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Reviewed 6 June 2005

We stayed at the Catalonia Riviera Maya in mid-May and loved it. This was only my second time in the area. First time was in Cancun at the Tucancun Beach, which is another really good all-inclusive that I would recommend. Kudos to Apple Vacations, especially Victoria, for a problem-free vacation.

Try to stay in one of the villas if possible. Number 8 would be your best chance at an ocean view, but it's also closest to noise from the grill and the pool area. Villas 3, 6 and 7 are good. Numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 are furthest from the beach.

The rooms are great. I tipped $2 USD a day and didn't get too much extra for it, but felt good in doing so as these people that work here are very friendly and work exceptionally hard. Sometimes later in the day/evening we noticed the hot water as being not as hot as it was earlier on in the day, but it wasn't a big issue. Safe deposit box is $3 USD a day.

Phone cards are available in both gift shops. I paid $10 USD for about 8-9 minutes worth of time. You need to find a phone that takes these cards though. There's one right below the lobby area and one by the gift shop at the other resort - the Catalonia Yucatan Beach.

The grounds are kept immaculate. The gift shops have good things, but if you walk down to the marina (about a 10 minute walk from the hotel) you will find everything, especially souveniers, to be less expensive. I'd also highly recommend eating at one or more of the restaurants in the marina area. We tried Jones Sports Bar and The Pub. The Pub has fantastic pizza. After eating one buffet dinner at the resort, not including the reservation restaurants, you will want something else, believe me. And you can see the dolphins, manatees, sting rays and sea lions for free as you head to the shops/restaurants. The buffet is good for breakfast, however. Lunch at the grill by the pool is tolerable, but doesn't have a wide selection. There is a purified water jug at the snack bar by the pool, aka The Bamboleo. Definitely bring your own insulated beverage mug and fill it up here 24/7. The Bamboleo is also open from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. for those of you that need a late night snack after a night out.

The entertainment is good. The Animation Team (A-Team) is great and does a good job of trying to get everyone involved. Such activities were water volleyball, water basketball, water polo, bingo, trivia, chili cooking contest among several others. If you participate in any of the sports events, you will feel like it is a "mini-olympics" as there are many participants from all over the world. USA ruled though! If participating in sporting activities isn't your thing, there are board games and books to check out as well.

Take advantage of the free water sports. We did the snorkeling, catamaran ride and the kayak. Wind surfing is also available. The snorkeling is good. Maybe not as good as near Cozumel or Akumel, but it's right in front of you and you can venture off on your own without worrying about a snorkel guide telling you where to go. If you have your own mask and snorkel, bring it. The ones you check out at the resort are decent, but not the best. Bring bread from the buffet if you want to feed the fish. You will see more fish around you as they will follow you for the food. We saw a huge sea turtle right by the hotel, as well as barracudas, crabs, sea urchins, brain coral and many more exotic looking fish. Take your jewelry off, if you wear any, before you snorkel. We heard someone say that the barracudas are attracted to silver (maybe gold too) jewelry and will come up to you and try to bite at it. And like most other reviewers of this resort say, bring water shoes to walk along the beach. Also, check out the hammocks on the beaches. The ones at the Catalonia Yucatan Beach are nice and are great to "hang" out at night while gazing through the palm trees at the stars in the sky.

Another tip I would say is go to the balcony right off the Bellavista restaurant, which is one of the reservation only ones. The view is great at night and you can see the lights of Cozumel off in the distance. You don't have to go in the restaurant to go to the balcony. There is a bar between the Bellavista and the Alebrijes (reservation Mexican restaurant) that has a door leading to the balcony. A waitress will also come out and serve you drinks as well. Or go back into the bar area and do the karaoke if that's more your thing. The theater shows are good and have a different them each night.

Definitely check out Tulum. The beaches there are fantastic as well as the Mayan ruins. Bring insect repellant though if you go. The bugs will eat you alive there, but not when you are back at the resort. Going to Playa Del Carmen is a must. Eat and check out the shops on 5 Av. We took the free shuttle there and a taxi back, at about a $12 charge for the fare.

Overall, I would highly recommend this hotel. Especially for the price. Any questions, feel free to e-mail me at: jtweed65@aol.com.

Date of stay: May 2005
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23  Thank Happiness22605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 June 2005

From the moment we got there our trip started off horible. When we went to check in the front desk, they said we need to speak to you in the office. They informed us that they were over booked and they had bumped us to a different resort that we would have to walk back and forth to because our all inclusive braclets would not work there. We informed them that we booked this trip in January how can they bump us. They said sorry either stay at a different hotel until a room became available or leave!!! We had no choice but to stay at the Serena hotel. While we were waiting to go to this other hotel they were checking other people in and giving them rooms. We finally got in to the Serena the first room they put us in did not lock from the inside so we had to pack our stuff uo and move to a different room. Any time we wanted food or to lay on the beach we had to walk to get anything. Finally two days later they said they had two romms for us. We packed up our stuff and moved again. We got in our room at about five. We took the shuttle to Playa Del Carmen that night when we got in we had maggets and other bugs in our toilet, tub, bed, luggage, and our floor. I went to the front desk to ask them what they could do. The said we could leave our luggage in that room and would clean it the next day and out us back in the same room. We contacted our travel agency and we switched hotels to the Moon Palace in Cancun much better place then Catalonis Riviera Maya. The staff was rude to us the whole stay when they should have been super nice to us for bumping our rooms. I will never come back to this hotel!!!!!

Date of stay: May 2005
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18  Thank Allison O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
catrivieramaya1, Director General at Catalonia Riviera Maya, responded to this reviewResponded 26 February 2015

Thank you very much for your feedback. We deeply apologize if your stay with us was not a perfect experience

Starting with myself and all my colleagues and managers, we are disappointed to have not met your expectations during your stay with us.

I hear all your comments, and certainly we will take seriously your feedback and see possibilities to improve and make sure your next visit will exceed your expectations.

Yours sincerely,

Hotel Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2005

Returned yesterday, June 1st. You get what you pay for and this is for the average/budget traveler. They advertise that they are "inclusive resort" but that's not 100% true. You do have to pay for wine at the a la carte restaurants. This is not a "luxury type place".
1. Room was clean and it reminds me of the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn. However, we kept losing electricity... First time we lost electricity, the national government was doing maintainance work which is fine, not the hotel's fault. Second time was during a rain storm which is funny because they are at a rain forest area and they should be prepared.
Water - you have to buy bottled water to brush your teeth.
Bed - very bad and hard.

2. Food was not very good at the buffet (bfst was best).Mexican a la carte restaurant had the best food. Italian was not very good. Not many choices and reservations are a hassel and need to book in advance.
3. The Beach was good (lots of reefs and a good breeze) but it was very crowded. People would get up at 6 or 7 am to get a good spot at the beach or at the pool which is pretty ridiculous. You're on vacation so why do you want to get up so early?? I was amazed but if you want a prime spot, get there early!!
Beaches are rocky so I highly suggest water shoes.

4. Atmosphere: okay but not the best. Family oriented, lots of children. But also lots of young college type crowd so they were a little rowdy by the bar area as the day wore on.

Bottom line, this is just our opinion and I know other visitors liked the Catalonia but I would not go there again. It's okay for budget travelers but if you have a few extra dollars to spend then it's worth it to upgrade to a 4 star hotel like the Moon Palace resorts. We've stayed at the Moon palace before and it's worth to pay a little more if you truly want to feel pampered and stay at a good inclusive resort.

12  Thank FellowTraveler12321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2005

We got back from the Catalonia on May 21 and I have to say it was just beautiful. The people are all very friendly and the resort is wonderful. Prior to arriving we notified the hotel that we were celebrating our anniversary. They decorated our room with fresh flowers on the beds and in the bathroom and towel origame, it was just breathtaking.

The pools were great. It was hot out and the water very refreshing. The a team kept you busy if you wanted to there was water aerobics, learn to be a bartender, etc. We played beach and pool volleyball, horseshoes and ping pong and had a great time. Met people from the all over the US, Germany, Scotland, etc. There were no rude Americans when we were there.

The drinks are stiff, so be prepared. I read prior to leaving that they water them down but we did not have that problem. The food was great at the buffets and ala cartes and if you don't like any of the hundreds of choices than you are way to picky!!! Breakfast buffet included made to order omelets or eggs, waffles, pancakes, french toast, sausage, bacon, fruits, cold cereal and don't forget made to order fruit smoothies (yum) also for the european folks, lunchmeat and all types of breads. We ate lunch at the grill and here they served pizza, hot dogs, nachos, french fries and great hamburgers. One day on the beach they grilled steaks and awesome pork chops. Ala cartes were also very good make sure you try the banana flambe at the Mexican restaurant. Attire at the ala cartes was not very strict shorts and nice shirts for men and capris for women. We went deep sea fishing and caught our share of fish, we did bring back a couple of tunas to the buffet and the chef grilled them up, never tasted anything soooo good!!!

The beach is not as bad as some might say there is plenty of sand though we did use water shoes for snorkeling. Snorkeling in the water was beautiful we saw baraccuda and plenty of other fish. I guess you can't have great swimming and snorkeling knowing fish like the reef I prefer the snorkeling in the caribbean and swimming in a pool, but that's just me. Be sure to try the kayaks and hobie cats we had a great time.

We also walked over the bridge and walked the rocks there a ways saw many crabs and iquanas, my kids will love this next time we come.

You need to remember you are in Mexico and things are done differently there than in the states. So if you keep that in mind you will have a wonderful time.

Date of stay: May 2005
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25  Thank inmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2005

Where do I start. We are not picky people. But, we would not go to the Catalonia again or recomend it to anyone we know. It was not a bad hotel, it could have been worse. But, the beach was horrible. It was not a sandy beach. It was very rocky. But, to be fair it was clean. They constantly cleaned up the rocks and seaweed that washed on to shore. My husband and I felt a little cheated when we went to Playa del Carmen for the day and saw the white sand and sky blue waters. Other resorts in the area have better beaches. The coral reef they claim to have is almost dead. There is only a little bit still alive.
The food was horrible. I guess my husband are spoiled because at home we always eat out. But, the cold food would not stay cold. (None of the buffets are indoors.) After a 7 day trip we could not wait to eat 'real' food. The specialty resturants are average at best. They don't serve Pepsi products. Only Coca-cola. We talked to other people in the area and they actually had refridgeraters in their rooms with water and drinks. We had to walk to get any drinks.
That was the negative part. The place as a whole was not bad. The staff was beyond friendly. The grounds and rooms were kept cleaner than clean. The whole area was fenced in so we felt safe the whole time. We got a little bored after the sun went down. But, we wanted to get away from the party atmosphere of Cancun. We got that. It is a very romantic place to stay.
Like I said we would not go back again. We got what we paid for. It was cheap to stay there. Next time we will pay a little more for a better beach and food. Also 7 days was a little too long. We would have been happier going for only 4 or 5 days. We would have been writing a more positive review if we stayed a shorter time

Date of stay: May 2005
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6  Thank Escape20412
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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