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Reviewed 1 February 2010

PAY ATTENTION; If you want Las Vegas style over-the-top luxury, shopping, hot action, motorized sports, music and parties all night, THIS IS NOT IT.
If you want a relaxing, refreshing, enriching experience, THIS IS IT.
In all our travels around the world my wife and I have never experienced such friendly staff working to make our stay enjoyable. I will miss many of them.
Xpu-Ha Palace is more of an eco park hotel than one of the many mega resorts that fill the Yucatan. We awoke to tropical birds in the trees outside our deck, At dinner, racoons would come out to the outside dinning tables for handouts (don't do it). Iguanas lounged all over the place. There is a pretty decent private zoo on the grounds with guides if you want. I got a pretty good movie of some crocodiles (in one of the enclosures) tussling while walking from lunch to our room. You can go to other resorts and see a manatee in captivity being fed lettuce. Here you can, if you are lucky, see one in the lagoon on the grounds and swim with it.
This place used to be 4 times the size but after Hurricane Wilma destroyed the entire resort, they rebuilt it much smaller and set it back from the water so there are no ocean view rooms. The roofs of all the buildings are palm thatch so they don't weather hurricanes well.

Your neighbor is in another building. You will never hear anything through the walls because your walls are all exterior walls. 2 units per building. One upstairs, one down. We had an upstairs unit so our ceiling was the thatch roof about 15 feet above us. Each unit has a deck/patio with table and chairs, hammock, and two lounge chairs. The deck is bigger than many rooms we saw at other resorts. The rooms are spacious, clean, and well appointed. Housekeeping was very good about any needs leaving extra towels for the hot tub and keeping the fridge stocked with complementary drinks.

This property no longer has a beach. But the Barcelo Resort beach next door is huge and we walked there a couple of times. Beaches are public property in Mexico but the lounge chairs and buildings on them are not so bring your towel.

This property is part of the Palace Resorts chain. They provided our transport to the ruins at Tolum and Chichen Itza along with guests from other Palace properties. Our all inclusive package included the tours.

The food was good and best when it was Mexican and you asked for it Mexican style. Many of the dishes are made for gringo tastes and can be bland. They were happy to customize our meals to meet what we asked for. In the restaurant, there were more staff than guests so service was good. We were never charged extra for premium alcohol. It may not be displayed but when I asked for a premium tequila, it was provided. We talked to other people from other properties and this was not the case. The wines were good but not much selection.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank CJSJ25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2010

This trip was one of a kind. I stayed here with my grandparents, parents and sister. We had a unforgetable experience, thanks to the beautiful hotel the great things to do and the fantastic staff. Thanks to Xpu-Ha for a wonderful vacation. We plan on comming back very soon.

  • Stayed: August 2009
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2  Thank katie-693
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 December 2009

My boyfriend and I stayed here for six-days to get away from the winter in Chicago! I'm currently in graduate school and he works a lot, so neither of us had much time to plan a trip. Neither of us had ever been to a resort before but because we were short on planning time, a resort was our only trip option. We picked the perfect place for us! Xpu Ha Palace's staff is the best I have ever seen! To be honest, it was strange to be treated with so much undue respect! When I was carrying my tray back from the lunch buffet, someone asked me if they could carry my plate! This was definitely a first for me! Speaking of lunch, the food was superb! I noticed some other commenters have been disappointed with the lack of selection at Xpu Ha. It's true that the menus for the Italian and Mexican restaurants basically stay the same day after day, but you can visit another Palace resort and have dinner there if you would like variety. The resorts have reciprocity, so you can use the facilities and eat at any of the resorts. My boyfriend and I went to Adventuras and had a nice dinner at a sushi restaurant one night. The taxi ran us about $8 each way. The setting is beautiful and you really feel like you are in a rain forest! The beach at the resort is a bit small and rocky, but you can walk to a nearby resort that's maybe a five minute walk away. The one piece of advice that I would give to a potential Xpu Ha guest is to use the public transportation known as "colectivo." Taxis to and from the hotel are EXPENSIVE, but if you just flag down the white vans that say "colectivo" on the highway, they will stop and take you to where you want to go. Maybe ask at the hotel about this option. As I sad, my boyfriend and I are not "resort vacationers," but we found Xpu Ha Palace to be one of the best vacations we have ever had!

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank clatter328
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 December 2009

We spent the week of Thanksgiving at Xpu Ha and would love to make it a family tradition. The ease of travel with two young children was remarkable, and the experience for them and for myself was unforgettable.
The people staffing the resort were easy going, professional, friendly and accomodating. My children now both want to be hostesses as a result of Jaqueline's warm, capable presence. (I'd like it if they would learn to give a facial like Rocio, that was heaven!) Several (all) members of the waitstaff, and the activities director made each day easy and fun, and made it posible for me to enjoy my meals while still keeping two very happy energetic children in check. This goodwill rubs off on the guests - who were so kind to us all as well. I wish I had noted more names, the concierge turned a mistake on my part into a very successful day. The restaurant manager was so congenial, it was definitely as if we were dining in his home.
If you have kids <10, this is a destination resort in the best sense of the word - you could spend the full week loving the place. Those with older kids could sprinkle in a few of the wonderful day trips to break up the week, and build the perfect blend of adventures. We did the Tulum tour (my first bursh with Mayan history - I highly recommend it, was very doable with children) and a day at a water park. Even that was all-inclusive, a nice touch. (Aside from booking the week, I spent <$200 during our full stay, including heavy patronage at the gift shop, that would not cover us for a single day at a local theme park.)
The beach was glorious, with a <5 min walk along an oceanside path to a consistent surf that was never overwhelming but managed to be exciting enough to keep you in the water for hours. The pool was ours - nearly private for the first two days - and was so well maintained and entertaining, with slides etc for the children and a section with music to liven it up if that was your wish.
I very much enjoyed our meals, and was grateful for the care taken to provide the children with meals to their liking. I have one extremely picky eater, will opt to not eat at times, who was happily provided with her favorites on my request, breakfast, lunch or dinner. The buffets have good variety and great fresh fruit alongside tasty options to suit any mood/palate. The dinners were really quite lovely, plated with artistry and prepared delectably. The care that went into each dish was evident and we never left the table unsatisfied.
The option to walk and explore vs taking the available trams (elec. golf carts, pleasantly quiet) was a life saver in light of the plentiful food. My children loved to grab a bike for the most part, easy level pathways, perfect. Up to our very last hours at Xpu Ha we were happily exploring and finding the last spot to visit up close with the coatimundi, what a way to end the trip.
If I can put it together we'll be back in 2010, with a few siblings/cousins, grandparents...
Final note - no one was homesick for even a moment, we've got some homebodies so that tells you how fabulously full our days were.
Two bits of advice - bring/buy bug spray (I was fine, one of my children was much bitten) and pack casual wear. Most days we wore swimwear and cover-ups; nights we dressed-up in capris, t-shirts, and were very happy with that. Ah, and one fleece, the dining room was cool in the evenings, especially when my little diners spent a good portion of the dinner hour posted at the glass wall watching the raccoons - charming wee little fellows, nothng like our northeastern bruisers.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank aleighre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 December 2009

If you're doing your research for your upcoming trip, then you all ready know a lot about Xpu Ha Palace - the beautiful jungle setting on the ocean, the wildlife sanctuary, the cenote on site, the kayaking (though there's really only a little room in the small cenote for it), the spa services, the rooms with a double jacuzzi, double sinks, balcony with seating area and hammock, 24/7 room service, the swim-up bar, great slides in the pool for younger kids, the use of bicycles (though they've seen better days) and snorkeling gear, etc, etc, etc.

For us, this was the best vacation we've ever had. This was our first time at an all-inclusive resort. We never felt SO pampered in all our lives. The staff was PHENOMENAL! Everyone there was so friendly and helpful. We went to 3 other Palace resorts while there (Aventura, Playacar, and Isla Mujeres), and the staff at Xpu Ha was the friendliest. We were surprised how much we got to know some of them in a week, even with the language barrier (their English was definitely better than our Spanish). In fact, we got to know several couples and families, because this is a small resort and was not crowded, even during Thanksgiving week.
FOOD - The service couldn't be better. They were so attentive, without hovering. A dirty plate never sat on our table longer than two minutes. Our glass seemed to never get empty. Another reviewer said the food there left much to be desired. We seem to have been there around the same time. I can't imagine what he/she was talking about! Even the breakfast and lunch buffets were impressive in presentation and variety. The dinners were truly gourmet -artwork on a plate. Some of the best meals we ever ate were at Xpu Ha. We were glad they had authentic Mexican food, with some Mayan spices. We didn't want to come all the way to Mexico to eat Americanized food. Since Xpu Ha only has two restaurants (Mexican and Italian), I could see how some might tire of their choices after a week if this is the only place you eat (although they changed the Mexican menu in the middle of our week, and they had a special and completely different menu for Thanksgiving. My husband and I both LOVED the food). We ate at Aventura Palace (we had it's snack bar for lunch one day - sandwiches and fries - just fine, we had the lunch buffet another day - definitely sub-standard. I'm not a picky eater, but some things I put on my plate, I just couldn't eat. Was wishing I was back at Xpu Ha at that time. We ate at the Oriental restaurant for dinners two nights at Aventura - we really enjoyed it.) We ate at Playacar Palace one night after shopping in Playa del Carmen (we were hungry, but the circus show was going to start in 30 minutes, so we had an appetizer and drink at the bar. It was great. The bartender and waitress were very friendly and conversational. After the show, we had dinner at the Italian restaurant - great food and service there, too. What we saw of Playacar Palace, it had more of the look of a nice hotel, rather than a nice resort. Just didn't seem as nice as Xpu Ha or Aventura, in terms of asthetics). We also went to Isla Mujeres for a lunch buffet after snorkeling ( the service was terrible compared to the other resorts we'd been to. Granted, it's the smallest of the Palace resorts and gets crowded for lunch from tours. However, I saw several employees standing around who didn't seem to want to take care of the Palace visitors. A couple of times I tried to make a little small talk with the bartender while he was making our drinks. He simply ignored me (when I spoke both English and Spanish). When my husband left him a tip, he scoffed and threw it aside!!! This was the first rude employee we encountered at a Palace resort. The food at the lunch buffet was typical buffet food. It was fine.) In conclusion, in our experience, the food at Xpu Ha was the highest-quality, most authentic Mexican, beautiful and gourmet. Even their buffets are arranged to look as beautiful as it tastes. None of the other resorts' buffets took the care to do that.
ACTIVITIES - Being a smaller resort, there was one pool, with one side for kids and a swim-up bar on one side. It was certainly big enough for the small group of people there. As for the evening shows, we really enjoyed the Copoeilla (Brazilian dancing to drums). On two other nights, there was Karaoke, which turned out dull, since only a few people were there, and only a few of them participated, despite the enthusiastic efforts of the staff. Actually, most of the activities just lacked something because there were so few people there, which you may like if you're not a people-person and you just want to veg-out. We did enjoy the activities at Aventura better because there were more people. At times, it was just a little TOO quiet at Xpu Ha for us. As for the included local tours (like zip-line, Mayan ruins, water park, snorkeling on coral reef), we had a promotional rate through RCI that included everything except these tours. However, our first day there Manuel arranged for us to take a tour of Aventura Spa Palace (a 90 minute time-share thing) the next morning in exchange for two Palace Passports. It ended up being two hours, but was worth it for the free tours. We took four of them - Chichen Itza ( a long day, but I recommend it highly. To not go is like going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids), we saw the ruins at Tulum (what a beautiful area and beach! Take your swimsuit), we did the zipline at Holkan Park (I DO NOT recommend. It was no zip-line through the jungle. It was an ugly, muddy old quarry that they hung the ziplines over - there was no going through the jungle at all. My husband noticed the details (the riggings and platforms) and said it would never pass safety standards in the US. Another man there made the same observation. We were glad it was only two years old - it will undoubtedly run down quickly and be even more dangerous. There are other places there to do ziplines that have great reviews.) We also did the snorkeling tour at Isla Mujeres. I loved the island and the amazing water, however there were so many in our group, and so many other groups, that it was crowded in the water. They wanted us to stay together, but with so many people, we were kicking each other, It was kind of ridiculous. I think the name of this company was Paradise some-thing-or-other (Paradise Snorkeling, or Paradise Tours, perhaps. BTW, bring your own snorkeling gear - mouthpiece, at least. I was sure they must disinfect them, but when we returned after snorkeling and another group was waiting to get on the boat, I saw no efforts to clean the masks and mouthpiece. I believe they were going to hand out the mouthpieces that we just took out of our mouths!!! I hope I'm wrong about that). We did see some very beautiful and colorful fish, squid, and even a starfish. After lunch at Isla Mujeres Palace, they took us to do some shopping in their little shopping area. I really enjoyed the 45-minute ferry ride to the island and back. It felt like a party boat with the fun crew! They even handed out Tequila shots and some other mixed drink on the ride back.
ROOMS - The first room we were given (top room in 700 buildings) had an overpowering musty smell that we simply couldn't tolerate. They immediately sent someone to work on the air-conditioning (where the smell seemed to come from), but took us to a couple of other rooms in the same 700 buildings to see which we'd prefer. Actually, the other two had the musty smell, but not nearly as strong. We took the third, as the smell was only slight and not a problem. I'm not sure if it's because of the palapa roof (which I doubt, since the Lobby Bar and Restaurant has the same kind of roof with no smell), or if the air-conditioning in that area needs to be maintained better. The room itself was roomy enough for us 2. We loved the double jacuzzi and balcony with hammock. The toiletries provided were great. A little debris did fall from the palapa roof (even more when it rained), but it wasn't a problem. It was worth the natural feel of the property. Beware that the birds start their beautiful songs early in the morning, but it was fine, since we found ourselves going to bed earlier than usual, as things were so subdued there.
IN CONCLUSION - If the beach is important to you, don't come to Xpu Ha. Even if you do use the better beach to the left (Barcelo Resort's), still, the water itself wasn't nearly as nice as in Cancun or Tulum. I hear Sun Palace and Beach Palace have great beaches. If lots of planned activities on the resort are important to you, don't come to Xpu Ha. If you're looking to relax at a unique and quiet all-inclusive, if you want to be pampered with WONDERFUL service, if you want a friendly atmosphere, if you want great food, if you love animals, Xpu Ha is definitely for you!!! It's only been a week, but we miss it already! We can't stop thinking about our wonderful week here. Our little Xpu Ha has a special place in our hearts. Have a great vacation!!!
p.s. We also learned that when using other Palace resorts, you can request a hospitality room to shower. We loved that, since we usually went to one after a day of tours, then swimming in the pool or lagoon. We were able to clean up before dinner. My husband and I would take a backpack with a change of clothes. When we got to the resort, we'd go to the gym and request a locker to leave our backpacks ( so we wouldn't have to carry them around all afternoon), enjoy the resorts amenities, then come back for them when we got ready to use a hospitality room. Just ask for the hospitality room at the check-in desk where you first enter the resort. We will definitely use Palace resorts in future! So many great features in all their resorts!

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank southernpeach72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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