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Destination of the Month


Playa del Carmen

Dasa and her family spent Christmas in an all inclusive resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya just couple of minutes from the charming town of Playa Del Carmen.

Riviera Maya is a tourist district following coastal Highway 307 from Cancun to Tulum and it boasts one of the best all inclusive resorts and beaches in Mexico.

About 45 minutes south from Cancun lays Playa del Carmen. Originally a small fishing town, it has a population of over 100,000 people. Fifth Ave is very charming pedestrian avenue, filled with shops, restaurants and bars. You can window shop, watch street performers, and hop on a ferry to Cozumel- an island that has one of the best scuba diving in Caribbean.

Sandos Play del Carmen pool area

Sandos Playacar

We stayed in Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, the last resort in Playacar complex, bordered on one side by Iberostar Toucan and Quetzal and on the other side by the jungle.
Sandos has a newer section called Riviera Beach with 396 junior suites, each one with plasma TV’s, 2 double or 1 king beds and sleeper sofa. This part of the hotel is quiet but one needs to walk about 7 minutes to get to beach and the Meeting Point.

Sandos, Playacar beach

We stayed in original older section which is right next to the magnificent beach, pool, main buffet restaurant, and Meeting Point. A big plus was access and closeness of the beach, little drawback was noise. If you have small children that go to sleep early, this might not be the best fit for you as there is a program in the outside plaza in front of the Meeting Point every night starting at 10pm and it will be noisy till about midnight.

The beach is very beautiful, clean with plenty of chairs if you are an early riser.
At Christmas the hotel was at full capacity and people who leisurely arrived at the beach at 11 am had problems finding beach chairs.

When it comes to food, you have a choice of 2 buffet restaurants for dinner and 5 a la carte restaurants. A la carte restaurants require reservations which are made at the Meeting Point. During your 7 night stay you can try 3 a la carte restaurants.
We tried Asiana- oriental fusion restaurant. The appetizers we ate were great (sushi, sashimi, gyoza), the entrée was ok.
El Gaucho Steakhouse is very popular and hard to get reservations for and it is absolutely NOT WORTH IT! It was the worst meal we had in the resort.
Mediterranean Restaurant (only a la carte for dinners, they offer breakfast and lunch buffet) was our favorite restaurant we ate in. Excellent food and very nice location close to the pool and the beach.
There is also a French Gourmet restaurant La Gourmet, that does not allow any kids, so we did not try it, but people seemed to like the food.

For dinner buffet- you can choose to eat in the Grand Buffet Festival- the main buffet restaurant that offers different themes each night or the Italian buffet in Il Piemonte.

Overall we were very happy with the quality and quantity of the food, there was always something you could choose from and like.

Chizen Itza, Mexico

Hotel and tour companies that have their reps in the hotel offer variety of excursions. We decided to rent a car for 2 days and do our own sightseeing to ruins of Tulum and Chitchen Itza.  In retrospect I can say, that especially with trip to Chichen Itza it is worthy to take an organized tour and it actually caused a little bit less, then what we spend on our own, renting a car, paying for gas and toll on the highway from Cancun to Chichen Itza (50usd roundtrip), getting the guide, tickets and lunch.
To see the Mayan ruins was a highlight of our trip to Riviera Maya and I strongly recommend seeing Chichen Itza- one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Beware that trip in all takes about 12 hours, but I would do it again in the heartbeat.

While Sandos Playacar Beach is not a deluxe hotel and they were some frustrating details like not being able to call and make a dinner reservation (even though it is supposedly possible based on the brochure in our room) it is the people - waiters, bartenders, and rest of the staff that make this a really great place. We have never experienced nicer and friendlier service. They went above and beyond their duties, always willing to help and they really made our vacation a truly great one.


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