get right to the details:

Bad things: Only one thing is what we really did not like, the noise. First we were in building 5 on Yukatan side, room 1123, just opposite swimming pool. This was our first night and some guest were having good time at the pool, really loud. Not blaming anybody here, not hotel's fault, can't blame people, either. We asked to be moved and was really surprised that reception was so helpful (after bad reputation is some reviews), we got new room in 15 minutes and arranged to have our luggage to move to new location, in Block B, ground floor. It was definitely more quiet, balcony was overlooking privileged suites. Looked good. Unfortunately room was near the lift, lots of people chatting really loud while waiting for it. From 6.30 am hotel staff start shifting things in trolleys (really loud wheels) through the path in from of our balcony. I think it one of main routes, maids while cleaning rooms chat really loud. So we had some problem falling a sleep and than have long sleep in the morning or having a nap. Ah and the walls are really thin, you can hear your neighbours brushing teeth. Only what I would advice to hotel, talk to the staff and make sure they can be more quiet around rooms.

Good things:
Everything else was really great, not just good.
- the buffet: really good selection for every meal. I think on Wednesday is Mexican night. I never left hungry or disappointed
- bars: drinks really good, with good quality spirits, Havana Club, Bacardi, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels etc. I never found other beer than one from tap (I think it was dos equis or something like that), but it was good. Maybe bartenders can use blenders for a bit longer - but that is not a big deal. Chill out was best for us, Francisco there was making best drinks IMO, he always put bit more attention - but it was never as busy as in the pool bars
- a la cartes: all of the them good, some better than other, our favourite was Mexican (we went 3 times lol)
- beach: yes, you might find problem to get into the sea, but there are spots where you can do it without any shoes. We always stayed near Chill Out bar and never had any problem with finding loungers.
- staff: Mexican people are really wonderful, always nice and helpful with a smile. Working really hard. Our stay was comfortable thanks to them, either is it maid who cleaned our room, reception or waiting staff. Really great people and so hard working.
- hotel grounds: Gardeners are working all the time to keep it in great conditions, cleaners swipe and mop the floors all the time - this is the cleanest resort I have ever seen.

We really had wonderful holidays and are happy that we chose Catalonia Hotel for out stay in Mexico. Only one warning, if you have sensitive sleep, choose carefully your room, otherwise this is really great place. Thanks for previous reviews, all of the were really helpful. Sorry that this one is so long

Room Tip: If you want quiet room ask for one in block A or B
  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank CahirUk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2011

My husband and I stayed at the Catalonia Riviera Maya from April 12-20. We stayed in a Privledged Suite, room 8113. I can not say enough wonderful things about our stay. It was truely the STAFF at the resort that made it so wonderful. I dont remember our housekeepers name, but on several occassions I needed water or coffee and this women didnt just get it for me, she RAN....down the stairs and back up just to get it for me. I did not expect her to do this, she just DID. I was amazed. Our room was always cleaned meticuously and the towel art was spectacular. We tipped her every single day as we felt she went above on beyond for us. And the bed was so comfortable. We were delighted that we could sleep the entire night and not wake with a backache. We also found it a very quiet room.

The front desk staff, bell boys, laundry service, guest services, privledged computer area staff are all very helpful and very happy people. Always smiling, cheerful, and eager to be of service. we have never been treated so well before. And the laundry service was amazing and affordable. Our clothes have never looked so nice.

I went to the Allegra Spa for a message and it was a very very relaxing and wonderful experience. I will definately do that again.

We ate at the open air buffet on several occassions and a waiter by the name of 'Luis" waited on us many times. We loved having him as a waiter. He often chatted a bit and was one of the nicest in the restaurant. Of course, we always tipped the staff but the last night there, my husband was not feeling well so I went to the buffet myself. Luis seated me and wondered where my husband was. He was concerned and I found that heartwarming. When I left, I gave him a $5 tip and he was so thankful and reminded me that $5 was alot for just 1 person. I explained it was my last night and that he had been so good to us that I wanted to leave him extra. He thanked me several times, and I knew that he really appreciated it.
We ate at the ala carte restaurants 3 times. Our favorite was the Japanese and it was as entertaining as it was delicious. Our least favorite was the Steak House. My steak was a bit tough and my husbands ribs had very little meat on them. We had to go to the Creperie for a snack because he were still very hungry. Tapas was the other ala carte we went to and it was very good but the portions were very very very small and we also went immediately to the Creperie for a snack.

The beach is nice, clean and great to walk on but when you step in the water it is very rocky HOWEVER the snorkling and fish feeding were AWESOME. We prefer swimming in a pool so this didnt bother us much. The pools are very clean and there are activities all day long ffor those who want to participate. My biggest complaint about the pool and beach area was the "beach towel game" that you had to play in order to get a chair. It meant getting up at 6-7 am so you could run down to the pool or beach area and claim your chair. I was disappointed that the Catalonia did NOT have a privledged area. It is something they should consider, as those who "pay" for privledged rooms should get privledged seating also. Just a thought.

The grounds at the hotel are very well kept and the staff work so very hard to keep it that way. I truely have never seen people work so hard in my life, especially in that kind of heat.
Now, to the favorite part of our stay. We tried all that bars at the Catalonia but our favorite, by a landslide, was the "Chill Out" bar. The bartender on duty during the day was "Francisco" and he was AMAZING!. We are people who always tip, so of course we tipped him often. But he just kept going to extremes to make us happy. He made us all kinds of different drinks to try, and gave us amazing table service. One day, we went and laid in our chairs and he delivered drinks to us on the beach. We hadnt asked him to do this....he just DID it. We were so impressed. Also, as a surprise one afternoon, he made me a PinaColada in a fresh coconut. Again, I hadnt asked him to do this, he just DID. He became our "little buddy" and friend. We look forward to seeing him next year.

I think my biggest disappointment while at the Catalonia was NOT the staff or the resort itself, it was the way that SOME of the guest behaved. I witnessed guest treating the staff horribly. Yelling and acting like idiots for no reason. And being extremely demanding and at times ignorant and of course, I never once saw any of them leave a tip or say "Thank you" That made me abit angry because I dont think it is neccessary to be so mean to those who are trying soooooo hard to please you....and the staff at the Catalonia never stop trying to please their guest and make them happy.

So to sum it up, I would recommend a stay at the Cat, but advise that you book a privledged suite. Take care of the staff because the take very good care of you.

Room Tip: Stay in a Privledged Suite.
  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank DjlJih
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cataloniarivieramaya, General Manager at Catalonia Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 11 May 2011

Dear valued guest,

I truly appreciate your letter and thank you deeply for such nice comments about our staff service and the hotel facilities as well.

We all are so glad of having people like you who enjoy life and transmit to everyone that emotion.

Be sure that I will extend your comments to all the staff members you mentioned so they can feel proud of their jobs and of being part of Catalonia Hotels.

Yours,

Hotel Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2011

Staff slow and unreliable. The best example is the booking for the restaurants, waiting in a file for more than 1.5 hours just for the booking!
If you like a really bad service, this is the place to stay!

  • Stayed: April 2011
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Thank Ojos_bronceado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2011

Well what can i say? we have just returned from 11 days at the Catalonia Riviera Maya and had an absolutely fantastic time. I did have doubts before going due to the reviews on here but the hotel was fabulous, so all i can say is these reviews must be from extremely snobby people! There is nothing that i can fault about the hotel, staff were all great, resort great and our Thomson rep, Carlos was a great guy and extremely helpful. Well done Catalonia and Thomson! We will definately return!

Room Tip: Visit Nazario at the Margaritas pool bar! Top guy!
  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank amanda_lbno
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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